This week, we’ll finish up our spotlight on Hayao Miyazaki’s movies with a few more excellent songs by Joe Hisaishi. If you didn’t see your favorite Miyazaki film on our first list last week, hopefully you will find it in this one.
Howl’s Moving Castle
This is the movie I personally tend to show people when I want to introduce them to Miyazaki films for the first time, and part of the reason for this is Hisaishi’s incredible soundtrack. In Howl’s Moving Castle, a quiet girl named Sophie is cursed by a vengeful witch for becoming friends with the handsome wizard known as Howl. Sophie joins Howl in his magical moving castle and embarks on an adventure to break the curse. This song, titled “Stroll Through the Sky,” plays during one of the most memorable moments of the film: Howl and Sophie’s first meeting.
This story involves another person trying to break a spell. When a rampaging boar god inflicts young warrior Ashitaka with a deadly curse, he sets out to find a cure in the forests of the west. He becomes involved in a conflict between a group of humans, led by Lady Eboshi, and the forest’s gods, led by San, a girl raised by the wolf god. According to IMDb, this was actually supposed to be Miyazaki’s last film, but its success in 1997 led him to put off retirement. So, in a way, we owe all of his great films from Spirited Away onward (along with their amazing musical scores) to Princess Mononoke. “The Legend of Ashitaka Theme” is plays in full during the end credits, and is one of the prettiest songs in the whole film.
Castle in the Sky
This film from 1986 follows apprentice engineer Pazu and a young girl named Sheeta, who fell from the sky one day with a glowing pendant around her neck. They seek Laputa, a legendary floating castle, along with the secret behind Sheeta’s pendant, but there are nefarious forces at work that try to stop them from uncovering the truth. “The Girl Who Fell from the Sky” is a major theme in this film, and it’s just a lovely song.
My Neighbor Totoro
I’m indulging my own nostalgia here, but there is one more song from Totoro that definitely needs to be included in this spotlight series. It is perhaps less iconic, but it’s an absolutely gorgeous theme that gives me chills every time I hear it. “The Huge Tree in the Tsukamori Forest” plays during a part in the film where the two sisters help the Totoros grow a gigantic tree. It really speaks of magic, which is perfect for the scene.
That wraps up our spotlight on Miyazaki movies and Joe Hisaishi’s music. Join the discussion and share your favorite song from these films in the comments!
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