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)

“One of the most beloved of all family films” – Roger Ebert From the legendary Studio Ghibli, creators of Spirited Away and Ponyo, and Academy Award-winning director Hayao Miyazaki comes a classic tale of magic and adventure for the whole family.

When Satsuki and her sister Mei move with their father to a new home in the countryside, they find country life is not as simple as it seems.

They soon discover that the house and nearby woods are full of strange and delightful creatures, including a gigantic but gentle forest spirit called Totoro, who can only be seen by children.

Totoro and his friends introduce the girls to a series of adventures, including a ride aboard the extraordinary Cat Bus, in this all-ages animated masterpiece featuring the voices of Tim Daly, Lea Salonga, and real-life sisters Dakota and Elle Fanning, in early roles.

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)

Winner of the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature, Hayao Miyazaki’s wondrous fantasy adventure is a dazzling masterpiece from one of the most celebrated filmmakers in the history of animation.

Chihiro’s family is moving to a new house, but when they stop on the way to explore an abandoned village, her parents undergo a mysterious transformation, and Chihiro is whisked into a world of fantastic spirits ruled over by the sorceress, Yubaba.

Put to work in a magical bathhouse for spirits and demons, Chihiro must use all her wits to survive in this strange new place, find a way to free her parents, and return to the normal world.

Overflowing with imaginative creatures and thrilling storytelling, Spirited Away became a worldwide smash hit and is one of the most critically-acclaimed 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)

“This intricate, epic fable is amazing to behold” – Janet Maslin, The New York Times From the legendary Studio Ghibli, creators of Spirited Away, and Academy Award-winning director Hayao Miyazaki, comes an epic masterpiece that has dazzled audiences worldwide with its breathtaking imagination, exhilarating battles, and deep humanity.

Inflicted with a deadly curse, the young warrior Ashitaka heads west in search of a cure.

There, he stumbles into a bitter conflict between Lady Eboshi, the proud people of Iron Town, and the enigmatic Princess Mononoke, a young girl raised by wolves, who will stop at nothing to prevent the humans from destroying her home and the forest spirits and animal gods who live there.

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)

The Wind Rises (2013)

From Academy Award(R)-winning filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki (Best Animated Feature, SPIRITED AWAY, 2002) comes a spellbinding movie beyond compare. Experience “perhaps the greatest animated film the cinema has ever seen” (David Ehrlich, Film.com) on Blu-ray.

Jiro dreams of flying and designing beautiful airplanes, inspired by the famous Italian aeronautical designer Caproni.

Nearsighted and unable to be a pilot, he becomes one of the world’s most accomplished airplane designers, experiencing key historical events in an epic tale of love, perseverance, and the challenges of living and making choices in a turbulent world.

Bring home the film that has dazzled fans and critics around the globe.

Bursting off the screen with spectacular picture and sound and featuring fascinating bonus material, Miyazaki’s final masterpiece, THE WIND RISES, is breathtaking on Blu-ray and DVD.

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)

Experience the film that launched the Academy Award-winning career of one of the most celebrated filmmakers in the history of animation, Hayao Miyazaki!

After a global war, the seaside kingdom known as the Valley of the Wind remains one of the last strongholds on Earth untouched by a poisonous jungle and the powerful insects that guard it.

Led by the courageous Princess Nausicaä, the people of the Valley engage in an epic struggle to restore the bond between humanity and Earth.

Like Hayao Miyazaki’s Spirited Away and Ponyo, Nausicaä Of The Valley Of The Wind will dazzle your senses with its intricately imagined storytelling and stunning animation!

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)



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)

“An animated tour-de-force” – A.O. Scott, The New York Times From the legendary Studio Ghibli, creators of Spirited Away, and acclaimed director Hayao Miyazaki, comes the Academy Award-nominated fantasy adventure for the whole family.

Sophie, a quiet girl working in a hat shop, finds her life thrown into turmoil when she is literally swept off her feet by a handsome but mysterious wizard named Howl.

