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Top Hayao Miyazaki best movie collection – from legendary Studio Ghibli

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Look at the image above. Do you know who he is? And can you name all characters in the background? No matter if you are a fan of Studio Ghibli animated movies or not, surely you can realize Totoro- the most iconic creation of Hayao Miyazaki. Coming to the world of Japanese films, Studio Ghibli is always on top of the must-see-first list due to its highly spiritual and entertaining values. Among them, the animation house created by a Ghibli co-founder and masterful storyteller- Hayao Miyazaki has impressed viewers with fairy stories featuring love, family, pacifism, feminism, or environmentalism. A list of Miyazaki films is thus awarded an array of movie prizes and is considered as the best Japanese animated movie Studio Ghibli.

In this blog, let us help you to pick out your Hayao Miyazaki best movie. To be fair, we will have a comprehensive judgment on all of Hayao Miyazaki films.

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List of Miyazaki films

  1. Laputa: Castle in the Sky (1986)

Role of Miyazaki: Director, Writer

Laputa: Castle in the Sky, known as simply Castle in the Sky is one of the first Studio Ghibli animated movies gaining popularity. In 2006, it was the second best animated film at the Japan Media Arts Festival and then, on top of 2008 Oricon audience poll. 

 Movies by Hayao Miyazaki mainly hail the future generations- children and teens as the leading role in keeping the world peaceful and happy, and this film can be the best of Hayao Miyazaki achieving that. In general, the film is a journey of a young boy and girl to the mysterious floating castle named Laputa, while they are chased by a military group due to a blue crystal pendant of the girl.

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Noticeably, Castle in the Sky has an enormous influence on Japanese culture and reaches to an international extent, even building the foundation of the steampunk genre. Similar to other Studio Ghibli animated movies, it reflexes the inverse relationship between nature and man-made technology, which usually ends up with the failure of human civilization. 

  1. My Neighbor: Totoro (1988)

Role of Miyazaki: Director, Writer

If you are fans of animated movies, My Neighbor: Totoro is a must-see one among all of Hayao Miyazaki films. A man with his two daughters, Satsuki and Mei, have to move into an old house for better care of the girls’ mother in a nearby hospital. Mei- the younger daughter then discovers some magical spiritual creatures living in a camphor tree and she calls the biggest spirit Totoro- by its roars. Two girls start seeing miraculous things, flying around with Totoro and growing a giant tree in their yard. 

The Rotten Tomatoes’s film critics all concur “My Neighbor Totoro is a heartwarming, sentimental masterpiece that captures the simple grace of childhood.” Another critic, Roger Ebert of Chicago Sun-Times, also calls this film “one of the lovingly hand-crafted works of Hayao Miyazaki” and lists in his Great movies. Totoro is considered as one of the greatest cartoon characters, “captures the innocence and magic of childhood more than any of Miyazaki’s other magical creations”, said The Independent. To many people, My Neighbor Totoro hence may be the best of Hayao Miyazaki, even the most impressive of Studio Ghibli movie collections.

  1. Kiki’s Delivery Service (1989)

Role of Miyazaki: Director, Writer, Producer

Kiki’s Delivery Service was the first film released under a 15-year partnership between The Walt Disney Company and Studio Ghibli. Kiki is a little witch, who has moved to another town living independently by her flying ability. After facing life challenges, she learns more about failures and human relationships which mean she is into adulthood. 

The theme of girls starting controlling their own lives can be seen often in the list of Miyazaki films, such as San in Princess Mononoke and Chihiro from Spirited Away anime. They all look for independence, reflexing Japanese teen girls in a mature process. 

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The film was a financial success as the highest-grossing film in Japan in 1989. Kiki’s Delivery Service also scored a hat trick in 12th Anime Prix for the Best Anime, Best Female Character and Best Anime Theme Song. Therefore,  it can prove to be the best of Hayao Miyazaki

  1. Porco Rosso (1992)

Role of Miyazaki: Director, Writer

The main character is a brave pilot- a mysterious Porco Rosso who is transformed into a pig during the war. The story is set in 1930s Italy, when Rosso volunteers to fight back the pirate crew’s America ace.

