Studio Ghibli stands out as a globally celebrated animation studio, breaking new ground in animation since its establishment in 1985. It’s the creative force behind iconic films such as Spirited Away, Princess Mononoke, and others. The studio has an extensive collection of 23 full-length animated films; remarkably, most are now accessible on streaming platforms for the first time. The question arises: where can one catch these Studio Ghibli movies?
In this article, we have discussed where to watch Studio Ghibli movies and listed the top seven movies you should watch.
Where to watch Studio Ghibli movies?
Not too long ago, Studio Ghibli movies and their unique, captivating collection weren’t easily accessible on streaming services. However, things have changed, and HBO Max and Netflix have agreed to bring the entire range of Studio Ghibli films to their platforms. This is still the current situation. The impressive lineup of highly praised and record-breaking films from the renowned Japanese anime studio has not been digitally available for streaming or downloading in the Western market for quite some time.
Netflix has secured the exclusive streaming rights for Studio Ghibli films in all regions except the United States, Canada, and Japan. On the other hand, HBO Max serves as the go-to platform for Studio Ghibli movies in the North American market.
Top 7 Studio Ghibli movies you should watch
Here is the list of the top seven Studio Ghibli movies you should watch:
Princess Mononoke (1997)
In 1997, Princess Mononoke became a massive blockbuster, grossing approximately $200 million and captivating a staggering 14.2 million viewers, earning the title of the highest-grossing movie of its time. This Ghibli masterpiece remains a global favourite. Set in ancient Japan during the late Muromachi period (1336–1573), the anime explores themes of harmonious coexistence between nature and humans, as well as the meaning of life.
The story follows Ashitaka, the last prince of the diminishing Emishi clan, who encounters Princess Mononoke, or San, living in the forest with wolves. San despises humans exploiting nature for profit, but Ashitaka believes they can find a way to coexist in their own worlds. The enchanting world of Princess Mononoke draws inspiration from Yakushima Island in Kagoshima Prefecture.
Spirited Away (2001)
Spirited Away stands out as arguably the best movie in the Ghibli collection, securing the top spot among the 30 Best Anime Movies of All Time. This fantasy film held the record as Japan’s highest-grossing movie, earning about $300 million, until the 2020 hit Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba – The Movie: Mugen Train surpassed it.
The plot follows a 10-year-old girl, Chihiro, who loses her name and becomes ‘Sen’ in a fantasy world. Despite challenges, she works hard at a bathhouse to preserve her identity, showcasing her determination. Spirited Away’s charm is heightened by its unique characters, such as the kind river god boy Haku, the witch and bathhouse owner Yubaba, and her twin sister Zeniba.
My Neighbor Totoro (1988)
Released in theatres in 1988, My Neighbor Totoro has become one of the most beloved Ghibli films, capturing the hearts of audiences in Japan and beyond, spanning all age groups. The story revolves around sisters Satsuki and Mei, who relocate to the countryside and encounter the enigmatic creature Totoro in the nearby forest, visible only to children.
Kiki’s Delivery Service (1989)
Kiki’s Delivery Service, released in Japan in 1989, has been cherished by audiences both at home and abroad, following closely on the heels of the iconic My Neighbor Totoro, which premiered the year before.
The protagonist, 13-year-old Kiki, is an aspiring but inexperienced witch who embarks on a journey for independence with her black cat companion, Jiji. Ghibli enthusiasts find inspiration in the story as Kiki encounters and triumphs over various challenges while pursuing her dreamy witch vocation.
Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind (1984)
The iconic Ghibli film, Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, holds significance as the first full-length Studio Ghibli anime movie, originally crafted by Studio Ghibli’s predecessor, Topcraft. Hayao Miyazaki initially penned it as a manga, spanning seven volumes from 1982 to 1994. The anime adaptation, released in 1984, captures a portion of the manga’s narrative, covering events until the middle of volume two.
Set in a world a millennium after the devastating Seven Days of Fire war, the story unfolds in a landscape where toxic forests, a consequence of the war, pose dangers to humans. The protagonist, Nausicaä, strives to establish harmony between humanity and nature, even within the perilous confines of these poisonous woodlands.
Castle in the Sky (1986)
In 1986, Hayao Miyazaki directed Castle in the Sky, marking his debut as a member of Studio Ghibli. This fantasy adventure is unique because it’s an entirely original creation by Studio Ghibli and is not based on any existing material. Many Ghibli fans consider it the best movie the studio has ever made.
Castle in the Sky follows two main characters: a young boy named Pazu and a young girl named Sheeta. Sheeta is chased by air pirates and a government agency for her crystal pendant. Her adventure with Pazu starts as they try to escape from these pursuers.
Whisper of the Heart (1995)
Whisper of the Heart, which came out in 1995 and was inspired by Aoi Hiiragi’s manga, has become a favourite Ghibli film, especially in Japan. Unlike other Ghibli movies directed by Hayao Miyazaki, this one was directed by Yoshifumi Kondo, who also played a crucial role as the animation director for another Ghibli work, Grave of the Fireflies.
The romantic anime tells the love story of two teenagers, Shizuku Tsukishima and Seiji Amasawa. By chance, Shizuku stumbles upon a mysterious antique shop called Chikyuya, owned by Shiro Nishi. Through this discovery, she develops a closer relationship with Jiro’s grandson, Seiji Amasawa. While Shizuku strives to complete a novel, Seiji, on the other hand, is dedicated to pursuing his dream of becoming a violin maker.
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