Studio Ghibli has been a major part of my childhood for as long as I could remember. It has a way of visually immersing me in a world that is beyond what I have ever seen. Many of the characters also are intriguing because of the challenges they may face and how they overcome them. Hayao Miyazaki’s Studio Ghibli films in particular have a strong sense of direction of what setting each film has, and they presents an amazing journey in all of them. Many of the films have their own unique flair and are enjoyable whenever I watch them. Here are my top Studio Ghibli films that I ranked in order:
1. Castle in the Sky (天空の城ラピュタ)
This film was actually one of the first Ghibli films I had seen when I was younger and I fell in love with the adventure the characters went on. As a person who loves to travel and fly in planes, this movie took me to a place that I never though could exist. A floating castle in the sky that was immensely detailed and beautiful left me in awe. The main female character Sheeta falling down from the sky with the swelling of the music left me speechless. It’s one I find myself coming back to watch time and time again.
2. Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (風の谷のナウシカ)
Nausicaä is an incredible film that deals with war and the consequences of it. A young girl trying to defend a species of insects against people who want to harm them. I actually was inspired to write about this film for a paper in a writing class I took while at UCI, and found myself analyzing the deep themes that are embedded in it. Nausicaä herself is a strong female protagonist which is also something I admire as many Japanese animation films before had not given positive roles for women to shine in.
3. Kiki’s Delivery Service (魔女の宅急便)
Kiki is a young witch who has to figure out her life and the obstacles that come along with it. A coming-of-age story is something I find really relatable. When I moved to college, I felt just as lost as Kiki and was unsure of what the next step was and I had to ask for help. Going out and living on my own for the first time was probably one of the most challenging times I had experienced. However, I was able to grow from these experiences and move on to larger aspects in life. I, like Kiki, had eventually managed to figure out a routine and worked my way through the unexpected. College indeed has taught me about how much there is to look forward to and appreciate the little things in life.
4. Princess Mononoke (もののけ姫)
Princess Mononoke is a film I feel is underappreciated and it has so much packed into one film. The cinematic scenes and soundtrack are some of the highlights that make this film impactful. In addition, the overall story is compelling and teaches the audience something about humanity as a whole. It makes us question about our actions and how we all come from different upbringings. We all have different perspectives in life that make us who we are as individuals. For Ashitaka, he has to grapple the curse that threatens to end his life and San has to learn to trust a human which is a species she grew up resenting.
5. My Neighbor Totoro (となりのトトロ)
Totoro is the beloved mascot of Studio Ghibli and you’ve probably seen this adorable face on the company logo. I love this film because it has a sense of innocence and always has a strong sense of family. The two sisters Mei and Satsuki find a spirit in the forest and meet new friends along the way. There’s a particular scene where the sisters hang on to Totoro as he flies in the evening sky that always brings a smile to my face. There is something nostalgic whenever I see this movie and reminds me of the many adventures I would create as a kid.
There is a Studio Ghibli film for people of all of ages and who have different interests. I’m happy to share my insight on my personal favorite Studio Ghibli films that have brought joy into my life. Who knows, maybe you’ll fall in love with a favorite Ghibli film of your own. Whichever film you may watch, you’re in for a wild ride of creative and fantastic cinematic work.