Non-Disney Animated Films

Hayao Miyazaki

In the United States, Japanese animation (referred to as "anime") is perhaps best known for such television fare as "Astro Boy," "Pokemon," and "Dragon Ball Z." But there is one Japanese studio -- Studio Ghibli -- and one particular animation creator -- Hayao Miyazaki -- who can give the Disney Studio a run for its money in the quality and entertainment value of its animated features. In fact, Miyazaki is considered to be Japan's equivalent of Walt Disney. Miyazaki came to prominence in the United States when his film "Spirited Away" won the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature of 2002. "Spirited Away" has the distinction of being the biggest box office success in Japanese film history, having displaced another Miyazaki film, 1997's "Princess Mononoke." Miyazaki's films are masterpieces of lavish animation and imaginative storytelling that captivate children and adults alike.

Prior to joining with fellow animator Isao Takahata to form Studio Ghibli, Miyazaki was a lead animator on the following Japanese feature films:

  • Gulliver's Space Travels (U.S. title: Gulliver's Travels Beyond the Moon) (1965)
  • The Adventures of Hols, Prince of the Sun (U.S. title: Little Norse Prince Valiant) (1968)
  • Puss in Boots (1969)
  • The Flying Ghost Ship (1969)
  • Animal Treasure Planet (1971)

    Animated feature films that Miyazaki directed before and at Studio Ghibli are highlighted below. Miyazaki also produced several animated television series for the Japanese market, including "Conan, the Boy of the Future" (1978) and "Sherlock Hound" (1981-82), as well being a lead animator on many other Japanese television series.

    Animated feature films created by Studio Ghibli directors other than Hayao Miyazaki include the following:

  • Hols: The Little Norse Prince (1968 Pre-Ghibli) - Isao Takahata
  • Chie the Brat (1981 Pre-Ghibli) - Isao Takahata
  • Gauche the Cellist (1982 Pre-Ghibli) *** - Isao Takahata
  • Grave of the Fireflies (1988) ***** - Isao Takahata
  • Only Yesterday (1991) **** - Isao Takahata
  • Pom Poko (1994) *** - Isao Takahata
  • Whisper of the Heart (1995) *** - Yoshifumi Kondo)
  • My Neighbors the Yamadas (1999) *** - Isao Takahata
  • The Cat Returns (2002) *** - Hiroyuki Morita
  • Tales of Earthsea (2006) ***** - Goro Miyazaki
  • The Secret World of Arrietty (2010) ***** - Hiromasa Yonebayashi
  • From Up on Poppy Hill (2011) ***** - Goro Miyazaki
  • The Story of Princess Kaguya (2013) ***** - Isao Takahata
  • When Marnie Was There (2014) ***** - Hiromasa Yonebayashi

    [All photos copyrighted by Studio Ghibli]

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    The Castle of Cagliostro
    (1979 - 109 min. - Pre-Ghibli - U.S. distribution by Manga Entertainment) *****

    Plot: An irreverent thief and his sidekick find themselves in the European country of "Cagliostro," where they set out to rescue a beautiful princess in distress from an evil count who is involved in a counterfeiting scheme.

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    Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind
    (1984 - 116 min. - U.S. distribution by Walt Disney Studios) *****

    Plot: The princess of a small nation devasted by a holocaust tries to stop other warring nations from destroying themselves and the only means of saving their world. (Also known as "Warriors of the Wind")

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    Castle in the Sky
    (1986 - 129 min. - U.S. distribution by Walt Disney Studios) *****

    Plot: A boy rescues a girl, who descended from the night sky, from air pirates and the military of a nation obsessed about a legendary kingdom on a floating island in the sky.

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    My Neighbor Totoro
    (1988 - 87 min. - U.S. distribution by 20th Century Fox & Walt Disney Studios) ****

    Plot: Two young girls move, with their father, to a country home in Japan, where they encounter magical creatures in the nearby forest.

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    Kiki's Delivery Service
    (1989 - 102 min. - U.S. distribution by Walt Disney Studios) ****

    Plot: A young witch must follow tradition and move to a city where there are no witches, where she must learn to become independent and practice her craft.

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    Porco Rosso
    (1992 - 93 min. - U.S. distribution by Walt Disney Studios) *****

    Plot: A pig-faced former Italian Air Force pilot becomes a bounty hunter who tries to outwit air pirates and the Facist government that has taken over his country.

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    Princess Mononoke
    (1997 - 133 min. - U.S. distribution by Disney/Miramax) *****

    Plot: A young warrior tries to stop an epic battle between the humans, who want to exploit the iron deposits hidden beneath the forest, and the spirits of the forest, who are led by the beautiful Princess Mononoke.

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    Spirited Away
    (2002 - 124 min. - U.S. distribution by Walt Disney Studios) *****

    Plot: A girl finds a tunnel that leads to the Land of Spirits, where her parents have been transformed into pigs and she must find the inner strength to save them and return home. [2002 Academy Award winner for Best Animated Feature]

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    Howl's Moving Castle
    (2005 - 117 min. - U.S. distribution by Walt Disney Studios) *****

    Plot: A witch casts a spell on a teenage girl causing her to age rapidly, and the girl seeks out a wizard named Howl to help her cast off the spell. [2005 Academy Award nominee for Best Animated Feature]

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    Ponyo (aka Ponyo on the Cliff)
    (2008 - 103 min. - U.S. distribution by Walt Disney Studios) ****

    Plot: Ponyo is a goldfish princess who wants to become human and, in the process, befriends a human boy; but Ponyo's transformation awakens the awesome power of the seas.

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    The Wind Rises
    (2013 - 126 min. - U.S. distribution by Disney/Touchstone) *****

    Plot: Fictionalized life story of Jiro Horikoshi, the designer of the famed Japanese Zero fighter plane of World War II, and his romance with a young woman named Naoko.

    [Note: Hayao Miyazaki announced his retirement from animated feature film production after the release of "The Wind Rises".]

    For more information on the films of Hayao Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli, visit

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    Last Updated: March 15, 2016