Anime

7 Studio Ghibli movies you need to watch on Netflix

by Brent Koepp

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With the recent announcement that Netflix will be adding Studio Ghibli’s filmography to its service outside of North America, here are seven movies you need to watch on the streaming platform.

Studio Ghibli is one of the most influential animation companies in the world, spanning over 34 years of popular films such as the 2001 Oscar winning Spirited Away, and the classic 1988 children's story My Neighbor Totoro.

Founded in 1985 after renowned director Hayao Miyazaki found success with his second full length feature film Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, the talented Japanese studio has delighted viewers for decades. These are the seven movies you definitely won't want to miss.

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Porco Rosso (1992)

Porco Rosso drinking wine
Studio Ghibli
The 1992 film sees Miyazaki taking on sea plane pirates.

Perhaps Miyazaki's most underrated film, Porco Rosso sees the animation company tackling the romantic era of sea-plane pirates and bounty hunters clashing over the Adriatic Sea.

The legendary director has never been shy of his obsession with flying, and this film feels like the ultimate homage to the craft, as it centers around an Italian World War I vet-turned-pilot for hire.

While it may be hard to believe that the story is one of the studio's most grounded given the protagonist is a pig, the film is an incredible adventure in a setting that isn't used very often, and even has some deeper themes about the guilt of war.

Available starting February 1, 2020.

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Princess Mononoke (1997)

Princess Mononoke's San riding a wolf
Studio Ghibli
Princess Mononoke is brutal story about the destruction of the environment.

Without a doubt one of the most influential animations of all time, the 1997 film is Miyzaki's most mature story in his filmography, and unflinching in its brutality – something that isn't suited for children without supervision.

However, Princess Mononoke's story about environmentalism, and the destruction that humans can bring to nature and those that inhabit it is as riveting today as it was over twenty years ago.

The pivotal movie centers on Prince Ashitaka, whose arm gets infected by a demon after a wandering animal that has been corrupted enters his small village. On his quest to discover what cursed him, he stumbles upon an epic battle between nature and humans.

Available starting March 1, 2020.

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Spirited Away (2001)

Chihiro and No Face on the bus
Studio Ghibli
The Oscar-winning film is the highest grossing movie in Japan.

Spirited Away is not only one of Ghibli's most renowned works, but also its most successful. The animation is still the top grossing film of all time in Japan, and even won an Oscar for best animated feature.

The enchanting story is about a 10 year old girl named Chihiro who's anxious about moving to a new city. She is then thrust into the land of the spirits, and has to work in a bathhouse to get her parents back and return to her world.

Colorful and full of life, the beloved animation tells an incredible story of a girl having to find courage, and overcome the things that she is afraid of, which is something we can all relate to.

Available starting March 1, 2020.

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Kiki's Delivery Service (1989)

Kiki and Jiji flying on her broomstick
Studio Ghibli
The 1989 film follows the teenage witch as she moves to a new city.

Continuing the themes of adolescence, Kiki's Delivery Service is about a teenage witch who sets out to live on her own for a year – a tradition for magic users when they hit 13.

Miyazaki's film is an adaption of the 1985 book by Eiko Kadono, and follows Kiki as she flies on her broom to a new city, where she opens up her own delivery service using her magical abilities.

While the film is cute and a joyous adventure, it also tackles the themes of when youth leads to adulthood and the pains of discovering who you want to be and finding a place in the world – an example of how Ghibli trusts their younger viewers with more mature plot points.

Available starting February 1, 2020.

My Neighbor Totoro (1988)

Totoro sitting on a tree branch
Studio Ghibli
My Neighbor Totoro was a landmark children's animation film.

Often cited as one of the most important animated films of all time, My Neighbor Totoro was a landmark creation for the studio, and set the standard for children's films for decades.

The story is about two children named Satsuki and Mei who have moved into a new house, and discover an enchanted creature named Totoro in the woods behind where they live.

Just like other Ghibli films, the wonderful journey has more serious themes, and the movie is about how children grapple with tough events in life, such as a parent being sick. The animation helped put the Ghibli on the map, and the creature is even the official logo for the studio.

Available starting February 1, 2020.

Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (1984)

Studio Ghibli
Miyazaki's second feature length film jumpstarted Studio Ghibli with its success.

Unlike other Hayao Miyzaki-directed films, Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind was based off his own manga, which he had written in 1982 before adapting it himself to a movie two years later.

While the film technically was not created under Studio Ghibli's name as it was not founded yet, the movie's overwhelming success led the to talented Japanese artists securing funding for their iconic studio.

The seminal film echos similar themes of environmentalism that is found later in Princess Mononoke, but is also a cautionary tale of the consequences of war, as the film centers on a post-apocalyptic landscape where a toxic forest has grown, and spores are spreading.

Available starting March 1, 2020.

When Marnie Was There (2014)

Studio Ghibli
The Yonebayashi direct film, tackles emotional themes such as depression and loss.

Not every Ghibli-created film is directed by Miyazaki, as the legendary studio boasts a variety of some of the most talented animators of all time. When Marnie Was there was led by Secret World of Arrietty director Hiromasa Yonebayashi.

The 2014 story is one of the company's more mature works, and tackles depression, loss, and the pain someone feels when they have no connection to their family or their past.

Marnie is a gut-wrenchingly beautiful film, although be sure to bring some tissues as its story comes full circle – it's sure to bring the tears. Following 12-year old Anna Sasaki, the introverted teenager discovers her past while visiting her foster parents' relatives in this emotional tale.

Available starting April 1, 2020.