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Top 10 Studio Ghibli Films of All-Time

Posted January 20, 2012 by Max in Featured

I’ve been meaning to do this feature for a while and given that movie news has been a little on the slow side lately, this is the perfect time.

For those unaware of Studio Ghibli, it’s a Japanese Production studio that makes incredible Animated Movies. Headed by the legendary Hayao Miyazaki, the films Studio Ghibli creates are not just gifts for Japan, but for the world.

Disclaimer: I would consider myself ‘Otaku’ and may like these movies more than normal. Also, according to the Wiki article on Studio Ghibli, ‘Naussica of the Valley of the Wind’ should not be included and ‘Grave of the Fireflies’ should. Needless to say I only followed that list loosely.

10. Ponyo (2008)

Ponyo was the latest film directed by Hayao Miyazaki. The film deals with a new life form from the sea that befriends a boy. Throughout his career Miyazaki has always stressed protecting the environment and Ponyo is no different. The pollution in the sea is the catalyst for the events in the film to unfold. The age level for his films is clear after watching the film and this is easily seen as being a story for children similar to a story later in the list.

9. Howl’s Moving Castle (2004)

I’m not that fond of Howl’s Moving Castle, but it had unfair expectations to live up to. Being Miyazaki’s next movie after ‘Spirited Away’ took over the world, and Princess Mononoke impressed an older generation, Howl’s comes off feeling conventional. It almost hurts me to use those words, but Howl’s just felt lazy at some points. The story follows a young woman who has been cursed into an old woman. She meets the usual for Studio Ghibli films, collection of magical characters. The main male protagonist, has a strange mystery around him, as well as a giant walking castle. While not the worst film, I just tend to not enjoy Howl’s Moving Castle like others have.

8. Whisper of the Heart (1995)

This is the only films on the list that isn’t directed by Miyazaki. That I would rank it higher than two other says a lot of the work done here by director Yoshifumi Kondô. Whisper of the Heart follows the story of a high school girl who falls for the fated man on all the library cards. What I find fascinating about this film is that unlike other Studio Ghibli films, this one mostly stays grounded. This romance could really happen and relating with the characters becomes that much easier.

7. Kiki’s Delivery Service (1989)

I avoided watching this for a long time because I was told this was the worst Miyazaki film. Well if Miyazaki had retired like he planned to after ‘Spirited Away’ I’d sadly have to agree. I’m not saying Kiki’s Delivery Service is anywhere near bad, but that the other films on this list are so much better. In Kiki’s Delivery Service, a young witch must discover what it like living on her and discovers love in the meantime. The finale of this movie is one of my favorite final scenes in any of Miyazaki’s movies.

6. My Neighbor Totoro (1988)

Here’s where things get interesting. I’m sure the next six films would place near the top of anyone doing a list like this, but maybe my list will surprise you. Especially this entry. My Neighbor Totoro features Studio Ghibli’s mascot character and easily the one of the most recognizable Japanese characters other than Domo. This film falls into the same age group that Ponyo covers, but this film is easily more successful. Two young girls grow up with their father, while their mother is hospital bound with a sickness. Totoro and his mystical friends help the young girls cope and bring their family closer together. There’s actually a lot that happens during the credit sequence of Totoro, so make sure you stay for that as with any Studio Ghibli film.

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About the Author


Chief Editor of Impassionedcinema. A film enthusiast who studies and creates his own films. Criticizing movies is his favorite pass-time.