Heartwarming Delights: Top 10 Hayao Miyazaki Films to Watch


Miyazaki's films have captured the hearts of audiences around the world. From the post-apocalyptic tale of Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (1984) to the epic fantasy of Princess Mononoke (1997) and the magical adventure of Spirited Away (2001), Miyazaki's films are a delightful blend of creativity and maturity. Discover the films that made anime popular and are a pleasant watch for viewers of all ages, with their heartwarming themes and captivating characters. Join us on a journey through Miyazaki's cinematic masterpieces

Comment your favourites. Bookmark to watch later and do share. Happy Surfing

1. Princess Mononoke (1997)

Blog Post

Director: Hayao Miyazaki
Cast: Yoji Matsuda, Yuriko Ishida, Yûko Tanaka
Genre: Adventure, Fantasy

My Take:

Princess Mononoke is a 1997 anime film directed by Hayao Miyazaki and produced by Studio Ghibli. Set in the 16th century, it tells the story of a young warrior named Ashitaka who becomes embroiled in a struggle between a village’s human inhabitants and the forest’s gods, led by the wolf goddess Moro and her adopted daughter San, also known as Princess Mononoke.

What exactly are you here for? …To see with eyes unclouded by hate.

The film explores the complex relationship between humans and animals and the devastating consequences of human greed and violence on the natural world. It has become a cult classic and is regarded as one of Miyazaki’s most significant works.

The animation in Princess Mononoke is nothing short of magnificent. The lush forests, vibrant wildlife, and detailed character designs all contribute to creating a fully realized and immersive world. The film also tackles weighty themes such as the consequences of industrialization, war, and the impact of humans on the environment.

Princess Mononoke was released in Japan in 1997 and was a commercial and critical success. It grossed over 19.3 billion yen (approximately US$159 million) in Japan, making it the year’s highest-grossing film. The film’s anti-war and pro-environmental themes resonated with audiences worldwide and helped establish Studio Ghibli as one of the leading animation studios in the world.

What makes Princess Mononoke stand out is its nuanced portrayal of its characters. The film’s titular character, San, is a fierce warrior raised by wolves and torn between her loyalty to the animals and her desire to protect her forest home. Similarly, Lady Okkoto, a giant boar, is initially portrayed as an antagonist but is later revealed to be a tragic figure fighting to protect her home from human destruction.

Princess Mononoke is a visually stunning and thematically rich film that explores the complex relationship between humans and animals. With its anti-war and pro-environmental message, it is a timeless classic that continues to resonate with audiences worldwide. Miyazaki’s attention to detail and commitment to creating fully realized and nuanced characters make this film a true masterpiece.

2. Spirited Away (2001)

Blog Post

Director: Hayao Miyazaki
Cast: Daveigh Chase, Suzanne Pleshette, Miyu Irino
Genre: Adventure, Family, Fantasy

My Take:

Spirited Away (2001) is a magical film that transports viewers to a mystical world filled with strange and wondrous creatures. It is a visual feast for the eyes, with breathtaking animation and a fantastical storyline that will leave you spellbound. Directed by Hayao Miyazaki and produced by Studio Ghibli, Spirited Away has become a beloved classic and is widely regarded as one of the greatest animated films ever.

“Once You’ve Met Someone You Never Really Forget Them.

The film follows the journey of a young girl named Chihiro, who stumbles upon a mysterious world inhabited by spirits and magical creatures. She is forced to work in a bathhouse for the spirits, and must navigate the challenges of this strange and dangerous place if she ever hopes to return to the human world.

Spirited Away is a coming-of-age story exploring personal growth, courage, and friendship themes. Chihiro is a relatable and endearing protagonist, and her journey through the spirit world is both exciting and emotionally resonant. Miyazaki’s masterful direction brings the world of Spirited Away to life, with each character and location feeling richly detailed and full of personality.

Spirited Away was the first anime film to win the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature and has helped to introduce Western audiences to the rich and diverse world of Japanese animation. The film has also been praised for its strong female protagonist and its themes of environmentalism and anti-consumerism.

Spirited Away is a timeless classic that is beloved by audiences of all ages. Its stunning animation, magical realism, and themes of personal growth make it a must-watch. Miyazaki effortlessly blends fantastical elements with real-world themes and issues, creating a unique and captivating world that feels otherworldly and grounded in reality. The result is a film that is both visually stunning and intellectually engaging.

3. Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind (1984)

Blog Post

Director: Hayao Miyazaki
Cast: Sumi Shimamoto, Mahito Tsujimura, Hisako Kyôda
Genre: Adventure, Sci-Fi

My Take:

Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (1984) is a sci-fi classic directed by the legendary Hayao Miyazaki. The film takes place in a post-apocalyptic world, where a deadly fungus has spread, making the planet uninhabitable. The few remaining humans live in a constant state of war, fighting over resources and struggling to survive.

