How to Watch Studio Ghibli anime? Easy Watch Order Guide

Story-telling is a beautiful art. It fills your heart with a mixture of uncountable emotions.

The best stories are those that completely immerse you in their worlds. Once your journey is over, the stories turn into beautiful memories.

Studio Ghibli is a master of story-telling. Created by famed directors Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata, the films are best known for their ambivalent and alluring nature.

“Anime may depict fictional worlds, but I nonetheless believe that at its core it must have certain realism.

Even if the world depicted is a lie, the trick is to make it seem as real as possible.

Stated another way, the animator must fabricate a lie that seems so real, viewers will think the world depicted might possibly exist.” 

-Hayao Miyazaki, Starting point 

There is a substantial amount of realism in all the movies, no matter what their setting is.

This makes the world in the stories adjacent and reminiscent of our own but not necessarily identical. 

The exuberantly detailed backgrounds make every scene dynamic even though there is no apparent movement.

The lavish sounds provide a certain texture to each frame.

Every single aspect of these movies is so well planned out and perfectly executed that it makes the world around us so much more exciting and makes our own imagination reach new heights. 

If you haven’t watched the Ghibli films, you’re missing out on so much! Continue reading for the ultimate guide to Studio Ghibli films! 

AMV - Tribute to Hayao Miyazaki - Bestamvsofalltime Anime MV ♫
AMV-Tribute to Hayao Miyazaki

1. Release Order 

Title Year
Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind1984
Castle in the Sky1986
Grave of the Fireflies1988
My Neighbor Totoro1988
Kiki’s Delivery Service1989
Only Yesterday1991
Porco Rosso1992
Pom Poko1994
Whisper of the Heart1995
Princess Mononoke1997
My Neighbors the Yamadas1999
Spirited Away2001
The Cat Returns2002
Howl’s Moving Castle2004
Tales from Earthsea2006
From Up on Poppy Hill2011
The Wind Rises2013
The Tale of the Princess Kaguya2013
When Marnie Was There2014
How Do You Live?Upcoming

2. Where To Watch?

Ghibli movies are available on online streaming services. 

3. Which Ones To Watch First?

If you haven’t watched any of the Ghibli movies, it is highly recommended to watch the ones directed by Miyazaki himself! 

Spirited Away is the best way to begin your journey into the wonderfully whimsical world of Ghibli.

After this first stepping stone, try to explore different genres by the legendary director or dive into the films having themes that elevate your intrigue. 

I. List Of Miyazaki Films (Recommended Order)

  • Spirited Away
  • Howl’s Moving Castle 
  • Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind
  • The Wind Rises
  • My Neighbor Totoro 
  • Princess Mononoke 
  • Porco Rosso
  • Kiki’s Delivery Service
  • Castle in the Sky
  • Ponyo

II. List Of All Ghibli Films Based On Themes

This list is not sorted into mainstream genres (fantasy, action, etc.). They are classified on the basics of recurring themes present in the films. 

III. Magical Realism

  • Spirited Away
  • The Tale of the Princess Kaguya
  • Grave of the Fireflies
  • My Neighbor Totoro
  • Howl’s Moving Castle
  • The Wind Rises
  • When Marnie Was There
  • Porco Rosso
  • The Cat Returns

IV. Environmentalism

  • Princess Mononoke
  • Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind
  • Ponyo
  • Castle in the Sky
  • Pom Poko
  • Tales from Earthsea

V. Coming-Of-Age 

  • Kiki’s Delivery Service
  • Only Yesterday
  • Whisper of the Heart
  • My Neighbors the Yamadas
  • Arrietty
  • From Up on Poppy Hill

Note: Many movies have several other themes, but these are the most prevalent ones! 

4. My Neighbor Totoro and Grave Of The Fireflies

My Neighbor, Totoro, and Grave of the fireflies were two feature films released by Ghibli on the same day.

Both movies have many similarities and present similar themes in different tones, from the names of the characters to the underlying issues of loss, death, and escapism.

Many viewers speculate that the two movies were released alongside each other to show different sides of the same coin. 

5. Top 5 Ghibli Movies 

V. Princess Mononoke

Princess Mononoke is a movie about how greed could lead to the destruction of mankind. 

When humans ruthlessly overuse the resources provided to them by mother nature.

When they start murdering innocent animals for their own gain, a supernatural war between humans and natural forces begins.

What starts as a wormy demonic possession soon turns into a bloody battle where nature strives to bring humanity back to ground zero.

The only bridge between nature and humans is Princess Mononoke, a young girl raised in the woods. 

Princess Mononoke - Official Trailer
Princess Mononoke Trailer

Watch Princess Mononoke on: 

IV. My Neighbor Totoro

When two sisters, Satsuki and Mei, move to the countryside with their father, they meet strange but sweet forest spirits, one of them named Totoro.

The three quickly become friends and share pleasant adventures in the nearby forest.

However, things take an abrupt turn when the younger sister, Mei, runs away from her home to visit her ill mother at a hospital in a nearby town.

Satsuki, with the help of Totoro, goes on a bizarre journey to find Mei.

My Neighbor Totoro - Official Trailer
My Neighbor Totoro Trailer

Watch My Neighbor Totoro on: 

III. The Tale of the Princess Kaguya

Princess Kaguya is based on famous Japanese folklore, Kaguya Hime.

The animation is quite different from the popular Ghibli films but is soothing and beautiful in its own way

The story is about a beautiful maiden from the moon born on earth to experience a new life.

Her charm and smartness make her extremely attractive. However, she soon finds herself among the possessive city men and misses the freedom she had in the small village.

One fateful day, the emperor himself takes an interest in Kaguya, but that is when her heart cries out to the moon, her real home.

The Tale Of The Princess Kaguya - Official Trailer
The Tale of the Princess Kaguya Trailer

Watch The Tale of the Princess Kaguya on: 

II. Grave of the Fireflies

Grave of the fireflies is set in Japan after world war II.

It is the story of two siblings, Seita and Setsuko, and their efforts to survive in a cruel and starved world that took their lives away at a young age.

Despite knowing the outcome of their efforts, the grave of the fireflies takes the viewers on a heartbreaking journey of the two children.

One minute it’s giving us tiny moments of joy and snatching them away in an instant. 

The film is one of the most beautiful bittersweet and tearful experiences that is sure to leave you speechless. 

Grave of the Fireflies - Official Trailer
Grave of the Fireflies Trailer

Watch Grave of the Fireflies on: 

I. Spirited Away

Spirited Away is undoubtedly the best Studio Ghibli film to be ever made. 

The story begins with Chihiro, a 10-year-old girl, fussing about having to move to a new home with her parents and leaving her old school and friends behind.

The family decides to take a short cut and stray away from their original path and stumble upon a seemingly old and abandoned amusement park.  

Chihiro’s parents are turned into pigs for their greed and are abducted by a witch, Yubaba.

With the help of her mysterious ally, Haku, Chihiro manages to find a way to save her parents by working under the Witch that leads her to uncover many secrets of the mysterious world. 

Spirited Away - Official Trailer
Spirited Away Trailer

Watch Spirited Away on: 


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