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No Snow? No Problem.
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Evelyn Sagor and Sophia SyversonFebruary 9, 2024
Missing from this picture is Senior Jack Riley.
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Naima Sheikh-Mohamed, Co-Editor-in-Chief • February 9, 2024
RAHS Celebrates Black History Month
RAHS Celebrates Black History Month
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Erik At The Movies: Godzilla Minus One
Erik At The Movies: Godzilla Minus One
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Erik At The Movies: A Presidents Day Special
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Erik At The Movies: Malcolm X
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Erik Larson, Staff Writer • February 8, 2024
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Ayanna Churcher, Staff Writer • February 8, 2024
Benson Boone’s new single, “Beautiful Things.”
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Annika Wilkowske and Amelie NickelFebruary 8, 2024
Ms. Przepioras classroom full of green.
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Ainsley Jakaboski, Staff Writer • February 8, 2024
PSEO Students: Experiences and Information
PSEO Students: Experiences and Information
Ayanna Churcher, Staff Writer • February 8, 2024
Black History Month Book Recommendation: Such A Fun Age by Kiley Reid
Black History Month Book Recommendation: Such A Fun Age by Kiley Reid
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Death in Her Hands: Book Review
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Erik At The Movies: The Complete Studio Ghibli Rankings

Erik+At+The+Movies%3A+The+Complete+Studio+Ghibli+Rankings

Studio Ghibli is one of the most important and acclaimed animation studios of all time. Ever since their founding 38 years ago, they have created some of the most beloved films ever made. In celebration of the release of Hayao Miyazaki’s latest film (The Boy And The Heron / How Do You Live? /『君たちはどう生きるか』) I have decided to try to watch and review every single production that they, or their directors, have ever created (that I was also able to get my hands on). I also have rewatched, rewritten, and reranked the Ghibli movies I had seen previously and they will be listed down below. I am reviewing 50 projects for this ranking. If any of these sound remotely interesting I highly recommend that you consider checking them out, so please enjoy!

 

№1: The Tale Of The Princess Kaguya /『かぐや姫の物語』(2013 / 平成二十五年) (日本) = Petals falling, unable to resist the moonlight”. When I initially chose to start watching every Studio Ghibli movie, I saw the trailer for this film, and it gave me chills. I decided to save it for last, and it most certainly delivered. The story is based on the 10th century folktale “The Tale Of The Bamboo Cutter” (the oldest surviving piece of Japanese literature), which follows a lowly Bamboo Cutter and his Wife who find a miniature Princess in a stalk of bamboo who grows up at an extraordinarily fast rate. Her parents become exceedingly rich due to blessings from the gods, and take her away to the capital to raise her as a member of high society. Kaguya proceeds to feign off proposals from several nobles but eventually loses her will to live after being sexually assaulted by the Emperor, and reveals that she has to return to the Moon. Her parents try to stop this from happening, but to no avail, and she returns to the Moon without any memory of her suffering on Earth. The moral of the story is about the fleeting nature of life, and since life is so short you should make the most of its profound beauty. It also manages to be one of the greatest feminist works that I have ever come across. The visuals perfectly complement the story, with the animation utilizing traditional Japanese watercolor paintings that make the movie feel as if it were made in the era the story took place in. The score by Joe Hisashi is also one of his absolute finest, perfectly complementing the animation. What is there to say about the scene of flight, other than cinema. This was the last film directed by Isao Takahata before his death in 2018 and it was a perfect end to his decades long career. This may possibly be one of, if not the single greatest film I have EVER seen. I have no higher praise to give. There is nothing else to say, except WATCH THIS MOVIE. Literal perfection. 10/10.

The Tale Of The Princess Kaguya is currently streaming on Max.

 

№2: Whisper Of The Heart /『耳をすませば』(1995 / 平成七年) (日本) = I did not expect much from this movie, but it ended up blowing me away. The story is incredibly relatable as it feels with a teenager wondering about her eventual place in the world as she tackles her parents expectations, school, and boys. Eventually she meets someone and he motivates her to follow her true passion of becoming a writer. The recurring motif of John Denver’s “Take Me Home, Country Roads” seemed jarring at first, but it ended up greatly helping the film. The film pulls at your heartstrings and doesn’t let go. A true masterclass in storytelling. However, it is also incredibly sad that this was the only film ever directed by Yoshifumi Kondō, as he passed away less than three years after the movie came out, and leaves me wondering what could have been. 10/10.

Whisker Of The Heart is currently streaming on Max.

