The Essential Studio Ghibli Movies Every Anime Fan Should See

Over the last four decades, Studio Ghibli has managed to deliver some of the highest-praised, most entertaining animated films in recent memory, winning top prizes from numerous countries across the world and establishing a far-reaching community of die-hard fans. 

With autumn well underway—a time to admire nature and the bright colors of the harvest one final time before winter—we thought we'd take a look back at some of Studio Ghibli movies that every lover of anime should see at least once in their lifetime. 

Princess Mononoke

Miyazaki uses the film to explore the environmental concerns he fervently advocates for, incorporating elements of spiritualism, naturalism, and fantasy into his one-of-a-kind historical epic. 

Pom Poko

Framed from a more nature-centric point of view, Pom Poko follows a group of magical, shapeshifting Japanese raccoon dogs (or tanuki) living underground whose existence is threatened by encroaching humans' land development. 

Howl's Moving Castle

Made in response to the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, the film explores numerous anti-war themes, with Miyazaki designing it to be as pacifistic as possible, the director saying, “I wanted to convey the message that life is worth living.” 

Porco Rosso

Despite that heavy-sounding plot, Porco Rosso makes for a light-hearted action film, lacking any overwhelming depiction of the rise of a fascist state or brutal depiction of war that you might find in Howl’s Moving Castle or Grave of the Fireflies. 

My Neighbor Totoro

The film that features the most recognizable character in any Studio Ghibli film, the eponymous Totoro of My Neighbor Totoro can alongside Bugs Bunny or Mickey Mouse within the annals of Japanese pop culture. 


Though Ponyo aims at a younger audience demographic, the film features dozens of recurring Studio Ghibli themes, including pro-environmental messages and the idea of finding one's place in the world. 

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