Studio Ghibli has released numerous masterpieces that have been loved not only in Japan but also around the world. They continue to create and release movies that capture the hearts of many.
In this article, we introduce all the works created by Studio Ghibli in chronological order, along with the director and plot summary. We also provide rankings based on popularity and box office revenue, so please check if your favourite movie is on the list!
- 1. Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (1984)
- 2. Castle in the Sky (1986)
- 3. Grave of the Fireflies (1988)
- 4. My Neighbor Totoro (1988)
- 5. Kiki’s Delivery Service (1989)
- 6. Only Yesterday (1991)
- 7. Porco Rosso (1992)
- 8. Pom Poko (1994)
- 9. Whisper of the Heart (1995)
- 10. Princess Mononoke (1997)
- 11. My Neighbors the Yamadas (1999)
- 12. Spirited Away (2001)
- 13. The Cat Returns (2002)
- 14. Howl’s Moving Castle (2004)
- 15. Tales from Earthsea (2006)
- 16. Ponyo (2008)
- 17. The Secret World of Arrietty (2010)
- 18. From Up on Poppy Hill (2011)
- 19. The Wind Rises (2013)
- 20. The Tale of Princess Kaguya (2013)
- 21. When Marnie Was There (2014)
- 22. The Red Turtle (2016)
- 23. Earwig and the Witch (2021)
- 24. How Do You Live? (scheduled to release on July 14, 2023)
1. Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (1984)
|Running Time||740 million yen|
|Box Office||116 minutes|
|Voice Cast||Sumi Shimamoto, Yoichi Masukawa, Yuriko Sakakura, Gorō Naya|
Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind was released in 1984 and is set in a world after the collapse of civilization. Hayao Miyazaki directed it and explored the resounding theme of “Is it possible for humans to live together with nature?”
Strictly speaking, this movie is not a Studio Ghibli work because it was produced before the studio’s founding. However, it is widely recognized as a Ghibli work because Totoro appears at the beginning of the TV broadcast and the movie was included in the video collection sold by Studio Ghibli.
One thousand years after a war that destroyed advanced industrial civilization, a polluted forest called the Sea of Corruption spreads over the earth. When the chief of the Valley of the Wind, Jihl, is poisoned by the Sea of Corruption, his daughter Nausicaä becomes the country’s ruler in his place…
2. Castle in the Sky (1986)
|Running Time||124 minutes|
|Box Office||1.16 billion yen|
|Voice Cast||Mayumi Tanaka, Keiko Yokozawa, Norihei Miki, and Gorō Naya|
Laputa: Castle in the Sky is a feature-length anime film released in 1986 and the first film produced by Studio Ghibli. At the time, while many anime were moving towards themes like science fiction and robots that catered to older audiences, this film aimed to revive the market for children’s comic movies.
Although the film did not perform particularly well during its initial theatrical release, a survey conducted by distributor Toei found that the audience satisfaction rate was 97.7%, demonstrating that the film had gained support from a wide range of viewers.
A girl named Sheeta, who lives in Gondoa Valley, is captured by a special government agency led by Colonel Muska, who is after a blue stone pendant that she possesses. During an attack by the air pirate Dola and her gang, who are also after the stone, Sheeta falls from their airship while attempting to escape.
3. Grave of the Fireflies (1988)
|Running Time||88 minutes|
|Box Office||1.17 billion yen|
|Voice Cast||Tsutomu Tatsumi, Ayano Shiraishi, Yoshiko Shinohara, Akemi Yamaguchi|
The novel by Akiyuki Nosaka, Grave of the Fireflies, was adapted into a film directed by Isao Takahata. The film is based on Nosaka’s own experiences during the war.
Despite its heavy themes of war and tragedy, the film has become popular in Japan and internationally and is considered a masterpiece of war anime.
In 1945, in Kobe, a 14-year-old boy named Seita and his 4-year-old sister Setsuko were forced to live with their aunt after their mother was hospitalized due to an air raid. When their mother dies, their aunt becomes increasingly resentful of them.
The siblings decide to leave and start a new life in an abandoned bomb shelter, but their struggle for survival becomes more and more difficult.