 

№3: Princess Mononoke /『もののけ姫』(1997 / 平成九年) (日本) = You must see with eyes unclouded by hate. See the good in that which is evil, and the evil in that which is good. Pledge yourself to neither side, but vow instead to preserve the balance that exists between the two.” This is a grandiose and truly epic film about the struggle between the forces of nature and the industrialization and progress of man set in a world of magic, with our protagonist Prince Ashitaka being cursed by a boar demon and is forced to leave his village in order to be healed by the Great Forest Spirit. He then enters into a conflict between the people of Irontown, led by Lady Eboshi, who live in a bastion of social progress, while destroying the forest, and the eponymous Princess Mononoke, San, a girl raised by wolf gods who will stop at nothing to protect the forest. San and Lady Eboshi have an amazing dichotomy both in their personalities and the two sides of the conflict that they each represent, but neither are truly right or wrong. The score by Joe Hisashi is absolutely phenomenal and it is an amazing movie that is definitely more violent than most other Studio Ghibli films. The relationship between San and Ashitaka is handled excellently and unfolds in a satisfying manner. The animation is on another level and contains some truly breathtaking footage. It is a testament to the film’s quality that it was chosen as the best Japanese film of 1997 and was their submission to the Oscars for the Best International Feature Film. A true cinematic masterpiece. 10/10. 

Princess Mononoke is currently streaming on Max.

 

№4: The Boy And The Heron / How Do You Live? /『君たちはどう生きるか』(2023 / 令和五年) (日本) = Grandpa is moving onto the next world soon but he is leaving behind this film.” It took 10 years, but the legendary director Hayao Miyazaki has returned with what could quite possibly be his final masterpiece: The Boy And The Heron. The story follows a teenager named Mahito who moves out to the Japanese countryside during World War II, and meets a mystical and mischievous Heron who leads him to another world. The original Japanese title was taken from the (1937 / 昭和十二年) novel by Genzaburō Yoshino known as How Do You Live?, a thought provoking story of a young boy bonding with his uncle over the death of his father, and learns several valuable life lessons. I have read the book myself, and thought it was excellent! It also happens to be the favorite book of Hayao Miyazaki, and served as the motivation for creating this film. While Mahito only reads the book briefly during the film, it mostly serves a more thematic purpose, forcing the audience to ask themselves How Do YOU Live? The story mostly exists as Miyazaki’s answer to this very question, and while it is fantastic, I do not wish to reveal any further details as this movie should be seen blind for the greatest experience. The score by Joe Hisaishi is also outstanding, and I am so glad the industry is finally recognizing and awarding his work. This is actually the most expensive Japanese movie of all time (beating their own record for The Tale Of The Princess Kaguya), so in order to fund the production Studio Ghibli had to put their movies on streaming, which was an amazing decision because it exposed their films to so many people (like myself) who became so enamored with their works that it became Studio Ghibli’s first ever film to be #1 at the US box office. I was worried about the future of Studio Ghibli, but after this film and their acquisition by Nippon TV, I can rest easy knowing that their future will be in good hands, and that Hayao Miyazaki is trying to deliver us at least one last masterpiece. Despite 2023 being one of the best years in recent memory for cinema, I have no qualms proclaiming this movie as my favorite of the year. 10/10.

The Boy And The Heron is currently playing in theaters.

 

№5: The Wind Rises /『風立ちぬ』(2013 / 平成二十五年) (日本) = Airplanes are beautiful dreams. Engineers turn dreams into reality.” I think it is abundantly clear that Hayao Miyazaki REALLY likes planes. This movie is actually based (loosely) on the life of Jiro Horikoshi, a Japanese aeronautical engineer who designed the Mitsubishi A5M and Mitsubishi A6M “Zero” fighter planes used by the Japanese Imperial Navy in World War II. It showcases his true passion for aviation, but also the pain he feels that his creations are used as weapons of war. Later on, it also showed his love for his wife Nahoko. There are also dream sequences interspersed throughout that feature the Italian aerospace engineer Count Giovanni Caproni, whose aircraft the Caproni Ca.309 (Nicknamed “Ghibli”) ended up being the inspiration for the Studio’s name. The reason Hayao Miyazaki is so Interested in aviation is because his father was an aircraft engineer working for the Imperial Japanese Army, similar to how Jiro was in the movie. The score by Joe Hisashi is understated, but still excellent. Upon rewatching the film, I ended up gaining a new appreciation for the work, and even my Grandma enjoyed it! This would have been a lovely swan song for Hayao Miyazaki, but fortunately for everyone, he just released one last film, and I couldn’t be happier. 10/10.

The Wind Rises is currently streaming on Max.

 

№6: Kiki’s Delivery Service /『魔女の宅急便』(1989 / 平成一年) (日本) = This is just such a happy movie. It is about a young witch named Kiki who moves to a new town and starts a delivery service to make ends meet, and has to deal with losing her passion for doing what she loves. By the end of the film, she is able to regain her love of flying and uses it to help brighten people’s lives. I heavily related to Kiki‘s burnout in the movie as we all felt something similar when we were all stuck at home during the pandemic. I had the biggest grin on my face from beginning to end and this is a must watch, plus it is set in Sweden, so what’s not to love? 10/10.

Kiki’s Delivery Service is currently streaming on Max.

 

№7: Grave Of The Fireflies /『火垂るの墓』(1988 / 昭和六十三年) (日本) = There are no words that I can say that will do this film justice. It broke me. This story of two children surviving in a World War II era Imperial Japan in the aftermath of American firebombings may be too depressing for many, but it needs to be seen to be fully understood. An interesting fact about the film is that it was released on the same ticket with My Neighbor Totoro, creating what may be the most tonally dissonant double-feature in cinematic history. It may not be my favorite film by Studio Ghibli, but it is undoubtedly one of their most profound works. 10/10.

