Best Ghibli Films

Please note that list of top 10 Ghibli movies in this post is subjective and mentions the films I enjoyed the most.

Special Mention: On Your Mark (Music Video)

This film features an interesting sequence of flashbacks, illustrating one of Miyazaki’s favorite themes.

10. Laputa Castle in the Sky

“I admired those men [Welsh miners], I admired the way they battled to save their way of life, just as the coal miners in Japan did. Many people of my generation see the miners as a symbol; a dying breed of fighting men. Now they are gone.” Miyazaki

Art by Jas

9. Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea

โ€œI believe that making animation with pencils is the only way for us to survive.โ€ Miyazaki

It took 70 staff and 170 000 pictures hand-drawn over one and a half years to create this wonderful film. I especially enjoyed fish scene ๐Ÿ™‚ No, I won’t post that song because it is dangerously addictive and can infiltrate your mind ๐Ÿ˜›

Next Page: 8 and 7

54 thoughts on “Best Ghibli Films

  1. Spirited Away was the first Ghibli film I ever saw and it is still my favorite. I watched grave of the fireflies ages ago, but I think I was too young to appreciate it, I think I’ll give it another go now I’m older.
    My young brother loves Totoro. He started watching it when he was 4, and has since then seen it at least 10 times (he’s 5 now). He loves the cat bus ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. You know… I actually haven’t watched Grave of the Fireflies yet. ^^;; I want to watch it, because it’s such a highly praised film, but at the same time, I don’t want to because I’m really not a fan of tragedy films.

  3. Ghibli films!!! I LOOOOOVE!!! I have not watched like half of these but my top ones would be Nausicaa, Princess Mononoke and Spirited Away. If I had to choose a no. 1 it will be a super difficult decision but I’d say Princess Mononoke!!

    I have not watched Grave of the Fireflies…cos I know it’s a sad one!!!! >_<

    1. Yes, those are my favorites too ๐Ÿ™‚ Ashitaka should have been a girl – that would have alleviated the difficulty of your decision ๐Ÿ˜›

      Grave of the Fireflies is very sad, so try the opposite instead: Totoro and Whisper of the Heart ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. I really love your choice on picture and mv. ๐Ÿ™‚
    Reading your list is like reading my own…except that everything is backward. I think if we combine our lists, we’ll get the almost complete Ghibli filmography!

    1. Thank you ๐Ÿ™‚ I am glad you enjoyed them ๐Ÿ™‚

      haha Well, we both have Totoro at number two and Nausicaa at number five ๐Ÿ˜‰

      Indeed, our lists cover most of the works ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. I have only seen two films from Ghibli, so I think I’m not really in a position to judge for the best ones. Lol. But I really enjoyed Spirited Away-which I believed I’ve mentioned it before on your blog somewhere, unless my memory is faulty. XD I think that Spirited Away is like Alice in Wonderland in a way-complete with crazy and outlandish characters and a mysterious, parallel new world. I think I prefer Miyazaki’s alternate universe better-it’s less freaky. Sorry that I haven’t been as active on your blog of late-been relying on Twitter as my main communication tool. -.- But anyway, as long as you post about Kuroshitsuji-you can be assured that I will leave a comment regardless. LOL I didn’t mean that seriously ahaha

    1. Yes, you did mention it before ๐Ÿ™‚

      No problem. We are all busy , so visit when you can ๐Ÿ™‚

      haha I’ll definitely post something when the new season starts ๐Ÿ˜‰

  6. Can’t believe I’m the only person so far who’s voted for the cat returns!! :O It’s like, my favourite out of the whole collection X3

    I really wanna see Only Yesterday :O It looks so good!!

    Love the Whisper of the Heart AMV ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. That’s a nice anime with all those kitties ๐Ÿ™‚

      Yes, Only Yesterday is an excellent film.

