‘The Boy And The Heron’ Just Landed, So It’s The Perfect Time To Celebrate All The Amazing Details In Studio Ghibli Films

Studio Ghibli has garnered quite the loyal fanbase, and rightfully so. With a powerful lineup of some of the most culturally significant films to date, it’s no wonder this Japanese animation studio pops up in almost everyone’s “favorites” list. Legendary Hayao Miyazaki is the co-founder of the studio, and his passion for story is evident with every single movie he works on. Each masterpiece of a film is an immersive, fantastical, beautiful experience filled with heart. Oftentimes, even the most cold-hearted of antagonists transform into characters with a morally gray compass. Malicious witches turn mild-mannered. Terrifying, entity-eating spirits become softer, more docile. These amazing characters are combined with beautiful cinematography and designs that dance an intricate line between memorability and simplicity. So basically: Studio Ghibli is amazing.

And now The Boy and the Heron is Studio Ghibli’s newest film, set to release on December 8th of 2023. In the movie, a young boy, Mahito, struggles with his new place of living after the death of his mother. When Mahito encounters a talking heron who informs him that his mother is alive, he visits an abandoned tower that sends him through a journey in another world. To celebrate its release date, we’ve gathered some of our favorite details from past Ghibli films that only deepened our love for the studio. Take a gander below.

There’s A Devastating Easter Egg In A ‘Grave of the Fireflies’ Poster

Photo: Toho

Posted by u/PsychologicalPermit9:

If you brighten the poster of Grave Of The Fireflies (1988), you will notice that some of the lights are not fireflies, but incendiary bombs from a B-25 bomber.

There’s An Artistic Interpretation Of Negative Space Or ‘Ma’ In Almost Every Miyazaki Film

Photo: Spirited Away / Toho

Posted by u/abaganoush:

[Hayao] Miyazaki adds to all his films, including Spirited Away (2002), quiet little scenes of inaction, called “Ma,” where the character just glances into the horizon and reflects, as a way to have a breathing room amid constant action.

The Lepers In ‘Princess Mononoke’ Briefly Appear In Another Scene

Photo: Princess Mononoke / Toho

Posted by u/kris10amanda:

At the end of Princess Mononoke there is a split second scene showing the forest spirit healed the lepers.

Chihiro Is Still Wearing Her Purple Hairband At The End Of ‘Spirited Away

Photo: Spirited Away / Toho

Posted by u/SleepyHobo:

In Spirited Away (2001), Chihiro is still wearing the purple hair tie Zeniba gave her to protect her as she looks back for the last time meaning her time spent in the spirit world was real.

In ‘Ponyo’, Sosuke Has Air Bubbles Coming Out His Nose While Ponyo Doesn’t

Photo: Toho

Posted by u/ignitethis2112:

In Ponyo (2008) Sōsuke’s nose has oxygen coming out since he is a human. But Ponyo, who can breathe underwater does not.

There’s Important Foreshadowing In ‘Howl’s Moving Castle’

Photo: Toho

Posed by u/Demi_95:

In Howl’s Moving Castle (2004), Sophie towards the end of the movie tells a young Howl from the past “I know how to help you now. Find me in the future.” When we first encounter Howl at the beginning he tells Sophie “There you are, sweetheart. Sorry I’m late. I was looking everywhere for you.”

In ‘Spirited Away’, The Radish Spirit Misses His Elevator Stop On Purpose

Photo: Spirited Away / Toho

Posted by u/readarchvillain:

In Spirited Away (2001), the Radish Spirit rides past his floor so that Chihiro doesn’t have to travel through the bathhouse alone.

Seita Breaks The Fourth Wall Twice In ‘Grave of the Fireflies’

Photo: Toho

Posted by u/PsychologicalPermit9:

In the Studio Ghibli animation Grave of the Fireflies (1988), the main character Seita looks directly into the audience twice; at the beginning and at the end, before shifting his sight. This implies that he can in fact see us and is retelling his story.

An Important Detail In ‘Spirited Away’ Also Appears In ‘Howl’s Moving Castle’

Photo: Toho

Posted by u/Mufasaah:

In the first part of Spirited Away, you can see the stained glass resembling the door dial acting as a portal in Howl’s Moving Castle. This signifies that the house of plaster is an entrance to another dimension.

Water And Surface Tension Details In ‘The Secret World of Arrrietty’

Photo: Toho

Posted by u/genericusername123:

When a tiny person pours tea from a tiny teapot in The Secret World of Arrietty (2010), it comes out as a droplet

There Are Strikingly Similar Melodies In ‘Ponyo’ And ‘My Neighbor Totoro’

Photo: Ponyo / Toho

Posted by u/homestar440:

In Studio Ghibli’s Ponyo, Sôsuke’s mother sings “Happy As Can Be” after Sôsuke cheers her up. The words and the tune she sings are lifted directly from the opening song to My Neighbor Totoro.

The Clock In ‘Whisper of the Heart’ Also Appears In ‘Porco Rosso’

Photo: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Posted by u/realandR3cys:

In Whisper Of The Heart (1995), when the antiques’ shopkeeper is showing Shizuku the old clock, the name of clock is seen written as “Porco Rosso.” Porco Rosso was another animated film released in 1992 by Studio Ghibli.

There Are Vaccination Scars On Kanta In ‘My Neighbor Totoro’

Photo: Toho

Posted by u/smalltung:

In My Neighbor Totoro, the animator drew two vaccination scars on the upper left arm of the village boy Kanta.

San’s Name Has A Deeper Meaning In ‘Princess Mononoke’

Photo: Toho

Posted by u/chanberrry:

In Princess Mononoke (1997), she is named ‘San’ which means three in Japanese because she is the third child of the wolf god Moro.

The English Dub Of ‘Spirited Away’ Adds An Extra Line Of Dialogue

Photo: Toho

Posted by u/LordDessik:

In the English dub of Spirited Away (2001) Chihiro says “It’s a bathhouse”, when she crosses the bridge; in the original Japanese she remains silent. This was added as distributors worried American audiences wouldn’t know what the building was, but Japanese audiences would recognise it immediately.

There’s A Self-Referential Easter Egg In ‘Porco Rosso’

Photo: Toho

Posted by u/grazzac:

Porco Rosso has a pretty sweet Easter egg. When Porco takes his plane to the engineers to be repaired the name on the engine is “Ghibli,” the studio who produced it.

There’s Another Self-Reference On The Books In ‘Whisper of the Heart’

Photo: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Posted by u/SarcasticTeaCup:

A reference to the Studio Ghibli film My Neighbor Totoro (1988) in their other film Whisper of the Heart (1995) (book to the left of the girl’s head).

The Bus In ‘Kiki’s Delivery Service’ Says ‘Ghibli

Photo: Toei Company

Posted by u/YouVacuumInReverse:

The bus in Kiki’s Deliver Service say “Ghibli” on the side.  

‘The Wind Rises’ Shows An Impeccable Attention To Deteail

Photo: Toho

Posted by u/quolquom:

Ghibli’s animators drew the distortion of light through Jiro’s glasses in The Wind Rises (2013).

Watch here.

There’s Anatomical Attention To Detail In ‘My Neighbor Totoro’

Photo: My Neighbor Totoro / Toho

Posted by u/sovnheim:

In My Neighbor Totoro, the cat bus has testicles.