Studio Ghibli is one of the greatest animation studios in the world. They’ve produced many masterpieces including world-wide hits like Laputa and Totoro.
Whenever you hear about this studio producing any movie or animation; we’re sure to expect something interesting. For anyone who’s just starting to watch animated movies, Ghibli’s productions is a great place to begin.
From great story-lines to amazing animation, you can expect to see everything you expect to see in a good animated movie.
We’ve compiled a list of such Ghibli films in order of box-office ranking. Here are some surprising rankings that differ from the current ratings.
- 20. Castle in the Sky (1986)
- 19. My Neighbor Totoro (1988)
- 18. Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (1984)
- 17. My Neighbors the Yamadas (1999)
- 16. The Tale of Princess Kaguya (2013)
- 15. Whisper of the Heart (1995)
- 14. Only Yesterday (1991)
- 13. When Marnie Was There (2014)
- 12. Kiki’s Delivery Service (1989)
- 11. From Up on Poppy Hill (2011)
- 10. Pom Poko (1994)
- 9. Porco Rosso (1992)
- 8. The Cat Returns (2002)
- 7. Tales from Earthsea (2006)
- 6. The Secret World of Arrietty (2010)
- 5. The Wind Rises (2013)
- 4. Ponyo (2008)
- 3. Princess Mononoke (1997)
- 2. Howl’s Moving Castle (2004)
- 1. Spirited Away (2001)
20. Castle in the Sky (1986)
A theatrical animation directed and written by Miyazaki Hayao. This movie is based on Laputa; the island in the sky that appears in Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels.
The film is based on a fictional work that Miyazaki had in mind when he was in elementary school. So, you wont ifnd any manga or novel on which to base his work.
19. My Neighbor Totoro (1988)
My Neighbor Totoro is an animation set in the 30’s of the Showa era. It depicts the interaction between the Satsuki and Mei sisters of the Kusakabe family who have moved to the countryside. On the other hand, Totoro is a mysterious creature that is said to be only seen as a child.
It was written and directed by Miyazaki Hayao. However, the animation director was Sato Yoshiharu.
18. Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (1984)
A film adaptation of Miyazaki Hayao’s manga of the same name.
The movie is set in the near future; 1,000 years after the Great War that destroyed advanced industrial civilization. The main character, Nausicaa, lives with giant insects and a poisonous forest called the rotten sea. She protects her homeland and people from ugly conflicts between humans.
Miyazaki himself directed and wrote the screenplay. The staff Studio Ghibli films including Takahata Isao, Suzuki Toshio, and Hisaishi Jo also had helping hands for this film. It is regarded as the origin of Studio Ghibli.
It’s hard to believe the quality of the film is 35 years old now.
17. My Neighbors the Yamadas (1999)
Based on the four-frame manga “Tonari no Yamada-kun” serialized in the Asahi Shimbun, Studio Ghibli has made this film.
It is a humorous depiction of an ordinary Japanese family’s heartwarming episodes, structured like a collection of short stories.
The director is Takahata Isao (Heisei Tanuki Gassen Ponpoko).
16. The Tale of Princess Kaguya (2013)
Director Takahata Isao’s first theatrical animation in 14 years since “Hohokekyo Tonari no Yamada-kun”.
Based on the “Taketori Monogatari” (The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter), which is said to be Japan’s oldest story, this film is set in the Heian period (794-1185) and tells the story of the unknown Princess Kaguya.
Isao Takahata died four years after the film’s release, so this was his last film.
Perhaps because of this theme, the film has received a higher reputation overseas than in Japan.
15. Whisper of the Heart (1995)
This animation depicts the complex emotions of adolescence and the light love story of Shizuku, a junior high school girl who loves books, with a refreshing touch.
Kondo Yoshifumi made his directorial debut with this film. Hayao Miyazaki was the screenwriter and production producer.
This heart-pounding coming-of-age story has a charm that sets it apart from major fantasy works such as Laputa and Nausicaa, and it has many fans.
14. Only Yesterday (1991)
Based on the comic of the same name, this animated film was produced by Miyazaki Hayao and directed by Takahata Isao.
The film follows an ordinary 27-year-old office worker as she looks back on her own girlhood, becoming mentally independent and finding a way of life.
The voice cast includes Miki Imai and Toshiro Yanagiba.
The reminiscence scene from the 60’s is somewhat impressive.
13. When Marnie Was There (2014)
Ghibli’s adaptation of Joan G. Robinson’s children’s literature as a fantasy animation.
Set in Hokkaido, the film depicts the encounters and interactions between a 12-year-old girl entrusted to a couple in a seaside village and a mysterious girl named Marnie.
The director is Yonebayashi Hiromasa of “Arrietty the Borrower”.
Ayara Takatsuki and Kajun Arimura have been cast as voice actors.
12. Kiki’s Delivery Service (1989)
An animated feature film about a witch girl who grows up through various experiences in the process of training to become a witch.
An adaptation of the novel of the same name by Eiko Kadono, this is the first feature film by Hayao Miyazaki at Studio Ghibli based on someone else’s original work.
