Best Studio Ghibli Films

As the sunny 90 degree heat shifts to chilly 60 degree weather, there is no better way to relax than by grabbing a blanket and watching the best comfort movies of all time. Here is a list of the top seven Studio Ghibli films, written and directed by Hayao Miyazaki, that will make you want to become a 2D character. 


1. Howl’s Moving Castle. 

A scene from Studio Ghibli’s Howl’s Moving Castle by Hayao Miyazaki.

“Howl’s Moving Castle” is by far one of the most imaginative out of the 22 Ghibli films. This movie follows a shy, self-conscious girl named Sofie who is cursed by the wicked Witch of the Waste. Sofie is then transformed into an old lady who serves the self-centered wizard named Howl. While she helps Howl, the odd dwellers in the castle like the fire demon, Calcifer, and Howl’s young apprentice, “Markl,” grow attached to her kindness and motherly nature. The beautifully animated film tackled topics such as prejudice and appearances while highlighting the stupidity of warfare. 


2. The Wind Rises 

Scene from Studio Ghibli’s The Wind Rises by Hayao Miyazaki.

Probably one of the lesser-known Studio Ghibli films, “The Wind Rises,” follows a young man named, Jiro Horikoshi, who dreams of becoming a pilot. While his poor eyesight prevents him from pursuing his dream, he becomes an engineer that builds planes for Japan during WWII. Jiro faces an internal battle of creating planes that kill people while also helping his sick wife who grows weaker by the day. Perhaps one of Miyazaki’s best films, “The Wind Rises,” is a complex debate about whether one should pursue their dream even at the expense of others. 


3. Castle in the Sky. 

Scene from Studio Ghibli’s Castle in the Sky by Hayao Miyazaki.

“Castle in the Sky” takes place in a small mining town where a charming young boy named “Pazu” lives. He then discovers a girl, named Sheeta, floating from the sky with a magic locket. The two flee from aviator pirates and the government that is after her and her gem which is the key to the floating city. The likable characters like Pazu and Sheeta make the film the third best on the list. 


4. Princess Mononoke 

A scene from Studio Ghibli’s Princess Monoke by Hayao Miyazaki.

A young warrior protagonist named Ashitaka attempts to find a cure for the curse that struck him after protecting his village from a god. In his quest, he encounters a military town under the ruling of Lady Eboshi who wants to wage war against the gods of the forest and a young girl named Princess Mononoke. Conflicted, Ashitaka aids both the gods and the princess because he understands both sides of the war. “Princess Mononoke” is especially relevant today as it criticizes humanity’s constant destruction of nature for selfish reasons such as warfare and power.


  1. My Neighbor Totoro 


Satsuki and Mei are two sisters that move to the country for their sick mother. They encounter multiple guardian spirits, specifically the guardian of the giant tree. “Totoro,” along with the other spirits form a strong friendship with the girls as they wait anxiously for their mother to regain her health. The beautiful animation, along with the imaginative mind of Miyazaki, makes it a cute and fun story to watch.


While Studio Ghibli films have beautiful animation and complex storylines, they explore important themes surrounding social justice, climate change, and war. Miyazaki creates imaginative characters and stories that make everyone want to transport to his world. Now, go watch some Ghibli!