Home Video Picks & Passes 06.07.20

Watch Hayao Miyazaki classics

My Neighbor Totoro
My Neighbor Totoro (photo: via IMDb)

Studio Ghibli / Hayao Miyazaki films — PICKS

Another streaming service? Warner Bros’ new HBO Max service is one to watch; among other things, that’s where Studio Ghibli fans will be able to watch Hayao Miyazaki classics to their heart’s content.

New to Miyazaki? Young children will enjoy ultra-gentle fare like My Neighbor Totoro, about a family with two girls moving into a new house in the country and the magical creatures they encounter; Kiki’s Delivery Service, about a 13-year-old witch spending a year on her own in a new city; and Ponyo, a delightfully nonsensical tale about a young boy who befriends a magical fish-girl, to the chagrin of her sea-wizard father. Even these childlike tales come with caveats; Miyazaki weaves animist-inspired and magical themes throughout his stories that parents should be aware of. Slightly older kids will enjoy Castle in the Sky, a rollicking steampunk adventure about airship pirates and a fantastic, lost flying island powered by a giant crystal, and Porco Rosso, a World War II fantasy about seaplane derring-do and a flying ace mysteriously transformed into an anthropomorphic pig (cartoonish, extended fisticuffs at the end of this one).

For teens and up, check out Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, a post-apocalyptic political thriller about a gifted young heroine exploring a world overgrown by a deadly toxic jungle, and Spirited Away, possibly Miyazaki’s masterpiece, about a girl who must rescue her clueless parents from a frightening world of spirits. (For more information on all of these films, see the reviews at DecentFilms.com.)