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YumeTwins Kawaii Culture BlogA Guide to All of the Ghibli Movies

A Guide to All of the Ghibli Movies

By Alana Juric
August 19, 2021

August’s muggy heat brings back childhood nostalgia, with memories of summer vacations, melting ice cream, and, of course, evening movie nights. In Japan, August is also the month of Ghibli films, with television networks broadcasting a different film weekly throughout the month.  

Many of Ghibli’s most popular films, like My Neighbor Totoro, even take place during summer. So, whether you live in Japan or abroad, August is the perfect month for catching up on Studio’s Ghibli’s cinematic repertoire! 

Totoro plushies sit on a shelf in varying poses

Image via Shutterstock

All the Ghibli Movies, Ranked from Least to Most Popular:

My Neighbors the Yamadas (1999)

This is one of Studio Ghibli's lesser-known films. It is a series of comedic, but relatable sketches following the daily life of the Yamada family.

Tales from Earthsea (2006)

Although it was panned by critics and the book’s original author Ursula K. le Guin, Tales from Earthsea is still a fun adventure full of magic and dragons. This film is also the directorial debut of Hayao Miyazaki’s son, Gorō Miyazaki.

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Earwig and the Witch (2020)

Earwig and the Witch is Studio Ghibli’s first full 3D CG animated film. Although it has all the usual tropes of a Ghibli film, with a strong female heroine, witches, and talking cats, the film lacks some of the same magic of the studio’s classics.

From Up on Poppy Hill (2011)

From Up on Poppy Hill follows two high schoolers living in 1960’s Yokohama, as they try to save their clubhouse from being torn down.

Ocean Waves (1993)

This film is a look at the romantic angst and isolation of adolescence. As Taku Morisaki returns from his first year at college, he reflects on the friendships and romance of his high school life.

The Cat Returns (2002)

One of Studio Ghibli’s most eccentric fantasy films, The Cat Returns is a loose spin-off of another Ghibli film, Whisper of the Heart. The story follows Haru as she ends up trapped in a cat kingdom, and, much to her dismay, starts turning into a cat herself.

A headshot of Hayao Miyazaki on a red carpet in front of a blue background

Image via Shutterstock

Only Yesterday (1991)

Only Yesterday is one of the studio’s more mature films, targeted towards adult women rather than children. The film follows the physical and mental journey of 27-year-old Taeko Okajima, as she reflects back on her childhood and tries to find meaning in her current life. The fact that the most recent English dub of this film is voiced by Daisy Ridley of Star Wars fame also deserves a mention!

When Marnie Was There (2014)

When Marnie Was There is one of director Hiromasa Yonebayashi’s most acclaimed films. After Anna is sent to Sapporo to stay with her foster family’s relatives, she meets Marnie in an abandoned mansion. The friendship between the two girls leads to the discovery of secrets in Anna’s past and Marnie’s identity.

Ponyo (2008)

A goldfish princess named Brunhilde leaves the ocean. She meets and falls in love with a human boy, Sōsuke, who renames her Ponyo. Ponyo transforms into a human so she can be with him, but causes huge natural disasters in the process.

Porco Rosso (1992)

A diorama of fighter planes fighting from the film Porco Rosso.

Image via Shutterstock

Porco Rosso is a unique mix of history and fantasy. It follows the story of a WWI ace fighter pilot, who now fights against air pirates (and also happens to be transformed into a pig!)

Pom Poko (1994)

In a poignant (and slightly bizarre) tale with strong themes of environmentalism, a pack of Japanese raccoon dogs, or tanuki, must fight to save their woodland home from being destroyed by a development project.

Arrietty (2010)

This box office is a fun romp through the miniature world of Arrietty and her family as the tiny people try their best to live in a human home without being discovered. However, curious Arrietty befriends a human boy who sees her one day.

Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (1984)

Created before the official foundation of Studio Ghibli, this film still deserves its place amongst Hayao Miyazaki’s other masterpieces. In a post-apocalyptic world filled with toxic air and plants, one girl has the ability to bring peace and healing to the world.

The Wind Rises (2013)

A fictional biography of Jiro Horikoshi (1903–1982), the aeronautical engineer who designed fighter aircrafts used in World War II. It is a close look at his personal life, his relationship with his wife as she battles tuberculosis, and his internal conflict over his creations being used in war.

The Tale of the Princess Kaguya (2013)

This film is a beautiful retelling of a traditional Japanese fairy tale about a girl found in a bamboo stalk. However, what makes it really stand out is its unique animation style.

Whisper of the Heart (1995)

A youthful romance between a junior high school girl who dreams of becoming a writer and a schoolmate who dreams of making violins. After watching, the film’s beautiful cover of the song Take Me Home, Country Roads is sure to be stuck in your head after watching.

Laputa: Castle in the Sky (1986)

A giant robot statue of the robot from Laputa: Castle in the Sky

Image via Shutterstock

Two orphans, Sheeta and Pazu, must stop both air pirates and an evil government agent from taking over the lost floating city of Laputa.

Kiki's Delivery Service (1989)

A fan drawn photo of Kiki and Jiji with the words

Image via Shutterstock

This film is the coming-of-age story of a young witch called Kiki, who must follow the tradition of leaving home for a year. She settles in a seaside town, where she finds work, romance, and self-confidence. This film also features one of the cutest Japanese characters, the black cat Jiji.

Howl's Moving Castle (2004)

Calcifer, the livving flame, from Howl's Moving Castle under a log

Image via Shutterstock

Sophie is cursed by a witch and is turned into an old woman. But that’s the least of her concerns after she becomes the housekeeper for a moody, but powerful wizard who is entangled in a war.

Grave of the Fireflies (1988)

One of Studio Ghibli’s most heartbreaking films, Grave of the Fireflies follows the story of two siblings as they struggle to survive after being separated from their mother by a firebombing  and their father by war during World War II.

Princess Mononoke (1997)

A cute drawing of Princess Mononoke on top of a giant wolf under the stars in a forest.

Image via Shutterstock

In 14th century Japan, the balance between humans, nature, and the gods is collapsing, causing chaos and destruction on all sides. Princess Mononoke, a girl raised by wolves, and human prince, Prince Ashitaka, try to restore peace, but their efforts seem to only bring more conflict.

Spirited Away (2001)

What happens when the young girl Chihiro is “spirited away” to a bathhouse inhabited by spirits? This Alice in Wonderland-style fairytale is filled with whimsy but also touches on the deeper themes of facing your fears and protecting the environment. Despite Ghibli’s many academy award nominations, Spirited Away is the only Ghibli film to win one with the Oscar for “Best Animated Feature”. 

My Neighbor Totoro (1988)

My Neighbor Totoro is a masterpiece that fills children with wonder and adults with nostalgia. This film follows two children who move to a new home in the countryside, where they befriend the local spirits, including the giant, cuddly Totoro.

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