Can Pixar movies and Ghibli movies be put under the same category?

Studio Ghibli and Pixar movies

Animation and imagination go hand in hand to create countless possibilities for storytellers. Pixar movies and Ghibli movies brought these mere possibilities to life and spectacularly so. Over the years the works of Studio Ghibli and Pixar have garnered commercial and critical success and continue to do so. 

The name of Studio Ghibli has become synonymous with Hayao Miyazaki. Most Ghibli Movies are perceived as passion projects of the man himself. Similarly, John Lasseter’s name pops up alongside the mention of some Pixar movies. When it comes to Studio Ghibli, we can’t undermine the contribution of Isao Takahata either. After all, he is the man behind the phenomenal Studio Ghibli projects, The Tale of Princess Kaguya and Grave of the Fireflies.

Studio Ghibli's Princess Kaguya
Kaguya from Isao Takahata’s The Tale of Princess Kaguya | Image Courtesy via IMDb

From the heavy use of symbolism to creating fantasy worlds precious to kids and adults all the same, there are numerous similarities between Pixar movies and the creations of Studio Ghibli. With all these similarities can they be put under the same category? 

Pixar movies vs. Ghibli movies: An analysis based on animation and storytelling 


Pixar Movie Wall E
Wall E features realistic animation | Image Courtesy via IMDb
  • Pixar movies became the pioneer of 3D animation, incorporated with CGI. Whereas Ghibli movies treasure and continue to preserve the hand-drawn traditional 2D animation.
  • Pixar juggles between creative animation with movies like Coco and tries to incorporate realism in movies such as Ratatouille and Wall-E. Over time Pixar movies have evolved with advancements in digital animation. 

Studio Ghibli has consistently maintained its animation standards while balancing the traditional and the modern/computerized aspects. Creating a fantasy world with dreamy soundtracks (respectful bow to Joe Hisashi) and a comforting atmosphere is something common across all Ghibli movies. 


Characters from Pixar's movie UP
Russell and Carl from Disney Pixar’s UP | Image Courtesy via IMDb

Studio Ghibli optimizes the setting and the characters to spread out the narrative. It can be seen how crucial the settings can be in films like Ponyo or Princess Mononoke. The background and the environment are indispensable. They are as important as the main characters if not more. Pixar aced the art of catering to the audience. They had something different for all age groups. 

If we cite Toy Story as an example, a cool antagonist like Buzz Lightyear(foe turned friend) is enough to invoke excitement among young fans. While there are enough layers for the adults to have a sort of spiritual experience, the characters get lost and recenter their focus and priorities in life. 

Princess Mononoke by Studio Ghibli
Studio Ghibli’s Princess Mononoke | Image Courtesy via IMDb

While Studio Ghibli makes use of the setting and the environment, in Pixar Movies the characters are designed to resonate with people beyond the surface. The former is more abstract as opposed to the latter being more direct.  

Pixar movies are more inclusive as they try to maintain a light-hearted feel with their movies. Whereas Studio Ghibli tackles serious topics of war and the preservation of nature, making them more appealing to adults. 


Pixar movies vs. Ghibli Movies
A still from Pixar movie Coco | Image Courtesy via IMDb

To sum it up, the only common category Pixar Movies and Ghibli movies can be put under is for giving millions of us some of the best animated experiences of our lifetime. There are some common aspects, no doubt. Additionally, there have been instances where they took inspiration from one another as well.

But with different animation and storytelling, both studios have different approaches toward almost everything. Ghibli movies provide you with a more immersive experience as compared to the exploration delight that Pixar movies are. 

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