 –Grave Of The Fireflies is available for purchase and rental on demand.

 

№8: Spirited Away /『千と千尋の神隠し』(2001 / 平成十三年) (日本) = This is one of the most famous films from Studio Ghibli, and the only non-western movie to win the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature. The main character, Chihiro is thrown into a realm of spirits and must fight to get her name and family back before they are lost forever. She gets a job at a bathhouse and you become immersed in a beautiful and complex world with many interesting characters. The fact that this is the only Studio Ghibli film that has won an Oscar is a tragedy, but this film is well deserving. Interestingly, Hayao Miyazaki actually declined to accept his award in person, as he was protesting the then ongoing war in Iraq, and he incorporated strong anti war themes into his next film: Howl’s Moving Castle. The movie is excellent and I highly recommend it, but far too often this is both the first and last stop on many people’s journey with Studio Ghibli, and I implore those people to check out some of the Studio’s other magnificent works of art. 10/10. 

Spirited Away is streaming on Max.

 

№9: The Cat Returns /『猫の恩返し』(2002 / 平成十四年) (日本) = In the back of my mind, for the longest time, was this memory: I was eating in the IKEA children’s food court, and playing on the television was a curious sight: A parade of cats holding lights in a street. Although I had to leave soon after, that moment always stuck with me. Years later, I was folding laundry and was looking for something to watch, and stumbled across this movie. I then said to myself, “Eh, it’s like an hour, why not?”So it actually ended up being the first Studio Ghibli film that I watched when I started writing these reviews, and it certainly didn’t disappoint. It is a fun story of a girl named Haru who gets pulled into a kingdom of cats and is saved by Baron Humbert von Gikkingen and Muta the cat, who were two of the main characters from the truly sublime film Whisper Of The Heart. The short runtime is not an issue in this fun and whimsical adventure. 9/10.

The Cat Returns is currently streaming on Max.

 

№10: From Up On Poppy Hill /『コクリコ坂から』(2011 / 平成二十三年) (日本) = The film is about the friendship (and budding relationship…) between the two young leads who try to work together to save a the old Latin Quarter at their school from destruction in 1963 Japan, just before the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. The characters are charming and the direction is exquisitely done by Gorō Miyazaki, however the story is actually written by his father, Hayao Miyazaki. This is an incredibly underrated film that isn’t talked about nearly as much as other works the company has put out, and it deserves to be. Highly recommended. 9/10.

From Up On Poppy Hill is currently streaming on Max.

P.S. The 1964 documentary Tokyo Olympiad also covers the Tokyo Olympics and is a fantastic experience.

 

№11: Porco Rosso /『紅の豚』(1992 / 平成四年) (日本) =I would rather be a Pig than a fascist.” Hayao Miyazaki likes planes. This story of a cursed aviator swine has a lot of heart and tight arial action. Porco is a compelling lead and his friendship with Fio Piccolo is adorable and rich with chemistry. Fun fact: The name “Ghibli” is actually an Arabic word of Libyan origin (قبلي) meaning “A Hot Desert Wind” that was used as the nickname of the Italian plane Caproni Ca.309, and that plane’s engine makes a cameo in the movie (Count Giovanni Caproni also has a substantial role in the later Studio Ghibli production The Wind Rises). The film was also funded by Japan Airlines to be made as an inflight movie, which is why the opening titles are listed in eight different languages. A truly great film. 9/10.

Porco Rosso is currently streaming on Max.

 

№12: Nausicaä Of The Valley Of The Wind /『風の谷のナウシカ』(1984 / 昭和五十九年) (日本) = This movie was made by Topcraft, the precursor to Studio Ghibli under Tokuma Shoten and it was eventually re released as one of their films. The film is based off of Miyazaki’s manga series of the same name, and adapts the first two books for the screen. It takes place in a post-apocalyptic irradiated wasteland 1000 years after the fall of humanity, and follows Princess Nausicaä as she tries to save the valley of the wind and the beasts of nature from the evil Tolmekian Kingdom. The film’s landscapes can be haunting and it has a scale that is simply stunning to behold. The film also has very strong environmentalist themes that are very prescient for our modern times. Nausicaä is a very compelling lead and the film is an extremely good time. 9/10.

Nausicaä Of The Valley Of The Wind is currently streaming on Max.

 

№13: Isao Takahata And The Tale Of His Princess Kaguya /『高畑 勲、『かぐや姫の物語』をつくる。ジブリ第7スタジオ、933日の伝説』(2014 / 平成二十六年) (日本) = This documentary about the creation of the film The Tale Of The Princess Kaguya (the single greatest film I have ever seen) over its 8 years of production. Portraying the many hardships of the film’s production, and the incredible work that showed in the final product, the movie manages to be a compelling work on its own terms, and my favorite documentary made about Studio Ghibli. Granted, I may be a bit biased but it is still a very well made film. 9/10.

Isao Takahata And The Tale Of His Princess Kaguya is available for purchase and rental on demand.

