As one of the most important and acclaimed animation studios in not only Japan but the world, it's unsurprising that Studio Ghibli has also inspired a wealth of printed material. Helen McCarthy's "Hayao Miyazaki: Master of Japanese Animation" about the studio's most celebrated director and Miyazaki's own "Starting Point: 1979-1996" essay collection, as well as numerous art books, provide fascinating insights into the workings of the studio and its creative staff, but what about those just looking to sit down with a good story?

Perhaps the most direct transfer from screen to page is in the form of film comics — books that take still images from the films and add speech balloons to retell the story. All Studio Ghibli films have been adapted in this manner by Japanese publisher Tokuma Shoten, with Viz Media having published English editions of many of the best-known stories, including "Castle in the Sky," "Kiki's Delivery Service" and most of the studio's recent output.

Since the images are drawn directly from the films, the stories follow the movie plots very closely, meaning that "Princess Mononoke" is just as dark and violent as its cinematic counterpart, while "My Neighbor Totoro" is every bit as idyllic and innocent. Of course, this also opens up wider questions as to the extent of their value as discrete products. Beyond their (not inconsiderable) use as a means of keeping children quiet on long car journeys, the Ghibli film comics are essentially neatly produced but lesser versions, lacking the sweep and grandeur, the details captured in the animation, and the rich sounds and music of the films, while adding little of their own.