The story follows the adventures of the young and brave Princess Nausicaä, who profoundly understands and strongly desires to protect the natural world. She is a remarkable female protagonist who challenges the genre’s conventions by demonstrating intelligence, bravery, and compassion.

Hayao Miyazaki’s visual style is spectacular, and Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind is no exception. The film features stunning landscapes, comprehensive character designs, and intricate animation. The use of colour is awe-inspiring, with the filmmakers employing over 260 colours throughout the film.

The film tackles the pressing environmental issue of pollution and the consequences of human actions on the natural world. The themes are thought-provoking and poignant, and the message is still relevant today. Hayao Miyazaki's ability to blend environmental themes with a compelling story, captivating visuals, and a strong female protagonist sets the film apart and solidifies its place as a timeless masterpiece.

4. Howl's Moving Castle (2004)

Blog Post

Director: Hayao Miyazaki
Cast: Chieko Baishô, Takuya Kimura, Tatsuya Gashûin
Genre: Adventure, Family, Fantasy

My Take:

Howl’s Moving Castle (2004) is a splendid masterpiece by Hayao Miyazaki, based on the novel by Diana Wynne Jones. The story follows Sophie, a young girl cursed by a witch, who turns her into an older woman. She then embarks on a journey to seek help from the wizard Howl, who resides in a moving castle. Along the way, she discovers inner beauty, the power of love, and the true nature of magic.

“After The War, They Won’t Recall They Ever Were Human.”

The film’s theme of inner beauty is woven throughout the story, with Sophie discovering that her true self lies not in her outward appearance but in her kindness and compassion. This message resonates with audiences of all ages and is particularly important for young viewers struggling with self-esteem issues.

The relationship between Sophie and Howl is one of the film’s highlights. Their dynamic is charming, with their banter and bickering leading to a deeper understanding and connection. The supporting characters, such as the fire demon Calcifer and the witch of the waste, add depth and humour to the story.

The film also explores the theme of witchcraft and its place in society, portraying witches as misunderstood and persecuted individuals. This is a recurring theme in Miyazaki’s work, as he often delves into societal issues and shows complex characters that challenge stereotypes.

Miyazaki’s animation skills are on full display with the intricate details of the moving castle, the beautiful landscapes, and the fantastical creatures that populate the world. And Sophie’s self-discovery and relationship with Howl are beautiful, and their magical journey enchants and inspires viewers.

5. My Neighbor Totoro (1988)

Blog Post

Director: Hayao Miyazaki
Cast: Hitoshi Takagi, Noriko Hidaka, Chika Sakamoto
Genre: Family, Fantasy

My Take:

My Neighbor Totoro is a pleasing and whimsical film beloved by audiences of all ages. The movie takes place in a rural setting, where two sisters move to a new house in the countryside with their father. The girls soon discover their new home is inhabited by magical creatures, including Totoro, a forest spirit. The sisters develop a deep bond with Totoro and his friends as they explore the forest and encounter other supernatural beings.

The film beautifully depicts the bond between siblings and the importance of family, even in the face of adversity. The movie also touches on themes of childhood innocence, imagination, and the wonder of nature.

Interestingly, the film’s director, Hayao Miyazaki, based the story on his experiences growing up in the countryside. He wanted to capture the magic of his own childhood memories and create a film that would resonate with audiences of all ages.

My Neighbor Totoro has become a cultural icon in Japan and around the world, inspiring merchandise, video games, and even a theme park ride. The film has been praised for its gentle nature, inspiring imagination and creativity in children and adults alike.

My Neighbor Totoro is a delightful and heartening film that captures the essence of childhood wonder and the importance of family and does so with stunning animation and a charming cast of characters. It’s no wonder that Totoro has become a beloved symbol of childhood innocence and imagination.

6. Castle in the Sky (1986)

Blog Post

Director: Hayao Miyazaki
Cast: Mayumi Tanaka, Keiko Yokozawa, Kotoe Hatsui
Genre: Anime, Adventure, Fantasy, Sci-Fi

My Take:

Castle in the Sky (1986) is a classic animated adventure film that captures the imagination and takes the audience on an epic journey to a lost civilization. Directed by the legendary Hayao Miyazaki, this film showcases the incredible creativity and imagination that has made him one of the most beloved animators ever.

The earth speaks to all of us, and if we listen, we can understand.