 

№14: Castle In The Sky /『天空の城ラピュタ』(1986 / 昭和六十一年) (日本) = This was the first movie that was released theatrically as a Studio Ghibli film, and they knocked it out if the park. The story is about three different factions trying to reach the remains of the ancient civilization of Laputa that lived in the eponymous Castle In The Sky. Its visuals and score are awe inspiring and the characters are all compelling to watch. This is a real hidden gem of the Studio Ghibli catalog and I recommend it. 9/10.

Castle In The Sky is currently streaming on Max.

 

№15: Ponyo On The Cliff By The Sea /『崖の上のポニョ』(2008 / 平成二十年) (日本) = This movie is just so adorable! The friendship between Ponyo and Sōsuke is very cute, and gives the film a lot of heart. It also has some of the most beautiful animation in any Studio Ghibli film, with the water scenes in particular being breathtaking. While definitely aimed for a younger audience, the film is still enjoyable for all ages. 8/10.

Ponyo On The Cliff By The Sea is currently streaming on Max.

 

№16: My Neighbor Totoro /『となりのトトロ』(1988 / 昭和六十三年) (日本) = This was the very first Studio Ghibli film that I ever saw, as my uncle showed it to me and my cousins when I was 5, and it was a lovely rewatch. The eponymous Totoro is an adorable creature that has fun with 2 young children named Satsuki and Mei that just moved to a new town in rural Japan and are waiting for the recovery of their sick mother. Along the way, they encounter several magical creatures, such as dust bunnies and a Catbus! Totoro has become one of the most recognizable characters in fiction, and was chosen to be the logo for Studio Ghibli after the movie was released. It is a very sweet and charming film that I’m glad I rewatched. 8/10.

My Neighbor Totoro is currently streaming on Max.

 

№17: Howl’s Moving Castle /『ハウルの動く城』(2004 / 平成十六年) (日本) =‘A battleship?’ ‘On its way to burn cities and people.’ ‘The enemy’s? Ours?’ ‘What difference does it make?’” This is certainly one of the more famous Studio Ghibli films, but I unfortunately didn’t connect with it as much as I wanted to. The story is about a young woman named Sophie who is cursed by a witch and turns into an old lady, who then seeks out the powerful sorcerer Howl and his eponymous Moving Castle to see if he can help her, but she eventually falls for him. She gets a job as his cleaning lady, and befriends a fire demon named Calcifer. The movie also tackles some anti war themes, due to Hayao Miyazaki’s personal beliefs about the then ongoing Iraq war. The characters are charming and helped the film be impactful, although I still felt like Studio Ghibli has made better works in the years since. Still exceptional. 8/10.

Howl’s Moving Castle is currently streaming on Max.

 

№18: Lupin The Third: The Castle Of Cagliostro /『ルパン三世 カリオストロの城』(1979 / 昭和五十四年) (日本) = A part of the long running Lupin The Third series of manga, anime, and films, this also serves as the directorial debut of the great Hayao Miyazaki. Following the master thief Arsène Lupin and his friend Daisuke Jigan after they accidentally steal counterfeit money, who then decide to mess with the counterfeiters in their home base in The Castle Of Cagliostro. Even in his first ever film, Hayao Miyazaki’s raw talent and wonder shine through the screen and stands alongside his other words as a truly fantastic film. 8/10.

Lupin The Third: The Castle Of Cagliostro is available for purchase and rental on demand.

 

№19: Ritual /『式日』(2000 / 平成十三年) (日本) = “‘You know what tomorrow is?’ ‘It’s your birthday, right?’” I know what you’re thinking, “What the hell is this? A live action art-house drama? This doesn’t look like Studio Ghibli!” Yes, but it was created by a former subsidiary of theirs called Studio Kajino, so I am counting it for the purposes of my Studio Ghibli reviews. The other thing that seemed strange about the film is that it was directed by Hideaki Anno, creator of Neon Genesis Evangelion and Shin Godzilla. It also stars Ayako Fujitani, the daughter of washed up Kremlin puppet Steven Seagal?!? I didn’t know what to expect but was pleasantly surprised by a well directed piece of cinema. The story follows the Director of an indie film in the city of Ube, Yamaguchi Prefecture who tries working with a woman referred to only as She, and she suffers a mental breakdown and loses touch with reality. In order to cope, she engages in several “Rituals” such as carrying a red umbrella everywhere she goes and stating that tomorrow is her birthday, every single day. It was actually based off of the book “Tōhimu” that Ayako Fujitani wrote during the difficult production of her father’s film The Patriot. The saturated colors are just gorgeous to behold, brought to life with some truly excellent cinematography. I was shocked to learn this, but for those of you who use Letterboxd this is actually ranked at №228 on the Top 250 narrative films list. While this is a decidedly slower paced film, it is most certainly a rewarding experience, and I will be sure to check out more of Hideaki Anno’s work in the future. 8/10.

Ritual is currently unavailable for purchase over the internet, although piracy is always an option.

