(The category of Animals only implies that the animal has the ability to talk or transform from human form into an animal)
Princess Mononoke (14th Century)
The theory all begins with Princess Mononoke which takes place in the 14th Century where all three categories remain in peace. When all of the sudden, a random demon devours and takes control of a pack leader of the ancient boars. This destruction leads to war amongst the humans, animals, and spirits. Each group trying to protect and defend itself from one another.
But the Spirits and Animals have formed an alliance together to protect themselves from the Humans. However, in the end of the film all the Humans, Animals, and Spirits remained in peace until the end of the movie, yet it’s magic still lurks around. Although the Humans and Animals are more cautious of each other.
Howl’s Moving Castle (20th Century)
With all these magic and curses, in just six centuries, witches and wizards have come out of hiding and started to develop new jinxes. The Witch of the West has obtained the power of the demon from Princess Mononoke and has used that power for evil and making herself beautiful. However, she also created a curse, used on Sophie to make her look old and ugly, as revenge for Howl.
Spirited Away (2001 Present)
Although the Witch of the West from Howl’s Moving Castle may be gone, the curse hasn’t. A new witch, Yubaba, has found a way to obtain the demon’s magic from the Witch of the West. Thus, using that dark magic to enslave spirits to work for her in her bathhouse. This process has given Yubaba her wealth and witches from dirty, yet powerful spirits of the realm.
Anyhow, with the help of Chihiro, Haku was able to diminish the last piece of evidence of the demon’s power from Princess Mononoke (for now).
But the balance between Humans and Spirits has vanished when Chihiro walked past that tunnel. After walking through the tunnel, she no longer had any memory of the all the adventures she’s had in that spiritual bathhouse.
Kiki’s Delivery Service (1989 Present)
Witches now are known to have bad reputations, but that doesn’t stop Kiki and her family from developing new witch skills and learning about herself along the journey as well. After Kiki saves Tombo from the falling blimp, witches have regained their good reputation and succeeding in returning the balance of humanity between human and witches.
Porco Rosso (World War I 1914-1918 Italy)
Dark magic still lurks around the area, as Porco Rosso has been cursed to look like a pig forever unless kissed by true love. But the setting now takes place in World War I, and warfare between humans and other humans have occurred more than often. The balance between Humans and Animals has been separated after Porco Rosso broke his curse and is no longer a pig anymore.
The Wind Rises (1918 Tokyo)
It’s still time during World War I, and the craftsmanship of airplanes have never been more honored and praised. Now both Animals and Spirits have been completely removed from the Human world.
The Castle of Cagliostro (Sep 1968)
After long years of war, poverty has struck down on humans. Leaving the opportunity to thieves who roam around stealing money and wealth for themselves. The world of humans alone is unsafe and can’t truly live in peace where there is hatred and war.
The only category left in the world are Humans, without Animals or Spirits, it leaves the world to potentially cause destruction amongst itself.
My Neighbor Totoro (1958 Japan)
Satsuke and Mei have imagined a great creature with a name of Totoro, when they realized Totoro was actually real. Magic returns to world once again, as animals escape from their hiding place restoring the balance between Humans and Animals.
The black dust mites or Susuwatari from Spirited Away, also returns into the human world.
This represents the equilibrium being restored as Animals and Spirits come back into the human world, for a darker magic is coming. The human world is no longer surrounded by warfare with itself, but another source of anger approaches. More and more natural ecosystems are being destroyed by either humans or an unknown source.
Ponyo (2008 Present)
Now with the balance between Humans and Animals restored, humans, once again, have found another way to pollute and destroy perfect ecosystems; the ocean. With Spirits back into the human world as well, magic is being released into the atmosphere. Creatures such as Ponyo see this and uses it to her advantage.
When Ponyo first meets Sosuke, she wants to be human, and uses the magic to do so. All faith of humanity lies on Ponyo as if she chooses to be human forever, she leaves the world of Magic, Spirits, and Animals.
However, we see towards the end of the film, that Ponyo chooses to be human. This breakthrough causes a hole between the categories of Humans and Animals, but both remain in peace.
Castle in the Sky (Future)
The world now is taken by surprise, when a new magic source has come. In the future, the world remains separated with the Humans and Animals as Ponyo made her choice to become human and risked the classification of Animals. (The Animal category is only represented if it shows any sign of talking and transforming itself into a human or vise versa).
The balance between Humans and Spirit have been separated for a long time as well. No one has seen any sign of magic but now that people know that magic still exists, everyone wants a part of the power.
Kamaji from Spirited Away has made a reappearance in Castle in the Sky. Yet this time, he is in human form just as magic has been discovered again.
Humans have gone crazy over magic, because no one has had any sort of power for years. The necklace given to Sheeta holds great power to the hidden island of Laputa. Once Laputa was destroyed, all human technology and weapons on Laputa have been destroyed.
But at the ending clip of the film, we can see that life has begun again. Magic has returned once more and evolved from the present days. Eventually, giving the magic in Sheeta’s necklace to have the power to give life to the Laputa.
Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (Future)
After the rebirth of Laputa, from Castle in the Sky, it became a new and improved island. All organisms from Castle in the Sky have returned to this new world in Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind.
Leading the Phaeacians from island Scheria to use Laputa for brand new technology to save their planet. Apocalyptic destruction has come to destroy a new ecosystem of the valleys and jungles.
Insects (Monsters) have taken over the planet and Nausicaa must find a way to return them to their “toxic” jungle.
Another species, the “God Warriors” seems to have gathered new technology from all the years of magic. In order to return and cause even more destruction to Nausicaa’s planet.
But these species resembles the robots from Castle in the Sky, but evolved and repaired.
With the new advancements in the future made, it’s possible that the demon from Princess Mononoke in the 14th Century has returned.
Bringing back the anger and hatred, as a final test to bring the world in ruins. This demon has caused the insects to turn mad with rage and start attacking the valleys.
Only that Nausicaa has sacrificed her “good” self and diminish the anger in the insects. But in doing so, she risked her life. The insects have granted her another life for her great sacrifice. Restoring the balance between the Humans, Animals, and Spirit. Now making life on Earth regaining its peace and harmony.
Thank you for reading! Comment down below which was your favorite Studio Ghibli film and if this theory fits in well.