Studio Ghibli: The Films

Learn about Studio Ghibli and some of their films!



Have you ever heard of Studio Ghibli? Or Hayao Miyazaki? Maybe you’ve heard of one of their films, like Spirited Away, or Totoro? In this article, there is a brief description of Studio Ghibli and then detailed summaries of some of its most notable films. Find a movie that you might want to watch next, or enjoy seeing your favorite films again!

Studio Ghibli

Studio Ghibli is a Japanese animation film studio. The studio has many famous animation films but has also filmed commercials and a television film. The studio is recognizable by the mascot, a large spirit resembling a cat that comes from their film, Totoro. Studio Ghibli’s films have achieved positions in the ten highest-grossing anime feature films in Japan, and they have won awards such as the Japan Academy Prize for Animation of the Year and Academy Award nominations. Among its most popular films are…


WARNING: Summaries contain ending spoilers. Only read part of the summary if you are planning to watch the film later for the first time.

Spirited Away

This film is often considered one of the greatest films of the 21st century and one of the best animated films ever. It’s not a surprise considering the interesting plot and the way Miyazaki can represent a character so well with a few scenes where they simply sit there.

Spirited Away (2001) - IMDb

This film is about a 10-year-old girl named Chihiro. She and her parents are traveling to their new home when they stumble upon what appears to be an abandoned village, but what Chihiro’s father assumes is a failed theme park. Chihiro’s parents accidentally eat food that turns them into pigs, and Chihiro is trapped in the village after sunset.

She realizes that the place is actually a village for spirits, and they come for a bathhouse. Chihiro goes to work at the bathhouse and tries to figure out how to save her parents. After many adventures and encounters, she breaks curses, saves her parents, and leaves the village. They find their car covered in dust and leaves which shows the passage of time, but Chihiro’s parents are unable to remember anything that happened during their time as pigs. They go to their new home.

The best part of the film is Chihiro’s time in the bathhouse, in which she meets strange spirits and makes new friends. She grows and changes as a person, and it’s really cool to see magic at work in the film.


Castle in the Sky

Also known as Laputa: Castle in the Sky, this film is a fantasy adventure film. It has received many positive reviews and has REALLY beautiful animation scenes!

This film starts with a rather suspenseful scene. A young orphan girl, Sheeta, is aboard a plane. She has been abducted by a government agent, Muska, but then the plane is attacked by air pirates who are after Sheeta’s pendant. Sheeta falls, but the pendant mysteriously saves her. She is discovered by another orphan boy, Pazu. Pazu tells Sheeta of a mysterious floating city named Laputa.

Sheeta tells Pazu that her full name is actually Lucita Toel Ul Laputa, which doesn’t seem to be a coincidence. They are captured Muska obtains the amulet, leaving Pazu and Sheeta to follow him to Laputa and try to get it back. They succeed in finding Laputa but engage in a conflict with Muska that results in them being forced to destroy Laputa and kill Muska.


This film is actually quite sad at the end, but Sheeta and Pazu defeat the antagonist and they have a happy life after the destruction of Laputa. (But is it really all destroyed?)


Princess Mononoke

Princess Mononoke is a slightly more violent film. The story is about the dramatic adventure of a boy and a wild girl as they battle great forces. The film was the predecessor of Spirited Away, holding a record for box office until Studio Ghibli’s later film. The film was converted to English, and even though it didn’t sell that well, the film promoted Studio Ghibli outside of Japan.

Princess Mononoke - Wikipedia

This film is set in a historic period in Japan. The prince of an Emishi village, Ashitaka, kills a demon that is attacking his village. The demon curses him before his death, and the curse improves his body but eventually kills him. Strange purplish marks spread over his body as the curse progresses. He is told that he might find the cure to the West and that he would receive help from the Great Forest Spirit.

Nearby, a wolf pack attacks the small village of Iron Town. Ashitaka encounters San, also called Princess Mononoke, who rides the wolves. That night, San enters Iron Town to kill Lady Eboshi. Ashitaka stops their fight and takes San away, managing to gain her trust.

The next day, the forest is thrown into chaos. Lady Eboshi, a boar clan led by Okkoto, a blind god, and enemies of Lady Eboshi clash and fight. Okkoto is tricked into leading the humans to the Great Forest Spirit, then becomes a demon. Lady Eboshi decapitates the Spirit, causing the body to bleed ooze that kills anything it touches and spreads over the forest. Ashitaka and San return the head to the Spirit, who dies, but heals the land and lifts Ashitaka’s curse.

The film is more violent and depressing in a way, but the ending is very satisfying and there are moments of joy within the movie. I really recommend this one!


My Neighbor Totoro

If you see the cover, you might recognize the cat that is the trademark of Studio Ghibli. This film is more suitable for kids and has very cute elements. The film won many prizes and it explores themes of rural living and childhood.

My Neighbor Totoro (1988) - IMDb

Starting with a simple setting, a professor and two daughters, Satsuki and Mei, move into a house to be closer to where their mother is recovering from an illness. The girls discover small spirits that look like dust and flit around from corner to corner. The spirits leave after the girls become accustomed to their new home. Mei, the younger daughter, follows two spirits into a tree where she finds the famous Totoro.

