ew York Times voted Spirited Away, Hayao Miyazaki’s animated film, no. 2 at a list with the best movies of the century so far. It’s not strange. The Japanese master and his legendary animation studio, Studio Ghibli is behind some of the greatest animated movies of all time. Films filled with mystery, courage, soul, and spirit that have an immense influence on our culture.
These animated films continue to influence other animation companies -like US powerhouse Pixar. It’s only natural that millions of fans worldwide love them.
Let’s take a look at the best films by Studio Ghibli:
Spirited Away (2001)
It’s not accidental that Spirited Away tops so many lists of “best of 21st-century movies so far”. That’s because it is innocent and complex at the same time. In the film we see a family trying to go to their new home. On the way, something strange happens and the parents are turned into pigs. The young girl gets plunged in a world of witches, ghosts, monsters and large… baths. It is a beautiful, lyrical take on Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.
Princess Mononoke (1997)
A film about our relationship with nature, Princess Mononoke is an ecological call for action and at the same time an amazing film. It is ambitious and reminds us of the films by Kurosawa. It is the film that made Studio Ghibli known to the US and it retains its power until today.
My Neighbor Totoro (1988)
A film about the fears and traumas of childhood, My Neighbor Totoro is deeply moving. It follows two sisters, Satsuki and Mei who move into a cottage, while their mother is at a hospital. With the help of some friends (real or imaginary?) they start to overcome their fears. Among these friends is, as expected, furry Totoro.
Howl’s Moving Castle (2004)
The film that came after Spirited Away is not as powerful as Miyazaki’s previous work, it is, however, an unconventional and beautifully imagined love story. Howl, a half-man half-bird magician who lives in a Moving Castle falls in love with Sophie, who has become an old woman because of a witch’s curse.
Kiki’s Delivery Service (1989)
A clumsy witch leaves her home at 13 in order to find a job. Through adventures, she finds who she is. The film is more conventional than others, but it’s fresh, it’s endearing and it has some beautiful moments in it.
Castle in the Sky (Laputa) (1986)
The film is the first official Studio Ghibli film. It plays out like an action movie. Airborne pirates and government officials chase a girl, who wants to save the floating castle of Laputa from destruction. Giant robots, impressive aircraft, and enthralling adventure sequences make the film a must-see.
Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind (1984)
Typically, Nausicaa is not a Studio Ghibli film. It was made before Miyazaki opened the famous Studio. However, the film has all the characteristics of the films that followed. Engaging characters, interesting stories and a kind of magic that other animated films lack. In a post-apocalyptic Earth, humans hide from gigantic insects. Nausicaa, the title character, tries to prevent the war between the two sides, a war that further endangers a dying planet.
Only Yesterday (1991)
A film with amazing detail by Isao Takahata, Only Yesterday tells the story of a woman who finds what she wants on a trip to the countryside. The trip reminds her of her childhood in Tokyo. It’s effortlessly nostalgic and sweet.
Whisper of the Heart (1995)
Yoshifumi Kondo’s only feature film (he died before he could do another) is a love story between a girl who loves reading books and a boy who has checked out of the library every book she wants to read. The film is touching and its portrayal of adolescence top notch.
The tale of the princess Kagua (2013)
One of the best films by Studio Ghibli the film tells the story of a tiny girl who is found in a shining stalk of bamboo by a couple. She grows and everyone comes to love her. The impressive use of color and the grim finale single out this movie. Moreover, the decision by director Isao Takahata to use the images in order to show the state of mind, make this film really special.