Disney Animation is having a moment. Actually, Disney Animation is having a decade. I can’t believe that Frozen came out nearly seven years ago! But it isn’t just American studios that are producing top quality, box office smashing animated films. Ever heard of Studio Ghibli? This Japanese animation studio produced Spirited Away in 2001. The film quickly became the most successful film in Japanese history and frequently ranks among the greatest animated films ever made. And in March 2020 it’s coming to Netflix. So why are animated films so popular among adults, and what can we learn from them?
Firstly, that feeling you get after you finish a heartwarming film like Tangled or Brave, where the heroine is victorious in the end and love conquers all. It feels like everything is alright in the world after all, and that is precious. We are bombarded with negativity constantly. Tragic news stories, vicious gossip magazines, even social media at times can cause a bleak and gloomy outlook. So I’m all for anything that brings me that soul-deep joy. And yes, I do listen to the soundtracks when I need a mood boost. I highly recommend that you do too.
It is moving art. The smallest, everyday tasks are made to look charming and idyllic. Have you ever seen the 2004 Studio Ghibli film Howl’s Moving Castle? It will make you want to Spring clean your home from top to bottom and then sit outside in a sunny field drinking tea. The writer and director Hayao Miyazaki claims that he wants to make films to tell children that “it’s good to be alive”. The wonder and childlike delight that his films encourage, even in seemingly mundane tasks, does just that.
I have to confess, it isn’t often that a message from a film stays with me. Well, for longer than a week anyway. But watching Inside Out, the 2015 film produced by Pixar Animation Studios and released by Walt Disney Pictures, was different. For the first time I saw the importance of acknowledging my emotions, even the not-so-great and uncomfortable ones. Maybe this is something you already understood but to me it was news, and it has stuck with me. We’re all on a different path in life, learning at our own pace. But this one film dropped a truth bomb which accelerated my emotional growth tenfold. So thank you to all the animated films out there waking us up with small but vital messages.
Want to escape to another, more fantastical world and momentarily forget about all those adult worries keeping you awake at night? In the age of #hustle it’s easy to feel like you need to be productive all the time. You don’t. It’s not good for you. Take an afternoon off to recharge your brain and fire up your imagination. Or if you haven’t got an afternoon, how about 20 minutes? There are some amazing, uplifting animated series on Netflix like Avatar the Last Airbender and The Dragon Prince. Just don’t binge the whole series until stupid-o’clock in the morning. Sleep is important too.
Disney Animation (including Pixar) and Studio Ghibli have produced some of my favourite films like, ever. When everything gets a bit much, I know that I can dive into one of their creations and escape it all for a couple of hours. There are so many things to love about animation, which is why it is one of the little things that brings me joy. Finding something that lifts you up in this world is crucial. Not only is it a form of self care, it also offers protection from some of the darker, more negative things in life. Gentle, positive energy is infectious. So cultivate your bubble of good vibes and spread that light to others. After all, with such beautiful films only a few clicks away, it’s good to be alive.