Though women and girls in anime can be very problematic, one kind of animated Japanese import doesn’t make me worry about the portrayal of female characters. These films are imaginative, beautifully drawn, highly successful, and usually feature good portrayals of girls and women. This group is, of course, the films made by Studio Ghibli.
So, I’m personally pretty excited about their newest film, which comes to US theaters February 17. Even though Ponyo, the last Studio Ghibli film released in the US, was a little disappointing, I’m still looking forward to The Secret World of Arrietty.
Like the trailer says, the film is based on the novel The Borrowers, a book I remember reading as a child (though I can’t remember how much I liked it). It also features a girl protagonist, like many Studio Ghibli films. Though it doesn’t seem like it will be on the epic scale or have the same adult appeal that movies like Spirited Away and Princess Mononoke have, it looks fun and the kind of movie you’d want to take your daughter to see. It seems to keep with the studio’s tradition of realistic, not stereotypical, female protagonists and quality storytelling.
(Incidentally, if you live in the Boston area, consider checking out the Museum of Fine Arts’ series of Studio Ghibli film screenings happening throughout February! They’re showing many of the beloved Ghibli films (14 in all), as well as the often-forgotten The Cat Returns.)