The film stood the first on Japanese market in 1992 and grossed a huge amount both in Japan and internationally. It also expressed intentional feminism of the Writer as Jeannette Catsoulis of The New York Times stated: “Mr. Miyazaki smooshes fantasy and history into a pastel-pretty yarn as irresistible as his feminism. There are some others commenting that the film is more female-oriented, straightforward, and based in reality (World Wars) than some of his other works. Nothing’s wrong if Porco Rosso is considered as a new color among movies by Hayao Miyazaki

  1. Whisper of the Heart (1995)

Role of Miyazaki: Writer, General Producer

Whisper of the Heart was the first film not to be directed by either Hayao Miyazaki or Isao Takahata in the list of Studio Ghibli movies. Shizuku Tsukishima is a 14-year-old girl who likes spending time reading books and writing. She then has a romantic relationship with Seiji Amasawa- a young boy is passionate about violons. Followers may have a certain empathy with Shizuku while she tries to identify herself and her orientation, feeling of being left behind by her talented friend. 

This film continues to feature the strength of Studio Ghibli animated movies and Miyazaki that impresses viewers with richly detailed backgrounds. Whisper of the Heart was also another success of Miyazaki. It was the highest-grossing Japanese film in 1995 and grossed ¥3.15 billion in total box office revenue.

  1. On your mark (1995)

Role of Miyazaki: Director

Putting in a futuristic setting, the story is about two  policemen attempting to rescue an unusual prisoner- a winged girl. They then set a course of events to free her as she realizes she is innocent. Do you ever wonder why a-seven-minute-long film could get so much attention and be compared to another Hayao Miyazaki best movies? Although the story is a little confusing, owing to a linear time flow and non dialogue, the stunning visuals and great sound effects can make people create their own stories. 

The music used in the film received positive responses. It was released theatrically with Whisper of the Heart in 1995 and became part of All Things Ghibli Special Short Short compilation.

  1. Princess Mononoke (1997)

Role of Miyazaki: Director, Writer

This film deserves one of the best movies by Hayao Mizayaki. It was the highest-grossing film in Japan of 1997 and held Japan’s box office record for domestic films until Spirited Away anime replaced it in 2001.

Miyazaki has drawn a new world of animation, and Princess Mononoke is one of those. It depicts how humans, forest creatures and Gods fight for a new order. Perhaps, the most achievement in this film is the artistry of Miyazaki. The film critic Roger Ebert acclaimed it was masterful: “The writhing skin of the boar-monster is an extraordinary sight, one that would be impossible to create in any live-action film”. Highly recommended to see this film, you will experience some kinds of mythical history and wonderful scenes. 

  1. Spirited Away (2001)

Role of Miyazaki: Director, Writer

There would be no doubt to say Spirited Away is Hayao Miyazaki best movie. It won numerous famed prizes like Academy Award for Best Animated Feature at 75th Academy Awards,the highest-ranking animated film in the list top 100 Greatest Films of the 21st Century by BBC and a lot more. 

Chihiro Ogino, a ten-year-old girl, tries to survive and save her parents from the world of Kami (spirits of Japanese Shinto folklore). In addition to the admirably meticulous drawing of Miyazaki, he surprises animated fans with his marvelous imagination of multiple bizarre beings: the No Faces, the river creature, the “Stink spirit” and so her first friend – a little sea dragon. What is more revealing, the viewers seem to get lost in an extraordinarily colorful world and excited to follow Chihiro’s next decision. From your viewpoint, which character is the most glorious?

  1. Howl’s Moving Castle (2004)

Role of Miyazaki: Director, Writer

The castle of Howl once again proves the ability of Hayao Miyazaki to create magical one-of-a-kind things in the animation world. Shape-shifting is becoming more often in his creations, and Howl’s Moving Castle has not only transformed beings but also objects and destinations. 

Somehow similar to Spirited Away, this film also tells a story about a young normal girl, Sophie, who is then recognized as an awesome problem-solver helping a lot of life-forms get out of their troubles. In spite of that, Roger criticizes that Sophi portrays a witness more than a heroine, as she seems to inhabit the new world.  