As fans will know, Kiki and Ursula (the painter girl who lives in the forest) are both played by voice actress Minami Takayama.
I was only three years old at the time!
The director, Hayao Miyazaki, is very good.
11. From Up on Poppy Hill (2011)
Based on the manga of the same name, this is the first animated film directed by Miyazaki Goro in five years since “Gedo Senki”.
Set in 1963 Yokohama, the film depicts the refreshing adolescence of a group of high school students through love and friendship with a 16-year-old girl.
Masami Nagasawa and Junichi Okada as voice actors for the main characters.
10. Pom Poko (1994)
This animation depicts raccoon dogs struggling to protect their sumikas from human development on residential land by using their ancestral “monster science”.
Director Takahata Isao, who directed “Tomb of the Firefly” and “Omoide Poroporo”, is working with Miyazaki Hayao for the first time in three years.
It’s one of the “Miyazaki series” that will become more profound when you watch it as an adult.
9. Porco Rosso (1992)
Set in Italy in the 1920s, after World War I and the rise of the Fascist Party, the film follows the exploits of a pilot, Porco Rosso, who is cursed and disguised as a pig.
Directed by Hayao Miyazaki, who is a fan of the film, the detailed settings of each flying boat and the powerful battle scenes are highlights.
Also, Shuichiro Moriyama, who voices the main character, Rosso, is too reluctant.
The theme song sung by Kato Tokiko, who plays the heroine, is also very touching.
It’s one of the “Miyazaki series” that will become more profound when you watch it as an adult.
8. The Cat Returns (2002)
Studio Ghibli is adapting “Baron, Baron of the Neko” by Hiiragi Aoi, the creator of the original comic of the movie “Mimi wo suteba”.
The film follows a young girl who is invited to the land of cats after rescuing a cat that was almost run over by a car.
It’s a spin-off featuring Baron the Cat from “If You Can Hear Me.
The voice cast includes Ikewaki Chizuru and others.
The film was directed by Morita Hiroyuki.
7. Tales from Earthsea (2006)
Miyazaki Goro, the son of Miyazaki Hayao, directs this fantasy epic for the first time.
Based on the world-famous fantasy novel by American Ursula K. Le Gwynn, the film follows the journey of a young boy named Allen and the world’s greatest wizard.
It’s the only film on this list to receive a two-point review, which is a harsh comparison to the strong box office numbers.
6. The Secret World of Arrietty (2010)
A fantasy animation directed by Yonebayashi Hiromasa, based on Mary Norton’s children’s novel “The Dwarfs Under the Floor”.
The film moves the setting from the original UK to modern day Japan and follows the interaction between a dwarf girl and a human boy living in the kitchen of an old house.
This is Yonebayashi Hiromasa’s first film as a director.
5. The Wind Rises (2013)
Based on two real-life characters, Horikoshi Jiro, the designer of the Zero fighter plane, and Hori Tatsuo, a literary figure of the same era, the film depicts the love and passion of a young man in 1930s Japan who is passionate about making airplanes.
The main character is played by director Anno Hideaki, known for the “Evangelion” series.
It’s more popular among adults than children.
4. Ponyo (2008)
This is the first fantasy film directed by Miyazaki Hayao in four years since “Howl’s Moving Castle”.
Based on the Andersen fairy tale “The Little Mermaid”, this film depicts the heartwarming interactions between Ponyo, a fish boy who wishes to become human, and Sosuke, a 5-year-old boy.
This is a must-see for the beauty of the visuals of director Hayao Miyazaki, who is particular about hand-drawn animation without using any CG.
3. Princess Mononoke (1997)
This animated film depicts the struggle between the humans who invade the forest and the ravaging gods on a grand scale.
It is said to be the culmination of director Hayao Miyazaki’s work, which continued to depict the relationship between nature and humans.
It became an unprecedented hit and was an amazing success with box office revenue of 19.3 billion yen, breaking the record of nearly 10 billion yen at the time.
Along with “Red Pig” and “Heisei Tanuki Gassen Ponpoko”, this is one of the “Miyazaki series that is more profound when you watch it as an adult”. (Naming your own.)
2. Howl’s Moving Castle (2004)
Based on the novel by Diana Wynne Jones, the film follows the love and adventures of a young girl and a wizard who are cursed to take the form of an old woman in a world where magic and science mix.
With a gorgeous cast including Chieko Baisho, Takuya Kimura, and Akihiro Miwa as voice actors, the film has become a hot topic.
1. Spirited Away (2001)
Set in modern Japan, this adventure fantasy depicts the struggles of a 10-year-old girl, Chihiro, as she struggles to grow up in a world of gods that she has wandered into.
The film’s $347.7 million box office receipts in the world is the highest of all time and have yet to be beaten.
This is probably the one that many people like the most, not only because of its box office performance, but also because of the quality of the film.This is a film that children and adults alike can enjoy over and over again.
These was our list of the best Ghibli productions. You’ll find enough variety in these movies and will enjoy every movie.
All the movies in this list offer such diverse stories and exquisite screenplay. Make sure you use this issue as a guide to start watching Ghibli produced movies.