What Studio Ghibli movies should I watch?

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#1 Edited by j_unit2008 (309 posts) -

I just watched the Oscar category for best animated feature and two thoughts came to mind.

1. Why the eff is The Lego Movie not nominated?

and 2. Why the eff haven't I seen a Studio Ghibli movie?

I've never really been into Japanese animation, but I've heard that their films are incredible so I want to check them out. Where do you guys think I should start?

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#2 Edited by hassun (10030 posts) -

Your actual thought should have been 'Why the fuck didn't Princess Kaguya win!? What is this fucking bullshit?" but I guess your thought was also OK.

The answer to your question is "pretty much all of them are great to unbelievably great". You can literally pick one at random.

If you want to be more specific then I would say any of the films directed by either Isao Takahata or Hayao Miyazaki with the possible exception of Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea. While all of their other films are suitable for all ages I think Ponyo is only suitable for children.

My personal favourites are probably Princess Mononoke and Grave of the Fireflies.

Handy guide: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Studio_Ghibli#Films

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#3 Posted by Justin258 (15690 posts) -

Princess Mononole is the only one I've seen and I feel bad about that.

I should watch Porco Rosso at some point.

Grave of the Fireflies is a great movie but Takahata directed it IIRC, not Miyazaki. Watch it anyway. With tissues.

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#4 Posted by Joshakazam (1257 posts) -

I really like Howl's Moving Castle, but pretty much anyone will tell you Spirited Away and My Neighbour Totoro.

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#5 Edited by penfold01 (41 posts) -

My Neighbor Totoro and Grave of the Fireflies. They're all pretty good, though, so pick one that looks good to you.

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#6 Posted by FrostyRyan (2924 posts) -

All of them. There's not a bad, average, or even good one. They're all great and above.

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#7 Posted by Sergio (3625 posts) -

First, stay away from Tales from Earthsea. @frostyryan is wrong that there's not a bad one - that's the lone stinker of the bunch. With that in mind, start with any other Ghibli movie, the rest are great.

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#8 Edited by Dan_CiTi (5250 posts) -

Princess Mononoke, Grave of the Fireflies, Castle in the Sky, Kiki's Delivery Service, Howl's Moving Castle, My Neighbour Totoro, Nasuicaa of the Valley of the Wind, The Tale of Princess Kaguya, Porco Rosso, and Spirited Away. The Kingdom of Dreams and Madness is also pretty rad documentary on them. I wouldn't overlook Pom Poko and Only Yesterday because they aren't Miyazaki's either.

All of them are a good time though. Everyone seems to have a different favorite.

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#9 Edited by Corevi (6796 posts) -

All of them. Even Ponyo is pretty alright even if it isn't as good as the rest.

Princess Mononoke is probably the best starting point.

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#10 Posted by Krevee (190 posts) -

@corevi said:

All of them. Even Ponyo is pretty alright even if it isn't as good as the rest.

Princess Mononoke is probably the best starting point.

Corevi has got it right. Princess Mononoke would be a great starting point, also My Neighbor Totoro .

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#11 Posted by AlKusanagi (1653 posts) -

While not technically Ghibli, if you can find the Castle of Cagliostro, I highly recommend it. It's one of Miyazaki's earliest works. A fun caper flick starring Lupin III.

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#12 Edited by BisonHero (11603 posts) -

It's real fucking weird that The Lego Movie got nominated for Best Original Song, but not nominated for Best Animated Feature Film. Like, guys, you mighta got that backwards. I don't think it should've necessarily won the category, but it was certainly in the front of the pack. Also cool to see that Graham Annable directed The Boxtrolls, though man I did not hear about that movie whatsoever prior to these awards. Regardless, good for that guy.

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#13 Posted by hassun (10030 posts) -

@bisonhero: They should have just switched How to Train Your Dragon with Lego and have Kaguya win.

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#14 Posted by Anonymous_Jesse (290 posts) -

Spirted Away is my top Ghibili.

I didn't like Grave of the Fireflies, just thought is was misery porn.

Ponyo is a straight up kids movie. An excellent one but very kiddie.

Princess Mononoke I think is the traditional starting point.

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#15 Edited by Yesiamaduck (2562 posts) -

Spirited away fo sho

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#16 Posted by BisonHero (11603 posts) -

@hassun said:

@bisonhero: They should have just switched How to Train Your Dragon with Lego and have Kaguya win.

Yeah, that looks good to me.

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#17 Posted by GunslingerPanda (5263 posts) -

Princess Mononoke and Grave of the Fireflies.

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#18 Edited by hassun (10030 posts) -

Not really sure why people bring up Mononoke as starting point this much. I have no idea why it would be.

I would imagine it to be either Nausicaä or Totoro. Or maybe even Spirited Away because it got the most recognition in the West.

