Hayao Miyazaki is an incredible and magical filmmaker who’s brought many amazing films to screens all over the world.

In this article, we list what we believe to be the best Hayao Miyazaki movies.

Miyazaki has produced screen magic with My Neighbour Totoro, Howl’s Moving Castle, and Spirited Away, among many others.

His cinematic canon is wide and deep and we believe this list demonstrates that.

So whether you’re doing research on him, or ready to sit down and watch one of these movies tonight, this list of the top Hayao Miyazaki films will be just what you need!

It should be noted that we’ve included the films in rough ranking order.

But with a filmmaker like Hayao Miyazaki, the work is so good that it’s really hard to form an exact order.

So, without further ado, let’s jump right in and list the best Hayao Miyazaki films!

The Best Hayao Miyazaki Movies

Let’s start off with an absolute cinema classic, My Neighbor Totoro.

My Neighbor Totoro (1988)

“My Neighbor Totoro” is a Japanese animated fantasy film directed by Hayao Miyazaki.

This heartwarming film tells the story of two sisters, Satsuki and Mei, who move to the countryside with their father to be closer to their mother, who is hospitalized.

In their new home, they encounter a forest spirit named Totoro, who helps the sisters on their journey to find their mother.

This film is a beautiful portrayal of childhood and the magic of nature, and is considered a masterpiece of Japanese animation.

Miyazaki’s unique style and attention to detail are evident in every frame, and the film is full of breathtaking landscapes and imaginative creatures.

The characters are well-written and relatable, and the relationship between the sisters is especially touching.

The film’s themes of family, friendship, and the importance of imagination and play are timeless, and will resonate with audiences of all ages.

The film’s music, composed by Joe Hisaishi, is a perfect complement to the film’s visuals and is an integral part of the overall experience.

“My Neighbor Totoro” is a must-see for fans of animation, and is considered a classic of the genre.

It’s a warm, comforting film that will bring a smile to your face and fill your heart with wonder. It’s a true gem, and a testament to Miyazaki’s mastery of the art of animation.

 

 

My Neighbor Totoro (English Language)
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Hitoshi Takagi, Noriko Hidaka (Actors)
  • Hayao Miyazaki (Director) - Hayao Miyazaki (Writer) - Toru Hara (Producer)
  • English (Playback Language)
  • English (Subtitle)

Spirited Away (2001)

“Spirited Away” is a Japanese animated fantasy film directed by Hayao Miyazaki.

The film tells the story of a young girl named Chihiro, who finds herself lost in a strange and mystical world where spirits and supernatural creatures roam free.

As she tries to find a way back home, Chihiro must navigate the challenges of this new world and make alliances with its inhabitants, including the mysterious and powerful Haku.

Visually stunning, “Spirited Away” is a feast for the eyes, with its imaginative and surreal landscapes, imaginative character designs, and mesmerizing animation.

The film’s themes of personal growth, bravery, and self-discovery are woven seamlessly into its fantastical story, making it an engaging and thought-provoking watch.

“Spirited Away” is a true masterpiece of animated filmmaking, capturing the imagination and wonder of childhood while also exploring deeper and more complex themes.

Whether you are a fan of animation or not, this film is a must-see for anyone who loves great storytelling and breathtaking visuals.

Its impact on the animated film industry and its continued popularity only serve to cement its place as one of the greatest animated films of all time.

 

 

Spirited Away (English Language)
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Daveigh Chase, Jason Marsden, David Ogden Stiers (Actors)
  • Hayao Miyazaki (Director) - Hayao Miyazaki (Writer) - Donald W. Ernst (Producer)
  • English (Playback Language)
  • English (Subtitle)

 

Best Hayao Miyazaki Movies

Who Is Hayao Miyazaki?

Hayao Miyazaki is a Japanese animator, director, and producer of many popular animated films.

His most famous work is arguably Spirited Away which was released in 2001 and won an Academy Award for Best Animated Feature. He has also directed other notable films such as My Neighbor Totoro (1988) and Princess Mononoke (1997).

Miyazaki studied animation at the University of Tokyo where he met Isao Takahata who would later become his colleague.

Together they founded Studio Ghibli in 1985 with funding from Nintendo president Hiroshi Yamauchi’s son-in-law, Yasuo Matsumoto. The studio went on to produce some of the most influential anime films ever made.

 

 

Princess Mononoke (1997)

“Princess Mononoke” is an animated film directed by Hayao Miyazaki and produced by Studio Ghibli.

