13 Great animes by Hayao Miyazaki

The giant robot photo in the Wordless Wednesday post yesterday was taken at the Ghibli Museum in Japan during our visit there last month. The robot is one of the characters in Hayao Miyazaki’s Laputa: A Castle in the sky (Japanese title: Tenkou no Laputa).

The very talented Mr. Miyazaki is known for creating world-class animes, most of which I can’t even categorize as anime or carton because it looks so real.

Here are 13 great animated movies created by the great Hayao Miyazaki:

1. Lupin the III: The Castle of Cagliostro – A story about a flamboyant thief and his gang who struggle to free a princess from an evil count and to learn the hidden secret of a fabulous treasure that she holds part of a key to.

Though this movie was released way back in 1979, it still finds its way to amuse audience of today. I love Lupin series and I think I might just let my daughter see this soon.

2. Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind– The movie has environmentalist undertones. The primary protagonist, Nausicaa, is a charismatic young princess of the peaceful Valley of the Wind.  She has an unusual gift for communicating with the giant insects, noted for her empathy towards animals.


The story takes place 1,000 years after the “Seven Days of Fire”, an event which destroyed human civilization and most of the Earth’s original ecosystem. Scattered human settlements survive, isolated from one another by the Sea of Decay. Nausicaä frequently explores the Sea of Decay and conducts scientific experiments in an attempt to define the true nature and origins of the toxic world in which she lives.

3. Laputa: Castle in the Sky– According to legend, humans were fascinated with the sky; therefore they created increasingly sophisticated ways of lifting aircraft from the ground. This eventually led to flying cities and fortresses. Over time, the cities came crashing back to the ground, forcing the survivors to live on the ground as before. One city, Laputa, is said to remain in the sky, concealed within the swirling clouds of a violent thunderstorm. While most people consider it to be fictional, some believe the legend is true and have sought to find the ancient city.

~ Pazu and Sheeta, floating because of the magic of Sheeta’s enchanted blue necklace ~

The name Laputa comes from the name of the floating island in Jonathan Swift’s novel Gulliver’s Travels.

I think this was the first anime that I watched in Japanese audio. During that time, I could only understand 50% of what is being said by the characters but still, I enjoyed. Later on, I found myself buying the DVD and watching it over and over again until I understood it fully.

4. Grave of the Fireflies – Taking place toward the end of World War I in Japan, Grave of the Firefliesis the poignant tale of the relationship between two orphaned children, Seita  and his younger sister Setsuko. The children lose their mother in the firebombing of Kobe, and their father in service to the Imperial Japanese Navy, and as a result they are forced to try to survive amidst widespread famine and the callous indifference of their countrymen (some of whom are their own extended family members)

This is one of the most heartbreaking movies I have ever seen! If you decide to watch this, be sure to bring a box of tissue with you. If you don’t, don’t blame me for wetting the sleeves of your shirt with your tears. I cried when I first saw this when I was single, after I got married and had Pristine, I cried a whole lot more.

Correction: This anime is not written by Hayao Miyazaki but produced by his Ghibli Studio.

5. My Neighbor Totoro – The film follows the two young daughters of a professor and their interactions with friendly wood spirits in postwar rural Japan.

This is the first Ghibli anime that Pristine watched. My husband loved this anime when he was young so he was pretty nostalgic to watch it with his daughter for the first time.

6. Kiki’s Delivery Service– Kiki is a 13-year-old witch in-training, living in a small rural village where her mother is the resident herbalist. Kiki settles in the beautiful seaside city of Koriko, and, after initially finding it difficult to adjust to the city’s pace of life, starts a delivery service that takes advantage of her ability to fly.

The several life setbacks experience by Kiki shares lessons of vulnerability, independence, family values and love. The story light and amusing will surely warm the hearts of audience, old and new.

7. Only Yesterday
– The movie is set in the summer of 1982, and it tells the story of an office worker in her late twenties named Taeko who takes a ten-day leave from work to visit the countryside. Along the way, memories of her childhood come flashing back into her mind.

8. Porco Rosso– The story tells of one of the best capable bodyguards, a pig known as Porco Rosso. Once a human and an ace pilot during World War I, he now freelances his services to those in distress. The fascist regime that has taken over the Italian Air Force has grown tiresome of his exploits and places a bounty on his head. On top of that, a hotshot flyer from the United States arrives and not only wants to steal Porco Rosso’s glory, but also the woman he loves so dearly.