 

№20: The Red Turtle / La Tortue Rouge / De Rode Schildpad /『レッドタートル ある島の物語』(2016 / 平成二十八年) (BE/日本/FR) = The second you see the Studio Ghibli logo bathed in a beautiful shade of red, you know you are in for something different. This is a wordless film about a man stranded on a deserted island, and about his interactions with a mystical red turtle who is desperate to have him stay. This limitation is actually one of the movie’s greatest strengths, forcing the use of body language and abstract imagery to be used to convey emotions and concepts, rather than with simple lines of dialogue. This was actually a co-production between Studio Ghibli and the Dutch director Michaël Dudok de Wit whom they chose after enjoying his Academy Award winning short film Father And Daughter. The score is also beautiful to listen to, composed with very simple instruments and melodies that absolutely take center stage due to the aforementioned lack of dialogue. The story is impactful and the film itself is beautiful to behold. Despite being so markedly different from most of Studio Ghibli’s other works, I recommend this film to anyone who is looking for something that is a bit more experimental. 8/10.

The Red Turtle is currently streaming on Starz.

 

№21: Only Yesterday /『おもひでぽろぽろ』(1991 / 平成三年) (日本) = A quiet and understated film that tackles the tale of a 27 year old woman who doesn’t know what she wants to do with her life, and reflects upon her experiences in 5th grade as if it were Only Yesterday. The pacing is excellent as the movie is able to tell two equally compelling storylines and keep it engaging throughout its runtime. I especially love the discussion she has at the end of the movie in the car, as it is a very raw scene that perfectly summed up the message of the film. This is a bit more emotionally mature than their other works, but that is by no means a bad thing. 8/10.

Only Yesterday is currently streaming on Max.

 

№22: The Story Of Yanagawa’s Canals /『柳川の運河の物語』(1987 / 昭和六十二年) (日本) = In the days when Japan was poor each town had its canals. The water wasn’t always clean. But pausing for a moment on a bank or a bridge helped ease life’s burdens.” This is a made for TV live action documentary that was funded with the profits from Nausicaä Of The Valley Of The Wind, and directed by Isao Takahata in his first ever film for Studio Ghibli. It arose from location shoots for My Neighbor Totoro but quickly evolved into a feature length exploration about the history of Yanagawa, Fukuoka Prefecture and its relationship with its many waterways. The documentary is partially animated by Studio Ghibli and still possesses their unmistakable charm. The soundtrack is also interesting, often reusing music already composed for their earlier work Castle In The Sky, in order to save money. Watching the documentary was a very meditative and relaxing experience, and for anyone who wishes to learn more about Japan, I would recommend this rather understated and methodical entry into the Ghibli catalog. 8/10.

The Story Of Yanagawa’s Canals is currently unavailable for purchase over the internet, although piracy is always an option.

 

№23: When Marnie Was There /『思い出のマーニー』(2014 / 平成二十六年) (日本) = A slow burning drama that ends with a touching payoff which hits you where you feel. The lead Anna is a young girl that is struggling with mental health issues and is sent away to the countryside where she meets a kid named Marnie and learns about the time she was there. Their relationship is fleshed out quite remarkably and it carries the film. This also happens to be the last film created by Studio Ghibli before the director Hiromasa Yonebayashi and several animators left to form Studio Ponac, which went on to create the movies Mary And The Witch’s Flower and Modest Heroes. Still, a lovely experience. 8/10.

When Marnie Was There is currently streaming on Max.

 

№24: The Great Adventures Of Horus, Prince Of The Sun /『太陽の王子ホルスの大冒険』(1968 / 昭和四十三年) (日本) = Despite this being the final work I viewed for these reviews, it is actually the earliest work to be included among them. Serving as the directorial debut of the late, great Isao Takahata, Horus also was the start of Hayao Miyazaki’s career in animation and their lifelong friendship. The story follows a young boy named Horus who pulls the sword of the sun out of a stone giant and goes on an adventure to avenge the death of his village. The production of the film was rife with studio interference, and it is a miracle it was even released. Although it was a box office bomb, the film marks a turning point in the history of Japanese animation, paving the way for all that followed. 7/10.

The Great Adventures Of Horus, Prince Of The Sun is currently unavailable for purchase over the internet, although piracy is always an option.

 

№25: 10 Years With Hayao Miyazaki /『宮崎駿との10年』(2019 / 平成三十一年/令和一年) (日本) = An eye opening documentary into the creative process of Hayao Miyazaki, covering a 10 year span covering the creation of Ponyo, From Up On Poppy Hill, and The Wind Rises. It is very intimate and in depth in its subject matter. You truly come to understand who Hayao Miyazaki truly is as a person through his hardships and triumphs. 7/10.

10 Years With Hayao Miyazaki is currently streaming for free on NHK’s website.

 

№26: Pom Poko /『平成狸合戦ぽんぽこ』(1994 / 平成六年) (日本) = This film is heavily inspired by traditional Japanese folklore, with the main plot following several Tanuki that are able to shapeshift and use this ability to defend their forest from construction workers. The movie is fine, but the decision to tell the story like a nature documentary with intermittent narration consistently took me out of the experience. It was interestingly chosen as the Japanese submission to the Oscars for the Best International Feature Film in 1994. My favorite scene however was with the two elderly men at the bar talking about life, as I found it hilarious. It may be a little awkward at times, but the film is still good. 7/10.

