The Studio Ghibli films are jam-packed full of fun, memorable characters, including many strong female protagonists. While all the Ghibli films are similar in style and the stories have the same magical escapism essence to them, the individual character help to flavour unique twists into each of the films. Perhaps you already have a favourite character, but if not, let’s look at some of the most popular Ghibli girls – perhaps there is one you can relate to?
Film: Howl’s Moving Castle
Personality: Sophie is quietly courageous, serenely hard-working and stoically uncomplaining. As a teenager, Sophie is trusting and quiet, but as an old woman (which she is turned into after a run-in with the Witch of the Waste) her character takes on a cheeky, mischievous air. Her playful nature as an old woman makes her even more endearing.
Film: Princess Mononoke
Personality: Also known as Princess Mononoke, or the Wolf Girl, San is the female protagonist from Princess Mononoke. San is different from other Ghibli Princesses: ferocious and strong willed, she is impulsive and acts quickly on her emotions, and is difficult to persuade. Her blood streaked face, tatty clothes and physical strength set her apart from traditional princesses with their refined personality, but underneath the thick-skinned vigour is a caring girl who loves nature and family above all else.
Film: Whisper of the Heart
Personality: A cute, bookish girl who likes to keep to herself, Shizuku is basically your average teenage girl: she wants independence but is not yet wise enough to make every decision for herself. She is timid at times but can bite back when she feels mocked. In a culture where the sense of duty to one’s family is key, Shizuku realises that duty to her own heart must govern her life. She is motivated, hard-working and trustworthy, and most of all, devoted – both to the recipient of her puppy-love (Seiji) and to the dreams of her heart.
Film: Kiki’s Delivery Service
Personality: A plucky, courageous witch-to-be, Kiki is a young adventurer who sets off on a coming-of-age type journey with her anthropomorphic cat Jiji. While kind and friendly, Kiki is stubborn and strong-willed, sticking her to plans even when they seem to be impossible. Kiki doesn’t mind being set aside from the crowd – she is an outsider who eventually gains the trust and understanding of people different from herself, but ultimately she always stays true to her beliefs and aspirations.
Film: The Castle of Cagliostro
Personality: While not actually a true Ghibli film, The Castle of Cagliostro was directed by Hayao Miyazaki, earning it a reputation just as noteworthy. Lady Clarisse is a typical princess – she is serene, quiet, reserved and well behaved. She knows her heart but ultimately tries to do what is expected of her. She is a porcelain-faced beauty, showing little emotion even when in the most dangerous of situations.
Film: My Neighbor Totoro
Personality: Satsuki is a day dreamer and loves adventure, but she also likes to be taken seriously and strives think of herself as a grown-up – she wants to be perceived as mature. She spends most of her time trying to take care of her little sister Mei (and being mad at her when she is naughty) but it doesn’t take much to convince her to act like a kid again and enjoy a good adventure.
Film: Porco Rosso
Personality: A feisty, well-educated girl, Fio is a feminist dream come true – her talents as an engineer serve to surprise the male characters of the film, as well as endear them to her. She is a tomboy with a cheeky side to her, a short temper and an iron will.