When her sister Satsuki finds her Totoro has disappeared. For mysterious reasons, Mei is unable to show her family Totoro. Later, the girls are waiting for their father’s bus on a rainy night. Mei falls asleep, and Totoro appears, allowing Satsuki to see him for the first time. The girls have many more encounters with Totoro. Then, one day the girls’ mother, Yasuko, plans to visit. Unfortunately, the visit is postponed.

Mei gets angry and takes an ear of corn to go see her mother herself. Mei gets lost, and Satsuki enlists the help of Totoro and his spirit friends to help find her. The sisters reunite and Totoro takes them to see their mother. They learn that she is doing well and will recover soon. The movie ends as Yasuko returns to her family, and the girls play with other children, while Totoro and the other spirits watch them.

Of course, there isn’t a large conflict in this film if that’s what you’re looking for. Instead, there is a story of friendship and a little bit of magic that makes the film endearing.


Howl’s Moving Castle

I think this story has a more fantastical feel, with more magic and curses involved. The story is like a book, with a disaster, protagonists, antagonists, and more that make the film impossible to stop watching.

Howl's Moving Castle (2004) - IMDb

Sophie is a young girl, content with a good occupation, living in a period where her nation is battling with another nation, the latter missing a prince. She meets the wizard Howl on her way to meet her sister. When she returns, she angers the Witch of the Waste who transforms her into an old woman. She leaves to seek help, meeting a scarecrow who takes her to Howl’s moving castle. Yep, that weird thing that looks like a fish with steam coming out of its head. She meets Howl’s apprentice Markl and a fire demon named Calcifer. She strikes a deal with Calcifer without Howl’s knowledge.

She hires herself as Howl’s cleaning lady. Howl and Sophie travel in his castle and slowly build their relationship. As part of Sophie’s deal with Calcifer, she learns that Calcifer and Howl have been bound together by his life and that Howl is transforming to fight in the war. Later, Sophie’s town is bombed by enemy bombers and the King’s head sorceress, Suliman, attacks them because of a past encounter. The Witch of the Waste, who was transformed by Suliman, finds out that Calcifer has Howl’s heart. In a scuffle, Sophie accidentally douses Calcifer with water. Sophie falls down a chasm wanders into a scene from the past where Howl catches a falling star, Calcifer, and gives him his heart. Sophie tells them to find her in the future before she is returned to the present.

She reunites with Howl and the Witch returns Howl’s heart, enabling Sophie to revive her. Sophie’s curse is broken, and she also turns the scarecrow who led her to Howl into a human with a kiss on the cheek. He turns out to be the missing prince from the enemy nation! Suliman watches them by magic and ends the war. In an ending scene, bombers fly off to another war while Sophie, Howl, and their friends travel in a new flying castle.

This movie is good for people who want to experience a story that excites them and makes them cry, with deep characters and an unexpected plot.


Kiki’s Delivery Service

This film has similar themes to Totoro, following the various adventures of a young witch named Kiki. This film was released as a collaboration between Disney and Studio Ghibli. Kiki’s charismatic personality and her black cat make the movie perfect. Kiki's Delivery Service [DVD] : Kirsten Dunst, Phil Hartman, Tress MacNeille, Janeane Garofalo, Matthew Lawrence, Brad Garrett, Debbie Reynolds, Minami Takayama, Rei Sakuma, Keiko Toda, Kappei Yamaguchi, Koichi Yamadera, Haruko Kato,

Kiki and her cat, Jiji, leave her home as a tradition to make a living as a witch. She flies to a city named Koriko by the ocean. She meets Tombo, a boy who admires her flying ability. She opens a “Witch Delivery Business” and delivers goods from a bakery on her broomstick. Though not everything goes according to plan, Kiki succeeds in her deliveries.

Later, Tombo takes Kiki for a ride on his flying machine but is teased by his friends and gets upset. She becomes more depressed after a recipient of her delivery acts unpleased. She also finds that she is slowly losing her powers, including flying and understanding Jiji. A friend that Kiki made, a painter named Ursula, suggests that maybe Kiki needs to do a task that will rekindle her confidence and return her powers.

Kiki finds her task in the form of her friend Tombo. He is shown on TV, hanging from an airship that got in an accident. Kiki rushed to save him, finding herself able to fly and regaining her confidence. She continues delivering, and she is happy once more.

The film’s elements and setting make it very pleasing to the eye. I think Kiki’s short hair, red bow, and Jiji’s romance, as well as the scenic streets of Koriko, fit together really well.


Thank You!

I hope you’ve found something interesting in this article. There are many more Ghibli films that might interest you but weren’t included in this article. I hope that more people can know of this amazing Japanese studio and the beautiful films it’s released. Now go enjoy your movie!


Thank you for reading to the end! For more amazing articles, please visit and support the staff of Canyon Echoes News from Canyon Vista Middle School.