Lately I’ve been in a very Ghibli mood, a mood that consists of wanting to be awed by wonder, enchantment and cuteness and a hunger that can only be satisfied by watching Studio Ghibli films. Back in the early days of this blog I made a post listing my top 10 favourite Ghibli films (click here to see that post). After re-watching most of my old favourites and a few Ghibli films I’d never seen before, my opinion on these movies have changed quite a lot. Don’t worry I still love Ghibli films very much and they still hold a big place in my heart (I wouldn’t be in a Ghibli mood otherwise). It’s just that over time and after a huge Ghibli binge-watch (best binge-watch ever), my preference has shifted and my top ten favourites is now very different from the first post I made.
So, for that reason its about time I updated this list and brought to you an updated version of
My Top 10 Favourite Studio Ghibli Films:
Honourable Mention- Pom Poko (↓4)
A lot of people seem not to like this film, personally I found the raccoons antics in this movie really funny. It can be a little crude at times, but looking pass that it’s quite a good film with a positive eco-friendly message to look after the environment and not destroy natural habitats. (Which is a bit of a running theme in Ghibli films)
10: My Neighbour Totoro (NE= New Entry)
This is kind of a funny sort of a film. It’s very nice to watch but it doesn’t really have much of a storyline, it’s more like a series of happenings. I’ll try explaining the plot to show you what I mean, two little girls move to the countryside with their father. The house they move into turns out to be haunted by very cute harmless spirits. You learn the girls’ mother is in hospital with TB and can’t come home which upsets the girls. Their father has to work a lot, so the girls are pretty much left to run wild in the garden and surrounding area. Which leads to them meeting a giant cute bunny-bear like spirit called Totoro. The children hang out and play with Totoro, then the youngest one goes missing. Everyone panics and thinks she’s either gone by herself to visit her mother or drowned in a pond. Then the oldest girl gets on a cat bus and finds her younger sister and the movie then ends with them both eating corn in a tree.
As you can see it’s a bit of a strange film with a very loose plot, which has led to a lot of theories being made about what actually is happening in this film. From suggesting its references toward a real-life disappearance of a school girl, to people theorising that the girls actually die at the end of the film and that’s why they’re sitting in a tree (because apparently spirit rest in trees at night). However, it’s incredibly cute and sweet, which is what makes the film so enjoyable (you could quite possibly get tooth ache from watching it).
9: The Tale of Princess Kaguya (NE)
The animation style of this film so very different from other Ghibli films, it looks more like a hand painted moving talking watercolour, than the typical Ghibli art style. It’s subtle colour scheme and intriguing storyline makes it very relaxing and beautiful to watch. It does have a lot of religious and mythological references, which some mightn’t like. But if you’re interested in mythology and don’t mind the odd religious reference, its quite a nice watch. Like most Ghibli films it also has a positive message, which is to not chase after others idea of happiness or force your idea of happiness upon others (including your children and other family members). Basically, the film’s message is about achieving true happiness.
8: The Secret World of Arrietty (↑1)
This film has moved up one place in this list mainly because of its breathtakingly beautiful scenes and animation. In the last list, I think I underappreciated how amazing and stunning the animation was (probably because now I know the level of work that goes into creating scenes like those in the film). Story wise I prefer this version of the borrowers over the 1997 borrowers films. It’s very heart-warming and lovely to watch and puts a nice wee spin on the concept of borrowers.
7: Castle in The Sky (↑3)
Castle in The Sky has moved up quite a bit in this list. In the last list I forgot about the sense of wonder this film creates and about the sky pirates. Ghibli sky pirates are a rather likable odd bunch. At first, they seem like bad news but as the film goes on, they become goofier and seem more like a big bunch of softies. Especially, Dola who is a great character and is like a kooky, really cool grandmother that takes no guff and is tough as nails but is still kind at heart. The sky pirates all add a little bit of comedy and relatability to what is already a sweet and mysterious film with beautiful animation.