4. My Neighbor Totoro (1988)
|Running Time||86 minutes|
|Box Office||1.17 billion yen.|
|Voice Cast||Noriko Hidaka, Chika Sakamoto, Toshiyuki Amagasa, Shima Iwashita|
My Neighbor Totoro was released in 1988, directed by Hayao Miyazaki. The story takes place in rural Japan in the early Showa period.
It depicts the interaction between two sisters who have moved to the countryside and a mysterious creature called Totoro. While the distribution income was significantly lower than Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, the film received many awards including first place in Kinema Junpo’s “Japanese Film Best Ten.” It has become very popular as it has been repeatedly broadcast on TV.
The film is characterized not only by its beautiful colours, such as the colour of the sky before the pale dawn but also by its many night scenes.
In the early Showa period, elementary school student Satsuki and her younger sister Mei move to a clean and fresh countryside close to the hospital where their mother is hospitalized.
When exploring their new old house, the sisters find a black creature resembling a soot sprite. One day, Mei chases after the creature alone and…
5. Kiki’s Delivery Service (1989)
|Running Time||102 minutes|
|Box Office||4.3 billion yen|
|Voice Cast||Minami Takayama, Rei Sakuma, Keiko Toda, Kappei Yamaguchi|
Kiki’s Delivery Service is a 1989 film based on a children’s literature work. It was directed by Kondo Katsuhiro and written by Hayao Miyazaki. The film depicts a fun and beautiful fantasy world. It is a popular work with a strong following and high fan support.
Studio Ghibli films often feature actors as voice actors, and Kiki’s Delivery Service had many famous anime voice actors appear in the film.
Kiki is a 13-year-old girl who lives in a peaceful countryside town and inherits the powers of a witch.
Following an ancient tradition, she sets out on a training journey with her partner, a black cat named Jiji, on a night with a full moon. She discovers a beautiful town surrounded by the sea called Koriko and decides to stay at a bakery called “Gucci Okipa” but…
6. Only Yesterday (1991)
|Running Time||119 minutes|
|Box Office||1.87 billion yen|
|Voice Cast||Miki Imai, Yoko Honna, Toshirō Yanagiba, Yorie Yamashita|
Only Yesterday is a film directed by Isao Takahata and based on a manga by Hotaru Okamoto and Yuko Tone. It was released in 1991. The story follows Taeko, an office worker who takes a vacation and stays with her sister’s relatives. On the way to her hometown in Yamagata, she reminisces about her fifth-grade memories.
The film is known for its meticulous attention to realism, with detailed depictions of the setting and the year 1966. The portrayal of “Hyokkori Hyotan Island” on a television set was particularly challenging, as there was little surviving material to work from.
In the summer of 1982, Taeko Okajima, an office worker, takes a rare vacation and stays with her sister’s in-laws.
On a sleeper train to Yamagata, she gradually recalls her memories from fifth grade and becomes increasingly drawn to the lifestyle of the farmers she meets.
7. Porco Rosso (1992)
|Running Time||93 minutes|
|Box Office||5.4 billion yen|
|Voice Cast||Shuichiro Moriyama, Tokiko Kato, Sanshi Katsura, Akemi Okamura|
Director Hayao Miyazaki’s anime film Porco Rosso was released in 1992. The story takes place in the Adriatic Sea of Italy and follows the life of the main character Porco, a pig who rides a seaplane to defeat air pirates and earn bounties. As the catchphrase says, “This is what it means to be cool,” the film depicts Porco’s chill way of living his life with romance.
One of the elements that create the mature atmosphere in Porco Rosso is the presence of the unique heroine Gina. What will become of the awkward love between these two? Pay attention to Gina, who patiently waits for Porco even though another man proposes to her!
In Italy during the interwar period, Porco Rosso, a pig who pilots a bright red airplane, was once a human ace pilot in the air force.
Now he lives as a bounty hunter who defeats air pirates. One evening, he visits the Hotel Adriano run by his old friend Gina, where he meets an American man named Curtis…
8. Pom Poko (1994)
|Running Time||119 minutes|
|Box Office||4.47 billion yen|
|Voice Cast||Shinobu Ōtake, Yuriko Ishida, Shigeru Izumiya, Norihei Miki|
Released in 1994 and directed by Isao Takahata, Pom Poko takes place in Tama, where tanuki (Japanese raccoon dogs) are being forced out of their homes in the forest due to development. They use their shapeshifting abilities, called “bakegaku,” to fight against humans and protect their homes.