The film is set in a fantastical world where humans and gods coexist, but are in a constant state of conflict due to the depletion of natural resources.

The story follows Ashitaka, a young prince who is cursed by a demon, as he travels to the west to find a cure.

Along the way, he meets Princess Mononoke, a young woman raised by wolves who is fighting to protect the forest and its inhabitants from the humans who seek to destroy it.

This film is a masterful blend of action, drama, and fantasy, with stunning animation that brings the world of “Princess Mononoke” to life.

The characters are complex and well-developed, and the themes of environmentalism and the relationship between humans and nature are explored in a poignant and thought-provoking way.

 

Princess Mononoke (English Language)
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Billy Crudup, Claire Danes, Billy Bob Thornton (Actors)
  • Hayao Miyazaki (Director) - Hayao Miyazaki (Writer) - Toshio Suzuki (Producer)
  • English (Playback Language)
  • English (Subtitle)

Best Hayao Miyazaki Movies

The Wind Rises (2013)

“The Wind Rises” is a mesmerizing and beautifully animated film directed by the renowned Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki.

The story is a fictionalized biography of Jiro Horikoshi, the designer of the Mitsubishi A6M Zero fighter plane, which was used by Japan during World War II.

The film follows Jiro’s journey as he dreams of designing the perfect airplane and the challenges he faces in achieving his goal.

Despite the socio-political context of the time, Jiro remains committed to his work and the pursuit of his passion.

The animation is simply breathtaking, with Miyazaki’s attention to detail and the rich visual aesthetics that characterize all of his work.

The film’s score is also top-notch, with a beautiful and haunting soundtrack that adds to the emotional depth of the story.

The film raises some interesting questions about the morality of war and the role of the artist in times of conflict.

Although the film does not shy away from the historical context of the time, it does not glorify war, but instead presents it as a devastating reality that has far-reaching consequences.

The Wind Rises (English Language)
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Emily Blunt, Mae Whitman (Actors)
  • Hayao Miyazaki (Director) - Naoya Fujimaki (Producer)
  • English (Playback Language)
  • English (Subtitle)

Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (1984)

“Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind” is a stunningly beautiful and epic animated film directed by Hayao Miyazaki.

The film is set in a post-apocalyptic world, where the remnants of humanity live in a small, isolated valley, surrounded by a toxic jungle filled with giant insects and other deadly creatures.

The story follows the adventures of Nausicaä, the young princess of the Valley of the Wind, who has a deep connection to the natural world and its creatures.

When a powerful nation invades her valley, Nausicaä embarks on a journey to save her people and understand the mysterious nature of the toxic jungle.

The animation in the film is breathtaking, with Miyazaki’s incredible attention to detail and rich visual aesthetics that have become a trademark of his work.

The characters are beautifully drawn and the landscapes are rendered with a sense of grandeur and wonder that is truly awe-inspiring.

The film also explores some powerful themes, such as the relationship between humans and the natural world, the dangers of technological progress, and the ethics of war and violence.

Nausicaä is a strong and compassionate character, whose empathy and understanding of the world around her offers a message of hope in the face of adversity.

 

 

Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind (English Language)
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Alison Lohman, Patrick Stewart, Shia LaBeouf (Actors)
  • Hayao Miyazaki (Director) - Hayao Miyazaki (Writer) - Rick Dempsey (Producer)
  • English (Playback Language)
  • English (Subtitle)

 

BEST HAYAO MIYAZAKI MOVIES

Hayao Miyazaki – Themes and Style

Hayao Miyazaki’s films are known for their strong messages, beautifully rendered worlds, and fantastical creatures that populate them.

Miyazaki’s style has been described as “a mix of Japanese folklore with European fairy tales”.

His favorite themes include environmentalism, pacifism, feminism, love between children or siblings (especially among a family), and life’s struggle to maintain balance.

Miyazaki has never been interested in making what he considers “children’s movies” like some other animators do; instead, he focuses on more mature themes that adults can enjoy too.

 

 

Howl’s Moving Castle (2004)

“Howl’s Moving Castle” is a magical and enchanting animated film directed by the legendary Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki.

The film is an adaptation of a novel by Diana Wynne Jones and tells the story of a young woman named Sophie, who is cursed by a wicked witch and transformed into an old woman.

Desperate to break the curse, Sophie seeks out the help of a powerful wizard named Howl, who lives in a mysterious moving castle that roams the countryside.

