Rank and File

Ranking: Every Studio Ghibli Movie from Worst to Best

on May 26, 2020, 12:00pm
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15. Whisper of the Heart (1995)

Director: Yoshifumi Kondou

Runtime: 111 mins

Who did you want to be when you grew up? This question coupled with teenage insecurity looms heavily as a high schooler. Searching for a sign and purpose in her young life, 14-year-old Shizuku is a bookworm who becomes obsessed with tracking down the boy whose name appears on the library checkout card of every book she finds. Along the way she finds love and her hopeful calling in life; however, she realizes that determination is not the only key to success. Whisper of the Heart takes the viewers on a journey to a time when callings in life are first discovered. “Take Me Home, Country Roads” has never sounded so sweet nor imparted so much purpose.

What’s for Dinner? Ramen with a soft-boiled egg, carrots, and various other vegetables.

14. Only Yesterday (1991)

Director: Isao Takahata

Runtime: 118 mins

City-life versus country-life comes into play for Taeko, who reflects on her youth living in Tokyo while she works on a farm during the summer in her mid-20s. Only Yesterday juxtaposes past and present life lessons while also examining the notion of the grass being greener on the other side. There’s a wonderful dichotomy to the memories recollected with how the animation is ill-defined along the edges and fades into the white background compared to the much more defined current day. Are those days rose-tinted, or is the message the only thing that truly matters? The answer lies in Taeko finding what she truly wants in life to be happy.

What’s for Dinner? Big wedges of juicy watermelon, some not-quite-ripe pineapple, and bananas, which Taeko’s family calls “the king of fruit.”

13. The Wind Rises (2013)

Director: Hayao Miyazaki

Runtime: 126 mins

Hayao Miyazaki merged two of his greatest loves with The Wind Rises, animation and flying. Based on a somewhat fictionalized version of Japanese aerospace engineer Jiro Horikoshi, the film follows Jiro’s life from adolescence and dreams of designing airplanes to his ultimate realizations as an adult along with a mountain of trials and tribulations along the way. It is Miyazaki’s most reality-based movie but the inner-drive and passion Jiro exhibits borders on superhuman. It is a love letter to following your dreams to the fullest and the truly great heights that can be achieved when done.

What’s for Dinner? Mackerel with sauce, miso soup, eggs, and rice.

12. Ponyo (2008)

Director: Hayao Miyazaki

Runtime: 100 mins

Mix one part Hans Christian Anderson’s The Little Mermaid with one part Hayao Miyazaki, and what do you get? Ponyo. An allegory about the effects humans have on the ocean, which imagines what would happen if you personified aquatic life and its ecosystem as a person and had her befriend a little boy. The movie’s overwhelming blue color palette stresses its underlying concern about pollution and preserving its inherent beauty. It also serves as a heartwarming look into the nature of young childhood and the importance of forming bonds at that age.

What’s for Dinner? A ham, cheese, lettuce, and tomato sandwich with potato chips and Orangina to drink.

11. Pom Poko (1994)

Director: Isao Takahata

Runtime: 119 mins

In a world where tanuki (Japanese raccoons like Tom Nook in Animal Crossing) are able to shape-shift into anything, Pom Poko follows a group of them who seek to understand the humans who are deforesting and developing their home into a city. Much of this movie relies on knowledge of traditional Japanese folklore that the species are too lazy and bashful to pose any kind of threat, but the raccoons here decide to fight back. Pom Poko best exemplifies every trait that Studio Ghibli is best known for. Magic and anthropomorphic animals? Check. The environment resisting human’s effects on it? Check. A silly and delightful tale, the movie will teach you more about the mystical powers of raccoon scrotums than you could ever ask for.

What’s for Dinner? A straight-up trash bag filled with McDonald’s cheeseburgers.

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