While humans see deforestation as necessary for urbanization, Pom Poko explores the impact of this destruction on the animals living there. The tanuki’s comical antics are adorable and entertaining, but the film raises thought-provoking questions about environmental issues.
In the 1960s, many tanuki lived peacefully in the Tama Hills, but the development of a new town threatened their habitat.
They hold a meeting to find a way to stop the development and protect their home.
9. Whisper of the Heart (1995)
|Running Time||111 minutes|
|Box Office||3.15 billion|
|Voice Cast||Honma Yoko, Takahashi Kazushi, Tachibana Takashi, Muroi Shigeru|
Released in 1995, yet still popular today, Whisper of the Heart depicts the pure love story of Shizuku Tsukishima, a bookworm, and Seiji Amasawa, a boy aspiring to become a violin craftsman. The song Country Road, which was already well-known, became even more popular thanks to this movie.
Whisper of the Heart carefully depicts the emotions of adolescence, including the brightness of pure love and the anxiety over career choices. It is sure to remind you of your forgotten first love!
Shizuku Tsukishima, a first-year middle school student who loves reading, notices that “Seiji Amasawa” frequently appears on the library check-out cards of books she borrows.
One day, she is guided by a mysterious cat she encounters on the train and ends up at a secondhand store. There, she meets Seiji Amasawa.
10. Princess Mononoke (1997)
|Running Time||133 minutes|
|Box Office||20.18 billion yen|
|Voice Cast||Yōji Matsuda, Yuriko Ishida, Yūko Tanaka, Kaoru Kobayashi|
Princess Mononoke is a masterpiece that director Miyazaki spent 16 years planning and three years producing, which broke the box office record for Japanese films at the time of its release in 1997.
The highlights of this film are not only its charming characters and magnificent world view but also Miyazaki’s answer to the weighty theme of “Can humans and nature coexist?” He had previously dealt with a similar theme in “Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind.”
Although more than 20 years have passed since its initial release, it is still a beloved masterpiece.
A young man named Ashitaka, born into the Emishi tribe, leaves his home and embarks on a journey.
Along the way, he meets the people who run the ironworks called Tatara and San, also known as “Princess Mononoke,” who lives in the forest surrounded by gods and opposes them.
Ashitaka wonders if there is any way for both sides to live together, but…
11. My Neighbors the Yamadas (1999)
|Running Time||104 minutes|
|Box Office||1.56 billion yen|
|Voice Cast||Yuko Asaoka, Toru Masuoka, Jingo Hatano, Naomi Uno|
My Neighbors the Yamadas is a 1999 anime film based on the 4-panel manga by Hisaichi Ishii. It was directed and written by Isao Takahata.
This comedy humorously portrays an ordinary family. While the humour is not particularly raucous, the film is well-structured and full of attention to detail, typical of Studio Ghibli productions. The animation style is unique and worth watching.
The former president of Nippon Television, Saneatsu Nishimae, was a big fan of this film. His enthusiasm helped to bring about the production of The Tale of the Princess Kaguya.
The film begins with an introduction to the Yamada family and their daily lives, including the birth of Noboru and Nonoko and the marriage of Takashi and Matsuko.
The film flows gently, with interludes of haiku by famous poets such as Matsuo Basho.
12. Spirited Away (2001)
|Running Time||125 minutes|
|Box Office||31.68 billion yen|
|Voice Cast||Rumi Hîragi, Miyu Irino, Mari Natsuki, Takeshi Naito|
Spirited Away, directed by Hayao Miyazaki, was released in 2001. The film won the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature and is highly acclaimed overseas, ranking fourth in the “100 Greatest Films of the 21st Century” list by the BBC.
The film has been broadcast on television many times due to its popularity, and each time, fans have exchanged their thoughts and analysis on the mysteries hidden within the story.