As Sophie becomes more involved in Howl’s life, she discovers that he too is facing a dangerous enemy, and she must find a way to help him while also trying to break her own curse.

The animation in the film is absolutely stunning, with breathtaking landscapes, intricate character designs, and a sense of whimsy and wonder that is characteristic of Miyazaki’s work.

The world of the film is richly detailed and layered, with a mix of magic and technology that creates a unique and captivating atmosphere.

The characters are also incredibly well-developed, with each one having their own distinct personality and backstory.

Sophie is a particularly strong and inspiring character, who learns to embrace her inner strength and break free from the limitations that society places on her.

The film explores themes such as the power of love and the consequences of war, all while keeping a lighthearted and entertaining tone that will captivate viewers of all ages.

 

Howl's Moving Castle (English Language)
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Christian Bale, Emily Mortimer, Jena Malone (Actors)
  • Hayao Miyazaki (Director) - Hayao Miyazaki (Writer) - Rick Dempsey (Producer)
  • English (Playback Language)
  • English (Subtitle)

The Castle of Cagliostro (1979)

“The Castle of Cagliostro” is a thrilling and action-packed animated film directed by the acclaimed Japanese director Hayao Miyazaki.

The film follows the adventures of master thief Arsene Lupin III, who travels to the small European country of Cagliostro to investigate a counterfeit money operation.

Once there, Lupin discovers that the operation is run by the country’s corrupt ruler, Count Cagliostro, who is planning to marry a young princess against her will in order to gain access to a hidden treasure. Lupin and his gang set out to rescue the princess and uncover the Count’s sinister plan.

The animation in the film is vibrant and colorful, with fast-paced action scenes and intricate character designs that bring the story to life.

The film has a sense of fun and adventure that is contagious, and the humor and lighthearted tone make it an enjoyable and engaging experience.

The characters are well-developed and have a sense of charm and charisma that make them instantly likable.

Lupin is a charismatic and clever thief who always manages to stay one step ahead of his enemies, while the princess is a strong and independent character who refuses to be a victim of circumstance.

The film is also notable for its impressive use of technology, including the use of cars and other gadgets that are ahead of their time.

This adds to the film’s sense of adventure and excitement, and it keeps the audience on the edge of their seat.

 

Lupin the 3rd: The Castle of Cagliostro (Subtitles)
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Yasuo Yamada, Eiko Masuyama, Kiyoshi Kobayashi (Actors)
  • Hayao Miyazaki (Director) - Hayao Miyazaki (Writer) - Tetsuo Katayama (Producer)
  • English (Playback Language)
  • English (Subtitle)

 

BEST HAYAO MIYAZAKI MOVIES

What Is Hayao Miyazaki Known For?

• He revitalized a dying anime film industry.

• He created an original style of anime that was both uncommonly fresh and strange, while still being full of joy and wonder.

• His animation is often stunning for the beauty and attention to detail in every frame.

• Each one his films has a strong moral lesson/theme.

• He created the highest grossing anime film.

 

 

Ponyo (2008)

“Ponyo” is a delightful and enchanting animated film directed by the acclaimed Japanese director Hayao Miyazaki.

The film tells the story of a young boy named Sosuke, who discovers a magical goldfish named Ponyo that he rescues from a jar.

Sosuke and Ponyo quickly develop a special bond, and she transforms into a human girl so that they can be together.

As Ponyo adapts to her new life on land, her father, a powerful wizard, tries to bring her back to the sea, causing a series of natural disasters.

Sosuke and Ponyo must work together to save their town and the world from destruction.

The animation in the film is breathtaking, with stunning visuals and a unique and imaginative world that is characteristic of Miyazaki’s work.

The film has a sense of whimsy and magic that is both captivating and inspiring, and it is sure to appeal to viewers of all ages.

The characters in the film are also incredibly well-developed, with Sosuke and Ponyo being particularly endearing and relatable.

Their friendship is heartwarming and inspiring, and it is a joy to watch them work together to save the world.

The film also explores themes such as the power of love and the importance of preserving the environment.

The message is delivered in a subtle and engaging way, making it accessible to viewers of all ages.

 

Ponyo (English Language)
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Noah Cyrus, Matt Damon, Liam Neeson (Actors)
  • Hayao Miyazaki (Director) - Hayao Miyazaki (Writer) - Steve Alpert (Producer)
  • English (Playback Language)
  • English (Subtitle)

Castle in the Sky (1986)

“Castle in the Sky” is a visually stunning and thrilling animated film directed by the acclaimed Japanese director Hayao Miyazaki.

