For over thirty years, Hayao Miyazaki and his company Studio Ghibli have been delivering the greatest animated features that were great enough to charm audiences and critics alike. The quality of his films has often been compared to the classic works of Disney. In fact, the two eventually came to an agreement to have Disney distribute Studio Ghibli films internationally.
On 2014, Studio Ghibli broke thousand of hearts after announcing Miyazaki’s departure. His final film with the studio, The Wind Rises, was released that same year. A lot of cinephiles have understandably been reeling from his retirement and rooting for his return soon. So while we patiently wait for the next Studio Ghibli film to enchant audiences once again, ExploreTalent is counting down their top animated features.
5 Favorite Studio Ghibli Movies
5. Howl’s Moving Castle (2004)
The film was adapted from the novel of the same name by Diana Wynne Jones. It was heavily influenced by Miyazaki’s opposition to the United States’ invasion of Iraq back in 2003 and is often considered to be one of his best works so far. The movie follows the journey of Sophie and her adventures with the wizard Howl, who happens to the only one who can break the curse an evil witch cast upon her. From the magical moving castle to the talented voice acting of Christian Bale as Howl in the English-dubbed version, this romantic fantasy is definitely one of every fan’s favorite Studio Ghibli films.
4. Grave of the Fireflies (1988)
Grave of the Fireflies truly deserves a spot on this list due to the fact that it could be the most emotionally charged anime movies ever released. The story is set in the final months of the Second World War, where two siblings count on each other to survive. The movie depicts the monstrosities of war in the most graphic way possible, but perhaps the biggest eye-opening lesson that this film presents is that violence and conflict affect innocent lives the most.
3. My Neighbor Totoro (1988)
For modern cinemagoers, My Neighbor Totoro may be a little too simplistic for their taste, but that happens to be the central theme of the entire film. Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli clearly wanted to capture the magic of everyday life by stressing out the importance of enjoying the little things at most. There are quiet scenes of sunlight hitting the cuddly Totoro and the wind rustling grass as the two young girls discover the wonders of the natural world around them.
The movie could be considered as Miyazaki’s most iconic works, as the titular character Totoro would later become the mascot of Studio Ghibli after its release.
2. Princess Mononoke (1997)
Despite being one of Studio Ghibli’s earlier works, it still continues to be one of the most powerful and beautifully crafted films to ever come out from the animation studio. To get into details of the story would be complicated as it has a plot that tramples most Hollywood epics these days. You will find magic, epic battles, and raging conflicts among villages in Princess Mononoke, meaning there isn’t a single dull moment from this animated feature.
1. Spirited Away (2001)
Not only did this movie get an Oscar for Best Animated Feature, but it was also named as the fourth-best film of the 21st century by several critics. Spirited Away does not shy away from dark, disturbing themes. Writers balance the whole movie out by mixing it with light fantasy to make it appeal to younger audiences worldwide. It has the iconic coming-of-age elements, which are prominent in most Studio Ghibli films, and continues to be an absolute must-see for movie lovers everywhere.