Studio Ghibli is an expansive world of imagination that anyone can get lost in. All 22 Studio Ghibli films offer a collection rich with fantastical folktales and fairy tales, cutesy classics, expansive epics, and charming coming-of-age films – there really is something for everyone in the Ghibli output. However, some of the movies tend to take the thunderous applause and get to be in the spotlight while others sit quietly in the back, waiting to be stumbled upon. Here’s a list of such movies.
Top 5 Underrated Studio Ghibli Movies That You Need to Watch
5. Tales from Earthsea
The Earthsea anime is a 2006 film adaptation by Studio Ghibli of the fantasy novel series of the same name by Ursula K. Le Guin. The film follows the story of Arren (Ged in the books), a young prince who has been cursed by a shadow creature. In order to break the curse, Arren must travel to the magical island of Roke and learn to control his own magic.
Along the way, Arren meets a variety of interesting characters, including the wizard Sparrowhawk, the young woman Tenar, and the witch Therru. Arren learns that he must confront his own darkness and accept his own shadow in order to become a true wizard.
4. Ocean Waves
Ocean Waves is a coming-of-age story by Studio Ghibli about two high school students, Taku Morisaki and Rikako Muto, who fall in love. The film is set in the coastal town of Kochi, Japan, and it follows Taku and Rikako as they navigate the challenges of their relationship, their friendships, and their upcoming graduation.
The film begins with Taku reminiscing about his time in high school, and in particular, his relationship with Rikako. Rikako was a new transfer student who quickly caught Taku’s attention. She was intelligent, athletic, and beautiful, but she was also aloof and mysterious. Taku and Rikako eventually became friends, but their relationship was complicated by Taku’s best friend, Yutaka Matsuno, who also had a crush on Rikako.
3. Only Yesterday
Only Yesterday is a Studi Ghibli story about a 27-year-old woman named Taeko Okajima who travels to the countryside to help with the safflower harvest. The film follows Taeko as she reminisces about her childhood and the choices she has made in her life. Taeko is a single office worker who lives in Tokyo. She is a bit lost in life and unsure of what she wants to do with her future. She decides to take a break from her job and travel to the countryside to help her brother-in-law’s family with the safflower harvest.
As Taeko works in the fields, she begins to remember her childhood. She recalls her first crush, her struggles with math, and her relationship with her older sisters. She also thinks about the choices she has made in her life and the regrets she has.
2. Pom Poko
Pom Poko is a 1994 Japanese animated fantasy comedy film directed by Isao Takahata and produced by Studio Ghibli. The film follows the story of a group of tanuki (Japanese raccoon dogs) who live in the Tama Hills on the outskirts of Tokyo. As the city expands, the tanuki’s habitat is destroyed, and they must use their magical powers to defend their home.
The film begins in the late 1960s when the Tama Hills is still a rural area. The tanuki lives in harmony with nature, using their magic to shapeshift and play pranks on humans. However, as the city expands, the tanuki’s habitat is destroyed and they are forced to retreat to the remaining forest.
1. When Marnie was there
This Studio Ghibli movie is about a 12-year-old girl named Anna Sasaki who travels to the countryside for health reasons and befriends a mysterious girl named Marnie. Anna is a shy and introverted girl who feels like she doesn’t belong anywhere. She is sent to stay with her relatives in a rural seaside town for the summer in the hopes that the fresh air will improve her health.
Anna quickly becomes drawn to an abandoned mansion on the nearby marsh. One day, while exploring the mansion, she meets Marnie. Anna and Marnie quickly become friends, and they spend their days together swimming in the marsh, exploring the countryside, and talking about their dreams.