      I am glad you liked that Whisper of the Heart AMV ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. Omigosh, everything Ghibli. I think I’ve watched nearly all of Studio Ghibli’s releases…except for Tales of the Earthsea and Ocean Waves. Your number one favourite ‘Grave of the Fireflies’ made me cry buckets. It was a very difficult movie to watch because of the emotions that it generated while watching it. I couldn’t bring myself to watch it a second time. Once is enough because the story is ingrained in my mind. My top 5 are Totoro, Kiki, Spirited Away, Princess Mononoke and Nausicaa.

    1. I think the only film I have not watched yet is Tales of the Earthsea, but, based on the reviews, it does not seem to be a very good film. On the other hand, some people consider Ocean Waves one of their favorite films.

      Indeed, Grave of the Fireflies is a very difficult anime to watch.

      Ah, it sounds like we share the top choices of the favorites ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. Thanks for sharing your list! ๐Ÿ™‚

    It also made me realize how many nice Ghibli films I haven’t seen yet. My top ones would Totoro, followed by Spirited Away. ^^ I have Ponyo in my HD, but I often forget it’s there. xD I’ve been told Whisper of the Heart is nice, too.

    I don’t think I’ll ever watch Fireflies. I’m such a crybaby and I can’t handle war-related films. They’re too depressing for me. T_T I’m also a sucker for happy endings, so I tend to avoid sad ones.

    1. You are welcome, Hazy ๐Ÿ™‚ Good to hear that you found it useful ๐Ÿ™‚

      Yes, Totoro and Spirited Away are my top picks as well after GofF.

      Indeed, Whisper of the Heart is a very nice film ๐Ÿ™‚

      It might be best to skip Fireflies then because it is a very sad film – we have enough misery in our lives already… When you come from work very tired, such a movie is not something you want to see.

  9. Like you note, the wonderful thing about Ghibli movies is that they’re so rewatchable. They speak to you a little differently as your experiences change.

    I’d probably rate Nausicaa a little lower myself, but that’s mainly because I found the movie a little lackluster in comparison to the full manga (which is understandable, given that the movie was made when only half of the manga was finished).

    1. Agreed and agreed.

      The “replay” value of these films is great. And for me, I started watching them at a younger age and re-watching them kind of brings back some good feelings from those long gone days.

      I also loved the Nausicaa manga and watching the film was a bit disappointing… I think Miyazaki was so much ahead of his time with his concerns about the environment.

  10. In my opinion, Tales from Earthsea was a very good movie – if you disregard the fact that it deviates from the novel so much that it becomes almost unrecognisable. I’m a huge fan of Ursula le Guin’s Earthsea… what is it now, cuz it’s not a quartet anymore? Pentet? Anyway, if you compare it to the books and watch it expecting it to follow the same path as the book, then you will be sorely disappointed. But as a film on its own, I think it was wonderul. The artwork, the animation, everything about it was beautiful and emotional. Apparently when they showed Ursula le Guin, she said something along the lines of ‘it’s a very nice story, but it’s not MY story’ which is exactly true.

    Though if you’ve never read nor heard of the original series of books (which I highly recommend!) then you should have no problems ^o^

    1. I still have not watched this film, but I recall reading Ursula’s review that sounded negative. I loved this scene, so I should give it a try sometimes ๐Ÿ™‚ Thank you for your recommendation ๐Ÿ™‚

  11. There’s never any love for Howl’s Moving Castle. It’s one of my favorite movies even when counting movies other than Ghibli movies…..oh well all Ghibli movies are excellent.

    The mom in Ponyo was hot. Feel like I just had to say that.

  12. Great List!
    I was so glad to see Whisper of the Heart up on there. Country Roads still manages to bring me to the brink of tears every time I see it. You can’t get much better than that scene in my opinion.
    It pains my soul that I have yet to see Only Yesterday and you appear to really like it so I will really put in the effort to see it as soon as I can!

    1. Thank you ๐Ÿ™‚

      Indeed, Whisper of the Heart and that scene are excellent! ๐Ÿ™‚

      I am glad that you’ll watch Only Yesterday – it is a good film.

