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Studio Ghibli Anime Movie Guide

Updated on April 21, 2015

Studio Ghibli Anime

Each Studio Ghibli Film features incredible animation and a brilliant soundtrack. These emotionally enriched films will often times bring you to tears as you find yourself rooting for the characters and intently following each breathtaking scene.

It wasn't until three years ago when I was introduced to the world of Japanese animation. I fell in love with Totoro and have since watched all released feature films. If you haven't familiarized yourself with at least one of the seventeen (17) Studio Ghibli animes; it's my pleasure to enlighten you.

Photo Credit: Studio Ghibli Songs |

Studio Ghibli (anime) was created in mid 1985 and first released Castle in the Sky in 1986. Many of Studio Ghibli anime movies are distributed in Japan by Toho.

The Ghibli logo is comprised of a popular character by the name of Totoro who is featured in the film, My Neighbor Totoro. A total of 17 films have been produced along with several commercials and short films.

Did you know?

Disney maintains rights to all movies not previously distributed internationally

Photo Credit: Studio Ghibli Girls

Please note:

Most of the movies shown are the North American Versions which are dubbed or subtitled in English and released by Disney Presents Studio Ghibli.

Castle in the Sky - August 2, 1986

Laputa: Castle in the Sky was re-titled simply as Castle in the Sky for the United States release. This tale was inspired by "Gulliver's Travels." An orphan inherits a crystal which connects her to a kingdom in the sky called, Laputa. With the help of the Sky Pirates, she visits the ruins of the once great civilization. Unrated, suitable for ages 10+

Castle in the Sky (Two-Disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo)
Castle in the Sky (Two-Disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo)

(Disney Presents Studio Ghibli, 2012)Written and Directed by Hayao MiyazakiStarring: James Van Der Beek, Anna Paquin, Cloris Leachman, Mark Hamill and Mandy Patinkin


Grave of the Fireflies - April 16, 1988

Two children are left alone during World War II. Their mother was killed and their father is serving in the Imperial Navy. At first they stay with an Aunt who is fails to show affection and begins to resent them. They end up living in a cave near a stream. Teenage Seita, resorts to stealing in order to care for his young sister. This movie is incredibly charged with emotion and deals with intense themes. Unrated: suitable for ages 12 and older.

My Neighbor Totoro - April 16, 1988

My personal favorite!

Set in 1958 Japan, a professor and his two daughters move into a new house while their mother is in the hospital recovering from an illness. The children learn the house is inhibited with dust creatures called susuwatari. As they become more comfortable in the house the sprites drift away with the wind. Mei discovers a very large camphor tree with is home to King Totoro (forest spirit). Totoro become the childrens protector who watches over them and carries them on an enchanted journey. In this beautiful family movie, you also meet catbus, who takes the children to see their mother. Children and adults are will be delighted with this magical film.

My Neighbor Totoro (Two-Disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo)
My Neighbor Totoro (Two-Disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo)

(Disney Presents Studio Ghibli, 2010) Directed by Hayao MiyazakiStarring: Dakota Fanning, Elle Fanning, Tim Daly, Lea Salonga, Frank Welker


Kiki's Delivery Service - July 22, 1989

Directed by Hayao Miyazaki

Kiki's Delivery Service (Disney Presents Studio Ghibli, 2010)

Kirsten Dunst, Phil Hartman, Janeane Garofalo, Matthew Lawrence, Debbie Reynolds

When young witches turn 13, they must leave home during a full moon for a full year of training. As part of her training, Kiki starts "high-flying delivery service" which is successful until she loses the ability to fly (on her broom). She is also saddened to learn she can no longer speak to Jiji, her black cat. Kiki must learn to believe in herself to regain her powers to fly. Watch as she grows and learns who she is in this film for both children and adults.

Only Yesterday - July 20, 1991

Directed by Isao Takahata

Taeko is 27 in 1982. She's unmarried, has no children and spent her entire life in Tokyo. She takes a trip to visit her sister in law in the country to help with the safflower harvest; but also to get away from city life. This is one of the harder to locate films by Studio Ghibli.

*Not yet released in the US. Scheduled for release - March, 2013.