Although Howl’s Moving Castle was a runner-up for the Boston Globe-Horn Book Award and Phoenix Award later, there are not as many great achievements as other movies by Hayao Miyazaki. Having said that, this one still deserves the best Hayao Miyazaki animated movie to some extent. 

  1. Ponyo (2008)

Role of Miyazaki: Director, Writer

Ponyo is also a movie from Studio Ghibli, written and directed by Miyazaki. If other movies by Hayao Miyazaki usually thrill us with twisted plots and dangerous magical beings, Ponyo simply charms and touches everybody’s motion with a beautiful friendship between Sosuke and Ponyo-a goldfish. Being a five-year-old boy, Sosuke starts learning to take responsibility for taking care of his friend and ensuring his promise. Although there are some moments Ponyo seems to threaten human life, we can see that Ponyo and Sasuke have set everything back in balance. 

Ponyo was a major commercial success compared among list of Miyazaki films. It has grossed over $203 million worldwide and stands the fourth highest-grossing anime film of all time.  

  1. Arrietty (2010)

Role of Miyazaki: Writer, Developing Planner

The Secret World of Arrietty is a marvelously captivating animated creation about tiny people and the world they must inhabit. The story, through a friendship between two youths despite their different sizes, has taught us how to learn trust and open our minds. On Rotten Tomatoes, it is stated “Visually lush, refreshingly free of family-friendly clatter, and anchored with soulful depth, The Secret World of Arrietty lives up to Studio Ghibli’s reputation.”

Arrietty was the highest-grossing Japanese film at the Japanese box office in 2010. It also won the Animation of the Year Award at the 34th Japan Academy Prize. Undoubtedly, this film proves its position in the list of Miyazaki films

  1. From Up on Poppy Hill (2011)

Role of Miyazaki: Writer, Planner

The story is about two young people fighting to save a club in their school from being demolished. Set in Yokohama in the early 1960s, there is a feeling of kinda nostalgia for Japan’s post-war period, everything is in conflict between conservation and transformation. The filmflow, though, moves smoothly along the emotional currents of Umi and Shun. Umi- a young unyielding girl whose father was killed during Korean War, by chance collaborates with Shun- a school’s newspaper editor and other schoolmates to renovate their clubhouse before the town planners pull it down. After some little romantic moments and dramas behind, Umi and Shun learned more about love, family and sacrifice. 

Perhaps this is not supposed to be the best of Hayao Miyazaki, From Up on Poppy Hill still impresses watchers with a distinct motif and contrastive scenes. So, we let you rate it by yourself.  

  1. The Wind Rises (2013)

Role of Miyazaki: Director, Writer

Also being in the list of Miyazaki films, The Wind Rises shares the same interest of flying objects with the orthes. It depicts historical events of Jiro- a famed chief plane engineer inspired by the famous Italian aeronautical designer Caproni. Although this story is related to the creation of so-called war weapons, it focuses more on acclaiming people who dare to pursue their dreams. Specifically, the title of the film, which is inspired from “The Wind is rising!…We must try to live!”- a quote by Paul Valery, leaves viewers thinking more about life struggles and dedication.

The Wind Rises was the highest-grossing Japanese film in Japan in 2013. It was also nominated for many other awards.  It was the first film that Miyazaki solely directed beside Ponyo (2008).

In addition to those introduced, Hayao Miyazaki also worked and contributed to others in Studio Ghibli movie collections like The Cat Returns, Treasure Hunting or The KIngdom of Dreams and Madness, which received positive criticism and lots of admirable awards. 

Interestingly, six movies by Hayao Miyazaki: Howl’s Moving Castle, Kiki’s Delivery Service, My Neighbor Totoro, Ponyo, Princess Mononoke and Oscar-winning Spirited Away were the first that GKID reissued new Blu-ray and DVD editions from the list of Studio Ghibli movies. Now, all of Hayao Miyazaki films and Studio Ghibli animated movies have been released also. Therefore, you can have the opportunity to purchase a Studio Ghibli DVD collection for full experience. 

After all, is there any film coming to your mind as the best Hayao Miyazaki animated movie? Do you wonder where to buy Studio Ghibli movies? or How to afford a full Studio Ghibli DVD collection? Follow us to catch the next blog, and you will have a chance to access all of the movies from Studio Ghibli

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