Captains Domon

The Studio Ghibli Theory

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Anyone whose has seen most of the Studio Ghibli films will find this very interesting. Prepare to have your mind blown.

1. Princess Mononoke (1473)

Being the first in the timeline, Princess Mononoke shows us that spirits used to dwell in physical forms in the physical world. This changed suddenly and drastically, as we see how close to death the Forest Spirit was. Seeing how the boar gods and the wolf god were corrupted, other spirits began to retreat into the spirit world, away from the scrutiny of humans.

2. The Tale of the Princess Kaguya (1555)

The Tale of the Princess Kaguya shows us our only glimpse of the inhabitants of the Moon, where Kaguya comes from. They have strong connections with the spirit world, and we have our first evidence of wizards and witches in the spirit world. We also get our first taste of the dream world, when Kaguya and Sutemaru fly together.

3. Porco Rosso (1930)

Some centuries pass, and Porco Rosso comes next. Though we are not given evidence how, we can infer that Porco was cursed by a witch/wizard in the spirit world, perhaps Yubaba, who changes people into pigs. Porco’s plane also has evidence of being a design of Caproni, but was built upon by Piccolo.

4. The Wind Rises (1918-1945)

The Wind Rises demonstrates the dream world at its fullest. Jiro Horikoshi and Caproni are able to mold the dream world into what they want to see. At an extent, Jiro also shows other people snatches of the dream world. The dream world can also connect to the spirit world at an extent, which explains how Naroko is able to contact her husband. Jiro also catches a glimpse of the future, when he first enters the dream world. It shows him airships from the time period of Howl’s Moving Castle.

5. Grave of the Fireflies (1945)

This film begins in the spirit world, and shows us the train, where spirits can ride to their ultimate destination. Seita and Setsuko are able to watch through the last months of their lives as they ride.

6. From Up on Poppy Hill (1963)

From Up on Poppy Hill does not show anything very important to the timeline, but does show how much the war cost Japan.

7. Only Yesterday (1966, 1982)

We are introduced to Taeko, who is able to use the dream world to review her past actions and determine what she would like to do with her future.

8. My Neighbor Totoro (1988)

My Neighbor Totoro is evidence that not all spirits retreated. Totoro is shown as the guardian of the forest, and it is obvious that he misses human company. He is delighted to help Satsuki and Mei. Totoro stills retains precautions, as he only shows himself to the girls. We also see soot spirits, who have taken residence in the house when the girls move in. They retreat to find a new home.

9. Pom Poko (1969, 1994)

Pom Poko shows us tanuki, raccoon dogs, which are the first witches and wizards. They are masters in illusions and are able to pass down these skills to humans. Some tanuki arrive in the human world, disguised, to continue life as normal. Tanuki will later be an instrumental asset during the war between the two kingdoms in Howl’s Moving Castle.

10. Whisper of the Heart (1995)

Whisper of the Heart shows us yet another shaper of the dream world, Shizuku. In it, she creates her own story, and meets the Baron, an anthropomorphic cat, given life by his artist, Nishi, who is secretly a wizard. The Baron is trapped in the dream world, but is able to leave due to Shizuku’s actions.

11. My Neighbors the Yamadas (1999)

The Yamadas are shown as masters of the dream world, shaping it to their will without any lasting consequences.

12. Spirited Away (2001)

This film is the only one that primarily takes place in the spirit world. Chihiro discovers a new world, where spirits, witches, demons, and others have taken up residence. Yubaba and Zeniba, in particular, play an important part in the spirit world. The soot spirits also return.

13. The Cat Returns (2002)

An older girl named Haru, who has been affected by the spirit world, shows a skill for talking to cats. She saves the life of the Cat Prince, and meets the Baron, who has been dwelling in the Cat Realm. This shows us the Cat Realm, which is closer to the spirit world than the physical.

14. Ponyo (2008)

Ponyo shows us yet another spirit who dwells in the physical world, Granmamare, the Mother of the Sea. She is married to Fujimoto, a once-human wizard. They have many daughters, one of which is Ponyo. Being the child of a spirit and a wizard, she is able to use magic and enter the spirit world. This also shows us the difficulty of turning into a human if you are a spirit.

15. Arrietty (2010)

This depicts the Borrowers, a species of small human who have learned to forage to survive. It also shows us Shawn, who has a special connection with nature.

16. When Marnie Was There (2014)

Anna, a foster child, is angry because she cannot find her past. She then sees a mansion, and it is obvious it has connections to the spirit world. Through the mansion, Anna is able to talk to Marnie, who is her grandmother. Anna is also able, at one point, to contact Marnie in the dream world.