Spirited Away is a masterpiece that offers a variety of enjoyable elements, including its enchanting world, fascinating characters like Haku, Kamaji, and No-Face, and the growth of the protagonist Chihiro.
After wandering into the world of the gods and being separated from her parents, Chihiro is saved by a mysterious boy named Haku.
He teaches her to work at the “Yuya,” a bathhouse for the gods, and she grows up during her time there. However, a monster appears at the bathhouse one day, causing chaos, and Haku’s life is in danger.
13. The Cat Returns (2002)
|Running Time||75 minutes|
|Box Office||6.48 billion yen|
|Voice Cast||Chizuru Ikewaki, Yoshihiko Hakamada, Aki Maeda, Takayuki Yamada|
The Cat Returns story takes place in the same world as Whisper of the Heart, featuring the character Baron, and is set up as a story written by the protagonist of Whisper of the Heart, Shizuku Tsukishima.
The film follows the adventures of Haru, a high school girl who gets taken to the Cat Kingdom after saving a cat from being hit by a car. There, she is forced to marry the prince of the Cat Kingdom and begins to take on feline characteristics.
Through her adventures with the cats Baron and Muta, Haru learns valuable lessons and grows as a person. The film was directed by Hiroyuki Morita, who also worked on the 2012 anime One Piece: Episode of Luffy – Adventure on Hand Island.
After rescuing a cat from being hit by a car, high school student Haru finds herself transported to the Cat Kingdom.
There, she is betrothed to the kingdom’s prince and begins to take on cat-like qualities. With the help of Baron and other feline friends, Haru tries to find her way back to the human world.
14. Howl’s Moving Castle (2004)
|Running Time||119 minutes|
|Box Office||19.6 billion yen|
|Voice Cast||Takuya Kimura, Chieko Baisho, Akihiro Miwa, Ryunosuke Kamiki|
Howl’s Moving Castle was released in 2004. As director Hayao Miyazaki said, “all explanations of the work have been avoided,” making it a work geared towards advanced viewers.
The film gained attention for Takuya Kimura’s performance as the protagonist, Howl, a former member of the Japanese boy band SMAP. The film’s appeal lies in its strong fantasy story and the beauty of its fantastical scenes.
The subtle love story between Sophie, who has been transformed into an old woman, and the handsome wizard Howl is also a highlight.
Sophie, a girl who works at a hat shop, angers a witch in the wasteland and is turned into an old woman. A scarecrow leads her to the moving castle where the wizard Howl lives.
There, she starts living with Howl, the fire demon Calcifer, and Howl’s apprentice Markl.
15. Tales from Earthsea (2006)
|Running Time||115 minutes|
|Box Office||7.84 billion yen|
Tales from Earthsea was released in 2006 as the debut film of Goro Miyazaki, the son of Hayao Miyazaki. It is based on the American novel Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin.
The film features characters such as Arren, who killed his father, and Teru, who was abused and abandoned by her parents, each with their circumstances and wounds.
The relationships between the characters, which they create together, are very realistic. Instead of categorizing it as a fantasy work, look closer at the reality in this magnificent world!
Prince Arren of a giant kingdom killed his father in a world that has lost its balance.
He abandons his country and meets the wise man, Ged, who saves his life, and they set out on a journey to find the cause of the disaster that is disrupting the balance of the world. Along the way,
Arren meets a girl named Theru, whose face is half-red.
16. Ponyo (2008)
|Running Time||101 minutes|
|Box Office||15.5 billion yen|
|Voice Cast||Yuria Nara, Hiroki Doi, Tomoko Yamaguchi, Kazushige Nagashima|
Ponyo released in 2008, is a rare children’s anime film in Miyazaki’s later works. It is Miyazaki’s directorial work, following the release of Howl’s Moving Castle in 2004, after a gap of four years.
The theme song by Fujimaki Fujioka and child actress Nozomi Ohashi became popular. The film features the beautiful underwater scenery where Ponyo and her friends live, as well as the innocent and charming character of the protagonist Ponyo and the boy Sosuke, making it a compelling film that captures the hearts of its viewers.
Ponyo, a fish girl born from the union of the sea goddess Gran Mamare and the wizard Fujimoto, runs away from home one day and gets her head stuck in a jar at the shore.
