The Films Of Studio Ghibli Ranked From Worst To Best

mononoke

05. Princess Mononoke

Director: Hayao Miyazaki | Year: 1997 | Running Time: 134 mins

There have always been environmental themes in Hayao Miyazaki’s work, but never have they been more prominent than in Princess Mononoke. What’s most impressive about this film is the breathtaking way in which Miyazaki brings his environmental themes to life though. The story that channels them is both lively and powerful and the animation, as always, is absolutely incredible. (★★★★★)

04. The Tale Of Princess Kaguya

Director: Isao Takahata | Year: 2015 | Running Time: 137 mins

A retelling of the 10th century folklore, this is a profoundly emotional story about a magical princess’ unhappy transition from her simple rural roots into a life of nobility and royalty. It marries Ghibli’s common themes of nature and environment with a socio-political undercurrent that explores femininity in a patriarchal society and the emptiness of possessions. The hand-painted watercolour animation, somewhat akin to the popular Emakimono of the aforementioned era, makes every frame a work of art. (★★★★★)

03. My Neighbour Totoro

Director: Hayao Miyazaki | Year: 1988 | Running Time: 86 mins

My Neighbour Totoro is undeniably adorable. Miyazaki does a brilliant job at making you see the world with the curiosity of a child’s imagination. However, with the theme of death hanging over the film, he never lets the real world slip too far away either. It’s a gentle and lovely animation. (★★★★★)

02. Spirited Away

Director: Hayao Miyazaki | Year: 2001 | Running Time: 125 mins

This has some of the strangest and most awe-inspiring images I’ve ever seen in an animated film. The world that Hayao Miyazaki has created and the creatures that inhabit it are so wild you couldn’t dream them up. His imagination seemingly knows no limits. Perhaps the images take precedence over the narrative, but what story Spirited Away does have boasts many ambitious ideas. (★★★★★)

01. Grave Of The Fireflies

Director: Isao Takahata | Year: 1988 | Running Time: 89 mins

An anti-war film (regardless of how much Takahata denies it) that focuses not on the fighting but on the repercussions that conflict has. Grave Of The Fireflies follows two homeless children as they attempt to survive the final months of the WW2. Its portrait of the loving relationship between its protagonists and how it’s torn apart by starvation and destruction is almost unbearably sad. It has a wonderful balance of beauty and tragedy. (★★★★★)

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