The film tells the story of a young girl named Sheeta, who possesses a mysterious crystal that holds the key to a legendary floating city known as Laputa.

After being pursued by government agents and air pirates, Sheeta is rescued by a boy named Pazu, who dreams of finding Laputa and uncovering its secrets.

Together, they set out on a thrilling adventure filled with danger, mystery, and wonder.

The animation in the film is breathtaking, with beautifully detailed landscapes, stunning action scenes, and intricately designed machines that give the film a sense of wonder and excitement.

The world that Miyazaki creates is both imaginative and believable, and it is a joy to explore with the characters.

The characters in the film are also well-developed and relatable, with Sheeta and Pazu being particularly endearing.

Their friendship is heartwarming, and it is inspiring to see them work together to uncover the secrets of Laputa and defeat their enemies.

The film also explores themes such as the consequences of greed and the importance of preserving history and culture.

The message is delivered in a subtle and engaging way, making it accessible to viewers of all ages.

 

Castle in the Sky (English Language)
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • James Van Der Beek, Anna Paquin, Mark Hamill (Actors)
  • Hayao Miyazaki (Director) - Hayao Miyazaki (Writer) - Isao Takahata (Producer)
  • English (Playback Language)
  • English (Subtitle)

Kiki’s Delivery Service (1989)

“Kiki’s Delivery Service” is a heartwarming and charming animated film directed by the acclaimed Japanese director Hayao Miyazaki.

The film tells the story of a young witch named Kiki, who must leave home and find her place in the world by starting a delivery service on her broomstick.

As Kiki settles into her new town, she makes friends with a young boy named Tombo and a kind baker named Osono, who becomes her first customer.

However, as her popularity grows, Kiki starts to experience self-doubt and loses her ability to fly. She must find a way to regain her confidence and rediscover her magic.

The animation in the film is beautiful, with stunning visuals and a unique and imaginative world that is characteristic of Miyazaki’s work.

The film has a sense of whimsy and magic that is both captivating and inspiring, and it is sure to appeal to viewers of all ages.

The characters in the film are also incredibly well-developed, with Kiki being particularly endearing and relatable.

Her journey is one of self-discovery, and it is inspiring to watch her overcome her doubts and find her place in the world.

The film also explores themes such as the importance of friendship and the value of hard work.

The message is delivered in a subtle and engaging way, making it accessible to viewers of all ages.

 

Kiki's Delivery Service (English Language)
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Kirsten Dunst, Janeane Garofalo (Actors)
  • Hayao Miyazaki (Director) - Hayao Miyazaki (Writer) - Hayao Miyazaki (Producer)
  • English (Playback Language)
  • English (Subtitle)

Porco Rosso (1992)

“Porco Rosso” is a delightful and adventurous animated film directed by the acclaimed Japanese director Hayao Miyazaki.

The film follows the story of a former World War I fighter pilot, Porco Rosso, who now makes a living as a freelance bounty hunter in the Adriatic Sea.

As Porco Rosso battles air pirates and other villains, he meets a talented and headstrong young mechanic named Fio, who helps him repair his beloved red seaplane.

Together, they set out on a thrilling adventure that takes them across the skies and seas of the Adriatic.

The animation in the film is beautiful, with stunning landscapes and intricate details that bring the world of Porco Rosso to life.

The characters are also well-developed, with Porco Rosso being a particularly fascinating and complex protagonist.

His journey is one of self-discovery and redemption, and it is inspiring to watch him confront his past and become a hero once again.

The film also explores themes such as the consequences of war, the importance of friendship and loyalty, and the value of standing up for what is right.

The message is delivered in a subtle and engaging way, making it accessible to viewers of all ages.

Porco Rosso (English Language)
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Michael Keaton, Cary Elwes, Susan Egan (Actors)
  • Hayao Miyazaki (Director) - Hayao Miyazaki (Writer) - Rick Dempsey (Producer)
  • English (Playback Language)
  • English (Subtitle)

The Best Hayao Miyazaki Movies – Wrapping Up

So there you have it. The top Hayao Miyazaki films. As you can see, he’s been responsible for some classics of cinema history and it’s clear to see why he’s considered one of the all-time greats.

If you’re sitting down to watch one of these tonight, we envy you. You’re in for a real treat!

We hope this list of the best Hayao Miyazaki movies has been helpful. Did we miss your favorite? Let us know in the comments section.
 

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