Pom Poko is currently streaming on Max.

 

№27: Gauche The Cellist /『セロ弾きのゴーシュ』(1982 / 昭和五十七年) (日本) = This adaptation of Kenji Miyazawa’s short story was directed by Isao Takahata and follows a young cellist named Gauche who encounters several talking animals while practicing one night. The use of diagetic music is absolutely serene, with the Tanuki segment in particular managing to achieve a moment as impactful as any of his later works. While the animation quality may have aged poorly, the film still manages to make an emotional impact. 7/10.

Gauche The Cellist is currently unavailable for purchase over the internet, although piracy is always an option.

 

№28: The Kingdom Of Dreams And Madness /『夢と狂気の王国』(2013 / 平成二十五年) (日本) = This is a documentary about the time when Studio Ghibli was simultaneously working on The Wind Rises and The Tale Of The Princess Kaguya, and also shows Hayao Miyazaki pondering about his eventual retirement. The name comes from an oft repeated line said during the dream sequences in The Wind Rises. It was surprisingly enjoyable to watch, and I enjoyed it far more than Never-Ending Man: Hayao Miyazaki. Worth your time. 7/10.

The Kingdom Of Dreams And Madness is currently streaming on Max.

 

№29: Mei And The Kittenbus /『めいとこねこバス』(2002 / 平成十四年) (日本) = This short film is a sequel to My Neighbor Totoro, taking place roughly a year later and follows Mei and the child of the Catbus: The adorable Kittenbus! They then journey to meet the Kittenbus’s extended family, and reunite with Totoro! The short is extremely adorable, and if you ever have the chance to see it, I would highly recommend it. 7/10.

Mei And The Kittenbus is only available to watch at the Ghibli Museum in Tokyo, although it is available to watch online with some searching.

 

№30: -Zen- Grogu And Dust Bunnies /『禅 グローグーとマックロクロスケ』(2022 / 令和四年) (日本/US) = A delightful and beautiful short that was incredibly adorable! It depicts a chance meeting between Grogu and the Dust Bunnies from Spirited Away and My Neighbor Totoro. It is very cute! I highly recommend you to check it out! 7/10.

-Zen- Grogu And Dust Bunnies is currently streaming on Disney+.

 

№31: My Neighbors The Yamadas /『ホーホケキョとなりの山田くん』(1999 / 平成十一年) (日本) = This film is a lovely series of vignettes about the titular Yamada family and it shows how they interact and take in life as it passes them by. It had a few good laughs and a beautiful minimalist art style that Isao Takahata later used for his film The Tale Of The Princess Kaguya. My only issue with the film is that they didn’t feature Nonoko (the daughter) nearly as much as the other family members, but it is still a good film. 7/10.

My Neighbors The Yamadas is currently streaming on Max.

 

№32: Giant God Warrior Appears in Tokyo /『巨神兵東京に現わる』(2012 / 平成二十四年) (日本) = This is a short film acting as a prequel to Nausicaä Of The Valley Of The Wind, featuring the start of the seven days of fire and the extinction of humanity at the hands of the Giant Warriors. The animation is actually captured with miniatures, in an allusion to other Kaijū films. Hilariously, Hayao Miyazaki himself provides the voice for the Giant Warrior’s, which is very fitting as he originally created them for his Nausicaä manga. If you are a fan of Kaijū flicks, you will probably find some enjoyment out of this. 7/10.

Giant God Warrior Appears in Tokyo is currently unavailable for purchase over the internet, although piracy is always an option.

 

№33: Mary And The Witch’s Flower /『メアリと魔女の花』(2017 / 平成二十九年) (日本) = After Studio Ghibli paused production after the completion of When Marnie Was There, many animators left to form Studio Ponac, and Hiromasa Yonebayashi followed and directed their debut feature. The story follows a young British girl named Mary who accidentally stumbled into a school for witches and wizards, and has to get back home safe. While it can feel derivative of Kiki’s Delivery Service at times, it is at least extremely enjoyable to watch. 7/10.

Mary And The Witch’s Flower is available for purchase and rental on demand.

 

№34: Mr. Dough and the Egg Princess /『パン種とタマゴ姫』(2010 / 平成二十二年) (日本) = This short from the Ghibli Museum adapts the witch Baba Yaga from Russian folklore and gives it a unique twist. She creates a servant by cracking an Egg, and also plans to eat Mr. Dough. The two meet and flee from her grasp. The animation is fantastic and the story is very charming! 7/10.

Mr. Dough and the Egg Princess is only available to watch at the Ghibli Museum in Tokyo, although it is available to watch online with some searching.

