Every Studio Ghibli movie ranked part 2

Part 2

    1. “From Up On Poppy Hill” Directed by Gorô Miyazaki 

*Minor Spoiler Warning* “From Up On Poppy Hill” is about a teenage girl named Umi who is balancing going to school and taking care of her family while her mother is away, but decides to help her friends save the building the houses all the schools clubs, and falls in love with one of the boys in charge of the effort. This is a rather straightforward love story for most of the movie and it works very well. Both characters are interesting and have great chemistry. The themes explored in this movie are interesting and different from most ghibli movies, and are about the value of knowing the past but moving towards the future. The animation is good throughout and the plot for the most part has interesting but not stupid twists and turns. That is except for one very questionable plot choice. For some reason there is a point in the movie where Umi and Shun learn that they might be siblings and this obviously creates a rift in their relationship. It is eventually learned that this isn’t true and they aren’t related, which brings up the question of why would they include such an uncomfortable and disturbing plot point that really drags the movie down. Besides that this is a really good straightforward romance, but it is kinda hard to look past that one detail. 7.5/10


  1. “The Tale of Princess Kaguya” Directed by Isao Takahata

“The Tale of Princess Kaguya” is about a young girl who is found inside a bamboo stalk and is given many gifts by the gods and people interpret this to mean she should be raised in the capital as a princess. This is one of the more tragic Ghibli movies as the ending doesn’t leave any of the characters happy or fulfilled. This movie follows Isao Takahata’s classic style of critiquing japanese society, except in this movie it is more universal because it’s more a commentary on parenting and how parents try to make every decision for their children and make them conform to society’s standards in order to look like good parents. The movie has one of the more unique animation styles giving it an exquisite stylized look. There are a lot of things in this movie that are left to audience interpretation which ends up leading to subjectivity. Most of the unanswered questions and subtlety in this movie end up causing you to ask more questions and think about the plot and characters more which enhances both. There are some problems with the pacing as sometimes it feels like the plot isn’t advancing forward and at points it just gets frustrating. The Tale of Princess Kaguya is a beautiful, interesting, but long movie. 8/10


  1. “The Wind Rises” Directed by Hayao Miyazaki

“The Wind Rises” is about a young engineer named Jirô and airplane designer learning about the world through his work in the government and also his relationship with a young woman named Nahoko. This is one of Miyazaki’s most beautiful and skillful uses of visual storytelling and you can tell his passion for his swan song is real. One of the problems with this movie is that the two plotlines feel kind of disjointed and don’t play off each other perfectly. Fortunately both are interesting and tell interesting stories. The other problem with the plot is that it is extremely predictable. You can tell where the plot is going and nothing is ever that surprising. The main characters are interesting and watching them try to live happily is endearing and makes them feel more real. It cannot be understated how beautiful this movie is. Hayao Miyazaki and the Ghibli animators give their A-game in every single scene. The color palette in this movie is beautiful and is arguably the best of any Ghibli movie. This film has a sometimes shaky plot, but interesting characters and is possibly the best looking film Ghibli has ever made. 8/10


  1. “Castle in the Sky” AKA “Laputa” Directed by Hayao Miyazaki

“Castle in the Sky” is about two kids, Sheeta and Pazu, who are trying to find a floating castle surrounded by mystery in order to learn about Sheeta’s connection to it, while also being hunted by an equally mysterious figure, Muska. (voiced by Mark Hamill!) This is one of the earliest Ghibli films and as such isn’t as fine tuned as some of their later works. The animation isn’t quite as good and the story isn’t properly flushed out. This is however an enthralling and epic movie, that has interesting characters and captures you in amazing opening scene, an airship raid by a group of pirates, and doesn’t let go until the end credits. This movie has one of the best Ghibli villains. Muska is terrifying and evil, but you also have to respect him because of his vast knowledge, confidence, and ability to manipulate people. This movie hits all the classic Miyazaki marks: amazing technology, powerful magic, flying, a strong female heroine, and a message about the power of nature. More specifically the message of this movie is that no group of people no matter how powerful are still not equal to the earth. The pirates also play a big role in this movie as they are the main allies of Sheeta and Pazu. They’re all funny and goofy characters but have some good depth as well. There is one rather uncomfortable scene with the pirates, where the male pirates are all flirting with Sheeta even though she looks to be roughly 14 and they are all adults. At the end of the day this is not a perfect movie but is an absolutely epic adventure. 8/10