17. Kiki’s Delivery Service (2026)

Some years after, it shown that wizards and witches are now openly showing their powers. One such is Kiki, who has a cat named Jiji, who she can communicate with. Jiji can be shown to be from the Cat Realm. This also shows that you must have confidence in order to use magic.

18. Howl’s Moving Castle (2099)

Technologies have advanced, and the world is at war. Sophie is thrown suddenly into the world of magic, being aged by a curse. She meets Howl, who is shown to be able to change shape, proving he is a tanuki in human form. She and Howl later marry, which will lead to the creation of Laputa.

19. Castle in the Sky (2345)

Howl and Sophie created Laputa, a floating castle that supports life. Through the power of Calcifer and other fire demons, they transfer their powers into crystals, which are passed down through the royal lines. The prime examples of Howl and Sophie’s line are Muska, bearing resemblance to Howl, and Sheeta, bearing resemblance to Sophie.

20. Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind (3450)

As technology advances, the actions of the human race disgust the spirits, who unleash the Giant Warriors. The Seven Days of Fire follow, leading to the creation of the toxic jungle. Only hundreds remain, and the spirits leave a Giant Warrior deep underground, for precaution. We are introduced to Nausicaa, who seems to have a special connection with nature, like Shawn.

In the events that follow, the Giant Warrior dies before it can fully develop, Nausicaa discovers a way that the forest can grow, and the humans begin to repopulate.

 

This timeline includes all Ghibli films except Tales from Earthsea, as that does not take place on Earth. In the Ghibli storyline, there are three worlds. The physical world, the spirit world, and the dream world. Each of the Ghibli films show what the worlds can do, and what happens when they interact with each other.

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You make a lot of connections I never noticed before. Porco Rosso cursed by Yubaba... that makes so much sense!

I've actually seen fewer than half of these movies, so I can't comment on most of the list, but I'll offer a little thought about Nausicaa. The movie makes it pretty clear that the giant warriors were created by humans, and it undermines the movie's themes if you change that. But I could see the insects as spirits, and the toxic jungle as a magical/spiritual phenomenon purifying the earth. 

It makes sense that the timeline begins with Mononoke and ends with Nausicaa. In Mononoke, we see humankind's military-industrial growth starting to destroy the natural balance, forcing spirits out of the physical world. And in Nausicaa, we see that process finally escalated to the self-destruction of human civilization, so at last the spirits return to reclaim the world. Only now the spirits are giant insects instead of giant mammals. 

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23 minutes ago, Belzedar said:

The movie makes it pretty clear that the giant warriors were created by humans

The movie only specifically states that the Giant Warriors were bioweapons. It never specifically says that they were created by humans, merely exploited and raised to destroy.

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Wow. Just...wow. I really like this Theory. To be blunt, some of the time assignments I don't fully agree with, but really, I can ignore that. The way that they have a physical and spiritual world like other systems, but then they have the dream world, which could be like the Cosmere's Cognitive realm? Yeah not a wiz at that. Anyway I agree with @Belzedar about starting with Mononoke and ending with Nausicaa, as each is so far from the center of the timeline, which is funny because those are two of my personal favorites.

I find the connection between Mononoke and Totoro to be awesome. That at some point, spirits have realized that humans aren't as disgusting as some have always believed in. Like the Forest Spirit was reborn in a different form of all kinds of cuddlieness. The nature aspect from both seem to center around a mother kind of tree.

At Howl's Moving Castle with Laputa...that's a new one, which is actually pretty plausible, considering that the end of Howl shows them on the new flying castle. 

@Captains Domon How did you come up with this theory? Also, have you read the graphic novels to Nausicaa?

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27 minutes ago, Captains Domon said:

The movie only specifically states that the Giant Warriors were bioweapons. It never specifically says that they were created by humans, merely exploited and raised to destroy.

I was going by the graphics in the opening credits, which depict humans constructing a giant robot. And by the obvious analogy to nuclear weapons (humans creating the weapon of our own destruction). 

But, upon further research, I've discovered that now there's apparently this. Which would seem to support your interpretation.

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19 minutes ago, ryshadium90 said:

How did you come up with this theory? Also, have you read the graphic novels to Nausicaa?

You won't believe this, but most of it was yesterday. There were some aspects that were broiling for a while, but most of it, yesterday.

I have not read the manga for Nausicaa. I'd really like to, however.

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Just now, Captains Domon said:

You won't believe this, but most of it was yesterday. There were some aspects that were broiling for a while, but most of it, yesterday.

