Particularly in Spirited Away, Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind, Princess Mononoke and Kiki's Delivery service, how are the lead female characters portrayed?
In all of the films that you listed, the main female leads are portrayed as very strong and perseverant individuals who are not afraid to take things into their own hands to get things done. Furthermore, other primary female characters are seen as strong and often fill traditionally male roles.
Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind
- Nausicaa is willing to risk dying from spores to protect the Ohmu. She also acts as the leader of the town, practically.
- Princess Mononoke is willing to sacrifice her own life for the forest animals and guardians. Aside from that, in Iron Town, all of the workers are women and they seem to wear the pants in their relationships with their husbands. Furthermore, they're led by Lady Eboshi, a strong leader who manages to protect Iron Town from armies who desire the iron they refine within their walls.
Kiki's Delivery Service
- Kiki leaves on her own, despite protests from her family, to prove that she is ready to be a witch. Even when facing adversity like not having a place to sleep or a way to pay for things, she faces these hardships with a smile and is determined to work things out without calling her parents for help.
- Chihiro, when her parents are turned into pigs and is told by everyone that she has no hope of seeing them again, refuses to give up. She goes so far as to practically upend the current establishment of the town by freeing Kohaku from Yubaba's control and even turning Yubaba's own ....son(?) against her. Furthermore, it's worth noting that the entire town is run by Yubaba, an old witch who keeps all of her employees in line.