The vain and vengeful Witch of the Waste, jealous of their friendship, puts a curse on Sophie and turns her into a 90-year-old woman.

On a quest to break the spell, Sophie climbs aboard Howl’s magnificent moving castle and into a new life of wonder and adventure.

But as the true power of Howl’s wizardry is revealed, Sophie finds herself fighting to protect them both from a dangerous war of sorcery that threatens their world.

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)

Lupin the Third: Castle of Cagliostro, the feature film debut of Academy Award-winning anime creator Hayao Miyazaki (Spirited Away, Howl’s Moving Castle, Kiki’s Delivery Service), makes its gallant return to home video with more special features and a better transfer than ever before!

In the twilight of his career, master thief Lupin the Third’s latest and greatest caper has hit a snag.

What should’ve been bags of cash from a national casino turns out to be expert counterfeits!

Together with his partner-in-crime Jigen, Lupin heads to the remote European nation of Cagliostro to exact revenge.

Not everything goes as planned; the two encounter Clarisse, a royal damsel in distress being forced to marry the sinister Count Cagliostro against her will.

Saving her won’t be easy, however, as Lupin and Jigen — together with Lupin’s unpredictable ex-girlfriend Fujiko and the swordsman Goemon — must fight their way through a trap-filled castle, a deadly dungeon, and an army of professional assassins!

Can Lupin rescue the girl, evade the cuffs of his long-time nemesis Inspector Zenigata, and uncover the secret treasures of The Castle of Cagliostro?

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)



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)

From the legendary Studio Ghibli, creators of Spirited Away and My Neighbor Totoro, and Academy Award-winning director Hayao Miyazaki, comes a heartwarming adventure, now featuring hours of new bonus features never-before-released in North America!

When Sosuke, a young boy who lives on a cliff-top overlooking the sea, rescues a stranded goldfish named Ponyo, he discovers more than he bargained for.

Ponyo is a curious, energetic young creature who yearns to be human, but even as she causes chaos around the house, her father, a powerful sorcerer, schemes to return Ponyo to the sea.

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 timeless story of courage and friendship, with stunning animation from acclaimed Academy Award-winning director Hayao Miyazaki.

This high-flying adventure begins when Pazu, an engineer’s apprentice, spies a young girl, Sheeta, floating down from the sky, held aloft by a glowing pendant.

Both Sheeta and Pazu are searching for the legendary floating castle, Laputa, and they vow to travel there together to unravel the mystery of the luminous crystal.

But their quest won’t be easy, as soon they are being pursued by greedy air pirates, the military, and secret government agents, who all seek the power Sheeta alone can control.

Featuring the voices of Anna Paquin, James Van Der Beek, Cloris Leachman, and Mark Hamill.

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)

From the legendary Studio Ghibli, creators of Spirited Away and Ponyo, and Academy Award-winning director Hayao Miyazaki, comes the beloved coming-of-age story of a resourceful young witch who uses her broom to create a delivery service, only to lose her gift of flight in a moment of self-doubt.

It is a tradition for all young witches to leave their families on the night of a full moon and fly off into the wide world to learn their craft.

When that night comes for Kiki, she embarks on her new journey with her sarcastic black cat, Jiji, landing the next morning in a seaside village, where her unique skills make her an instant sensation.

Don’t miss this delightfully imaginative and timeless story of a young girl finding her way in the world, featuring the voices of Kirsten Dunst, Janeane Garofalo, Phil Hartman, and Debbie Reynolds.

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)

Take flight with “Porco Rosso, “, a valiant World War I flying ace!

From tropical Adriatic settings to dazzling aerial maneuvers, this action-adventure from world-renowned animator Hayao Miyazaki is full of humor, courage and chivalry.

When “Porco”, (whose face has been transformed into that of a pig by a mysterious spell) infuriates a band of sky pirates with his aerial heroics, the pirates hire Curtis, a rival pilot, to get rid of him.

On the ground, the two pilots compete for the affections of the beautiful Gina. But it’s in the air where the true battles are waged. Will our hero be victorious?

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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