Studio Ghibli: The 10 Best Movies (According To IMDb)


Studio Ghibli has produced many wondrous and successful films since its creation in 1985, and is best known for creating beautifully detailed movies featuring lovable characters and whimsical stories.

Given the studio’s popularity, it comes as no surprise that Studio Ghibli movies have been rated time and time again by voters at IMDb, from which a definitive top ten best can be gleaned, showcasing the very finest creations that the studio has to offer.

Updated on May 26, 2022 by Stacie Rook: Studio Ghibli co-founder and visionary Hayao Miyazaki is currently in the process of working on his final film, titled How Do You Live?, a movie based on the 1937 novel of the same name by Yoshino Genzaburo. Until its release, revisiting the most fantastic of Ghibli’s movies is a way to appreciate the studio’s work and get excited for what’s still to come.

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10 Kiki’s Delivery Service (1989) – 7.8

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Coming-of-age fantasy Kiki’s Delivery Service tells the story of the titular 13-year-old witch who moves to a seaside town with her cat Jiji in order to complete her training, as is traditional for witches of her age. Skilled at flying, Kiki sets up a delivery service for the local residents.

RELATED: 10 Best Female Characters In Studio Ghibli Movies

Kiki’s journey delves into the hardships of being self-sufficient for the first time, as she has both triumphs and struggles when it comes to being independent. The movie also deals with themes of self-doubt and artistic expression, delivered in a clear and heartwarming way that makes the story heartwarming for all ages.


9 Whisper Of The Heart (1995) – 7.9

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One of several Ghibli movies based on books and manga, Whisper of the Heart follows 14-year-old student Shizuku, who hopes to become a writer. She works hard to pen her first novel while balancing schoolwork and befriending an antique dealer.

At the same time, though, she wants to track down the mysterious Seiji Amasawa, a boy at her school who has checked out all the same library books as her. The movie’s central romance is handled with youthful grace, and its emotional narrative charmed viewers with ease.


8 The Tale Of The Princess Kaguya (2013) – 8.0

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Princess Kaguya animated movie

Based on a traditional Japanese story, The Tale of Princess Kaguya sees the titular character, found as a girl growing inside a bamboo shoot, grow into a beautiful young woman. Her beauty attracts five noble suitors, who vie for her hand in marriage. But Kaguya requires that the men earn her affection through a series of difficult tests.

This drama, one of Studio Ghibli’s most underrated movies, explores this competition and Kaguya’s own mysterious origins, in a distinctive art style that ties the film to the historical aesthetic of its origins, and was also praised for its clear-cut narrative.


7 Nausicaä Of The Valley Of The Wind (1984) – 8.0

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Princess Nausicaa flying through the air.

Though it was made by Hayao Miyazaki before Studio Ghibli was actually founded, Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind is now largely considered a Ghibli production. It follows the young princess Nausicaä, who lives in a post-apocalyptic world and struggles to prevent two warring factions from destroying each other and their homes.

RELATED: 10 Most Stunning Frames From Studio Ghibli Films

Containing many hallmarks of later Ghibli films, including a well-rounded female protagonist and strong environmental messages, Nausicaä showed the strength of Miyazaki’s ideas in a riveting tale that still feels fresh today.


6 Castle In The Sky (1986) – 8.0

Stream On HBO Max


Castle in the Sky, Studio Ghibli, Miyazaki

One of Studio Ghibli’s earliest films, Castle in the Sky follows an orphan girl named Sheeta who, while being transported on a plane with her kidnapper, uses a magic crystal to escape. She soon befriends another orphan, Pazu, and the two embark on a quest to find the mythical floating city of Laputa.

Both characters have their own motives for finding the city, but with pirates searching for them and Laputa’s hidden treasure both, Sheeta and Pazu must be careful. Castle in the Sky remains one of the most influential films in Japanese culture, mainly for how it popularized the steampunk genre.


5 My Neighbor Totoro (1988) – 8.1

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My Neighbor Totoro Studio Ghibli

Moving to a house in the countryside with their father, sisters Satsuki and Mei discover a world of rural delights, including a host of guardian spirits that protect the local woodlands, one of which is the giant Totoro. This sweet movie shows the wonders of the natural world, as seen from the perspective of children.

The titular figure of My Neighbor Totoro has come to be a symbol for the whole of Studio Ghibli, and in watching the movie it’s clear to see why, as Totoro embodies many of Ghibli’s recurring themes, namely environmentalism and living side by side with nature.


4 Howl’s Moving Castle (2004) – 8.2

Stream On HBO Max


A nervous-looking Sophie with Howl in Howl's Moving Castle

Howl’s Moving Castle follows a girl named Sophie, whose simple life is turned upside down after she is cursed with old age by the Witch of the Waste. This sends her on a journey to find a cure, and brings her into contact with the notorious wizard Howl, who is dealing with his own problems.

RELATED: The 10 Smartest Studio Ghibli Protagonists

The movie deals heavily with the idea of perception versus reality, as many characters are not what or who they first seem to be, and set against the backdrop of two kingdoms at war, this notion can have huge consequences. At its heart, Howl’s Moving Castle is about identity and finding love in its many forms.




3 Princess Mononoke (1997) – 8.4

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Set in 14th century Japan, Princess Mononoke follows an Emishi prince named Ashitaka, who must leave his homeland after falling victim to a curse. During his journey to find a cure, he stumbles into the struggle between ancient gods of the forest and nearby humans who use the land. He also meets San, a girl raised by wolves who is hostile towards humans.

Combining memorable characters with ever-relevant themes of environmentalism that examines humankind’s place in the world, Princess Mononoke is one of the best standalone fantasy films, using its historical setting to great effect.


2 Grave Of The Fireflies (1988) – 8.5

Available To Rent Or Buy On Vudu And Apple TV


Undoubtedly one of the most emotional Studio Ghibli movies, Grave of the Fireflies is a war film based on the semi-autobiographical story of the same name by Akiyuki Nosaka. It follows brother-sister pair Seita and Setsuko, who are separated from their family at the end of World War II and are forced to survive on their own.

Grave of the Fireflies has been commended for its beautiful but haunting presentation, not shying away from the realities of war while telling a story that is deeply necessary.


1 Spirited Away (2001) – 8.6

Stream On HBO Max


Arguably one of the most famous animated movies of all time, Spirited Away sees 10-year-old Chihiro stumble into another world with her parents. However, after her mother and father are transformed into pigs, she learns that this realm is actually a place of spirits, and houses many dangers. Chihiro must then find a way to save her family and herself.

Spirited Away is part coming-of-age story, part otherworldly quest, as Chihiro finds herself having to navigate both friends and foes in the bathhouse she enters to find answers. The film remains the only Studio Ghibli movie to have won the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature.

NEXT: Which Studio Ghibli Side Character Are You Based On Your Zodiac?


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