Top 10 Studio Ghibli Best Movies List


studio ghibli best movies

Hey guys!. In this post, I’ll be discussing a list of Top 10 Studio Ghibli Best Movies List. Studio Ghibli, co-founded by legendary animator Miyazaki Hayao, is arguably the most famous and most iconic Japanese animation film studio in the world that has produced some of the most well-loved animated movies since its inception in 1985. Easy-to-understand movies are boring. Logical storylines sacrifice creativity. The whimsical worlds and unforgettable characters the studio creates, coupled with themes that tackle aspects of the human condition, altogether make for a lingering, thought-provoking movie experience. So let’s get started.

10. Spirited Away. 

Often described as a twisted cross between Alice in Wonderland and Peter Pan, this 2001 film is considered as Miyazaki’s most commercially successful film internationally. man: I thought Spirited Away was just an explosion of Miyazaki’s imagination. In Spirited Away, ten-year-old Chihiro Ogino moves to a new neighborhood with her parents. But things go haywire when they mistakenly enter a spirited world. When a witch turned her parents into pigs, Chihiro was forced to work in a supernatural bathhouse owned by a witch named Yubaba, and she must figure out a way for her parents and her to return to the human world. Mesmerizing visuals, bizarre looking characters and loads of traditional folklore references have made Spirited Away such a wildly captivating film that ultimately grossed more than $383 million worldwide, and won a highly-coveted Oscar for Best Animated feature in 2003. 

9. Castle in the Sky. 

This first official movie under Studio Ghibli may not be as intricate and as polished as the other movies that followed it, but Castle in the Sky still makes for one thrilling, action-filled adventure. Set in the late 19th century, the film follows young orphans Sheeta and Pazu who are trying to find a mythical floating castle called Laputa. Along the way, they must keep a magic crystal safe from military agents and airborne pirates, and Pazu learns that Sheeta might hold the key to entering the legendary kingdom. Although there was a bit too much focus on the story’s villains, it’s still a great introduction to some of Miyazaki’s favorite themes, and design-wise, the rich steampunk aesthetic of Castle in the Sky has made it one of the most influential outings in the Studio Ghibli canon. 

8. The Tale of Princess Kaguya.

Veering away from the traditional style of animation the studio has become known for, Studio Ghibli cofounder Isao Takahata combined brisk lines and delicate watercolor strokes to bring to life the fantastic Tale of the Princess Kaguya. An adaptation of the Japanese classic The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter, Princess Kaguya tells the story of a magical princess from the moon who wanted to experience living among humans. She sprouted among the trees in an enchanted bamboo grove and was discovered by a bamboo cutter. Together with his wife, he raised her to become a proper noblewoman. But until when can Princess Kaguya live her mortal life on Earth? Takahata’s diversion from the typical “house style” animation certainly paid off, as critics applauded the exquisitely handcrafted visuals that are reminiscent of calligraphy and old-school parchment scrolls. Pair that with superb storytelling and it’s no wonder the film earned a well-deserved Oscar nod in 2014. 

7. Princess Mononoke. 

This 1997 Miyazaki epic was the first Studio Ghibli movie that caught the attention of American viewers. Set in the late Muromachi period in Japan, Princess Mononoke—which means “supernatural creatures” in Nihongo --revolves around Ashitaka, a young Emishi prince who got embroiled in a clash between the enchanted gods of a forest and the people of Iron town who exploit its resources. Instead of being a clear-cut good-versus-bad saga, the film show the complexities of both the humans and the mystical forest creatures, which makes viewers rethink who they should ultimately side with. Praised for it’s extremely complex and adult plot, not to mention its lush, intricate animation, Princes Mononoke unsurprisingly made it to Time Out and Total Film’s list of the 50 greatest animated films. And it even became one of James Cameron’s inspirations for his 2009 blockbuster movie Avatar! 

6. Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind 

Disclaimer: This 1984 film was technically created by Miyazaki right before founding Studio Ghibli, but it’s still widely considered as part of the studio’s portfolio. Now that we got out of the way, let’s deep dive into this animated masterpiece that’s frequently ranked as one of the greatest animated films ever made. Set in a post-apocalyptic world where clusters of humans try to hide from gigantic mutant insects who ravage the earth, the movie follows the adventures of Nausicaa, a young princess of the Valley of the Wind, who gets entangled in a battle against the kingdom of Tolmekia. The Tolmekians are dead set on utilizing an ancient weapon to decimate a jungle of giant mutant insects called Ohms. Will Nausicaa succeed in the prophecy that sees her as the savior of the natural world, or will Mankind’s hatred ultimately triumph? Aside from J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings and the folktale The Princess Who Loved Insects, Nausicaa and the Valley of the Wind as also influenced by the mercury poisoning of the Minamata Bay in 1956 that caused one of the biggest pollution diseases in Japan, and affected more than 10,000 people. 

