Studio Ghibli movies are arguably some of the greatest ever animated works ever put to a cinema screen. Even if you’ve never watched one, you’ve likely heard or seen a screenshot of it somewhere such is their influence.
Since these wonderful masterpieces are now streaming on Netflix, here’s a quick little guide for those wanting to get into Studio Ghibli movies after finishing Tiger King or The Last Dance but aren’t sure which of the many titles is best suited for them.
Speaking of things on Netflix (other than Studio Ghibli), the GOAT team talk about ‘The Last Dance’ on ‘It’s Been A Big Day For…’ below:
In the mood for something whimsical?
Befitting Studio Ghibli’s cute animation style, there are several movies that combine this cuteness with a heartwarming story to bring a smile to anyone’s face. Kids will love these for the animation and adults will love these for the brilliant storytelling.
- My Neighbour Totoro – A young family meet some friendly wood spirits, one of which is giant iconic cat-like spirit, Totoro. One for the family.
- Pom Poko – A family of shape-shifting raccoons fight to save their home from destruction. Yes there’s an environmental message, but hey, magical raccoons.
- Ponyo – A young goldfish, Ponyo, who is rescued by a young boy and soon desires to become a human. Surprisingly emotional considering how ridiculously cute every character – especially Ponyo – is.
What about something fantastical, spiritual, and/or just “out there”?
These sorts of movies are Studio Ghibli’s bread and butter and you could easily spend an entire weekend streaming Netflix and not finish them all. Maybe set aside some time if you’re going down this rabbit hole because there are heaps of quality movies here.
- The Cat Returns – A high school student rescues a cat from getting run over and discovers it is actually a feline prince. A real-life fantasy for many people.
- My Neighbours The Yamadas – Less of a movie and more of a series of vignettes about the Yamada family. Funny, goofy, heartwarming, and different than every other Ghibli movie due to its use of a completely different animation style.
- Howl’s Moving Castle – A young woman is turned into an old woman before encountering a wizard named Howl and getting involved in a big conflict between kingdoms. Epic in every sense of the word but with relatable characters set in a fantasy world modeled on our own.
- Tales From Earthsea – A wizard seeks to restore balance to the land of Earthsea while preventing its destruction. A more straightforward yet still enjoyable movie.
How about strong female protagonists and/or commentaries on the world?
Studio Ghibli is nothing if not versatile and some of its greatest works feature a brilliant female protagonist whose story is both emotional and a biting critique on the world around us. If you’re going to settle down for a Netflix streaming binge of Studio Ghibli flicks, start here.
- Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind – A young princess, Nausicaä, becomes embroiled in a civil struggle while trying to bring peace to her post-apocalyptic planet. One of the greatest films ever made.
- Kiki’s Delivery Service – A young witch moves to a new town and uses her flying powers to make a living for herself while learning to become independent. Relatable is an understatement.
- Princess Mononoke – A young prince and a young woman get caught in epic struggle between the gods of a forest and the humans wanting to consume its resources. A landmark in environmental storytelling and visual extravagance.
- Spirited Away – A young girl who gets transported to a world of spirits and must find her way out. It won an Oscar, which says enough as to how good it is.
- Arrietty – A sickly young boy befriends Arrietty, a tiny girl the size of an ant who lives in the walls of a house and borrows stuff from humans to survive. About as close to a classical fairytale as you’re going to get from Studio Ghibli.
- The Tale O Princess Kaguya – Based on a Japanese folktale, this tells the story of a young nymph who becomes a beautiful young woman and has suitors throwing themselves at her. A surprisingly feminist take on centuries old material.
Or what about something more grounded in reality?
For all the fantastical imagery and magical storytelling present in Studio Ghibli’s movies, some of its best are the ones where things are a bit more real, based on historical events, or focus more on character than spectacle. These are aimed at an older audience so have some tissues at the ready.
- Castle In The Sky – Set during the industrial boom of the lat 19th century, a young boy and girl are trying to keep a magical crystal away from a sinister military agent while searching for the titular castle in the sky. A steampunk classic.
- Whisper Of The Heart – The love story between a book-loving girl and a boy who checked out every book she’s read. Will warm even the coldest of hearts.
- Only Yesterday – A 20-something woman goes on a trip and soon reminisces on her childhood. This is literally every millennial and Gen-Z person right now.
- Porco Rosso – A former WWI fighter ace who is cursed to be an anthropomorphic pig is tasked with one final mission. Romantic in every sense of the word and one of Studio Ghibli’s most underrated movies.
- From Up On The Poppy Hill – A group of teens try to save their local clubhouse, which is in danger due to the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. Smaller stakes but no less enjoyable.
- The Wind Rises – A fictionalised telling of Jiro Horikoshi, a famous WWII aircraft designer. Gutwrenching and emotional in equal measure.
- When Marnie Was There – A young girl moves to the country and meets the mysterious Marnie, whom she becomes friends with. However secrets lie in wait as we learn more about Marnie. Tears will be shed.
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