She is rescued by a human boy named Sosuke. The two develop a mutual affection, but Ponyo is taken back to the undersea world by her father, who realizes she has run away from home.
17. The Secret World of Arrietty (2010)
|Running Time||94 minutes|
|Box Office||9.26 billion yen|
|Voice Cast||Mirai Shida, Ryunosuke Kamiki, Shinobu Otake, Keiko Takeshita|
The Secret World of Arrietty released in 2010 is the debut work of director Hiromasa Yonebayashi, who is expected to support Ghibli’s future. Among the films directed by someone other than Miyazaki, it is the highest-grossing film.
The voice of Arrietty is played by Mirai Shida, who made her voice-acting debut in this film. Human boy Sho is played by Ryunosuke Kamiki, who has appeared in Spirited Away and Howl’s Moving Castle.
Other prominent actors such as Tatsuya Fujiwara and Kirin Kiki also lent their voices to the film.
Arrietty, a 14-year-old girl from a family of Borrowers, lives with her parents, secretly borrowing things from human beings to survive.
One night, when she is about to go on her first borrowing trip, a human boy named Sho appears at the house where she lives.
18. From Up on Poppy Hill (2011)
|Running Time||91 minutes|
|Box Office||4.46 billion yen|
|Voice Cast||Masami Nagasawa, Junichi Okada, Shun Oguri, Kieko Takahashi|
From Up on Poppy Hill is a 2011 film directed by Goro Miyazaki, based on a manga by Tetsuro Sayama and Chizuru Takahashi.
The film portrays a bittersweet youth, with Aoi Teshima’s music perfectly matching the atmosphere. It depicts the high school students’ youthfulness refreshingly and painfully. The students in the film are full of energy, and some viewers may be reminded of their student days.
The film features a lot of French languages, and the title “Kokuriko” means “coquelicot” in French, a type of poppy flower. The protagonist, Umi Matsuzaki, is called “Meru,” which is a shortened form of “La Mer” (French for “the sea”).
In 1963 Yokohama, Umi Matsuzaki managed the Coquelicot Manor, a boarding house overlooking the sea, while attending high school.
At her school, there is heated discussion over the demolition of the clubhouse of the boys’ cultural club, Quartier Latin. There, she falls in love with a young man named Shun Kazama, but…
19. The Wind Rises (2013)
|Running Time||Hideaki Anno, Miori Takimoto, Hidetoshi Nishijima, Masahiko Nishimura|
|Box Office||126 minutes|
|Voice Cast||12.02 billion yen|
The Wind Rises is a feature film directed by Hayao Miyazaki, released in 2013 and marked his retirement from feature film direction. The film is the only one of Miyazaki’s works based on a real person, Jiro Horikoshi, who was the designer of the Zero fighter plane.
The Wind Rises tells the story of a man captivated by the sky. Jiro Horikoshi devoted his life to designing beautiful airplanes, but he had to make many sacrifices to realize that dream.
During the war, the beautiful airplanes he designed became tools of destruction. Jiro’s life, driven by the blind pursuit of his dream, teaches us many valuable lessons about how we should live our lives.
As a boy, Jiro Horikoshi is fascinated by the sky and dreams of designing beautiful airplanes. When he became a young man, he studied aeronautical engineering at the Imperial University of Tokyo.
During the Great Kanto Earthquake, he meets Naoko Satomi and her maid, who he helps to safety.
20. The Tale of Princess Kaguya (2013)
|Running Time||137 minutes|
|Box Office||2.47 billion yen|
|Voice Cast||Aki Asakura, Kengo Kora, Takeo Chii, Nobuko Miyamoto|
In 2013, Studio Ghibli adapted the classic Japanese folktale The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter into an anime film titled The Tale of Princess Kaguya. The film was known for its difficult production, taking eight years from planning to release.
Isao Takahata directed the film, and famous actors such as Aki Asakura and Kengo Kora provided the voices for the characters. The animation utilized the same technique as My Neighbor Yamada-kun, with a brush-like touch to the visuals, creating a unique style different from that of Hayao Miyazaki’s Ghibli films.