  1. “Porco Rosso” Directed by Hayao Miyazaki

“Porco Rosso” takes place in the 1930s and is about a pilot who was transformed into a pig and now works as a pilot/bounty hunter/celebrity in an island chain of the coast of Italy. The movie mainly focuses on Porco’s growth as a character and how it relates to him being a pig. Porco is a very likeable character just because of how imperfect he is. He is the greatest pilot ever, but he has failures. He has biases but he learns and moves past them. He’s a professional criminal but he has a good conscious. The flying scenes in this movie are fantastic. The way they are choreographed and play out is captivating and completely unique. The ending of this movie is open ended and leaves you to make your own choice on what happens based on how you view Porco’s growth throughout the movie. Ghibli movies are known for having great female leads. (Nausicaa, San, Sen, Sophie, Satsuki) This film’s comic relief character is Fio, but she is also Porco’s mechanic and the smartest character in the entire movie. The difference between this movie and other Ghibli films is that this one actually talks about the idiocy of sexism as an issue and directly addresses it several times and doing it well each time. “Porco Rosso” also has one of the best Ghibli quotes, that comes when Porco is addressing why he deserted the military and became a fugitive. Porco says,“I’d rather be a pig than a fascist.” This is a great film that needs to be seen to be fully understood and has enough both slow and action filled scenes to be stupendously entertaining but also touchingly wondrous. 9/10


  1. “Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind” Directed by Hayao Miyazaki

“Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind” takes place in a future where human war has caused nature to lash back against humanity though a spreading toxic jungle. The story is about a teenage girl named Nausicaa who is trying to keep her village and people from being killed but also trying to protect nature so it can return to its normal peaceful state. This movie’s plot and message has aged incredibly well due to what climate change has done to our world. But looking past the (amazing) commentary, this is a fantastic movie. Because this was Ghibli’s first movie they get extremely creative and take many risks, one of the most interesting being the violence. This movie is okay with killing and maiming characters and showing blood throughout all of it. Nausicaa is freaking awesome. She is a capable and skilled person who is also wise beyond her years, but her compassion and empathy is what makes her endearing. She is one of the most well established characters in any animated movie. This movie has by far the most weird and unique soundtrack of any Ghibli film. There is a combination of electro and string music, and while some of it is just weird, other parts are effective and unique. This is an amazing movie that encapsulates you in every moment and is made with a passion that shines through in every moment. 9/10.


  1. “My Neighbor Totoro” Directed by Hayao Miyazaki

“My Neighbor Totoro” is about a family who moves into a new house that is just on the edge of a forest that holds magical enchanting creatures, including the titular character, Totoro. This is the most iconic and widely known of any Ghibli film and it cannot be overstated how much this one film has changed the world of animation. This movie has the best soundtrack of any Ghibli movie with a wonderful mix of orchestral music and traditional folk ones. This is simple story that is told in a way that transcends time period and is about how your relationship with nature and your family impacts your life. The characters in this movie are identifiable and captivating. Even the young child in this movie, Mei, is made interesting through her scenes, especially the ones with her sister Satsuki. This film is uplifting in the best way possible and the way it mixes reality with the magical is in a way where they feel seamless. Because of how this film is structured, even though you know that the scenes with the forest creatures are going to play a big part, it always feels like such a treat when they come on screen and you get to experience them in a new way. This is a movie that is amazingly gifted in its ability to reach everyone regardless of culture because of how lack of much dialogue, body language, and visual storytelling are used in a very impressive way. This movie is a must watch and is simple but that simplicity is in where the beauty of it lies. 9/10


