“StuGhiFeaFilReMo official rules!”


“I hate the Well-Red Mage.”
-Hayao Miyazaki



Finally the big reveal. StuGhiFeaFilReMo stands for “Studio Ghibli Feature Film Review Month”!

See, I more or less missed out on NaNoWriMo. Okay so I just didn’t purpose participate at all. That’s not my writing focus at the moment. So instead of undertaking that challenge, I thought why not create a challenge of my own? It shall be to watch and review every Studio Ghibli film in the month of December.


Don’t be aghast. I’m not steering this ship off course. The Well-Red Mage hasn’t suddenly become a breeding ground for all things anime. I’m not betraying my true colors. But it’s hard to argue against Ghibli’s library being a complete work of art with their commitment to hand-drawn animation, and I know the coming discussions will have some bearing on gaming, nonetheless. Who knows? Maybe I’ll still have the time to sneak in a game review anyway.

So here are the five rules I’ve set for myself.


Rule the First:

This project includes all of the Studio Ghibli produced feature length films and not merely those directed by Hayao Miyazaki. That means Takahata, Yonebayashi, Kondo, and yes, Goro, get to have their chance. This includes every film beginning unofficially and un-technically with Nausicaä and ending with When Marnie Was There, twenty-one films. I am purposefully excluding the tv movie Ocean Waves, Miyazaki’s directorial debut with The Castle of Cagliostro, and all of the Ghibli short films. No apologies.

Rule the Second:

For the sake of simplicity, I’m going to be reviewing these films based on their English language presentation, where ever possible. I don’t speak Japanese but I likewise don’t have any problem enjoying a film with subtitles. I’ve seen some amazing films with subs. That’s not the point. The point is the English versions are those with which I am most familiar and feel most capable of writing on, whereas the Japanese language versions are assuredly awesome of themselves but I am not so personally attached to them so as to comment on them. Even picking out the difference between stellar and poor in an English voice cast versus a Japanese one is difficult for me. Which leads me to my next point…

Rule the Third:

My perspective is as a Westerner. I’m not an expert of Japanese culture, a weeabo, kawaii, bishie, or anything else, ‘kay? I don’t particularly care for much anime, though I do think Cowboy Bebop is a pure work of art. I’ll have to come up with an excuse to discuss that series someday. I gravitate away from lots of anime and toward Ghibli’s library because of how their films are generally antithetical to most of the anime clichés, jokes, traditions, color-coded hair, plodding and endless episode lists, and character archetypes. I don’t hate anime. I just don’t like a lot of it. If you don’t care for my opinion, that’s fine. You’re welcome to try to change it.

Rule the Fourth:

Most of these animated films are so good that they’d probably end up with solid 10’s all the way round if compared to regular movies. Therefore, I’m taking this into consideration for scoring them that I’m comparing them to themselves, the other Ghibli works. That way no one can get mad at me for not giving all of them a 10! *wink*

Rule the Fifth:

Studio Ghibli films are rich with themes and symbolism, many with profound messages, so I’m going to be doing some story analysis and therefore there will be spoilers. I will limit all spoilers to the Narrative scoring portion of the review so that you can read about a film you haven’t seen yet if you like to make the decision to watch it or not, and just skip past the Narrative portion. Take that as incentive to get a hold of these and watch them as soon as possible.


This is all sort of my Christmas gift to myself, and to anyone else who may care for this sort of thing. I get to watch all the Ghibli movies for December! Hooray!

To prep, I’d suggest watching The Kingdoms of Dreams and Madness, a provocative and moving documentary look at Studio Ghibli, its creators and employees, the future of the studio, and the heart of their art. I’m going to throw this out there: if anyone wants to participate in the challenge with me and watch all 21 movies in December, carpe noctem!

-The Well-Red Mage


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29 replies »

  1. I love this and am going to read all your Ghibli reviews! Unfortunately, I didn’t get the chance to revisit the Ghibli Museum in Tokyo this year because it was too crowded, so I’ll just have to live it out through you!