  13. Wow. Your anime knowledge puts mine to utter shame. ๐Ÿ™‚ Wonderful blog! I love seeing your thoughts.

    Let’s see, as for my favorites, I’d have to say it’s definitely Spirited Away at top, followed closely by Howl’s Moving Castle and The Cat Returns. ๐Ÿ™‚ Granted, The Cat Returns is a Ghibli production not directly linked to Miyazaki, but I still really liked it.

    1. My anime knowledge is quite limited actually.

      Thank you, I am glad you like my blog ๐Ÿ™‚

      Yes, Spirited Away is a great film ๐Ÿ™‚

  14. I haven’t seen much of the Ghibli corpus – just two films thus far. Grave of the Fireflies is one of them. The other is Spirited Away: not a bad movie, but the unimpressive subtitling work nearly ruined the experience for me.

    I’m a little reluctant to dig deeper into the Ghibli treasury, mainly because I find their distinctive art style unappealing. It’s more of an issue on my side than theirs, I suppose: as a relatively new anime fan, I’ve gotten used to (and grown to love) the slicker, sharper character designs and animation style prevalent in many works of the last few years.

    But rest assured, I do intend to sample a few Ghibli classics in due course. They’ve built a solid reputation for quality (not to mention a large and loyal fanbase) through the years, and I’m confident the many accolades they’ve earned along the away are well deserved. It would be unfair and uncharitable of me to dismiss them simply because I’m not favourably disposed to their artistic style.

    1. It sounds like subtitles have a significant effect on your viewing experience. Usually, I focus on the voices, checking subtitles if I don’t understand something, but this can induce some cognitive dissonance sometimes when you hear one thing and something completely different and inappropriate appears in the subtitles.

      Ah yes, the character design has a similar effect on me as well. I am still reluctant to watch anime by that famous certain company, even though they are very popular ๐Ÿ˜›

      I am glad to hear that you are willing to give these films a chance ๐Ÿ™‚

  15. Nice list…

    I really like the Ghibli films and it is hard to make a top 10, but for sure Totoro is my preferred. I think Nausicaa is not so good, but that’s because I’ve read the (highly recommended) manga first and it is so much better!

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

    1. Indeed, it is not easy to make top 10 list because most of the Ghibli films are excellent.

      Yes, Miyazaki worked on Nausicaa manga for a long time and movie was based only on one part.

      Thank you for your comment! ๐Ÿ™‚

  16. Reading top Ghibli list is also fun so thanks for sharing. Here are some of my comments:

    Grave of the FIreflies at number 1, very interesting choice. It is an amazing film but the fact that given a choice, I would not want to go back and watch ot agaom would rank it pretty low on my favourite list. You sure have a soft spot for tragedy:)

    Ditto on Only Yesterday. It’s a very gentle film with a killer of an ending. Thinking of it really bring chills to my heart!

    It’s also such a shame that Yoshifumi Kondou only had a chance to make one film. He really could have been great. Now I just hope somehow, Ghibli can find some successor to the throne. They really let Hosoda Mamoru go and look how what a talent he is now.

    And yes, regarding Nausicaa, I thought the film is good but the manga really takes it to the next level. I would really love for Miyazaki to actually make Nausicaa II based on the book. There is so much more he could explore outside the film itself.

    PS. Love the fighting-game capture (Nausicaa vs. Howl) at the end as well! That would be an awesome game, being able to fight as Totoro and all…

    1. You are welcome ๐Ÿ™‚

      Yes, it is not easy to re-watch Grave of the Fireflies.

      I am glad we share similar view on Only Yesterday ๐Ÿ™‚

      Indeed, Yoshifumi Kondou was very talented.

      It would be interesting to see how Nausicaa II would turn out. One of the potential problems though is that it would not be easy to compress manga into one film.

      haha Fighting as Totoro would be fun ๐Ÿ™‚

  17. I am glad to see so many fans of Studio ghibli โค
    My blog is having a Ghibli month in honour of this great studio and Hayao Miyazaki โค Come and have a look if you have the time it starts June the first.