The story revolves around Princess Kaguya’s struggles, but many other characters also appear, adding to the overall narrative.
Long ago, in a mountainous area, there lived an old man and his wife who made a living by cutting bamboo.
One day, while working in the forest, the old man discovered a tiny baby girl inside a glowing bamboo shoot. They took the girl back home, raising her as their daughter with great love and care.
However, the old man soon realizes the girl is no ordinary child but a princess from the heavens.
21. When Marnie Was There (2014)
|Running Time||103 minutes|
|Box Office||3.53 billion yen|
|Voice Cast||Sara Takatsuki, Kasumi Arimura, Nanako Matsushima, Susumu Terajima|
Director Hiromasa Yonebayashi brought the English novel by Joan G. Robinson to life in the 2014 animated film When Marnie Was There.
Unlike the original novel, the story takes place in Japan, and the protagonist, Anna is changed to a Japanese girl named Anna.
This was the first Studio Ghibli film to feature dual heroines. The way Anna, who struggles to connect with others and suffers from self-hatred, and Marnie, who hides a deep sadness behind her innocent smile, are drawn to each other makes one feel the genuine, genderless love between them.
The story follows Anna, an orphan who lost her parents and grandmother at a young age. Her foster mother, Yoriko Sasaki, takes her in, but she becomes emotionally closed off.
After an asthma attack, Anna is sent to spend the summer with the Oiwa couple, relatives of Yoriko, where she meets Marnie.
22. The Red Turtle (2016)
|Director||Michael Dudok de Wit|
|Running Time||80 minutes|
|Box Office||0.9 billion yen|
The Red Turtle was released in 2016. A foreign director, Michael Dudok de Wit, produced it and it was the first Studio Ghibli film to be made outside of Japan.
This film is unusual for a Ghibli production in that it is a silent movie and is closer to art and artistic expression. The story depicts the interaction between the protagonist, who has washed up on a deserted island, and a single sea turtle he meets there.
During the 80-minute runtime of the film, viewers can experience the sensation of their bodies blending in naturally with the sea. Although there is no dialogue, the film captures our eyes and ears with attention to detail, such as characters’ facial expressions, sounds emanating from nature, and inserted music.
After being thrown into a violent sea and nearly drowning, a man clings to a nearby small boat and survives.
When he wakes up, he finds himself on a deserted island. One day, while struggling to survive, he encounters a large red sea turtle…
23. Earwig and the Witch (2021)
|Running Time||82 minutes|
|Box Office||300 million yen|
|Voice Cast||Shinobu Terajima, Etsushi Toyokawa, Hiroki Hasegawa, Yuri Kimura|
The film tells the story of Earwig, a girl who grew up in an orphanage and is adopted by a witch, and her adulthood.
Under the guidance of the witch Bella, Earwig becomes her assistant but is constantly ordered around without being taught any magic in return. Earwig decides to outsmart Bella with the help of the black cat Thomas.
The film’s most notable feature is that it is Studio Ghibli’s first 3D CG film, a significant challenge for the studio that has previously focused on hand-drawn animation.
Earwig Tool, who has lived in an orphanage since she was young, finds pleasure in her life there. However, one day she is taken in by the witch Bella Yaga and the man Mandrake, and her life takes a new turn.
24. How Do You Live? (scheduled to release on July 14, 2023)
This film will be directed by Hayao Miyazaki, who previously announced his retirement after The Wind Rises. The film is based on a children’s book written by Genzaburo Yoshino, a war veteran, in 1937, which was recently adapted into a popular manga.
The film is set to be promoted similarly to “Slam Dunk”, with very little information about the plot being revealed. It is expected to be released on July 14, 2023, and is said to be near completion
The main character, Junichi Honda, also known as Copper, is an academically excellent student who excels in sports and has a certain amount of popularity.
He spends his days with his friends and experiences various events while learning about things like “perspectives” and “social structure”…
Studio Ghibli’s works have always stood out for the breadth and depth of their stories and the beauty of their visuals, regardless of the era in which they were created. It’s a pleasure to watch them repeatedly, as discoveries are always to be made and many different aspects of a single work to enjoy.
Take this opportunity to reflect on all the Ghibli films you have watched.