The story follows a young girl named Sheeta, who possesses a magical stone that has the power to reveal the location of the lost city of Laputa. She is pursued by a government agent and a band of pirates who seek to gain control of the stone and its power. Along the way, Sheeta meets a young boy named Pazu, and the two embark on an epic adventure that takes them on a railway chase through ancient ruins and into the skies.

Under Hayao Miyazaki's direction, the film transports audiences on a captivating journey to a lost civilization, where the industrial revolution meets ancient wonders. Through its timeless charm and powerful storytelling, Castle in the Sky enchants viewers, imparting the invaluable lesson of listening to the earth and appreciating the beauty that surrounds us. As an animated classic, it holds a treasured place in the hearts of fans, inspiring generations to embrace nature's magic and the boundless potential of the human spirit.

7. Kiki's Delivery Service (1989)

Blog Post

Director: Hayao Miyazaki
Cast: Minami Takayama, Rei Sakuma, Kappei Yamaguchi
Genre: Adventure, Drama

My Take:

Kiki’s Delivery Service is a delightful coming-of-age film from Studio Ghibli. The movie follows a young witch named Kiki who sets up a courier service in a charming seaside town. She is accompanied by her loyal talking cat, Jiji, who adds humour and wit to the story. The film explores themes of independence, self-discovery, and friendship in a whimsical and heartwarming manner.

It’s not really important what color your dress is. What matters is the heart inside.

Kiki’s Delivery Service is a charming and delightful movie that will leave you with a warm and fuzzy feeling. Its slow pace and light-on-conflict plot make it a relaxing watch, perfect for a cosy movie night

8. The Wind Rises (2013)

Blog Post

Director: Hayao Miyazaki

Cast: Hideaki Anno, Hidetoshi Nishijima, Miori Takimoto

Genre: Biography, Drama

My Take:

"The Wind Rises" is a visually stunning masterpiece directed by the renowned Hayao Miyazaki, known for his breathtaking animation and captivating storytelling. This film tells the story of Jiro Horikoshi, an aeronautics engineer in Japan during World War II, based on a true story. Jiro's passion for aviation and the unwavering pursuit of his dreams form the film's heart despite the challenges he faces.

Airplanes are beautiful dreams, engineers turn dreams into reality.

The film also delves into deeper themes, exploring the moral ambiguity of Jiro's work as an engineer during war. Jiro's creations, including the famous Zero fighter plane, are portrayed as both marvels of human ingenuity and tools of destruction. This dichotomy raises thought-provoking questions about the ethical implications of scientific and technological advancements in times of war.

"The Wind Rises" also incorporates elements of biomimicry, a concept where engineers and designers look to nature for inspiration in solving human problems. Jiro's fascination with birds and his belief in the power of flight as a source of inspiration for innovation are central to the film's narrative. This unique approach adds depth and complexity to the story, elevating it beyond a simple biographical account.

In addition to its thought-provoking themes and stunning animation, "The Wind Rises" is also a film that values time, silence, and stillness. Miyazaki's masterful use of pacing and pauses allows for moments of quiet introspection, creating a sense of contemplation and reflection. This distinguishes the film from many modern productions that prioritize action and fast-paced storytelling.

"The Wind Rises" is a visually captivating and thematically rich film that showcases Hayao Miyazaki's masterful storytelling and animation skills. It is a poignant exploration of an engineer's passion, the beauty of flight, and the moral complexities of war. While it may not be as fantastical as some of Miyazaki's other works, it is his most adult and thought-provoking film.

9. Ponyo (2008)

Blog Post

Director: Hayao Miyazaki

Cast: Cate Blanchett, Matt Damon, Liam Neeson

Genre: Adventure, Comedy

My Take:

"Ponyo" is a whimsical and enchanting film. As one of Miyazaki's most kid-accessible movies, it is a delightful tale that will capture the hearts of audiences, young and old.

The film centers around the adventures of Ponyo, a young mermaid who yearns to become human. When she escapes from her underwater home, she befriends a young boy named Sosuke and embarks on a journey to fulfill her dreams. The story is filled with imaginative and fantastical elements, from talking fish and magical powers to an underwater world brimming with colorful creatures.

The film also touches on deeper themes, such as the power of love and the importance of preserving the natural world. The bond between Ponyo and Sosuke is heartwarming, and their unwavering belief in each other and their dreams is a testament to the power of friendship and determination. Additionally, the film raises awareness about environmental issues, as Ponyo's magical powers are linked to the balance of the ocean and the consequences of human actions on the natural world.

"Ponyo" is a captivating and heartwarming film. It is a film that can be enjoyed by audiences of all ages, with its blend of imagination, adventure, and themes of love and environmental consciousness. Miyazaki's ability to balance light-hearted moments with more serious themes is a testament to his skill as a storyteller.


Add a comment