The name 'Studio Ghibli' manages to creep its way into any conversation regarding great artistic talent and storytelling in the industry of film. In 1985, Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata founded a company that would forever change the vision of the animation industry and cultural films. Through decades, the films churned out by Studio Ghibli have not only received critical acclaim under the anime category but under the broader horizon of the global film industry as well. Recognized for the emotional evocative power of their films, Studio Ghibli stands bold in its intention to provide a beautiful cinematic experience. This article will list out the 10 best Studio Ghibli films that you can watch and marvel at.
- Porco Rosso
The Studio Ghibli lore is packed with a vast inventory of films and Porco Rosso is an underrated gem that you stumble upon through your journey. But we're making that leap for you and suggesting this classic flying film where Miyazaki shines. The film is set in 1930s Italy with our unusual looking protagonist - Porco Rosso. Rosso (the Crimson Pig) is a talented former World War I pilot with a face of a pig, one that was transformed by a mysterious spell during the battle. The story follows his competition with sky Pirate Curtis in the art of flying and also, in the art of winning Madame Gina's affection.
- Kiki's Delivery Service
Another of the most fascinating aspects of some Ghibli films is that it stands out for its beautiful aesthetic, characters and the general vibe of it despite not having much of a plot. One such film is Kiki's Delivery Service. The film is quite an upbeat and feel-good take on a young witch, Kiki, and her quippy cat, Jiji who settle into a new place in a venture into adulthood as a 'proper' witch. The film inclines towards a coming-of-age treatment where Kiki discovers what her identity of being a witch entails and her rich and adventurous journey of starting her delivery service (her transport being the broom).
- The Wind Rises
The Wind Rises is Hayao Miyazaki's swan song that evoked a lot of buzz. Drawing from historical accounts of 1930s Japan plagued with disease and recession, the story follows Jiro Horikoshi, a chief engineer and designer of various Mitsubishi fighter planes. As an ardent lover of flying, the only obstacle that remained in his path was his nearsightedness. However, in an unusual dream with a cameo from Italian aircraft designer, Giovanni Caproni, Jiro follows a different path in building planes that are eventually used in the devastating events of World War II much to his disappointment. Through Jiro, the film eloquently touches on the art of creation that is tainted through war.
- Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind
Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind marks the eventual birth of Studio Ghibli. While it was created before its establishment, it is still considered a Ghibli work. Some of the major themes of Miyazaki's works include strong female leads, ecological issues and the art of flying - Nausicaä has them all. Set in a post-apocalyptic world, the story follows Nausicaä, a princess of the Valley of the Wind who finds herself amidst a struggle against the kingdom of Tolmeika that is set on destroying a jungle habitated by mutant giant insects with an ancient weapon. Her goal : to save the ravaged planet from dying.
- Howl's Moving Castle
Howl's Moving Castle is adapted from the novel of the same title by Diana Wynne Jones. The film embodies an anti-war sentiment and the story is set in a backdrop of ineffectual war fought using advanced technology and magic. Amidst the turmoil, the protagonist Sophie finds herself cursed to look like an old woman by the evil Witch of the Waste. Soon, through a turn of events, Sophie is employed under the notorious wizard Howl in his 'moving castle'. Through their budding relationship and her life at the castle, Sophie learns to embrace the freedom brought on by the curse. The movie intertwines several events that touch upon war, love and loyalty.
- Grave of the Fireflies
We're warning you to keep a box of tissues with you for this one because it is definitely going to be an emotional rollercoaster ride that you'll never truly recover from. Aside from that, the film is a beautiful masterpiece that depicts the harsh impact of war through the lives of two siblings that have to fend for themselves. In an unforgiving world, Seita and his younger sister Setsuko hold onto survival through the tips of their fingers. The film signifies the simple innocence of two children who're forced to adapt in the deplorable conditions they're living in. The film gets heartbreakingly real regarding the horrific effects of war and the simply joys of life that keep them going.
- Laputa : Castle in the Sky
Laputa : Caste in the Sky is the perfect action-adventure film to opt for among the various options. The story follows Pazu, a young miner who encounters Sheeta, a girl who falls from the sky. The story navigates their journey to find a castle behind the clouds. The film is nothing short of excellence in its embodiment of themes such as industry, greed, sacrifice and courage. Through enigmatic characters and striking elements of the story such as ancient robots, steampunk airships, and magic crystals - the film portrays the perks of imaginations gone wild. The film is recognized for its ambitious premise, distinct animation style, and well written plot that'll leave you reeling.
- Spirited Away
Spirited Away is arguably the most popular Studio Ghibli film that enjoyed the reign of the highest grossing anime film of all time for over a decade. The story of Spirited Away is rooted in a bewitching fantasy that'll serve as a great reminder of the beauty of animation. The supernatural creatures of the film remain iconic in the animation industry and to various anime fans. The story follows a young girl, Chihiro, as she and her parents enter into a supernatural world and encounter a mysterious boy named Haku. The boy states that the world is a refuge to all supernatural beings that are exhausted by their time on earth. To free her parents from this world, Chihiro must work her way to freedom.
- Princess Mononoke
As we said earlier, strong female leads is Miyazaki's forte and Princess Mononoke is one of the most trailblazing female leads on film. The film is set in 14th century where the cordial relations between the animal Gods and humans are crumbling due to deforestation issues. Caught between the struggle is a young boy - Ashitaka who seeks a cure from a deer-like Shinigami for his infection. In his journey, he witnesses the wrath brought by wolf God Moro and his human companion Mononoke against the humans in their attempt to destroy their home. As he sets to broker peace between her and the humans, the conflict ensues. The film is extremely captivating in terms of visuals and Princess Mononoke herself is a riveting character to watch.
- My Neigbour Totoro
I'm sure you must have come across the giant rabbit mascot of Studio Ghibli in your searches. Well, he hails from the iconic film My Neighbour Totoro. This is the best film to sit back and watch along with your siblings or family because it only brings pure joy. The story follows two sisters as they move into an old house in proximity to a hospital where their mother is admitted due to a long-term illness. The girls then stumble across and befriend the spirits that inhabit the nearby forest - the prominent one being the giant rabbit that roars, Totoro. The film is geared towards children, however, it makes for quite an entertaining and feel good watch.