Ghibli protagonists come in several ages and kinds, inhabiting regions from rustic neighbourhoods and devilish forests to magical fortresses and post-apocalyptic wastelands. However, most of them share one thing – they are icons of feminist icons of women empowerment. For many years now, Studio’s director Hayao Miyazaki have been renowned for their empowering feminist female characters.
They produced some of the most courageous female anime characters ever, influencing countless viewers to accept who they are and not be afraid to stand up for others and themselves.Though Studio Ghibli also creates anime films with breathtaking visuals and compelling narratives that make their films immediately recognizable and unforgettable for viewers of all ages, their films offer fans much more than just well-drawn characters.
Nor are these heroines without flaws or perfect, like many characters we have grown to see on the big screen. However, the way they transcend their flaws and surpass their peers is truly inspirational. These stories are so beloved and distinctive because they frequently have not just one but several fantastic female characters, each with conflicting opinions and supporting and loving relationships.
San and 8 other Ghibli characters that have become feminist icons over the years
Arriety from The Secret World of Arriety
Time for another #StudioGhibli
redraw! This time I wanted to give some love to #arriety ! She's one of of my fave Ghibli heroines ♥️ So brave and kind~
#ghibliredraw #artph #art #ArtistsofSEA #redraw #animeartist #animeart #ghibliredrawchallenge pic.twitter.com/ZDMVFaYtDc
— fizzypopcake (@fizzypopcake) August 3, 2020
Arrietty is Ghibli’s smallest heroine, but the size of her heart and soul is as big as anyone else’s, thanks to her adventurous spirit and considerate nature. Despite her small size Arrietty has big dreams and wants to explore the far-reaching and enormous world around her that’s filled with things that could easily kill her.
This brave Borrower and her parents live under the floorboard of a house in Tokyo. Arriety and other borrowers hide from humans for their own safety. However, she breaks this rule when she befriends the young boy who lives in the house, even though this might put her family’s home and existence in jeopardy.
Satsuki from My Neighbour Totoro
D1 and D2 delighted with their Christmas present from grandma; handmade Satsuki and Mei outfits from MY NEIGHBOUR TOTORO.
ComicCon ahoy! pic.twitter.com/QAuEBzIfGE
— Samuel West 💙💛 (@exitthelemming) December 27, 2021
Among Ghibli protagonists, Satsuki is the most inquisitive tomboy and lover of travel. Despite being young, Satsuki is incredibly responsible. Despite having to absorb and handle terrible situations as well, she is constantly there for her younger sister and even, at her tender age of ten, helps around the house.
Satsuki and her little four-year-old sister Mei learn that there are spirits residing in the area as they explore the surroundings of their new house. The two girls become friends with them, especially Totoro, who supports them with some of life’s challenges, including as their mother’s hospitalisation.
Kiki from Kiki’s Delivery Service
It is possible that Kiki’s Delivery Service is among the best films about growing up ever created. As is customary for witches in her world, Kiki, the iconic and titular Ghibli protagonist, must now fly away from her parents and live independently as she has just reached 13 years old. She is self-conscious about her limitations and doesn’t have any really impressive magical skills beyond the fundamentals of flying, but that skill is more than enough to dazzle everyone in town who isn’t magical, and she utilises it to launch a delivery service.
In an otherwise serene and soothing film, Kiki’s attempts to find inspiration and purpose as well as to take care of herself when she is so exhausted from work and the life that her miraculous magic is gone away, provide the most sombre and emotionally wrenching drama. Her experience demonstrates that being independent is difficult but worthwhile and that despite the inescapable setbacks, things can somehow manage to always get better.
Sophie Hatter from Howl’s Moving Castle
Howls moving castle
— Dan TheArist🪐 (@spacekid21_art) June 22, 2023
Imagine a young girl who manages to get through bleak and troubled times by holding out hope and by her own will. Truly sounds like a feminist icon indeed, doesn’t she? For people who are growing up and attempting to manage expectations of maturity in periods of immense uncertainty, where even our perception of time is distorted, there is something about this Ghibli protagonist that relates with them more deeply than ever.
Sophie, who is 18 at the beginning of the movie, is quickly cursed by The Witch of the Waste and becomes a 90-year-old woman. While breaking her curse is her primary motivation at first, she realises that she can adapt to being elderly rather easily and that, in the end, she is more motivated by protecting Howl than by reversing her curse. Under the curse, she changes a great deal in age and look, which more accurately reflects her emotional state than anything else. She regains her youth when the curse is finally broken, but she has silver hair to reflect the effects of her experiences.