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#19 Edited by crithon (3979 posts) -

Lupin the 3rd Castle of Cagliostro or Porco Rosso. Especially since Ghibili gets the stigma from "bros" that his films are for chicks.

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I was surprised that Ghibili film got nominated considering no one in animation field even talks about it, and also How to Train your Dragon 2 bombed horribly and Dreamworks is rethinking their trilogy status on those films. Normally the whole animation catagory was the "special technical achievement award," (especially since it started around toy story 1 was such a breakthrough) but then it turned into "what are the grandchildren telling me to vote for award." Anyone who is in animation is pretty much disgusted how bad the oscars have handle this catagory recently, fallow the Annies instead. I stopped watching Oscars around maybe when Saving Private Ryan lost best oscar to Shakespear in Love. Although I have fond memories of the 80s musical dance numbers when they did james bond tribute.

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#20 Edited by Turtlebird95 (3618 posts) -

Mononoke and Spirited Away are some of the more popular starting points. Spirited Away is my personal favorite, so of course I'll recommend that. (And the fact that North America still doesn't have the Blu Ray... the fuck, man.)

Honestly most Ghibli films are like, really good. And the ones that aren't really good are still very solid animated films. (Except for maybe Tales from Earthsea)

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#21 Posted by Karkarov (3385 posts) -

Anyone who answers your question OP with anything other than, "All of them." is a soulless husk and you should ignore them. If you want a "start" point I suggest either Kiki's Delivery Service (since I am pretty sure it was chronologically first or really close) or Nausicaa In the Valley of the Wind.

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#22 Posted by hassun (10030 posts) -

@crithon: Hard to tell people to follow the Annies instead when they had How to Train Your Dragon 2 win the award.

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#23 Edited by Sergio (3625 posts) -

@bisonhero said:

It's real fucking weird that The Lego Movie got nominated for Best Original Song, but not nominated for Best Animated Feature Film. Like, guys, you mighta got that backwards. I don't think it should've necessarily won the category, but it was certainly in the front of the pack. Also cool to see that Graham Annable directed The Boxtrolls, though man I did not hear about that movie whatsoever prior to these awards. Regardless, good for that guy.

From what I read, the nominations are done by animation professionals, with the full academy voting for who wins. They saw better artistry in the animated films that were nominated than in The Lego Movie. I think the correct films were nominated, but the wrong one won.

Edit: Article I was referring to.

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#24 Posted by Geralt (484 posts) -

I suggest you go backward from these gentlemen's list. You shouldn't start with the show-stoppers.

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#25 Posted by nasp (652 posts) -

every single one of them,because you cant go wrong with any of them.

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#26 Posted by WickedCestus (3781 posts) -

Kiki's Delivery service is definitely 1000% my favourite, with Ponyo in second. They're very pleasant and whimsical. Totoro and Spirited Away are good but they didn't stick with me as much as Ponyo and Kiki did. I'm not sure why. I didn't like Howl's Moving Castle or Princess Mononoke at all; I could barely finish them. I find Ghibli movies at their best when they are whimsical and fun; Mononoke felt too serious for me.

It seems that for each movie there are people who call it their favourite though, so I guess it's best to just watch them all and see what sticks with you.

(Also Lupin III: Castle of Cagliostro is a great movie directed by Hayao Miyazaki, though it's not technically a Ghibli movie I don't think. You should watch it just the same.)

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#27 Posted by afabs515 (2005 posts) -

Princess Mononoke and Spirited Away are my two recommendations. Spirited Away is to this day one of my favorite movies of all time, and I first saw it when I was like 10.

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#28 Posted by BisonHero (11603 posts) -

@sergio said:

@bisonhero said:

It's real fucking weird that The Lego Movie got nominated for Best Original Song, but not nominated for Best Animated Feature Film. Like, guys, you mighta got that backwards. I don't think it should've necessarily won the category, but it was certainly in the front of the pack. Also cool to see that Graham Annable directed The Boxtrolls, though man I did not hear about that movie whatsoever prior to these awards. Regardless, good for that guy.

From what I read, the nominations are done by animation professionals, with the full academy voting for who wins. They saw better artistry in the animated films that were nominated than in The Lego Movie. I think the correct films were nominated, but the wrong one won.

Edit: Article I was referring to.

Some interesting reasons given in that article, which make a certain amount of sense. I still think the writer of the article kinda handwaves his way past why it makes sense for Big Hero 6 and How to Train Your Dragon 2 to be nominated over The Lego Movie, aside from "It's Disney and Dreamworks so autoinclude". Those three are all pretty much the same tier and type of movie. I do wonder if animation professionals sorta resent animated movies that crossover with real life footage (like The Lego Movie) because they see it as a gimmick that kinda cheapens the medium because then the movie is directly acknowledging the animation to be false.