Porco Rosso - January 1, 1992

Directed by Hayao Miyazaki

Michael Keaton, Cary Elwes, Kimberly Williams-Paisley, Susan Egan, David Ogden Stiers

Porco Rosso or The Crimson Pig is about a pilot who turns into a pig. He is a veteran WWI fighter ace and bounty hunter, who responds to an attack on a ferry. He defeats Mamma Aiuto gang and retires to a hotel where his girlfriend works. Rated PG for violence, drinking and smoking.

Pom Poko - July 16, 1994

Directed by Isao Takahata

Jonathan Taylor Thomas, Clancy Brown, J.K. Simmons, Tress MacNeille, Kevin Michael Richardson

Set in 1960s Japan, a pack of Tanuki (Japanese raccoon dog) are threatened by a development project. The development is cutting down trees and dividing the land. The story them picks up in 1990s Japan. With linited space and food, the tanuki are fighting each other. Tribe members transform into humans, other animals and objects in order to save their land. Rated PG for violence. Some scences may to too scary for children.

Whisper of the Heart - July 15, 1995

Directed by Yoshifumi Kondo

Brittany Snow, David Gallagher, Jean Smart, James Sikking, Harold Gould, Cary Elwes, Courtney Thorne-Smith

Shizuku Tsukishima is a junior high school student living in Tokyo with her parents. She loves reading and writing. One night as she's looking through her check out cards in her library books; she notices they have all been checked out by the same person. When she follows a cat on the train, she meets Seiji Amasawa. A different kind of fairy tale, with magic all around. Rated G, 10+ for smoking.

Princess Mononoke - July 12, 1997

Directed by Hayao Miyazaki

Billy Crudup, Claire Danes, Minnie Driver, Billy Bob Thornton, John DiMaggio, Gillian Anderson, Debi Derryberry, Keith David, Jada Pinkett Smith

An Emishi village is attacked by a demon. The last prince defends the village but is cursed by the demon. He is given superhuman strength which will one day kill him. The demon is found to be boar creature transformed by human anger. This story shows the struggle between man and nature. Rated PG-13.

My Neighbors the Yamadas - July 17, 1999

Directed by Isao Takahata

Jim Belushi, Molly Shannon, Tress MacNeille, Daryl Sabara, Liliana Mumy

A look into the daily lives of the Yamada family. This is more of a small collection of stories rather than one plot. The animation style is very different from other Ghibli films. The family creates drama amongst themselves. Despite their everyday issues (and battles) their loves shines through in the end. Rated PG.

Spirited Away - July 20, 2001

Directed by Hayao Miyazaki

Daveigh Chase, Jason Marsden, Suzanne Pleshette, Michael Chiklis, Lauren Holly, Rodger Bumpass, John Ratzenberger, David Ogden Stiers, Susan Egan, Bob Bergen

While traveling to their new home, Chihiro Ogino's father takes a wrong turn. Believing they've come across an old abandoned amusement park, the 10 year olds father insists on exploring the grounds. Chihiro's parents eat from a restaurant and turn into pigs. She meets Haku, who advises her to cross the river before sunset or it will be too late. Not wanting to leave her parents, she stays and starts working at a bathhouse. We meet characters such as, No-Face, Boh and Zeniba. Chihiro learns Haku transforms into a dragon but her love for him may break the curse. Rated PG.

The Cat Returns - July 19, 2002

Directed by Hiroyuki Morita

Actors: Anne Hathaway, Cary Elwes, Elliott Gould, Peter Boyle, Tim Curry

Muta, the cranky fat cat, and Baron von Gikkingen return from Whisper of the Heart. Haru, a 17 year old girl, prevents a cat from being struck by a car. She saved the life of Lune, Prince of the Cat Kingdom. His father, the king, wants to thank her. He sends her gifts of nicely wrapped mice in an attempt to bring her to his kingdom. The king wants Haru to marry the prince. She seeks the advice of the Cat Bureau in order to return to her normal life. Rated G.

