Studio Ghibli have been enchanting us with their stories since 1986 when they released Castle in the Sky. Since then they've put out masterpieces like Spirited Away, Howl's Moving Castle and My Neighbour Totoro. Everyone who has seen all (or at least most) of the Ghibli films (like me) have their favourite films and while mine shift and change over time, these films are currently my top eight.
#8 My Neighbour Totoro (1988)
This list wouldn't be complete without My Neighbour Totoro. This film is about the resilience of children and how imagination can be the best way to escape a difficult situation. Sometimes all we need is a Totoro to take us away from our lives for a little while.
#7 Ponyo (2008)
Ponyo is a beautiful film about a fish that yearns to be human. Ponyo and her friend Sosuke are adorable children and they do whatever is takes to stay together. One of the things I love about Studio Ghibli films is that there are many platonic relationships between friends where the main duo help each other to achieve their goals. This is one of my favourite examples because it shows you can have two different gendered characters who don't have any romantic feelings for each other but who help each other over the course of the film.
#6 Whisper of the Heart (1995)
Whisper of the Heart centers on fourteen year old Shizuku Tsukishima as she falls in love with writing and her new friend, Seiji Amasawa. Though I love Ponyo and My Neighbour Totoro, Whisper of the Heart is higher on the list because the main character is a writer. Seeing Shizuku try her hand at writing for the first time, and becoming so incredibly enthralled in the process, reminds me a lot of myself at her age when I started writing. It's a nostalgic trip and incredibly relatable to me.
#5 The Wind Rises (2013)
Ghibli films don't reflect the world as it is, they show they world as it feels to us. The Wind Rises is a prime example of this. This is especially evident when Jiro (the main character) is in the process of creating his fighter plane designs. You are pulled into his thought process and you can feel what he feels as in the process of creating his designs.
Aside from that this film is a touching story about striving for your dreams, understanding the full effect your creations will have and, of course, love.
#4 From Up On Poppy Hill (2011)
Umi is just a teenage girl, but with her father deceased and her mother in America, she must take care of her family and the boarders who live in her house. Umi is definitely a strong character who carries the heavy burden of being the guardian of her family at such a young age. She years for her mother to come home and her father to be alive, but for the most part she has to go through this part of her life alone.
At its heart From Up On Poppy Hill is about family and wanting things that seem unreachable.
#3 When Marnie Was There (2014)
The first time I saw When Marnie Was There I cried. A lot. The main character, Anna, is an introverted girl who is *SPOILER* helped to move past her problems by the memory of her deceased grandma, Marnie. All but one of my grandparents have passed away. I'd give anything to meet them at my age, as Anna meets Marnie, and have them help me like Marnie helped Anna.
This is why When Marnie Was There will always be one of my favourite films. I'll never be able to see my deceased grandparents, but this film feels as close to that as possible.
#2 Howl's Moving Castle (2004)
Sophie is one of those protagonists that is instantly relatable. She's quiet, introverted and completely unaware of her inner strength. I love the dynamics between Sophie and Howl and every time I watch this movie it's touching to see Sophie grow and utilize the strength that she has.
Howl's Moving Castle will always have a place in my heart.
#1 Spirited Away (2001)
The first Studio Ghibli film I saw was Spirited Away. The story is timeless and I've written many of my stories to films the soundtrack. It's one of those films that you can fall in love with each time you watch it and find new things in the movie that you missed last time you watched it.
The thing I love the most about this story is the platonic love between Chihiro and Haku that will bind them together even when they are far apart.
Anjulie Te Pohe
Founder of Koru Mag | Mookychick contributor | Avid reader and writer of YA | Takatapui (Maori & bi/queer) | She/Them | Contact: email@example.com