The unique approach of the best animated movies Studio Ghibli to storytelling and animation has earned them a loyal fan base and critical acclaim.

In this article, Animost will explore the ten best films that Studio Ghibli has created, highlighting their distinct themes, beautiful visuals, and impactful storytelling. Keep scrolling to discover!

The 10 Best Animated Movies Studio Ghibli

From the whimsical adventures of Spirited Away to the heartbreaking drama of Grave of the Fireflies, these films have left an indelible mark on animation and cinema. They will continue to inspire audiences of all ages.

#1. Spirited Away (2001)

It should come as no surprise that Spirited Away is the highest-rated film from Studio Ghibli, widely recognized as one of the greatest animated films.

The movie’s immense success is due to a combination of breathtaking animation, expansive and whimsical worldbuilding, and a masterfully crafted story of a young girl. She finds herself in an enchanted world filled with fantastical spirits and creatures.

Despite taking place in a world of make-believe characters, Spirited Away tells a deeply human story, exploring mature and profound themes with authenticity and sincerity.

The film delivers a haunting yet enchanting account of the importance of self-discovery. Its universal acclaim confirms why it is unquestionably the most successful Studio Ghibli film ever created.

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#2. Grave of the Fireflies (1988)

Grave of the Fireflies is undoubtedly one of the most emotionally gripping films in Studio Ghibli’s repertoire and possibly in cinematic history. Set in the final months of World War II, the film chronicles the tragic tale of two siblings struggling to survive on their own.

Ghibli is renowned for its uplifting and whimsical stories that impart positive messages. Meanwhile, Grave of the Fireflies serves as a powerful reminder that the studio is unafraid to delve into realistic and harrowing subject matter.

The film offers an unflinching portrayal of the true horrors of war, painting a grim picture of a war-ravaged Japan.

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#3. Princess Mononoke (1997)

Princess Mononoke stands out as one of the more sophisticated works of Ghibli, featuring intense violence and striking visuals that convey its themes. The film follows a young prince cursed by the forest’s corruption, who sets out on a journey to find a cure.

However, his path leads him to a conflict between the forest’s inhabitants and the humans who seek to exploit it. As the prince becomes embroiled in the struggle, he is forced to choose between two opposing sides with irreconcilable beliefs.

This film conveys genuine messages about the significance of nature to our planet and how human impact can cause destruction and death to the sacred wilderness.

Every aspect of the film seems to have been meticulously crafted. The aim is to create an authentic depiction of man’s harm to the environment and the need for balance to live in harmony.

#4. Howl’s Moving Castle (2004)

Howl’s Moving Castle is arguably the most surreal film in the Ghibli catalog, following the story of a young woman cursed to look and act like an old and bitter witch. To break the spell, she must confront an insecure young wizard, and their relationship quickly becomes intertwined.

In terms of its scope and setting, this film feels like one of the grandest offerings from Ghibli. The movie features a range of vibrant and stunning locations, including:

  • Breathtaking landscapes
  • Quaint towns and buildings
  • The famous moving castle itself

The whimsical presentation of every aspect of the film immerses the audience in a fantasy world that is rich in detail and boundless imagination.

#5. My Neighbor Totoro (1988)

My Neighbor Totoro recounts the enchanting story of a family that relocates to the countryside and uncovers a world of mystical spirits from the forest. This film is a stunning visual and atmospheric masterpiece, featuring some of Ghibli’s most exceptional scenery, art direction, and character designs.

Memorable highlights include the iconic Cat Bus and the Ghibli logo’s stars, the charming and beloved Totoros.

Apart from Spirited Away, Totoro is undoubtedly one of the most iconic films from Ghibli. With its unique and unforgettable characters, it embodies many of Ghibli’s defining features.

This sweet, visually stunning adventure is an excellent example of Ghibli’s best qualities, appealing to both children and adults alike. So it is a timeless classic that resonates with everyone.

#6. Castle in the Sky (1986)

Castle in the Sky recounts the journey of two children racing against aerial pirates and adversaries in pursuit of a legendary floating castle that harbors profound secrets.

