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10 Best Studio Ghibli Movies, According To Ranker

The Studio Ghibli movies are well-loved around the world for their dedication to great storytelling, beautiful animation style, and memorable characters, with works often directed by the studio’s co-founder Hayao Miyazaki.

Out of the twenty-plus feature-length films released by Studio Ghibli, it can be hard to determine which are the best, but the community of voters at Ranker has collectively come to a consensus. From flagship works of the studio to more recent releases, voters’ favorite movies cover a range of genres that encapsulate the characteristic magic of Ghibli.

Updated on May 27th, 2022 by Stacie Rook: Though Studio Ghibli’s latest offering (helmed by Gorō Miyazaki) Earwig and the Witch received criticism for its CGI animation, which stripped the story of Ghibli’s distinguishing features, there are many films in the studio’s catalog that could be hailed as the best Studio Ghibli movie, a fact that the ever-changing order of Ranker’s list reflects.


10 From Up On Poppy Hill (2011)

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Umi and Shun look into the horizon in From up on Poppy Hill

From Up on Poppy Hill is a story set in a seaside town that follows two main characters, high-school students Umi and Shun, who team up in order to save their school’s clubhouse from being demolished.

RELATED: 10 Best English Dub Voice Actors In Studio Ghibli Films

With a nostalgic feel and a narrative that revolves around student activism, From Up on Poppy Hill sees its two protagonists grow closer, but along the way, they discover information about their family histories which seem to complicate things.

9 The Wind Rises (2013)

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The Wind Rises animated movie

Released in 2013, The Wind Rises tells the fictionalized story of Jiro Horikoshi in the early 20th century and throughout World War II. Horikoshi was an airplane designer with a passion for aviation whose career was changed by the input of the military.

Thought to be Hayao Miyazaki’s final film before he later came out of retirement in order to direct the upcoming How Do You Live?, The Wind Rises captures Miyazaki’s own fascination with aircraft and shows the devastation of war, but is a departure from his more famous, fantastical-led works.

8 Whisper Of The Heart (1995)

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Whisper of the Heart, Studio Ghibli, Hayao Miyazaki

Featuring the first appearance of one of Studio Ghibli’s best non-human characters, the Baron, Whisper of the Heart sees young teenager and book lover Shizuku discovering her love for writing and developing her creative skills, as she meets fellow student and aspiring violin maker Seiji.

The story takes both characters’ passions seriously and shows the sometimes difficult road they will have to take in order to pursue such goals, while also developing the relationship they have with one another in a quiet yet effective way.

7 Grave Of The Fireflies (1988)

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One of the most emotional endings in Studio Ghibli movies comes from Grave of the Fireflies, a devastating story centered around siblings Seita and Setsuko after their home is destroyed in firebombings towards the end of World War II.

RELATED: 10 Perfect Actors For Future Live-Action Studio Ghibli Characters

The film follows their fight to survive in unbelievable conditions and has been praised by critics for its brutal yet important depiction of life for Japanese civilians at that time. Though its message and representation of young people in isolation made the film successful, its relatively low spot on the Ranker list is likely due to the emotional toll takes on the audience.

6 Castle In The Sky (1986)

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Castle in the Sky follows Sheeta — one of Studio Ghibli’s best female characters — and Pazu, a young girl and boy in possession of a crystal they need to keep out of the wrong hands as they go on a quest to find a castle in the lost floating city of Laputa.

Featuring airships, robots, and sky pirates, Castle in the Sky has been credited with popularizing the steampunk genre, with much of the movie focusing on the lost technology of Laputa, and how there are organizations that wish to weaponize it. The film’s strong storyline and characters have led to its sizeable impact on popular culture, particularly in Japan.

5 My Neighbor Totoro (1988)

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Satsuki and Mei fish with the Totoros in My Neighbor Totoro

The character of Totoro has become iconic even beyond the realm of Studio Ghibli, but in My Neighbor Totoro the forest spirit assists young sisters Mei and Satsuki after they move to the countryside with their father, in order to be closer to their mother who is recovering from a long illness in hospital.

The sisters meet Totoro, who helps them adjust to their new life by engaging with their local environment, traversing it in the Catbus. The film’s focus on rural Japan and the harmony between humans and all other living things give Totoro a timeless feel.

4 Kiki’s Delivery Service (1989)

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Kiki flies on her broom over the ocean in Kiki's Delivery Service

A charming coming-of-age story, Kiki’s Delivery Service sees young witch Kiki, accompanied by her cat Jiji, leave home for a new town in order to complete her training as a witch.

RELATED: Top 10 Hayao Miyazaki Films, Ranked By IMDb

As she finds her way in a new location, Kiki sets up a delivery service, utilizing her skills of flight in order to attract customers to her business. Her struggles and triumphs are treated with equal importance, and watching Kiki gain confidence in her abilities makes for a satisfying narrative that keeps the movie a beloved Ghibli classic.

3 Howl’s Moving Castle (2004)

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Sophie and Markl approach Howl's Moving Castle

Howl’s Moving Castle is about Sophie Hatter, a young woman who turns elderly after being cursed by the Witch of the Waste, and the subsequent journey that leads her to the wizard Howl and his magic castle.

One of several Studio Ghibli movies based on a book, Howl’s Moving Castle is full of distinctive characters whose stories intersect in interesting ways. The movie has been noted for its varied and complex depictions of elderly women, highlighting a group that is rarely at the forefront of such magical stories.

2 Spirited Away (2001)

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Chihiro and No face

The success of Spirited Away was huge, and to this day it remains one of the highest-grossing Japanese films of all time. It tells the story of Chihiro, a 10-year-old girl traveling with her family to their new home who accidentally stumbles into the spirit world.

Chihiro comes up against all sorts of characters with mythological origins in Spirited Away, and yet she finds the power within herself to face them all. This is not to say that her journey is without its struggles, but her strength as a protagonist contributes massively to the film’s message and popularity.

1 Princess Mononoke (1997)

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San sits atop the wolf Moro in Princess Mononoke

With one of the most memorable characters from Studio Ghibli at its core, it’s unsurprising that Princess Mononoke is the most beloved Ghibli film among Ranker users. It follows the prince Ashitaka as he navigates the conflict between humans and gods who dwell in a nearby forest, which the humans clear for their own use.

Among the forest dwellers is San, a woman raised by wolves. As is common in Studio Ghibli movies, the story focuses on themes of environmentalism, examining the interplay between humans and all other living things. Its strength of characters, lush world, and thematically-driven plot make Princess Mononoke an outstanding and memorable story.

NEXT: 5 Ghibli Movies That Pass The Bechdel Test (& 5 That Don’t)

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