So far, I have loved every movie directed by Hayao Miyazaki. Of course I haven’t seen them all, but I’m hoping to change that. I just need more money to buy them. I have been slowly adding to my collection whenever I see a really good deal on one of the movies. Feel free to comment and let me know about any movies from Hayao Miyazaki or Studio Ghibli that I need to watch.

*All descriptions taken from IMDb.

Spirited Away
Rating: PG

In the middle of her family’s move to the suburbs, a sullen 10-year-old girl wanders into a world ruled by gods, witches, and monsters; where humans are changed into animals; and a bathhouse for these creatures.

Thoughts: This was the very first movie I saw by Miyazaki. I remember seeing the VHS in the store and asking my parents if I could get it. I didn’t know anything about the movie, but I knew I wanted it. I had seen anime before and enjoyed it. My parents let me get it along with Castle in the Sky, and as soon as I got home, I started watching them. I watched Castle in the Sky first, and I liked it, but it wasn’t one of my favorites. I immediately put in Spirited Away and instantly fell in love with the story. I couldn’t wait to see what happened next. I still own the VHS, and I love it. I’m surprised it isn’t broken with how many times I have watched it. I adore this movie.

Ponyo
Rating: G

An animated adventure about a five-year-old boy and his relationship with a goldfish princess who longs to become a human.

Thoughts: I know that Ponyo is not the best by Miyazaki, but there is just something so charming about it. It’s a cute movie that’s very entertaining. There are plenty of flaws in it, but I can’t help re-watching it. The details in the movie are just as good as any other Miyazaki film. I feel like the story is the only thing that is not up to par with the other fantastic movies. However, it’s still worth a watch.

Kiki’s Delivery Service
Rating: G

A young witch, on her mandatory year of independent life, finds fitting into a new community difficult while she supports herself by running an air courier service.

ThoughtsKiki’s Delivery Service is such a unique movie that brings up the struggle of a child growing into a young adult. Kiki must train away from home for a year to become a better witch. She brings along her cat named Jiji on her journey (Jiji is one of my favorite characters). Miyazaki has interesting ideas about what a young witch/girl would be going through during this important time of her life. In a sense, the movie reflects a young girl losing her childlike imagination as she grows older (the friendship between Kiki and Jiji). Near the end, there is a bittersweet moment as Kiki starts becoming a young adult and her relationship with Jiji changes.

Howl’s Moving Castle
Rating: PG

When an unconfident young woman is cursed with an old body by a spiteful witch, her only chance of breaking the spell lies with a self-indulgent yet insecure young wizard and his companions in his legged, walking home.

Thoughts: I love the message this movie sends to young women. When I watched this, I was an insecure teen. I related so much to what Sophie felt about herself, and the movie helped me see that even if you might feel like you’re not pretty enough, there is someone out there that will think you’re beautiful. Plus, it shows being pretty is not the only thing that matters. There is a lot of focus on the romance aspect of this film, but there is plenty of humor throughout. There are subtle scenes and dialogue that just make it a wonderful movie. It’s a nice romance story that I feel anyone could enjoy. 

My Neighbor Totoro
Rating: G

When two girls move to the country to be near their ailing mother, they have adventures with the wonderous forest spirits who live nearby.

ThoughtsMy Neighbor Totoro is the most recent Miyazaki movie I have seen, and let me tell you, this one is a tearjerker. I was not prepared for all the emotions this movie put me through. There is so much raw emotion that the sisters feel, and it is portrayed amazingly well. It was as if the audience was watching the lives and struggles of these real life girls. It’s a beautifully told story. I loved that there was no bickering or drama between the sisters. They didn’t fight over silly stuff, and they actually got along. The movie mainly deals with the girls’ adventures with the forest spirits.

The Secret World of Arrietty
Rating: G

The Clock family are four-inch-tall people who live anonymously in another family’s residence, borrowing simple items to make their home. Life changes for the Clocks when their daughter, Arrietty, is discovered.

ThoughtsThe Secret World of Arrietty deals with loneliness that the two main characters face. This one is a bit sad because of the subject matter, and it doesn’t end in the way that I thought it would. One thing I like is that not every movie ends with a happily ever after, but there is hope and the promise of happiness. Even though the movie’s main character is a tiny borrower, the characters are realistic with the characterization and character development that takes place. This movie is a nice step away from cliches, and it’s a very entertaining film.

Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind
Rating: PG

Warrior/pacifist Princess Nausicaä desperately struggles to prevent two warring nations from destroying themselves and their dying planet.

Thoughts: One thing I really love about Miyazaki’s movies is that there is a deeper message in each of them. Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind focuses on saving the environment and how important it is to protect the planet and animals. It’s also nice that in each of these movies, there are strong female leads, taking charge of their lives and not letting life just pass them by when times get hard.

Princess Mononoke
Rating: PG-13

On a journey to find the cure for a Tatarigami’s curse, Ashitaka finds himself in the middle of a war between the forest gods and Tatara, a mining colony. In this quest he also meets San, the Mononoke Hime.

Thoughts: If you want your friend/boyfriend/fiance/husband to watch a Miyazaki film with you, this would be the one to show them first. I’ve made Chad watch all of these films, and he says this one is his favorite. It has a higher rating than most because there is a lot more violence. I believe this adds to the struggles brought up in the film. There was a real threat/real bloodshed that had to be dealt with.

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