As with many of Miyazaki’s works, this film highlights a signature feature: airships. Airships make appearances in several of his movies, such as Porco Rosso and The Wind Rises.

However, the vessels in this particular film feel the most magnificent and intricate, brought to life with breathtaking designs and spectacular flying and battle scenes.

#7. Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (1984)

In Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, the story unfolds in a post-apocalyptic world that has suffered from a global war and significant environmental damage.

Princess Nausicaä leads one of the few remaining human communities in a heroic quest to restore the balance between humanity and nature. Here, the world is overrun by a toxic wilderness inhabited by massive, powerful insects.

The film’s concept of a post-apocalyptic world is one of the most captivating and fascinating settings in any Ghibli production.

The sprawling landscapes are visually and audibly mesmerizing, with various factions and species adapting to their surroundings in different ways. They add depth to the overall world-building.

#8. The Tale of Princess Kaguya (2013)

The Tale of Princess Kaguya is a standout film in Studio Ghibli’s collection, largely due to its unique animation style. The visuals resemble a living watercolor painting, setting it apart from many other Ghibli productions.

The movie centers on Kaguya, a small girl discovered inside a bamboo shoot who rapidly ages and becomes captivated by the people and places around her. While many of Hayao Miyazaki’s films feature vast, fantastical worlds, Isao Takahata’s direction results in more intimate character studies.

This film is a prime example of such work, alongside Only Yesterday and Grave of the Fireflies, among others.

#9. Whisper of the Heart (1995)

Whisper of the Heart, although not as widely known as some of Ghibli’s other works, holds a special place in the studio’s collection as a simple and endearing slice-of-life film.

The plot revolves around Shizuku, a young girl who adores writing and storytelling and notices someone has borrowed her library books.

Despite the modest and unpretentious nature of the story, the film still radiates the characteristic Ghibli charm. At its core, it conveys significant messages about the creative process and the influence of self-esteem on it.

The cast of likable characters is a joy to watch, and their struggles and connections are relatable and humanizing.

#10. Kiki’s Delivery Service (1989)

In “Kiki’s Delivery Service,” a young witch strives to acclimate to a new community during a mandatory year of independence. Although the plot is straightforward compared to other Ghibli films, the characters and the overall ambiance of the movie carry it through.

Rather than being driven by a complex storyline, the film centers on the various challenges the protagonist faces and overcomes. It presents a series of delightful vignettes. We observe Kiki endeavoring to regain her passion for something she now perceives as a burden.

In this way, the film offers a poignant exploration of the exhaustion that arises from dedicating oneself too intensely to a beloved pursuit.


What Is The Most Popular Studio Ghibli Movie?

It is Spirited Away, directed by Hayao Miyazaki. It won numerous awards and became the highest-grossing film in Japanese history.

What Is One of The Most Successful Animated Movies from Studio Ghibli?

One of the most successful animated movies from Studio Ghibli is Spirited Away, which grossed over $355 million worldwide and won the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature.

Is Studio Ghibli The Best Studio?

Studio Ghibli is widely considered one of the most influential and respected animation studios in the world, producing numerous critically acclaimed and commercially successful films.

Is Spirited Away The Best Animated Film Ever?

Spirited Away is considered by many as the best-animated film ever made due to its masterful storytelling, stunning animation, and universal themes that resonate with both children and adults.

What Is The Darkest Studio Ghibli Movie?

It is Grave of the Fireflies, directed by Isao Takahata. It tells the heartbreaking story of two siblings struggling to survive during World War II and has been praised for its realistic and unflinching portrayal of war’s horrors.


Studio Ghibli has produced a remarkable collection of animated films that have captured the hearts of audiences around the world. With their signature style and attention to detail, each film offers a unique and unforgettable experience that stays with viewers long after the credits roll.

The list of best animated movies Studio Ghibli is a testament to the studio’s ability to create timeless classics that will continue to inspire and entertain generations to come.

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