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#29 Edited by Akyho (2130 posts) -

It is a shorter list to say which ones to not watch! Tales from Earthsea and Howls Moving Castle (in my opinion it is a film that only looked pretty and made 0 sense despite critical acclaim.) Other than that all the other films are very solid to even fantastic. Stuff dated after Tales from Earthsea that isn't Ponyo I am not too sure if they are good or not as I have not seen them.

Also you gotta watch early stuff and more so they are not labeled Studio Ghibli they are Hayao Miyazaki's directorship and a lot of people who went onto found Ghibli. So thats Lupin the third and Nausicaa Valley of the wind.

The odd ones people fail to mentioned are the simple yet delightful whisper of the heart, it is a film with zero magic or such, other than the magic of imagination of a young girl and how much summer holidays makes an impression on you as a child. Aswell as Only Yesterday, much the same yet done different a young woman reflects on her visit to her summers spent at the country farm of her other families and the fun she had at the same time she takes her own summer holiday from business life of the city to recapture her lust for life by visiting the same family farm and working hard in the summer heat.

Here is a guide on expanding beyond just what ends up at the oscars.

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Aswell as the wonderful Joe Hisaishi has scored almost every Ghibli film yo great praise.

While this is not tune he used for Ghibli he did write it for the Takeshi Kitano Film about a young boy traveling with a Yakuza member to meet his mother across japan on his summer holiday...... here is the song summer from Kikujiro...OK YOU CAUGHT ME I HAVE A THING FOR SUMMER!

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#30 Edited by Sergio (3625 posts) -

@bisonhero: Also read in another article, don't know where, that the inclusion of the live action part hurt it.

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#31 Edited by hassun (10030 posts) -

@akyho: As much as I hate list articles or videos, I'm actually curious about this one. How the fuck did someone manage to make a Top 10 list of underrated Studio Ghibli films when the total number of Studio Ghibli films is around 20!?

THAT'S 50% OF THEIR ENTIRE CATALOGUE

And if you want some Joe Hisaishi:

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(Watch the video on YouTube, the description has all the song names + starting times.)

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#32 Edited by ArtisanBreads (9107 posts) -

Porco Rosso is the most underrated film by Studio Ghibili. I love it. Really fun, great characters, awesome animation, good message.

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#33 Posted by gnomeonfire (1124 posts) -

Spirited Away

The Wind Rises

Princess Mononoke

Porco Rosso

Ponyo

Hell, just watch all of them, there isn't really a mediocre one in the bunch.

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#34 Posted by Ezekiel (2257 posts) -

Totoro is the best one. It's also one of the earliest.

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#35 Posted by BabyChooChoo (7093 posts) -

I opened this thread praying someone had already warned you to stay away from from Earthsea. I am most pleased. No one should watch that movie unless you just have an unwavering need to know and don't mind suffering along the way.

Also, Kiki's Delivery Service is the greatest. Just sayin...

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#36 Posted by StarvingGamer (11518 posts) -

Whisper of the Heart is the rightest answer.

Also all of them.

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#37 Posted by Raven10 (2286 posts) -

First off, Tales of Earthsea can be skipped entirely. It sucks.

Of Isao Takahata's films I would say that only Grave of the Fireflies is a good starting point for someone not familiar with Japanese culture. Both Pom Poko and his new film which I'm not even going to try and spell are based on Japanese folklore and thus can be difficult for Westerners to grasp as things that any child over three in Japan will know, most Americans or Europeans have no clue about. My Neighbors the Yamadas is even more difficult for an American to watch. It's based on a comic strip about family life in Japan and not a single joke or sequence hit the mark for me. The film isn't bad, it's just lampooning cultural norms that are not our cultural norms and therefore means nothing to a Westerner. I enjoyed Only Yesterday but if you live in the US you are going to have to pirate or import the film as it has never been released in the US as it contains nudity and the distribution rights are owned by Disney.

I would recommend every single Miyazaki movie. I love Nausicaa (not technically a Ghibli film but an absolute masterpiece) the most but every single one is great. Ponyo is a children's film that I enjoyed a hell of a lot but your mileage may vary. Other than that I would say that Porco Rosso is Miyazaki's most unique film. It's the only one that doesn't revolve around a either a girl or a couple. It also is the most violent and has the least thematic similarities to his other films. Still worth seeing but not emblematic of a Miyazaki film.

Then you have the five films by other directors. Whisper of the Heart is a lovely little romance with a great tinge of mystery. It was written and produced by Miyazaki but directed by another man who died shortly after the film was made. The Cat Returns is often considered a lesser film than Ghibli's other work but I really love it. It takes place in a fantasy realm and involves a talking cat and a girl going on an adventure. Arrietty is an adaptation of the British book The Borrowers, about a family of finger sized people living beneath the house of a normal sized family. It is one of the most beautiful films you will ever see. From Up on Poppy Hill is something of a soap opera that takes place at a High School where some students are trying to save their clubhouse from demolition. Unlike most of Ghibli's films there are no fantasy elements to that one. It's just a teen romance. Lastly, Marnie and Me is Ghibli's latest film but it has yet to be released outside of Japan so I can't tell you anything about it.

