7 Underrated Studio Ghibli movies that are worth watching

underrated Studio Ghibli movies

Studio Ghibli is not something strange or new to the ears. And if it is, then trust us, you have been missing out on a lot of good stuff. It is a Japanese animation film studio best known for its heart-touching and breathtaking animated feature films. It was founded by directors Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata and producer Toshio Suzuki on June 15, 1985.

Since then, they have made films that are arguably the best ones ever made. Some have made and broken worldwide records, like Spirited Away and My Neighbor Totoro. Spirited Away even bagged the 2002 Golden Bear and the 2003 Academy Award for Best Animated Feature.

However, not all of the Studio Ghibli movies have gotten as much recognition as the above-mentioned ones. But that doesn’t make them any less amazing than they are. So, here are a few such films that are absolutely worth watching:

From Up on Poppy Hill 

Directed by: Gorō Miyazaki

Cast: Masami Nagasawa, Junichi Okada, Keiko Takeshita, Yuriko Ishida, Jun Fubuki, Takashi Naito, Shunsuke Kazama

Where to watch: HBO Max

Studio Ghibli has an impressive number of films to its name, and a major part of them are, in some or the other way, related to war and its consequences. One such lesser-known film is From Up on Poppy Hill, scripted by ‘the’ Hayao Miyazaki. 

The story is set in Yokohama in the year 1963. The story follows Umi Matsuzaki, a high schooler who lives in her boarding house with her siblings and grandmother, and Shun Kazama, the school newspaper president, as they decide to talk the school chairman out of demolishing the clubhouse on the premise. 

Tales From Earthsea 

Tales From Earthsea - Official Trailer

Directed by: Gorō Miyazaki

Cast: Bunta Sugawara, Junichi Okada, Aoi Teshima, Jun Fubuki, Yūko Tanaka, Teruyuki Kagawa 

Where to watch: Netflix

If you are someone who roots for kings, dragons, knights, and magic, then Tales from Earthsea is for you. The film follows Prince Arren, who kills his own father and flees to other parts of the country while being followed by a strange presence.

The film is loosely based on the novels by author Ursula K. Le Guin, which means that there is a combination of characters and scenes from the books, but the story is pretty much entirely different. However, it doesn’t make the film any less beautiful than it actually is. The landscapes, the scenery, backgrounds, character design, and every element is a work of art in themselves. 

Pom Poko 

Pom Poko - Official Trailer

Directed by: Isao Takahata

Cast: Makoto Nonomura, Shigeru Izumiya, Nijiko Kiyokawa, Kosan Yanagiya, Norihei Miki

Where to watch: Netflix

The story follows a clan of tanuki, Japanese Raccoon dogs who have acquired ancient magic, which helps them shapeshift into anything they want, including humans. While the younger ones explore the extent of their magic through trial and error, the clan goes on a venture to save their home which is threatened by the construction of a suburban development project. 

With all the fun and moments that leave you doubled up, the film tries to urge people to think about nature and animals while going about their lives and the development they desire. 

Though the Studio Ghibli feel is there throughout the film, what makes it stand out is the quirky character design and the absurdity with which a message as serious as this is being delivered.

Only Yesterday

Directed by:  Isao Takahata

Cast: Yōko Honna, Miki Imai, Toshirō Yanagiba, Mayumi Iizuka, Mei Oshitani, Megumi Komine, Yukiyo Takizawa, Masashi Ishikawa

Where to watch: Netflix

Studio Ghibli is known for its films with magical settings, spirits, ghosts, wizards, dragons, and revolving around Japanese folklore. Hence, it was pretty surprising when a very realistic kind of film was made by them. The film touches the topics like nostalgia, the feeling of an adult about their childhood, and the realization that no matter the age, one can always do what they wish to. 

The story follows 27-year-old Taeko, who has been living in Tokyo and investing all of herself in her work, neglecting any scope of having a love life or doing things she wished for as a child. However, she finds herself in a dilemma when she visits the country to meet the family and bumps into a childhood acquaintance. 

Porco Rosso

Porco Rosso - Official Trailer

Directed by: Hayao Miyazaki

Cast: Shūichirō Moriyama, Tokiko Kato, Akemi Okamura and Akio Ōtsuka.

Where to watch: HBO Max

Miyazaki’s connection to war and its consequences is pretty much evident in a lot of his works, Porco Rosso included. Set in the time between the two world wars, Miyazaki builds a story around a painfully apt metaphor for the shame one feels in himself. The story follows Porco Rosso, Italian for ‘Red Pig’, who underwent a literal change due to his wartime experiences as he lived throughout it. 

The film is about more than just the story it portrays. The scenery, the flight scenes, the art style it is arguably the best work of Miyazaki. 

The Tale Of Princess Kaguya

The Tale Of The Princess Kaguya - Official Trailer

Directed by: Isao Takahata

Cast: Aki Asakura, Kengo Kora, Takeo Chii, Nobuko Miyamoto, Atsuko Takahata, Tomoko Tabata, Tatekawa Shinosuke, Takaya Kamikawa

Where to watch: HBO Max

Based on The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter, the movie follows a tiny princess discovered at the heart of a bamboo shoot and adopted by an elderly couple. Little did they know that she came from the moon. 

The film’s watercolor and charcoal aesthetic was a pretty bold move which turned out to be the studio’s visual achievement in every aspect. It was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature at the 87th Academy Awards and is arguably one of the greatest animated films of all time. 

Nausicaä Of The Valley Of The Wind

Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind - Official Trailer

Directed by: Hayao Miyazaki

Cast: Sumi Shimamoto, Goro Naya, Yoji Matsuda, Yoshiko Sakakibara and Iemasa Kayumi.

Where to watch: HBO Max

The film is set in a post-apocalyptic landscape where an ecological disaster left most of the Earth uninhabitable and soil and plants became toxic. Due to the disaster, a toxic jungle is created where roam giant mutant insects. Nausicaä is the Princess of the valley of the Wind who roams around the Toxic Jungle in order to find ways for those creatures and humans to co-exist. Making things difficult, the kingdom of Tolmekia made plans to use an ancient weapon and eradicate the Jungle from the face of the Earth, while Nausicaä and her people are using those very same creatures to fulfill their energy requirement.