Ponyo from Ponyo
Ponyo (2008). pic.twitter.com/fPUYd1MeC6
— Studio Ghibli Pictures (@ghiblipicture) June 25, 2023
This is without a doubt one of the Ghibli protagonists that stands out the most. Beginning as a fish with a somehow weirdly human or anthropomorphic face, Ponyo from the 2008 movie of the same name is a character. She can change into a goldfish-like creature with chicken legs after consuming human blood, and finally into a human female.
Ponyo is adorably adorable and radiates a loving, uplifting spirit throughout all of her developmental stages. Even when she mistakenly triggers a tsunami with her miraculous, magical abilities, you can’t be angry with her. Ponyo is prepared to leave her underwater existence and enter the land of the living, much like the more popular little mermaid as well as the kelpies and numerous merpeople from different folktales. She is driven in part by her affection for her human buddy Sosuke and in part by her affection for what the humans of our world identify as ham.
Chihiro Ogino from Spirited Away
🌸Pink character of the day is Chihiro Ogino from Spirited Away (2001) pic.twitter.com/NuJRBS2qUF
— Pink character of the Day! (@pinkOTD) June 24, 2023
One of the youngest among all Ghibli protagonists, Chihiro, had to face some particularly difficult circumstances by herself at a tender age. One of the most acclaimed and well-known anime series with female heroines is Spirited Away. Chihiro is a typical 10-year-old when somehow her parents are unexpectedly transformed into pigs in a deserted amusement park that bridges the gap between the physical world and the spirit realm.
Chihiro discovers that her parents should never have consumed the spirits’ magical or cursed food and that, in order to liberate them and return home, she must work in the spirit bathhouse. While Chihiro initially has a short fuse and is self-centered, her time spent at the bathhouse helps her develop into a responsible and loving individual.
Nausicaa from Nausicaa and the Valley of the Wind
— Kinokuniya USA (@KinokuniyaUSA) June 28, 2023
One of the best pieces of post-apocalyptic anime and media ever made, Nausicaa Of The Valley and the Valley of the Wind is full with memorable characters and has an uplifting and sad plot, just like the story of its lead character. Despite growing up somehow in a world where even at a young age, she had to fight every day to protect others and keep alive, Nausicaa is a brave leader who desires peace. She is also a skilled fighter.
Her story takes place in a distant future where the ecosystem of the planet was destroyed and only a small percentage of mankind were able to survive. Now they must hide from the animals of the Toxic Jungle – a byproduct of human warfare – that covers the majority of Earth in the few places that are still habitable for humans. When Nausicaa learns that she can communicate with the ostensibly harmful creatures, she makes the decision to use her abilities to restore peace to all of Earth’s living things.
San from Princess Mononoke
han as san ⋆⁺₊⋆ PRINCESS MONONOKE pic.twitter.com/GhvkYSyuL5
— grace⁷ 🦋 (@outromiboshi) June 30, 2023
Seeing the titular character of one of the most famous Miyazaki films is hardly a surprise. One of the most iconic Ghibli protagonists, San aka the main character of Princess Mononoke is truly an ecofeminist icon who has been taken to rival the characters of James Cameron’s Avatar. The 1997 animated feature Princess Mononoke by Hayao Miyazaki is an epic about the conflict between man-made technology and natural forces. San, also known as the titular Princess Mononoke, is a character who, despite being human, personifies the violent, righteous aspect of nature.
She aggressively rejects her humanity because she was raised by wolves, therefore she is highly perplexed by Prince Ashitaka’s desire for world peace as well as his apparent fondness for her. San’s side is obviously the more sympathetic one storyline in the narrative’s main confrontations, however this isn’t always something that can be assessed morally. After all, how can the natural world even itself be classified as “good” or “evil”? The main takeaway from the movie is that violence should be avoided, and San finally assists Ashitaka in establishing peace. Even still, it doesn’t lessen how awesome the scenes of combat-ready San in battle are.
Sheeta from Laputa: Castle in the Sky
— apaan ya (@rengginangaring) May 14, 2021
Despite her meek and reserved personality, Sheeta heroically accepted her duties and confronted all the threats to defend what has remained of her once-proud kingdom, Laputa. She is also a courteous and compassionate person who shows kindness to others despite the chaos around her. Like all the other Ghibli protagonists, Sheeta’s amazing sense of empathy and her courage in sticking to what is right makes her a delight, while she has enough unique traits to establish her individuality that makes her scenes in the story memorable
The plot of Laputa: Castle in the Sky follows her exploits as she tries to flee her kidnapper and a terrifying pirate gang who desire the mystery necklace she wears around her neck that points to Laputa’s hidden location. Pazu is a little child who Sheeta befriends and who assists her on her exciting voyage.