5. Howl’s Moving Castle. 

Voiced by some of Hollywood’s biggest names like Christian Bale, Emily Mortimer and Billy Crystal, Howl’s Moving Castle is loosely based on a 1986 novel of the same name. The film kicks off with the lead character named Sophie being cursed by a witch who transforms her into a 90-year-old woman. On her journey to break the curse, she encounters a fire demon named Calcifer who then introduces her to a shapeshifting wizard named Howl, who owns the titular enchanted castle. This leads to Sophie getting involved in a brutal war between two kingdoms. The film’s dark story and strong anti-war themes are a result of Miyazaki’s strong opposition of the US invasion of Iraq, so this one’s not the most kid-friendly. It’ mostly well received states-side, although some critics point out that the plot meanders aimlessly at certain points. 

4. Kiki’s Delivery Service. 

In 1996, Studio Ghibli struck a deal with Walt Disney that gave Disney theatrical distribution rights to Studio Ghibli’s catalog outside of Asia. And Kiki’s Delivery Service was the first one dubbed an released in the US under the 15-year partnership. But did you know that Miyazaki originally wasn’t supposed to direct this one? Miyazaki: I had young staff members work on the project and it was all set. Then things kind of fell apart. I had to step up and ended up directing it. In this coming-of-age flick, Kiki is a mischievous young apprentice witch who leaves her home, moves into a new town called Koriko, and lands a job as a delivery girl for a bakery with her trusty old broomstick. However, Kiki soon discovers that her flying powers are slowly fading. The design of the town of Koroko in itself is a testament to Miyazaki’s wild and childlike imagination, as it looks like a curious amalgam of various European cities like Paris, Stockholm and Dublin. But stunning illustrations aside, the film is a clever metaphor for the struggles we face growing up and stepping into the world of adulthood. 

3. Pom Poko. 

Modern civilization clashes with the natural world in this hilarious tale that’s inspired by the mythical Japanese raccoon dog called tanuki. For your reference, here’s what an actual tanuki looks like! Studio Ghibli Isao Takahata features these creatures’ front and center in his crazy saga about breakout groups of shapeshifting tanukis desperately trying and failing to reclaim the land that’s slowly being urbanized by humans. These plump creatures resort to all kinds of hysterical hijinks just to fend off real estate developers that threaten not just their habitats, but and their very existence. Takahata’s Pom Poko is hilariously boisterous in ways that Miyazaki’s films aren’t. Although, you can see that both co-founders share a strong moral connection to the environment. Oh, and if you’re wondering what Pom Poko means, well, it just refers to the sound the tanukis make when they drum their bellies. 

2. Grave of the Fireflies.

Now this one’s probably the most heart-wrenching, most soul-crushing film in Studio Ghibli’s arsenal. Here’s the logline from Takahata himself. Takahata: It’s about 2 children who apparently died. There wasn’t anything else. Yup, pretty much sums up the entire film. But the longer plot of Grave of the Fireflies goes something like this: Fourteen-year-old Seita and his 4-year-old sister Setsuko must try to survive as orphans in war-stricken Kobe, Japan, in the middle of World War II. Homeless and starving, Seita struggles to shield his innocent sister from the horrors that surround them. This depressing epic masterfully tackles Japanese nationalism and the devastating human cost of war, tucked in a tragic story that would have you bawling your eyes out long after the credits roll. Despite his early reservations, Takahata pursued the project to show how the medium can successfully take on subjects deemed too grim for the usual animated movie. And it certainly paid off, as Grave of the Fireflies is deemed one of the best war movies of all time. 

1. My Neighbor Totoro.

If the Americans have Mickey Mouse, the Japanese have their cuddly neighbor Totoro! One of Studio Ghibli’s most enduring movies, My Neighbor Totoro introduced what would eventually become one of Japan’s most beloved characters, ranking highly among the likes of Hello Kitty, Pikachu and Doraemon! My Neighbor Totoro, which basically revolves around 2 sisters and their magical adventures with the wood spirit Totoro, proves that you don’t need to have complex story arcs and conflicts to tell a great story. Although it may look deceptively simple with its over-the-top whimsy, the movie manages to move audiences by portraying the joys and fears of childhood. At its core, Totoro encourages the viewers to find magic in everyday things. 

That is it from today’s post on Top 10 Studio Ghibli Best Movies List. If you do not agree with the points in the post and have some of your own opinions, share them with us in the comments section down below. 

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Chandan is the writer of “Top 10 Studio Ghibli Best Movies List”. Also, Connect with me on Facebook.


Hey there! I'm Chandan and I'm from India. I'm a writer and youtuber. You can contact me at: pinterest

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