Rank and File

Ranking: Every Studio Ghibli Movie from Worst to Best

on May 26, 2020, 12:00pm
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05. Howl’s Moving Castle (2004)

Director: Hayao Miyazaki

Runtime: 119 mins

In the world of Howl’s Moving Castle, magic and technology coexist and are weaponized against one another during wartime. The movie centralizes on Sophie, a young hatter who is placed under a spell to make her appear as an elderly woman by a spiteful witch. With nowhere else to go, she befriends the young wizard Howl who accepts her as his cleaning woman in his fantastical walking castle. The movie has some of Studio Ghibli’s most colorful characters. It also reexamines the ideas of inner versus outer beauty as seen in Porco Rosso but with the notion of vanity in mind this time.

What’s for Dinner? Fried eggs, thick-cut bacon, bread, cheese and eggs. (optional Binging with Babish link if you want to make it at home or hyperlink it here)

04. Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (1984)

Director: Hayao Miyazaki

Runtime: 117 mins

The unofficial first Studio Ghibli movie remains one of Hayao Miyazaki’s finest. Set in a post-apocalyptic future where humanity is pushed to the outskirts of the land due a Toxic Forest overtaking everything else and overrun by giant insects, Nausicaä is every Disney princesses’ badass dream combined. Drawing some heavy inspiration from Dune among others, the movie contemplates humanity’s place in the world alongside nature and the responsibility to maintain that delicate balance. The movie is inherently anti-war and contains a powerful message about the dangers of that and greed that remains relevant even thirty-five years after its release.

What’s for Dinner? Chico nuts, a fictitious food that tastes weird but is good for you.

03. My Neighbor Totoro (1988)

Director: Hayao Miyazaki

Runtime: 86 mins

Few movies encapsulate the sense of childlike wonder and awe in the world as well as My Neighbor Totoro. Although it is rather devoid of conflict, its purpose has always been about the belief in the power of make-believe and at what age we lose this facet in life. The movie stresses family togetherness and the bonds inherent between siblings. Totoro and his mini-iterations not only strengthen this bond but also strengthen their unity to the world around them, helping the two young protagonists feel at home during a time of great upheaval in their lives. It’s the kind of movie that has layered meaning to it depending on what stage you’re at in your own life.

What’s for Dinner? A lunchbox full of fish, rice, sauce, and tomato.

02. Princess Mononoke (1997)

Director: Hayao Miyazaki

Runtime: 134 mins

Driven from his village by a curse he contracted while saving it from a forest demon, Ashitaka roams the land searching for a cure and gets caught between an iron-making community and the forest denizens its ravaged. Princess Mononoke is Studio Ghibli at its most mature. Interweaving a storyline that involves humans, nature, and gods, it is a movie steeped in tribalism and a strong ecological viewpoint. The movie does not glorify violence but rather contextualizes it as a natural outcome that occurs while defending one’s own in-group. Princess Mononoke makes for an enrapturing viewing with its tightly written story, gorgeous animation, and moving score.

What’s for Dinner? Dried fish, sliced beef, rice, and edamame.

 01. Spirited Away (2001)

Director: Hayao Miyazaki

Runtime: 125 mins

The movie that won Studio Ghibli its Academy Award, Spirited Away is its most complex work. The film carries many strong themes and chief among them is the transition from childhood into adulthood, Eastern versus Western culture, and commentary on contemporary Japanese culture. Its main character, Chihiro, serves as the perfect foil to navigate each one of these facets as well as guide the viewer along the movie’s symbolically rich and spiritual journey. Even taken at just face value, the movie makes for a compelling watch and just one of the many reasons why Spirited Away remains Hayao Miyazki’s defining masterwork.

What’s for Dinner? Massive plates stacked high with fish, Cornish game hens, rice, crab, sausage, french fries, and rolled meats with sides of mustard and soy sauce. Pigging out on this has its consequences however…

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