Why are the majority of Ghibli film theories always so dark?
1. My Neighbour Totoro is a retelling of Alice in Wonderland
This theory suggests that My Neighbour Totoro is an unofficial retelling of Lewi Caroll’s Alice in Wonderland. The similarities that have been made between the two to support this theory is that there is a shapeshifting cat (CatBus vs Cheshire Cat), there’s a ‘rabbit’ (Totoro vs White Rabbit), there’s anamorphic plants and animals that disappear in puffs of smoke (Spirites vs most things in Wonderland), there’s small passages that characters through and a young female protagonist. Another similarity that people have thought of is that both stories have young children who space reality and enter into a more magical world for a period of time.
What do you guys think of this theory?
2. Ponyo is an angel
This theory explains that everyone in the seaside village died in the flood. The boats that everyone are on carry them in one direction, and some fans have thought that this water is meant to represent the Sanzu River (a Buddhist religious belief that states that this river must be crossed by the dead on their way to the afterlife). Tunnels are often used in Ghibli films as a way for characters to travel ‘between worlds’ too, and Ponyo and Sosuke do travel through a tunnel in the movie. But none of these characters are seen travelling back through the tunnel or in the opposite direction of the river again, so perhaps they were taken to the afterlife then…
Another point for this theory is that Ponyo goes back and forth between the sea and the land, or between ‘Heaven and Earth’ because she is an angel.
And then to add to this, some fans believe that the soundtrack song Flight on Ponyo is influenced by Ride of the Valkyries, which is a song that’s strongly associated with death and destruction.
Essentially, this theory states that Ponyo is guiding Sosuke through to the afterlife…
3. San wears the corpse of her dead sister
In Princess Mononoke San is raised by wolves after her parents abandon her while running away from the wolf goddess. The wolf goddess tells the story as, “I caught her humans parents defiling the forest. They threw their baby at my feet as they ran away.”
When the question was then raised about where San got her fur coat and the wolf teeth necklace she wears from, a link was drawn upon. We are never specifically told what San’s parents did to ‘defile the forest,’ so this theory suggests that what they were did was hunt the wolf goddess’ pups and kill one of them. When the wolf goddess then caught San’s parents, the goddess killed them as punishment for their brutal actions but spared San because she was just a baby, and then decided to replace her late pup with her. To then help San feel more at home among her wolf family, the wolf goddess gave San the fur and teeth or her deceased pup to wear.
And obviously that I’d want to live in. Because no thank-you to being whisked away to live throughout the events of Grave of the Fireflies and have to fight in the world of Princess Mononoke. And I also excluded films from this list that are set in more realistic worlds like From Up on Poppy Hill, The Wind Rises and Only Yesterday.
- Howl’s Moving Castle
I really, really like the world of Howl’s Moving Castle. I mean, I’d prefer if there wasn’t a war going on but it seems relatively short-lived anyway and this world is too beautiful to not live in. All the different towns are so pretty! And all the magic too!
You cannot tell me that this wouldn’t be a cool world to live in. There’s so many awesome things in here with all the magic, cool sea life and it’s just super pretty
- Kiki’s Delivery Service
The town Kiki goes to complete her training is pretty nice. I like the idea that witches live among everyone else too and learn to specialise in an area to then make a living. Plus all the townspeople are lovely
- My Neighbour Totoro
If only we could all find a tunnel that would lead us to a lush, green cavern where beings such as Totoro and the Catbus and the smaller Totoros…
- Porco Rosso
A post WWI world where the story takes place predominately in the Adriatic Sea and then also a bit in Milan, Italy? Sign me up! Okay sure so the world has some problems and all but the whole thing about this is that there’s air pirates and such a focus on the sky and it’s so cool!
- The Cat Returns
So many cats. I love it. If I could transition between the cat world and the human world then I would be a very happy person
- Spirited Away
This world just has such a cool design. It all looks amazing, there’s definitely some fascinating creatures here and the rules/laws of this world are pretty interesting too