I would recommend starting with one of Miyazaki's films, though maybe stay away from Ponyo and Totoro is you prefer more mature fare. Both are incredible films but are definitely targeted at children. Also Miyazaki's last film The Wind Rises is his only non-fantasy film so depending on if you prefer fantasy or drama you might want to either start with that or steer clear.

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#38 Edited by ASilentProtagonist (738 posts) -
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#39 Posted by Teddie (2157 posts) -

I tend to like the Ghilbi films that are just kind of "life", so Whisper of the Heart is way up there for me. Only one person mentioned Castle in the Sky so I'm obligated to recommend the shit out of that too.

I actually really dislike Grave of the Fireflies, just because the kids seem to exist purely as something to make you feel sad. There's also this weird theory about it being produced with the idea of making younger generation respect/feel bad for the struggles their parents/elders went through in war times. The whole thing just felt super manipulative to me, but it seems plenty of people in this thread love it, so more power to them and the film.

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#40 Edited by Dan_CiTi (5250 posts) -

@geralt said:

I suggest you go backward from these gentlemen's list. You shouldn't start with the show-stoppers.

Eh, starting with a movie like Porco Rosso is OK, but the pacing is so lax and all, some of these movies are great but could put some people off as not being as immediately engrossing.

also,

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#41 Edited by hassun (10030 posts) -

@raven10: Marnie has been released internationally. I saw it a few days ago. It's good. My only complaint is that the ending was a tad predictable.

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Also Tales of the Earthsea was also made by Miyazaki, just not that one. Heh. Poor Gorō.

P.S.

Calling Grave of the Fireflies "misery porn" or saying the children are just there as a construct to make people feel sad doesn't make a lot of sense since it's based on a semi-autobiographical novel of the same name. In my opinion it is one of the best anti-war films ever made.

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#42 Edited by reverendk (222 posts) -

@j_unit2008 said:

Where do you guys think I should start?

Start with the one where cyberpunk police officers with Galils shoot a bunch of cultists.

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Or I guess Castle of Cagliostro.

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Well this looks kind of familiar....

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There we go. Someone's been reading about point shooting.

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#43 Posted by Phili151 (329 posts) -

Totoro and Mononoke

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#44 Edited by NoLastName (131 posts) -

I started with Spirited Away and I haven't looked back since, it's a great movie.

I actually completely understand Lego movie not being nominated. The ending is great, if I had a top 5 movie moments of the year it'd probably be number one, but 70 minutes leading up to the big reveal is just a bunch of lame memes and references to other movies, it's more like fan-fiction than it's own original creation. Whereas Song of the Sea and Kaguya were great from beginning to end.

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#45 Posted by Raven10 (2286 posts) -

@hassun: My bad. Didn't realize it had hit some parts of Europe yet. In the US it always takes at least a year if not more after the Japanese release for it to hit here. GKIDS will have it at their big animated film festival in New York later this week actually and then it will likely be a couple more months before a theatrical release to like 10 theaters in the country and then another couple months before it hits DVD/Blu-Ray.

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#46 Posted by pumpkinheaddy (48 posts) -

Princess Mononoke.

Decision made!

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#47 Posted by tomobedlam (68 posts) -

The first one i saw was Porco Rosso and is an amazing movie, but you can´t really go wrong with any of the most popular ones, and then you can go with the rest

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#48 Posted by Sweep (10609 posts) -

@sergio said:

First, stay away from Tales from Earthsea. @frostyryan is wrong that there's not a bad one - that's the lone stinker of the bunch. With that in mind, start with any other Ghibli movie, the rest are great.

I read the book when I was a kid and I thought this movie was great, though I appreciate if you haven't read the book then you will have absolutely no idea what's happening.

Personally I'd avoid The Cat Returns unless you like animals wearing clothes, and girls turning into furries, and all that nonsense. The best of the bunch are Princess Mononoke and Spirited Away. And Grave Of The Fireflies, if you want to make yourself super depressed.

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#49 Edited by fattony12000 (8535 posts) -

Porco Rosso (1992) and The Wind Rises (2013), in that order, make for a great double bill around the theme of flight.

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Grave of the Fireflies (1988) and Pom Poko (1994), in that order, make for a great double bill around the theme of not being directed by Hayao Miyazaki.

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#50 Posted by Jeust (11739 posts) -

Howl's Moving Castle is my favourite from the ones I'm watched.

Also loved Princess Mononoke.