I have not read the manga for Nausicaa. I'd really like to, however.

*slow clap* Nice.

As for Nausicaa, I'm going to have to say that the manga is better, the story goes a lot deeper than the movie, about 3 more books to be precise and gets into more of the culture of other people besides the people of the Valley, and even more about the Giant Warrior, who actually doesn't die after the first book/movie, but lives on (kind of) and gets a name. There's also a pretty deep philosophical/controversial thing in there too, but I'll let you figure that out. 

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Funnily enough, regarding Howl's Moving Castle and Castle in the Sky, the two books they are based on (Same names, except Castle is Castle in the Air) were written by the same author and are in the same series. Not having read Castle, I can't say that much about the connection, but...yeah.

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2 hours ago, A Budgie said:

Funnily enough, regarding Howl's Moving Castle and Castle in the Sky, the two books they are based on (Same names, except Castle is Castle in the Air) were written by the same author and are in the same series. Not having read Castle, I can't say that much about the connection, but...yeah.

The book for Howl's Moving Castle is amazing. Sophie has such an attitude, even better than in the movie. 

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15 minutes ago, ryshadium90 said:

The book for Howl's Moving Castle is amazing. Sophie has such an attitude, even better than in the movie. 

Yeah I read it- I meant that I had read that, but not Castle. 
I should probably read it again sometime.

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Alright, so I consider myself a hardcore Ghibli fan. I mean, heck, I came up with this theoretical timeline. But I discovered and subsequently watched a Ghibli movie I had never heard of. Ocean Waves. This film is the only Ghibli made purposely for television, and was intended to give the new animators at Studio Ghibli something to work on. The result of their hard work was Ocean Waves. It is definitely one of the weaker Ghibli films, but it is impressive for what it is. So the big question is, where does it take place, and what does it signify?

Ocean Waves is about three people. Taku Morisaki, Yutaka Matsuno, and Rikako Muto. Taku and Yutaka are good friends, and both have an interest in Rikako, a new girl from Tokyo. The conflict between these three escalate, and the drama begins. Go watch it. But at first glance, Ocean Waves doesn't seem very significant, does it? That's where I was wrong.

8.5. Ocean Waves (1991-1993)

This film takes place in the early 90's, which is pretty obvious when you watch it. But Ocean Waves is actually a metaphor representing the worlds that Studio Ghibli created: the physical, the spirit, and the dream world.

Taku Morisaki, the main protagonist, symbolizes the physical world. The physical world of Ghibli has always been represented as a misguided, yet meaningful place. It tries to do right, but ends up being destroyed. (See Nausicaa) Taku is just that. He is a confused young man. He does like Rikako, but does not want to interfere with Yutaka. And like the physical world, he looks out for himself, but tries his best.

Yutaka Matsuno represents the dream world. The dream world and the physical world interconnect very tightly. Yutaka is always looking out to the future, just like the mind. He is always first to act, with Taku(the physical) close behind. But sometimes, the dream world will disagree with the physical world, leading to confrontations, like when Yutaka punches Taku. (Also, see Whisper of the Heart) But in the end, the balance between reality and imagination settles.

Rikako Muto is a perfect embodiment of the spirit world. Her mood shifts wildly from civil, to vicious, to tragedy. The spirit world is one of orderly chaos. Rikako knows what she wants, but has difficulty communicating with Taku and Yutaka. The spirit world also has this connection with the other worlds. But no matter what the connection, the spirit world always is there in the physical somewhere. (See Totoro, Spirited Away, and many others) Taku and Yutaka even believe she was at the class reunion, even though she wasn't. Her presence is always there, just like the spirit world.

This metaphor is a powerful one, and does a very good job of bringing it to us. 

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On 21/09/2017 at 2:12 AM, A Budgie said:

Funnily enough, regarding Howl's Moving Castle and Castle in the Sky, the two books they are based on (Same names, except Castle is Castle in the Air) were written by the same author and are in the same series. Not having read Castle, I can't say that much about the connection, but...yeah.

Howl's Moving Castle was based on a book, yes, but Castle in the Sky≠Castle in the Air...

Interesting theory, though. 

Edited by Gargoyle
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You probably know this already, but a lot of Studio Ghibli's films (like, at least half of them) are based off of books by just as many different authors.

That being said, since the films are adaptations of the novels, it's totally possible that Ghibli connected them behind the scenes in the three-tiered physical, spirit, and dream Ghibli-verse that you describe.  Interesting theory!

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Great theory! (Sorry for posting on an old thread.) I would say much of this is spot-on because most of this can be found in Japanese folklore/mythology. Nice finds! 

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