  1. “Grave of the Fireflies” Directed by Isao Takahata

“Grave of the Fireflies” is the saddest Ghibli movie ever. How could it not be: it’s about how the society that 2 japanese children were raised to love ends up abandoning and betraying them during world war ll and causes them to starve to death. That’s not a spoiler. This movie opens up with them dying and is about the events leading up to their untimely deaths. This is Isao Takahata’s magnum opus. His critique of japanese society is in full force here with the main focus being on that idea centrally. The characters of Seita and Setsuko make this even more tragic. They are sweet and loving characters who constantly try to make the best of their situation only to have everyone else knock them down again. They are both emaciated and deathly sick, but they still make the main goals of their lives to bring each other they joy and hope in life.The buildup and pacing in this movie is utter perfection. You can see everything slowly unravel and before you know it they are sick and dying. Even the poster for this movie is tragic. Some of the lights that surround them are firebombs, the things that destroyed their livelihood, and others are fireflies, the things that give them a sense of happiness as everything goes south on them. The commentary on japanese culture doesn’t really get lost in translation because this movie can also be seen as how people treat the homeless or react to war and loss. The more subtle complexity and the great characters are the main things that sets it apart from other works by Isao Takahata. This is a tragic masterpiece by one of the greatest animators ever and you can see the culmination of his time and effort in how depressingly brilliant this film is. 10/10


  1. “Spirited Away” Directed by Hayao Miyazaki

“Spirited Away” is about a young girl named Chihiro who gets trapped in a spirit world when her parents get turned into pigs. She has to escape the spirit world and hold onto her identity in order to escape the spirit world. This is the only Ghibli film to win an oscar and it definitely deserved it. This Ghibli film feels completely its own with storytelling characters and a world that are different from anything else. The characters in this movie are amazing and  this film probably features one of the best and most interesting side characters ever, in the No-Face. Thankfully the other characters are all good enough to compliment the No-Face, including the main character Chihiro. The one problem with Chihiro is that, while she does go through a good arc, at the end of the movie she doesn’t express the change that she underwent. The plot of the movie unfolds in a way that feels completely natural and because of the world that has been established so you understand it but don’t know what to expect from it, you still feel anticipation and interest as each scene unfolds. You can really get lost in the world that has been created. It’s dazzling but dark and is unwaveringly captivating. The topics this film focuses mainly focuses on are consumerism and identity. Both topics are unique ones for Ghibli and consumerism is done especially well because most movies that tackle this do it in an extremely basic and hypocritical way. The animation in spirited away is uniquely great because of the way different colors of light are used to contrast the pitch black sky that appears in most scenes. This movie has great characters beautiful animation and tells a fascinating story. 10/10


  1. “Princess Mononoke” Directed by Hayao Miyazaki

“Princess Mononoke” is about a young man named Ashitaka who travels to a faraway land of forest gods to try and cure a curse that is killing him. He gets trapped in the middle of a war between nature and human expansion. It seems pretty obvious that this movie’s main focus is on nature, and it is, but the movie also focuses heavily humanity and good vs evil. One’s own humanity is especially focused through the character of San, the adopted daughter of the wolf god and Ashitaka’s love interest. Because she is a part of both worlds she struggles with what is right and what is wrong and who she should align with. One of the most amazing aspects of this movie is the characters. There isn’t really a good side or a bad side in this movie, which really plays into the commentary of what good and evil mean. In “Princess Mononoke” there are only perspectives. The two main groups in this movie are the nature and the human advancement side. The leader of the humans, Lady Eboshi, is intelligent, sympathetic, and a great leader. She pushes against the forest because her citizens are constantly attacked by other humans and she needs to expand to get the resources to defend their village. The nature side is just trying to stay alive so that everyone doesn’t die, because for some reason some people don’t understand this but, don’t kill the planet you live on stupid. The character who comes closest to a villian is a monk trying to steal the head of the forest god is still a humble person who goes out of his way to help others. This is one of the most beautiful Ghibli films and is possibly the one Hayao Miyazaki was most involved in. There is a story that Hayao Miyazaki hand drew about ½ of the entire movie. The beauty fully shows up in the iconic climax of the movie as you see the sun rise over the magnificent but war torn valley as everyone pointlessly runs from their imminent death. This movie really is about a war between man and nature and the movie’s message is that if mankind wins or loses this war, every person will die. Because of this man has to compromise. Characters are maimed and killed and entire armies are massacred. People are beheaded, blown up, and eviscerated with guns. The disturbing nature of some scenes makes the stakes seem exponentially higher. This is a powerful masterpiece that unforgettably tremendous. 10/10