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Ten Best Studio Ghibli Films To Watch & Details

Stuck on what to watch on your next movie night? A Studio Ghibli film could be a great choice.

Studio Ghibli is one of the best known and most influential animation film studios in the world. These films offer iconic characters and introduce poetic and captivating stories that are accessible both to Japanese and international audiences.

Since the studio began back in 1985, they have produced some of the most popular films in Japan and indeed, globally. In terms of success, six of their films (so far) are among the ten highest-grossing anime films made in Japan, and five of their films have received Academy Award nominations.

Studio Ghibli

The films offer plenty of relatable and well developed female protagonists in the spotlight, villains that you can’t help but feel empathy for, and fascinating locations that truly transport you into the world of Ghibli animation.

The quality of these films is outstanding and honestly speaking, the streaming services out there just don’t do them justice. To really enjoy and immerse yourself in these films, Blu-ray is your best bet.

With bonus features, superior sound and better image quality, Blu-ray and DVDs offer you an extraordinary cinematic experience in the comfort of your own home.

The Tale Of The Princess Kaguya

Studio Ghibli – The Tale Of The Princess Kaguya (2013)

So, if you’re interested in watching a Studio Ghibli film on your next movie night, our handy guide will offer some help in choosing which one to try first.

These DVDs or Blu-rays will make great gift ideas for those who are already big fans of Studio Ghibli.

  1. Spirited Away (2001)
  2. Kiki’s Delivery Service (1989)
  3. My Neighbour Totoro (1988)
  4. From Up On Poppy Hill (2011)
  5. Whisper Of The Heart (1995)
  6. Porco Rosso (1992)
  7. Arrietty (2010)
  8. The Tale Of The Princess Kaguya (2013)
  9. Princess Mononoke (1997)
  10. The Wind Rises (2013)
  1. Spirited Away (2001)
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    Spirited Away (2001)

    This Academy Award-winning animation will blow you away. The film tells the story of a young girl named Chihiro, who moves to a small town in the Japanese countryside with her parents. When her parents decide to explore the area, they go through a tunnel and find what looks like an abandoned amusement park on the other side, and a quaint little town. When her parents dine at an empty eatery filled with fresh food, they are magically turned into pigs. Chihiro learns that this land is actually a magical bath house inhabited by spirits. Chihiro must work here, for the sorceress Yubaba, to free both herself and her parents from the mystical land. It is a truly wonderful film that the whole family can enjoy. It’s also a great place to start if you’ve never seen a Studio Ghibli film before. 

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  2. Kiki’s Delivery Service (1989)
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    Kiki’s Delivery Service (1989)

    This captivating film tells the story of a teenage witch-in-training named Kiki. As Kiki is now 13, she must leave home for one year in order to learn how to live on her own. Kiki and her talking cat Jiji, fly away to live in the Japanese seaside town of Koriko. She starts her own delivery service using her broom to fly, but when she loses the power to fly, she must learn how to deal with her new life. The film won many awards, such as the Japanese Cinema Association Award for Best Film. It’s a fantastic film about the transition to adulthood and is a great family film. 

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  3. My Neighbour Totoro (1988)
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    My Neighbour Totoro (1988)

    This adorable movie follows two young sisters, ten-year-old Satsuki and four-year-old Mei, who move with their father into a countryside house in order to be closer to their mother in hospital. Satsuki and Mei discover that the neighbouring forest to their new house is inhabited by magical creatures called Totoros. The sisters befriend these Totoros and have several enchanting adventures with them. Perfect for young children, this film is a heartwarming, sentimental masterpiece that captures the simplicity of childhood and the beauty of sisterhood.

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  4. From Up On Poppy Hill (2011)
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    From Up On Poppy Hill (2011)

    This heartwarming story is set in the Japanese town of Yokohama in 1963, where a 16-year-old girl named Umi, lives in a boarding house.  Each morning, Umi raises a set of flags with the message “I pray for safe voyages” written on them. She meets a 17-year-old boy named Shun who sees her flag from sea. In preparation for next year’s Tokyo Summer Olympics, the town is debating whether to destroy the older parts of the city to make room for new buildings. The pair must convince the town to preserve the schools’ clubhouse from destruction. The beginning of the teen’s innocent romance makes this film light-hearted and fun.

