10 films from renowned animators Studio Ghibli that you should watch

An iconic film, My Neighbour Totoro is one of the many acclaimed animated films produced by film house Studio Ghibli. -- PHOTO: STUDIO GHIBLI
An iconic film, My Neighbour Totoro is one of the many acclaimed animated films produced by film house Studio Ghibli. -- PHOTO: STUDIO GHIBLI

Well-loved Japanese film-maker Studio Ghibli, which brought family favourites like My Neighbour Totoro or Howl's Moving Castle to the big screen, is pausing production to decide on its next steps. We take a look at 10 famous Studio Ghibli originals that have touched viewers worldwide.

1. My Neighbour Totoro (1988)

PHOTO: STUDIO GHIBLI

A heart-warming classic that captures the magic of childhood, the film centres around two sisters who stumble upon a bunch of forest spirits and the titular Totoro while spending time in the countryside. One of the most well-known Studio Ghibli films, the fluffy Totoro is the studio's mascot.

Watch a trailer here

2. Grave Of The Fireflies (1988)

PHOTO: SCREENGRAB FROM WWW.CINEMATICPARADOX.COM

Another one of Studio Ghibli's more mature productions, the vivid Grave Of The Fireflies is set in the winter of World War II, and zooms in on two siblings' ultimately doomed bid to survive. Despite being dark and bleak most of the time, the film ends on a happy note. The late Roger Ebert, an eminent film critic, called it one of one of the best and most powerful war films.

Watch a trailer here.

3. Kiki's Delivery Service (1989)

PHOTO: STUDIO GHIBLI

Simple and easy to watch, the film tells the story of Kiki, a young witch who earns a living making deliveries on her flying broom. Themes of growing up and independence are visible throughout the show, and it delivers some spectacular art work, with the aerial scenes of Kiki flying being of note.

Watch a trailer here.

4. Whisper Of The Heart (1995)

PHOTO: SCREENGRAB FROM WWW.FANART.TV

Whisper Of The Heart takes the awkward journey of teenhood and produces a pleasant, elegantly-animated film that traces protagonist Shizuku's journey to find herself. Featuring trademark Studio Ghibli fantasy like a dapper cat, it was based on a manga of the same name by Aiu Hiiragi.

Watch a trailer here.

5. Princess Mononoke (1997)

PHOTO: SCREENGRAB FROM WWW.MOVIEPILOT.COM

Proof that Studio Ghibli is capable of more than cuddly children's films, Princess Mononoke is a distinctly more mature offering that focuses on Ashitaka, a warrior-prince, and his efforts to resolve an escalating conflict between several deities and humans. Sporting strong environmental themes, the film was also translated to English, and brought the studio to the West's attention.

Watch a trailer here.

6. Spirited Away (2001)

PHOTO: STUDIO GHIBLI

This fantastical film charts the journey of Chihiro, a girl on a mission to free herself and her parents from a spirit world that they enter by accident. Spirited Away won the Best Animated Feature award at the 75th Academy Awards, and is widely considered one of the greatest animated films of all time.

Watch a trailer here.

7. Howl's Moving Castle (2004)

PHOTO: BVI 

Beautifully conceived artwork and steampunk elements characterise this Studio Ghibli epic, which follows a teenage girl's quest to reverse an unlucky curse. The film's right mix of wonder and maturity makes it one for both young and old. No surprise then that it is one of the most financially successful Japanese films in history with recorded box office earnings of more than US$23 million (S$28.7 million).

Watch a trailer here.

8. Ponyo (2008)

PHOTO: STUDIO GHIBLI

An adorable film about the adventures of Brunhilde, a magical fish-girl who eventually is renamed Ponyo, Ponyo is a kids film so cute that even adults will be charmed. Hayao Miyazaki, who wrote and directed the film, said that the Hans Christian Anderson fairytale The Little Mermaid served as his inspiration.

Watch a trailer here.

9. The Wind Rises (2013)

PHOTO: ENCORE FILMS 

Inspired by the late Jiro Horikoshi, a Japanese aircraft designer, The Wind Rises was Studio Ghibli co-founder Hayao Miyazaki's swansong, and displayed his trademark stunning animation and emotional depth. The film went onto become the highest-grossing Japanese film in 2013, pulling in US$116 million, and was even nomiated for an Academy award.

Watch a trailer here.

10. The Tale Of Princess Kaguya (2013)

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Distinct from the more well-known Studio Ghibli films in terms of its relatively simple artwork, The Tale Of Princess Kaguya is nonetheless an enchanting and touching tale about Kaguya, a lunar deity of sorts, and her trials in the human world. Well-received commercially and critically, the film is set to be translated into English later this year.

Watch a trailer here.

Release dates listed are for Japan only.

Sources: IMDB, Kotaku.com, Indiewire, Wikipedia, Inside Movies