While the craze deserved by Studio Ghibli owes it to the blessed and blessing creators, Isao Takahata and Hayao Miyazaki, it is proper to any legend that anyone that tries to follow the same legacy is bound to falter, having failed to match the expectations of die-hard devoted fans.
Any creation is bound to be met with criticisms, even the most beautifully created Ghibli franchise films. So here is a refined list of the lowest-rated Ghibli movies that had faltered in making the fans get the same happiness as the GOAT films like “My Neighbour Totoro”, “Kiki’s Delivery Service”, “Princess Mononoke,” etc.
Tales from Earthsea
Rotten Tomatoes: 43%
The plot encircles a fantastical world - Earthsea, where a wizard and a prince take it upon themselves to investigate the cause of famine and the reason for dragons resurfacing and attacking people, rendering the place inhabitable. The film was Miyazaki’s son Goro’s debut film that was released in 2006.
The plot is said to be an allegory about hubris as the dominant human nature. The attack on people and famine seems to be an allegory for global warming. The entire tone of the movie is very formal and chilly, unlike the usual delights of Studio Ghibli movies that makes the viewers form an emotional bond with the characters. The complicated amalgamation of different other plots reduces the coherence of the story, thus not making it to the fan favorite list.
My Neighbors the Yamadas
Rotten Tomatoes: 78%
Whenever the tag of Ghibli comes, an expectation immediately surfaces that it will be an emotional rollercoaster and a therapeutic watch with aesthetically pleasing visuals and the beauty of simplicity, the signature style of Studio Ghibli.
Despite the expectations, the animated movie is a mundane tale of the eccentricities of the Yamada family that is portrayed in a beautiful yet mundane way, not something that is ever seen by Ghibli as it is known to make the most mundane and simple settings burst with beauty.
Yet the beautification of the story in its tranquil and calming tone throughout the movie is a winning factor that makes it a good watch.
Rotten Tomatoes: 88%
Studio Ghibli is mainly headstrong about execution and ideation, and when one falls short and the other does not easily make up for it, it might be a challenge to have fans follow and support it as they do with the other top-notch productions of the studio.
The plot is simple and alluring to any adult; facing the nostalgic waves of high school memories and reliving them through the story, reminiscing over the change in the trajectory of their lives. It is all baked right into the plot. The sub-par animation dulls the expectations, but the warmth and beauty in the story as the action unfolds give the signature Ghibli vibe that we all look for.
From up on the poppy hill
Rotten Tomatoes: 86%
Portraying the effects of the premonition of World War I while facing its drawbacks of war and new adaptations, this film is another production under the director Goro that revolves around two boarding high schoolers hell-bent on saving their clubhouse from being demolished for hosting the 1964 summer Olympics in Tokyo.
The energy and nostalgia flowing throughout the film are commendable as matching the spirit of Studio Ghibli productions. The straightforward story might come off as a bore, but once the viewer gets into it, the aesthetic and the tone line up with the expectations from a Ghibli movie like any other. The lack of drama made it considerably fall back in line due to the gentle and mundane tone, but the film makes up for it through its story and construction of the situations.
The Cat Returns
Rotten Tomatoes: 90%
The list of grievances and criticism about Ghibli movies is skinny as the entire production ultimately brings out the best of what they put into creating that film. The Cat Returns can be a classic tale for cat lovers but might be forgettable compared to other films that get imprinted into the mind once we behold the genius and creativity that went into it.
The presence of a fantastical world that Haru delves into after saving a cat is soon proved to be tedious as the King cat decides to marry her to his son, but she is protected by a sympathetic cat statuette that has come to life. The beautiful simplicity yet the dramatic lack does not matter given the film's creative and alluring prowess.
Ghibli’s legendary legacy celebrates wildly running fantasies and mystical aspects of imagination while entailing them in the most simplistic yet aesthetically alluring way that has mesmerized the viewers ever since its inception. Creation can come with lacking shortcomings and scopes for improvements, but the essence of the creation is in the relentless act of creating and finding utmost pleasure in the process along the way.
Like Ursula says to Kiki, “We each need to find our own inspiration Kiki; sometimes it’s not easy.”