 

№35: Ronja The Robber’s Daughter / Ronja Rövardotter /『山賊の娘ローニャ』(2014-2015 / 平成二十六年/平成二十七年) (日本) = The works of Swedish author Astrid Lindgren are known and beloved the world over. Her most famous story is undoubtedly that of Pippi Longstocking / Pippi Långstrump, and this gained the attention of Hayao Miyazaki as a potential project. Later on, his son Gorō decided to adapt another of Astrid Lindgren’s works: Ronja The Robber’s Daughter, but as the first ever television show created by Studio Ghibli. The show is actually in three dimensions, but has cell shading applied to make it look closer to traditional animation techniques. I recently visited Sweden, and I was surprised at how many instances I stumbled upon images from the show during my time there (they are extremely proud of Astrid Lindgren, as they should be) and it caused me to check it out. The show follows a Swedish girl named Ronja who is the daughter of a bandit and goes out into the forest and learns to live life. The series was very pleasant to watch, and while it may not be the greatest thing in the world, I nevertheless felt a great sense of pride that Studio Ghibli adapted a novel from the home of my ancestors. Jag älskar Sverige! 7/10.

Ronja And The Robber’s Daughter is currently streaming on Amazon Prime.

 

№36: Boro The Caterpillar /『毛虫のボロ』(2018 / 平成三十年) (日本) = This is the film that got Hayao Miyazaki out of his latest retirement, and it is extremely adorable! It follows a newly hatched caterpillar named Boro who has to journey through a new and hostile world. The creation of the short was actually depicted in the documentary Never Ending Man: Hayao Miyazaki. 6/10.

Boro The Caterpillar is only available to watch at the Ghibli Museum in Tokyo, although it is available to watch online with some searching.

 

№37: Never-Ending Man: Hayao Miyazaki /『終わらない人 宮﨑駿』(2016 / 平成二十八年) (日本) = An intimate portrait of Hayao Miyazaki that depicts the creation of a short film called Boro the Caterpillar (very cute, also worth a watch) and his decision to come out of retirement. It’s a nice documentary and not necessary to watch, but the short is pretty cute. However, since the first time I watched this documentary, the rise and increasing prevalence of artificial intelligence in our lives has occurred, and the scene in which Hayao Miyazaki directly states its impending danger, calling it “An insult to life itself” sadly becomes far more relevant with each passing day. 6/10.

Never-Ending Man: Hayao Miyazaki is currently streaming on Max.

 

№38: Ni No Kuni /『二ノ国』(2019 / 令和一年) (日本) = While not animated by Studio Ghibli, this film does still have a lot of overlap with the company. The film is based off of the Ni No Kuni series of video-games, which featured cutscenes that were notably animated by Studio Ghibli, is directed by ex Ghibli animator Yoshiyuki Momose, and features a score composed by the legendary Joe Hisashi, a frequent contributor to many a Ghibli film. Because of these close ties to the studio, I am including it here on this list. Unfortunately, it only manages to achieve middling heights in its short runtime compared to most Ghibli films. The plot follows three teenagers who enter into another world, but a love triangle divides their friendship. The animation is good, and the score by Joe Hisaishi is once again fantastic. While it may not be the greatest film, I still had a good time with it. 6/10.

Ni No Kuni is currently streaming on Netflix.

 

№39: The Secret World Of Arrietty /『借りぐらしのアリエッティ』(2011 / 平成二十三年) (日本) = An incredibly small girl meets a normal sized boy, and hijinks ensue. To be honest, this was a rather uneventful film with some pacing problems and a shoehorned antagonist in the third act. The best thing about the film was how it played with size and perspective, which it did rather well, but not enough to make me think the film was anything more than just ok. 6/10.

The Secret World Of Arrietty is currently streaming on Max.

 

№40: Father And Daughter / Vader En Dochter (2000) (BE)  = A simple 10 minute silent short film about a Daughter’s enduring love for her Father who sailed off when she was young and her lack of closure throughout her life. It was directed by Michaël Dudok de Wit and it won the Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film in 2000. This is also what introduced him to Studio Ghibli in 2008, when Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata reached out to produce his next project, The Red Turtle. 6/10.

Father And Daughter is currently streaming on Kanopy and available for free on YouTube.

 

№41: Modest Heroes /『ちいさな英雄-カニとタマゴと透明人間-』(2018 / 平成三十年) (日本) = This is the most recent film released by Studio Ponac, and features three anthology segments directed by ex Studio Ghibli staff. The stories are of a family of crabs, a boy deathly allergic to eggs, and an invisible man. Isao Takahata was actually supposed to direct a fourth segment, but he died before it was able to begin production. While the film could have been more thematically coherent overall, I am still looking forward to what Studio Ponac has in store. 6/10.

Modest Heroes is available for purchase and rental on demand.

 

№42: Panda! Go Panda! /『パンダコパンダ』(1972 / 昭和四十七年) (日本) = This feels very much like a proto My Neighbor Totoro in many ways, such as its smaller scale and more lighthearted tone. Serving as the first major work that Hayao Miyazaki wrote, Isao Takahata returns to direct this sweet film. We follow a young girl named Mimiko who discovers a baby panda and his father, and they proceed to have lots of fun! While I sometimes felt like I was watching something not exactly intended for my age group, I still enjoyed learning about the history of the men behind Studio Ghibli. Very cute! 6/10.

Panda! Go Panda! is available for purchase and rental on demand.

