Studio Ghibli

Unlike many environmental films made in the West, which often offer a minimal critique of capitalism or militarism, eco-anime--especially the work of Studio Ghibli--consistently dives into these more complex themes. Many themes in

  • Connections between humans and nature
  • Critiques of capitalism and militarism as a major part of environmental destruction
  • Cooperation as a key to survival
  • Aesthetically beautiful animation with lots of green space, even in urban areas
  • Influence of solarpunk novels, like those of Ursula K. Le Guin
  • Ecological preservation
  • Frequent use of sustainable energy, like windmills
  • Connections between spirituality and nature
  • Ultimately hopeful plotlines

Because so many of Studio Ghibli's films could be considered solarpunk, some of the most influential to the solarpunk genre are listed below.

Castle in the Sky (1986), directed by Hayao Miyazaki

Also known as Laputa: Castle in the Sky This colorful anime adventure follows the adventures of a young girl and young boy who must keep a magical crystal away from the military, all while they search for a  mythical floating castle.

Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (1984), directed by Hayao Mizazaki

Taking place one thousand years after a total environmental collapse, Nausicaä  follows the titular character in her adventures to save her wind-powered village from the ever-present toxic forest and impending war. When her community is attacked, Princess Nausicaä fights for connection with nature and peace as solutions. Despite a dated soundtrack that can be grating at times, Nausicaä  is often considered one of the best animated films of all time. If you love this movie, you should also check out the manga of the same name.

Pom Poko (1994), directed by Isao Takahata

A group of magical tanuki (racoon dogs indigenous to Japan) use their shapeshifting powers to fight against humans destroying their environment. They use tactics similar to many radical, politically punk activist groups in order to fight for their habitat. There is also a discussion of power and assimilation that is rarely touched upon in animated film.

Princess Mononoke (1997), directed by Hayao Miyazaki

Similar to the earlier Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind  Princess Mononoke follows the struggle between nature and humans for a forest's resources in supernatural late-feudal Japan. The film resists painting antagonists and protagonists in clear black-and-white terms. The film also explores ecology's relationship with disability  and sexuality in ways most animation does not.