Studio Ghibli are known for their myriad output of truly spectacular films, and were my first real exposure to anime. By now I’ve seen nearly all of them and narrowed down a list of my personal top 5. It was tricky.
5. Whisper of the Heart | Mimi wo Sumaseba | 1995
Who’d have thought that “Country Road” would sound so brilliant in Japanese? I found the music really carried the story in Whisper of the Heart. The fantasy elements were subtle yet effective, and the film has a warm and honest tone from start to finish. The artwork and musical score are just spot-on as we’ve come to expect from such a high calibre studio. It’s impossible to end a viewing of this film without a smile on your face.
4. Laputa: Castle in the Sky | Tenkuu no Shiro Laputa | 1986
Laputa, Castle in the Sky is an awesome adventure from start to finish. The artwork is stunning and the mystery surrounding the island in the sky is gripping. Laputa has everything you want in a Studio Ghibli film and then some. An amazing musical score compliments the narrative, and there are some carefully communicated social, political and environmental messages to be found here.
3. Kiki’s Delivery Service | Majo no Takkyuubin | 1989
Kiki’s Delivery Service is easily one of Miyazaki’s most charming films. Kiki is a great lead character you can’t help but cheer for. Her story does not contain the scale or fantasy elements as found in other Ghibli tales but still makes for exciting viewing all the same. There are some gentle Slice of Life themes to compliment Kiki’s adventure, and a healthy dose of humor as well. Undeniably heartwarming. And who could forget Jiji!
2. Spirited Away | Sen to Chihiro no Kamikakushi | 2001
Regarded by many as Miyazaki’s magnum opus and for good reason. Spirited away is dark, scary, vibrant and delightful at the same time. A real ride from start to finish, and contains a cast of very memorable characters. Sen’s plight demands empathy from the very beginning and the story unfolds with good pacing and loads of drama. The quality of animation is totally off-the-charts. It’s almost hard to belive that this film is already 12 years old. Spirited Away was released to critical acclaim and easily deserves the credit it gets.
1. Porco Rosso | Kurenai no Buta | 1992
After much deliberation I’ve decided to name Porco Rosso as my number one Studio Ghibli release. It’s just such a unique film and has so much to offer. Its themes are so subtle yet contain so much impact. Porco is a totally badass protagonist and there’s nothing better than watching him totally bamboozle the pirates and police alike due to his technical prowess in the sky. His back story is also super-intruiging. The romantic themes are handled very well in Porco Rosso, and the direction is very thoughtful. It’s also totally hilarious. Basically everything you could want in a film.It’s kind of impossible not to like a sharp-tongued anthropomorphic pig with a vendetta for fascism.
What are your top 5 Studio Ghibli films?