 

№43: Ocean Waves /『海がきこえる』(1993 / 平成五年) (日本) = A slow burning but short story of a small town boy meeting a big city girl and developing a crush on her, but the leads are unlikable and not a lot happens during the film. The smaller scale can be explained by the fact that this was originally a TV-movie, but it sadly doesn’t hold up compared to Studio Ghibli’s other works. 5/10.

Ocean Waves is currently streaming on Max.

 

№44: On Your Mark /『ジブリ実験劇場』(1995 / 平成七年) (日本) = This is actually a music video that Hayao Miyazaki created while he was having writer’s block during the production of Princess Mononoke, and the video actually played in theaters alongside showings of Whisper Of The Heart. The plot follows two cops who discover an Angel being held by a cult, who is then kidnapped by the government and they proceed to rescue her and set her free. The visuals are nice and the song is quite catchy. 5/10.

On Your Mark is currently unavailable for purchase over the internet, although piracy is always an option, and you can easily listen to the song on most music platforms.

 

№45: Transparent: Tribute To A Sad Genius /『サトラレ』(2001 / 平成十四年) (日本) = This was the last ever film produced by Studio Ghibli’s subsidiary Studio Kajino, and it’s not hard to see why it led to the studio shutting down. The only reason people know this film has anything to do with the Studio is because they were credited on the South Korean DVD release, but not in the credits of the movie itself, which shows you their faith in the final product. The story was extremely confusing, following a group of genius people who are “transparent”, having their inner thoughts broadcasted to everyone within 32.8 feet. The government’s solution is to create a Truman Show type charade where everyone around them keeps the truth secret from them. They try to throw in a romance storyline, but it just doesn’t work. I am assuming that the “transparent” metaphor was probably something to do with autism, or Japan’s culture of「Tatemae / 建前」or having a façade in public. The movie was quite bland, and even if it were more publicly available, I would still recommend that you skip this strange entry in Ghibli’s catalog. 5/10.

Transparent: Tribute To A Sad Genius is currently unavailable for purchase over the internet, although piracy is always an option.

 

№46: Chie The Brat /『じゃりン子チエ 劇場版』(1981 / 昭和五十六年) (日本) = Another one of Isao Takahata’s earlier works, Chie The Brat once again shows his potential as a filmmaker, but doesn’t quite reach to the highs of his later films. Our lead, Chie, is an unlivable and bratty child who gets into situations because of her selfish nature. The story is told in an episodic and mostly comedic way, bearing stark similarities to My Neighbor’s The Yamada’s, but I would far rather rewatch that film. It can be funny at times, but I would still recommend skipping this one. 5/10.

Chie The Brat is currently unavailable for purchase over the internet, although piracy is always an option.

 

№47: Iblard Jikan /『イバラード時間』(2007 / 平成十九年) (日本) = While the animation is absolutely beautiful, and done in an impressionistic style, my main gripe with the “film” is that literally nothing happens. While it is cool that this is set in the imaginary world that Shizuku created in Whisper Of The Heart, I feel like more could have still been done. The score sounds nice. At the very least, this is the greatest screensaver I have ever seen. 5/10.

Iblard Jikan is currently unavailable for purchase over the internet, although piracy is always an option.

 

№48: Winter Days /『冬の日』(2003 / 平成十五年)  (日本) = This is an animated anthology film based off a famous collection of haikus, but it ended up being less than the sum of its parts. The 36 different short films vary wildly in quality, from crude CGI and extremely vulgar humor, to beautiful traditional animation. My favorite segment was the one by the Russian painter Alexander Petrov, who created a one minute segment entirely out of oil paintings, and it is absolutely stunning to see. The reason I am even talking about this short is because the 28th segment was directed by Isao Takahata, the co-founder of Studio Ghibli. Unless you wish to check out the few great segments, I would recommend skipping this movie. 5/10.

Winter Days is currently unavailable for purchase over the internet, although piracy is always an option.

 

№49: Tales From Earthsea /『ゲド戦記』(2006 / 平成十八年) (日本) = This is a dull and uneventful film that is more focused on world building then telling a good story, and it sucks at world building. The movie takes itself so seriously to a fault, leading it to be a boring drag. The only reason it isn’t at the bottom is because of the surprisingly beautiful animation throughout the film, and a nice message about the importance of life. 4/10.

Tales From Earthsea is currently streaming on Max.

 

№50: Earwig And The Witch /『アーヤと魔女』(2020 / 令和二年) (日本) = OH GOD THIS LOOKS BAD PLEASE GO BACK TO TWO DIMENSIONS JUST MAKE IT STOP! 2/10.

Earwig And The Witch is currently streaming on Max.

 

Thank you all so much for reading my Studio Ghibli reviews, I hope you all enjoyed them!

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About the Contributor
Erik Larson, Staff Writer
Hello! My name is Erik Larson and I am currently a staff writer at The Ville who specializes in reviewing the latest and greatest in film. In the words of game director Hideo Kojima: “70% of my body is made of movies.” You can find more of my movie reviews here at my Letterboxd: https://boxd.it/4N1v5

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