Founded in 1985, Studio Ghibli has managed to give us some of the most fantastic, scariest, and emotional animated movies ever made. Along the way with masters like Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata, we’ve always been introduced to some truly heinous beasts and entities that have either passed through these worlds or met the heroes of these respective films. Among the myriad, these are five of, what I deem, the Scariest Studio Ghibli Monsters.
5. Henchmen – Howl’s Moving Castle (2004)
One of the more memorable beasts from “Howl’s Moving Castle,” Henchmen are the evil Witch of the Waste’s and Madame Suliman’s amorphous crew. They’re often spotted through out the movie identified by their black sludge like skin and end up posing a huge threat with their ability to become blob like monsters once their clothes have been shed. They can be identified by wearing plain uniforms and performing menial tasks, but walk in odd manners. Throughout the movie they work in tandem with one another, and as the battle becomes more and more desperate, they more they reveal their monstrous forms. They’re fascinating monsters, but creepy ones, too.
4. The Kashira – Spirited Away (2001)
There are a ton of sights in “Spirited Away,” but one of the most interesting are The Kashira aka “heads.” They are a trio of beings that appeared in Spirited Away, and are depicted large, green heads that move around by either bouncing on the floor or by rolling around. These heads are ordered and controlled by the evil Yubaba. We’re never told if they’re her minions, bodyguards, or pets, but they sure are weird.
3. War – Grave of the Fireflies (1988)
Director Isao Takahata’s animated drama is an emotional, soul crushing war time tale. Although it side steps the whole of fantasy aspect that Ghibli is known for, the one enemy that is prevalent throughout the film is man made war. Set during World War II, our characters young Seita and Setsuko are forced to watch the horrors of war unfold, prompting them to hide in the wild. War is a constant looming threat resulting in horrendous death and altering the lives of these characters.
2. Demon Nago – Princess Mononoke (1997)
Something of a result from the war and pollution that plague the land in “Princess Mononoke,” Nago is a boar god that is one of the leaders of the Boar clan. He is turned in to a Demon after being shot by Lady Eboshi while he’s fighting the humans under her. He is slaughtered by the ace warrior Prince Ashitaka with his arrows who desperately ends his siege on the villages, but when Nago touches Ashitaka, it curses him as well, dooming Ashitaka to die slowly from the mark unless he seeks help. The Demon Nago is a creepy and menacing beast, a corrupted god and entity that indicates the beginning of the end if the war in this land persists. It’s a bold statement and a twisted monster.
1. Kaonashi/No Face – Spirited Away (2001)
No Face is a mysterious being that makes his presence felt throughout the majority of “Spirited Away.” You can even argue that he has as much of a story and character arc as Chihihiro. At first what seems like a bizarre but friendly spirit soon turns in to obsession from No Face as he does whatever he can to garner Chihihiro’s favor. He basks in the comfort and apathy of the bath house, all the while looking for a new sense of stimuli. Along the way he becomes a monstrous beast fiending for more, and anxiously pursuing Chihihiro despite her best efforts to deflect his behavior. No Face is an interesting entity but one that warns great caution and awareness, especially in his ability to ingest other beings, and its lack of misunderstanding involving the nuances and subtle indicators of human emotions and love.