6: Kiki’s Delivery Service (↑2)
I re-watched Kiki’s Delivery Service with my nephew and he was outrage at behaviour in this film, which made me realise how bananas this film actually is. My nephew was completely horrified that parents would let a 13-year-old go off by themselves and in complete shock at Kiki breaking the stranger danger rule over and over again and getting in a car with a stranger. You would have sworn he was watching a horror movie instead of a Ghibli film. His overreaction and ranting towards this film made watching it so much funnier. But in saying that he does have a point, this film is sort of messed up and the more you think about Kiki does put herself in quite a few situations that would be incredibly dangerous in the real world (even for an adult). Anyway, seeing Kiki’s Very Dangerous Delivery Service from a new point of view, made me appreciate how surreal the Ghibli universe actually is (there is so many Ghibli films where children wander of by themselves and do really dangerous things and everyone acts spookily happy about it), which is why it was given a higher place on this list. (Funniest thing is my nephew says he liked this film, but like Ponyo better. He really loves Ponyo)
5: Ponyo (↓1)
Ponyo is a very cute and magical Ghibli film that really has the awe factor. With its beautiful use of colour and breath-taking animation, it’s really enjoyable and hypnotic just to look at. Story wise, its incredibly sweet and just plain adorable. It’s the kind of film that would warm even the coldest of hearts. No matter how many times I see this movie I never get sick of it. The only reason it fell a spot on this list, was to make room for a film I’ve only seen for the first time recently.
4: When Marnie was There (NE)
The best way to describe this film is a mysterious ghost story that shows the beauty of friendship. There is just so much twist and turns in this film and it’s just so mysterious. It will constantly keep you guessing and glued to the screen. At one point I didn’t have a baldy (a clue) what was happening and found myself completely enthralled in the film, very eagerly wanting to know what the fudge was happening. The ending of this film is very bitter sweet, it’s lovely and warms the cockles of the heart but is also really sad and might even make you shed a tear. It has a little more of a mature feel to it than other Ghibli films, but all around it’s an amazing film and one definitely worth watching. I regret not watching it sooner.
3: Spirited Away (↓1)
Spirited Away is a film that most anime and Ghibli fans will have seen at least once in their life. It holds a special place in a lot of people’s hearts and it’s not hard to see why. It’s so magical and cute and very different from anything you’ve probably ever seen. For me its where my love of anime and Ghibli began. As a child I was so innocent and naïve that I didn’t even know anime was a thing. Weird thing is I had watched quite a lot of anime before this film (Pokémon, Digimon, Beyblade, Yu-Gi-Oh! and even Princess Mononoke), but never caught on that they were anime. To me they were just cartoons the same as all the others I loved to watch. It wasn’t until my Dad put a film on the TV (which was Spirited Away) and the announcer called it an Anime film from Japan, that I know there was such thing as anime. I was so taken by Spirited Away, that I wanted to know more about what anime was and from there my love of anime blossomed. Which is why it’s in the top 3.
I love Turnip-head so much, that I redrew him.
2: Howl’s Moving Castle (↑1)
Glob I love the sassy old lady power in this movie. Howl’s Moving Castle is one of those Ghibli films that really deliver on that magical mysterious feel. Its story contains so much mystery that on the first watch, it’ll constantly have you guessing about so many things like Howl, the castle, the fire demon Calcifer, turnip head and what on earth is going on in this film. This mixed with its magical creatures and enchanted objects and devices, gives a real feel of awe and wonder. On top of this, it tells a heart-warming love story that teaches there is more to being loved than a pretty face. Its animation is absolutely beautiful and has so many cool little details which is why it’s my favourite film animation wise. All round Howl’s Moving Castle is a wonderful Ghibli film.
1: Princess Mononoke
Although everything else in this list has changed, my no. 1 favourite Ghibli film has stayed the same. It was the first Ghibli film I had ever seen (even though I didn’t know it was at the time), so it’s kind of special to me. But I think that’s the same with everyone’s first Ghibli film. Your first Ghibli film is usually the one that makes you fall in love with Ghibli and opens the door to the wonderful world of Ghibli. So, it’s not hard to see why most people’s first Ghibli film is their favourite.
First time I watched Princess Mononoke, I was completely dumbfounded, in a state of pure astonishment and amazement. It was like nothing I had ever seen before. I instantly fell in love with its beautiful animation style and was really taking by it. I remember the first time watching this film, trying to slowly edge closer and closer to the TV, to really take in its beautiful scenery. Then having sofa cushions flung at me by my siblings and having the snot beat out of me with one for blocking their view. Though I didn’t fully understand the films plot or symbolism as a child, I still loved it and enjoyed every minute of it. As an adult, I continue to love this film and have re-watched it so many times. It’s just so amazing and unique, it really is a great Ghibli film.
Hope you enjoyed this Ghibli top 10 update. The first time I posted a Ghibli top 10, I made a top 10 Non-Ghibli anime film list, to link in with that post. I haven’t decided yet whether to update that list too, but if people are interested in seeing that update, I’ll update it too.
As always Thanks for reading and if you have a favourite Ghibli film, don’t be afraid to tell me about it in the comments below. I’d love to hear about it.