Howl's Moving Castle - September 5, 2004

Directed by Hayao Miyazaki

Howl's Moving Castle (Walt Disney Home Entertainment, 2006)

Jean Simmons, Christian Bale, Lauren Bacall, Blythe Danner, Billy Crystal

19-year old Sophie, believes she is plain and boring. She lives her life working in her familys hat shop. One day, a witch turns her into a 90-year old woman. She searches for a way to break the curse and return her normal self. Follow Sophie through her adventures. Along the way she meets Howl who steals her heart. Rated PG.

Tales from Earthsea - July 29, 2006

Directed by Goro Miyazaki

Tales From Earthsea (Walt Disney Home Entertainment Presents A Studio Ghibli Film, 2011)

Timothy Dalton, Willem Dafoe, Cheech Marin, Mariska Hargitay

Based on the Earthsea book series from Ursula Le Guin. Tales from Earthsea is set in a mythical world where magic is used. Follow Lord Archmage Sparrowhawk, on the search for why the world is changing. Rated PG-13.

Ponyo - July 19, 2008

Directed by Hayao Miyazaki

Cate Blanchett, Noah Cyrus, Matt Damon, Tina Fey, Frankie Jonas

Ponyo was originally titled, Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea. We meet Ponyo, a goldfish who longs to be human. She befriends a 5 year old boy after he rescues her. Soon after, she begins to sprout human legs. Ponyo appeals to both children and adults. Rated G.

The Secret World of Arrietty - July 17, 2010

Directed by Hiromasa Yonebayashi

The Secret World of Arrietty (Walt Disney Home Entertainment Presents A Studio Ghibli Film, 2012)

Bridgit Mendler, David Henrie, Amy Poehler, Will Arnett, Moises Arias

Based on The Borrowers, Arrietty is a magical tale. The borrowers are tiny people who live within the floors and walls of humans. They "borrow" small items and take only what they need so as not to be discovered. During Arrietty's first borrow, she is spotted by a human named Shawn, who lives in the house. He must rest to be prepaired for heart surgery. Shawn attempts to become Arrietty's friend but her parents do not allow contact with "beans."

From Up on Poppy Hill - July 16, 2011

Directed by Goro Miyazaki

Japanese audio only, No English audio

16 year old, Umi Matsuzaki, is a high schooler living in a boarding house with her Grandmother. Her Mother is away, studying in the United States. Each day, Umi raises signal flags with the message "I pray for safe voyages." She meets, Shun Kazama, a fellow classmate. The two rally to save the Quarter building from being demolished. The pair develop feelings for one another-- until a secret may drive them apart.

From Up on Poppy Hill is scheduled for release in the US in March, 2013.

Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind (Pre-Studio Ghibli) - March 4, 1984

Directed by Hayao Miyazaki

Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind (Walt Disney Home Entertainment Presents A Studio Ghibli Film, 2011)

Alison Lohman, Patrick Stewart, Uma Thurman, Edward James Olmos

While Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind was made before Studio Ghibli was founded, the film is considered to be the beginning of the studio and is often included as part of the Studio's works, including the Studio Ghibli Collection DVDs and Blu-rays.

This fantasy adventure film features a post-apocalyptic land. One thousand years after a war devastated Earth, Nausicaa is the young princess of the Valley of the Wind. The worlds is land now polluted and inhabited by massive insects. Only Nausicaa sees viable future for the planet. Rated PG for scary scenes and violence.


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    • netangel profile image

      Melissa 4 years ago from Florida

      @anonymous: Thank you!

    • netangel profile image

      Melissa 4 years ago from Florida

      @del3l3ie: Me too! Thanks for visiting :)

    • profile image

      del3l3ie 4 years ago

      <3 Studio Ghibli

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      I REALLY like this list, I listened to every song :o]

    • netangel profile image

      Melissa 4 years ago from Florida

      @rainykua: Same here! ;)

    • rainykua profile image

      rainykua 4 years ago

      I'm a huge fan of Studio Ghibli movies. I don't mind watching them over and over again :)

    • netangel profile image

      Melissa 5 years ago from Florida

      @anonymous: Studio Ghibli offers amazing movies, thank you!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Impressive work!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      I love Studio Ghibli movies!! I've been a fan since I saw Howls moving castle about 6 years ago. Have you watched the Japanese style voiced ones too? I like both and I can't wait for more releases. I read somewhere that there are a couple more movies coming out this year.