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  5. Whisper Of The Heart (1995)
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    Whisper Of The Heart (1995)

    This wonderful family film tells the story of a fourteen-year-old teenage bookworm named Shizuku. One day she notices a strange coincidence, that all the library books that she has, have been previously checked out by the same ‘Seiji Amasawa’. Shizuku discovers that he is a rather infuriating boy of her age, who aspires to be a violin maker in Italy. Shizuku realizes that she has no clear path for her life and decides to use her love of writing to write a story titled ‘’Whisper of the Heart” about a cat statue belonging to Seiji’s grandfather. This coming-of-age story will make a great gift for loved ones, and a great choice for a family movie night.

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  6. Porco Rosso (1992)
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    Porco Rosso (1992)

    Fasten your seatbelts! This film is set in 1930’s Italy when the sky is terrorised by air pirates, bounty hunters and high fliers who attack wealthy cruise ships in the Adriatic Sea. The only pilot brave enough to fight them and rescue those kidnapped by the pirates is Porco Rosso. Porco Rosso is a former World War I flying ace who was cursed to turn into a pig during the war. This action-packed animation will have everyone on the edge of their seat, making it a great option for a movie marathon. 

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  7. Arrietty (2010)
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    Arrietty (2010)

    This heartwarming tale of an unlikely friendship will be perfect for your next movie night. The Clock family are four-inch-tall people who live anonymously under the floorboards of another family’s residence in Tokyo. They borrow simple items to make their home. Life changes for the Clocks when their 14-year-old daughter, Arrietty, is discovered by a twelve-year-old human boy named Shô.  Arrietty’s parents decide to move to another home since they have been discovered, but Arrietty and her family must ask Shô for his help when the menace Haru, who wants to capture the tiny people, captures Arrietty’s mother.

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  8. The Tale Of The Princess Kaguya (2013)
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    The Tale Of The Princess Kaguya (2013)

    Based on one of Japan’s oldest and most beloved folktales, this incredible, hand-drawn animated masterpiece will leave you wanting more Studio Ghibli. When an old bamboo cutter finds a tiny girl in a glowing stalk of bamboo he and his wife decide to raise her as their daughter. The girl soon becomes an enchanting and beautiful young lady that every man wishes to marry. However, beneath the magic, she holds a secret that will affect everything she loves. This film is like a Japanese painting brought to life, beautiful and mesmerising.

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  9. Princess Mononoke (1997)
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    Princess Mononoke (1997)

    This imaginative and intriguing anime film will be great for families with older children, as it tells a more violent story of a war. While protecting his village from a rampaging boar demon, a young warrior named Ashitaka, is cursed. In order to save his own life and end the curse, he must journey to the forests of the west and be cured by the deer god Shishigami. On his travels, he sees humans ravaging the earth causing the wolf god Moro and his human companion Princess Mononoke to fight back. He is caught up in a battle but sees the good in both sides and must try to stop the fight. 

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  10. The Wind Rises (2013)
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    The Wind Rises (2013)

    This film tells the story of an aviation-obsessed engineer named Jirô Horikoshi, who has been fascinated by the beauty, spirit, appearance and science of flight and aeroplanes since his childhood. Unfortunately, as he is nearsighted and unable to be a pilot, Jirô spends years designing and building an aeroplane – the Mitsubishi A6M Zero. He realises his dream and completes his plane. However, Jiro’s dreams are shattered when he learns that his creation will be used for combat in World War II. This breathtaking story of love and war in Japan is grounded in real-life events and mixed with beautiful ‘Ghiblian’ fantasy, making it totally unique.

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Tara Cox

Tara Cox

Contributing Writer

Tara is a Modern Languages Graduate with a love for all things Harry Potter, Disney, and Marvel. Tara loves to travel and enjoys watching foreign-language films, especially ones by Jean Luc Godard.