    I absolutely love your blog and you are by far the person I am looking up to at the moment in terms of your blog (I'm a newbee 8D)

    Ahhh i just love studio ghibli @_@

    1. Oh, thank you for mentioning your Ghibli month celebration – I’ll check it out ๐Ÿ™‚

      Thank you very much for your kind words! ๐Ÿ™‚

  18. So far, I’ve only got Totoro, Princess Mononoke, Laputa, Cat Returns, Spirited Away and Kiki’s Delivery Service(but half watched it due to its pirated quality) and overall, I think they’re all great. Thanks for showing these top 10 movies. Now I’m really revved up to watch more of his movies and not have to wonder of how many movies did he make.

    Princess Mononoke was my first Studio Ghibli cd and is still my favourite.

    Hopefully Hayao Miyazaki will have a long lasting life to entertain us fans more… ^^

  19. My favorites have always been Spirited Away, Howl’ moving castle and my Neighbor Totoro. but I’ve never chosen a best out of the three. There’s is still a lot of Studio Ghibli’s films I haven’t seen
    KiKi’s Delivery service
    I like how Miyazaki’s films can reach out to a wide demographic and still be appealing to a younger generation of fans.

    1. Yes, it is very difficult to choose best Ghibli films because most of them are excellent.

      I really enjoyed Kiki’s Delivery Service! I hope you’ll get a chance to see it ๐Ÿ™‚

  20. Waaah! Grave of the fireflies made me cry! I still cant bear to watch it because it breaks my heart every time.(;__;)
    But Howl’s Moving Castle will always be special to me.My brother used to play the theme song on our piano until he moved away to college so whenever I watch it, I recall nice memories of him.<3

    1. Yes, it is very sad.

      Ah, that memory must be special for you. These kinds of associations make re-watching an even better experience ๐Ÿ™‚

  21. Everyone seems to forget Porco Rosso. I’ve seen almost every Ghibli film except for Earthsea and Only Yesterday. Im unable to share an appreciation of Howls Moving Castle and Spirited away as many others seem able to do But I still enjoy watching them from time to time. My favorite is definitely Porco Rosso but I think Laputa was the most well done. Also, good choice with Grave, very difficult to watch but that’s just because it’s so very true.

    1. We remember Porco Rosso! ๐Ÿ™‚ It is a good film, but Ghibli has many other good films, so, in the end, it is all about personal preference. I didn’t like Howl’s Moving Castle that much, but I did enjoy Spirited Away substantially. Actually, Miyazaki is considering a Porco Rosso sequel! ๐Ÿ˜€ Although, considering and developing are two different things, we just might see it someday ๐Ÿ™‚

  22. I’ve only seen 3 Ghibli movies so far (princess mononoke, spirited away, and grave of the fireflies), and plan on watching more. Out of the three i would say spirited away was my favorite out of the three and it was the first one i saw. I remember seeing spirited away and just being blown away of how good that movie was. I thought grave of the fireflies was a very sad film, but already having a general knowledge of how tough the japanese civilians had it during WWll period it probably didn’t hit me as hard as it did for other foreigners. I also thought the opening scene would have had a bigger impact at the end but that’s just my opinion.

    1. Yes, Spirited Away is great ๐Ÿ™‚

      Knowledge may inoculate you to some extent, but the human condition depicted in the Grave of the Fireflies remains poignant.

  23. My favorite is spirited away, though it wasn’t the first film of studio ghibli I manage to watched.

    Hayao Miyazaki’s work has always been a fascinating from the drawing to the stories, I hope the legacy will continue.

  24. Sorry I am new to these movies, as I just saw the Disney trailor of The Secret World of Arrietty and fell in love with just that and now I find out that I have been missing all these great animations which have been out there for ages.

    Just wanted to ask the movies that everyone’s talking about, are these with English subtitles or dubbed in English.

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