Since this anime contains mild bad language and bloodless violence, we have not let Pristine see it yet.

9. Princess Mononoke– It is a period drama set in the late Muromachi period of Japan, and centers on the struggle between the supernatural guardians of a forest and the humans who consume its resources, as seen by the outsider Ashitaka.

Mononoke became the highest grossing movie in Japan until Titanic took over the spot several months later. Overall, it is the third most popular anime next to Spirited Away and Howl’s Moving Castle, both also by Miyazaki.

10. Spirited Away– Chihiro is a 10-year-old who’s moving house. Her parents get lost, however, in a forest, outside of a tunnel. They decide to investigate, and end up at an enchanted theme park.

The film received many awards, including the second Oscar ever awarded for Best Animated Feature and the first anime film to win an Academy award.

Gorgeously animated and very beautifully told. I like the background music and the soundtrack. The first time I played the movie in our home, Pristine asked for it again and again. A hundred views later, she still loves to see the film from time to time.

11. The Cat Returns– Aoi Hiiragi’s manga about a schoolgirl’s adventures with a very unusual feline comes to the screen in this witty anime feature. Haru is a girl who one day saves the life of a cat while on her way to school. To her surprise, Haru learns she came to the rescue of no ordinary cat — the kitty introduces her to the Kingdom of the Cats, where the feline potentate attempts to arrange a marriage between her and his son. Brought into a world he never knew existed, Haru learns a few lessons about herself as he discovers more about the strange and magical secret world of the cats.

12. Howl’s Moving Castle – Sophie is an 18-year-old girl who toils in the hat shop opened years ago by her late father. Often harassed by local boys, one day Sophie is unexpectedly befriended by Howl, a strange but flamboyant wizard whose large home can travel under its own power. However, the Witch of the Waste is displeased with Sophie and Howl’s budding friendship, and turns the pretty young woman into an ugly and aged hag. Sophie takes shelter in Howl’s castle, and attempts to find a way to reverse the witch’s spell.

~ Howl’s castle on the move ~

~ Howl in bird form and Sophie ~

Inside the moving castle, there’s a four-way door which can instantly take visitors to other lands and dimensions by just turning the dial. We watched this in the movie house and Pristine was so amazed that she once asked me to have the magic dial installed in our main door.

13. Ponyo on the Cliff by the sea– This is a story about 5-year-old Sousuke and his sudden meeting with half-goldfish, half-human girl Ponyo by the shore of a quiet seaside town. The two meet after Ponyo has escaped from her mysterious father’s underwater tower in a dazzling intro scene where she rides on the back of a giant jellyfish. Ponyo immediately falls in love with Sousuke and decides she wants to become a human, a decision that ends up bringing unexpected consequences to the sleepy town.

This is the only film in this list that I haven’t seen. We’re looking forward to buy the DVD soon.

Have you seen any of these animes? Which is your favorite?


  1. as much as i love the movie (and i cried, too!), grave of the fireflies is not a hayato miyazaki film. just thought i’d point that out.

    i believe my neighbor totoro was released with it (in japan) as a double feature because they weren’t sure it would do well. harumph! totoro is my favorite miyazaki film!!

    illahees last blog post..buns buns buns



  2. In my early teens, roughly 1988-89, Hayao Miyazaki’s: Nausicaa was one of the first comics I started reading. I was completely consumed by the world that Nausicaa lived in. I could hardly believe it when I found out there was an animated film. My friend had seen it, and recorded it off HBO one day. I must have watched that 100 times within’ that first year of getting ahold of it. I had later found a cheap copy of it on VHS at Kmart. The cover had a bad unoriginal painting that depicted the movie completely wrong. But the large insects on the cover tipped me off, as well as the representation of Nausicaa’s glider. Otherwise the cover was hideous. I had almost forgotten about Miyazaki, when one day I had seen Princess Mononoke advertised in the theatres. Again I could hardly believe it, and i had to tell everyone that had any slight interest in Miyazaki, how I had been hooked on his art forever. And since then, I have tried to collect every little thing I can find that is Miyazaki’s. Anyway, it’s nice to see a little showcase of Miyazaki’s stuff. Thanks.



  3. I’ve seen Howl’s Moving Castle, Spirited Away, The Cat Returns, Princess Mononoke (I love the Kodama in that movie), Laputa: Castle in the Sky, Porco Rosso, Kiki’s Delivery Service and Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind. My favourites have to be Nausicaä, Mononoke and Howl. I LOVE MIYAZAKI MOVIES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s