    Liked by 1 person

      • That’s like the complete opposite of me, hahaha. Of course I love them! I just had to you know, get back from Japan and all to appreciate all you were writing about it haha. I did go to the Ghibli Museum years ago the first time I went to Japan, and it was amazing. Ponyo had just come out so there were lots of related materials there. There was also a Catbus, but only kids were allowed in it. They’ve since changed that, which makes it sting more that I couldn’t go this time. I want to ride the Catbus!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I tried saying your title out loud, 5 times fast… It didn’t work out very well. 🙂 I’m not into anime at all honestly. I will no doubt be learning a lot about it from this neat project.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I tried it, too. And then I woke up this morning. Huh. Must’ve been a sudden deprivation of oxygen to the brain. So hey, as I attempted to say: I am not particularly a fan of anime, either. Cowboy Bebop and Ghibli and that’s about it. Ghibli films do transcend a lot of what makes anime, well, “low art” to coin a phrase. Not all of it’s that way, of course, but I’m betting a lot of the things in anime that turn you (and me) off to it are not present in Ghibli works. These are varied works of art which transcend a lot of boundaries, otherwise I wouldn’t probably ever get around to churning out anime reviews. Cheers to those to whom it does, but personally they don’t hold my interest after episode 455… Read the first review I’ll be posting soon for a very earnest, very series sci-fi fantasy film that launched their library. I hope you and I both learn a lot this month! I’ll be learning more about reviewing film!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I’ve only seen two Miyazaki movies to be honest (Princess Mononoke and Spirited Away), but that was all it took for me to fall in love. I’m a subber 24/7, but in the wisdom of my old age I try not to be too much of a snob about it hehe.

    Good luck! This is a noble cause. I’m excited to see what you’ll have to say about the two I’ve seen. Mononoke has some obviously similar themes to FFVII so it’s my favorite of the, er, two. I’ve also seen a bit of Howl’s Moving Castle, which is actually based on a book by a western author 😮

    Liked by 1 person

    • Haha thanks for not being “snobby” about subs! I recognize and understand the push by many anime-enthusiasts to be pro-sub and there are a handful of Ghibli films that I’ve enjoyed more with subs rather than dub, and I make it a point to watch both versions as the dialogue is usually more explanatory with subs. Grave of the Fireflies, I think was one of them, as an example, that I enjoyed more in Japanese. As is the case with Only Yesterday, it’s going to have to be subs anyway. But I am a native English speaker so I can’t catch all of the inflection and nuance in Japanese, which I’m certain are there.

      To my mind, I had to pick either sub or dub since I don’t intend to rewatch movies I’ve already seen through many times twice over again both in English and then Japanese, equally 42 movies. That’s a bit too steep of a challenge for me, considering I still have work, volunteering and family time to balance. Thanks for considering ours a noble cause!

      I think what I’ll do is limit narrative analysis and spoiler talk to the Narrative scoring portion of each review, so that people who haven’t seen the movie can skip just that part but read the rest and get at least a basic premise to decide whether they’d want to watch that movie or not. I would definitely like to expand your Ghibli horizons! If you can, see Porco Rosso. It’s my personal favorite.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I definitely need to expand my horizons with them! For the record, I used to be more snooty about it in college, but I started out watching Sailor Moon on UPN (I know I’m dating myself), and it was of course dubbed. Then I went to college and joined the Anime Club and that’s where I really got into subtitles. Now it’s my preference, but since I’m older and wiser I don’t judge people who prefer dubbed, and I’ve seen movies that do it decently. One of my favorites is Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust, and that was only done dubbed. The dubbing on Princess Mononoke and others isn’t terrible either. I still prefer subtitles (in fact I’m currently playing World of Final Fantasy with them yasss) just because I like to experience things in their native language, and this goes for any film to be honest!

        I guess my to-watch list is going to get bigger. That’s the thing I most neglect lol. I keep up with reading and game playing, but I’m terrible at watching movies.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Heh, I think we all used to be more snooty in college. Haha unless you haven’t been to college. I remember watching Sailor Moon on I think it might’ve been Cartoon Network. …Yeah, that show. I’ve never been in an anime club and again I understand the perspective of the purists and their viewpoint on the essence of the artform. I do make it a point to see these films twice and I think it was when I bought The Secret World of Arrietty that I purposed to watch it with subs first. They have their value to be sure but I can’t conscience using them for reviews unless I did more intense research on the Japanese language, to an extent beyond YouTube videos! A lot of video games have some good Japanese tracks also. Careful, cuz that to-watch list is soon going to expand…! These films are not just great anime movies, they’re some of the best animated movies, if not just plain movies, ever.

          Liked by 1 person

  4. Good luck with the challenge. Also… If you want to spice things up, play a drinking game while watching Kiki’s Delivery Service. Take a shot for every panty shot in the movie. Don’t have to use alcohol. It’s just a fun thing.

    Liked by 1 person

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