10 Brilliant Studio Ghibli Films to Watch with the Kids

Jill Holtz

March 14, 2020

studio ghibli movies

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If you haven’t come across Studio Ghibli films before, then you’re in for a treat! The Japanese film studio has create some really amazing family-friendly films to enjoy together. And they are now being made available to watch on Netflix. We’ve picked 10 of our favourite Studio Ghibli films to watch with the kids that we’re sure you’ll love!

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I first came across Studio Ghibli films some years ago when my daughters were about 7 and 10, and was blown away by them. The animation is unlike anything you’ve seen on Disney or other Western animation studios. The stories are unusual and the characters are quirky, creating something really unique.

These Studio Ghibli films are ideal for a family movie night, and definitely worth a watch!

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Give These Studio Ghibli Films A Try

#1. My Neighbor Totoro (1988)

My Neighbor Totoro tells the story of two girls, Satsuki and Mei, who have moved with their father to a new house in the countryside, while their mother recovers from illness in a nearby hospital.

They discover they share their home with some unusual creatures and even stranger neighbours including a rather large forest guardian that the girls call Totoro. When trouble occurs, their new friends will help them rediscover hope.

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#2. Kiki’s Delivery Service (1989)

Kiki’s Delivery Service is the adorable story of Kiki, a young witch and her black cat Jiji. It is tradition for all young witches to leave their families on the night of a full moon to learn their craft. That night comes for Kiki, who follows her dream and embarks on the experience of a lifetime.

So Kiki flies off with Jiji to find the perfect spot in a faraway city. There, a bakery owner befriends Kiki and helps her start her own business: A high-flying delivery service.

#3. Spirited Away (2001)

Spirited Away tells the story of 10-year-old Chihiro and her parents who stumble upon a seemingly abandoned amusement park. After her mother and father are turned into giant pigs, Chihiro meets the mysterious Haku, who explains that the park is a resort for supernatural beings who need a break from their time spent in the earthly realm, and that she must work there to free herself and her parents.

He gets her a job working in a nearby building, which turns out to be a bathhouse for the thousands of Japan’s gods and spirits. Though the work is hard and the people strange, she works hard. Her parents, however, are still waiting in the hotel’s stockyard, and Chihiro must find a way to break the spell on them before they end up as the main course of a guest’s dinner.

Tip: Probably one for older kids (at least 8 years old) given the nature of the themes in it.

#4. The Cat Returns (2002)

In The Cat Returns, high school student Haru rescues a cat that was about to be run over by a truck and discovers the cat is actually a prince named Lune. Suddenly her world is transformed beyond anything she’s ever imagined. Her good deed is rewarded with a flurry of presents, including gift-wrapped mice, and out of gratitude, Lune’s father, the Cat King, asks her to marry Lune.

Haru is brought to the Cat Kingdom, where she starts to develop feline features. When she is prevented from leaving, the Baron (and Toto, two statues that have magically been given life, provide assistance in gaining her freedom. To change her fate she’ll need to learn to believe in herself, and in the process she will learn to appreciate her everyday life.

#5. The Secret World Of Arrietty (2010)

The Secret World of Arrietty is based on Mary Norton’s acclaimed children’s book series The Borrowers, telling tales of little people who live undetected in a secret world to be discovered, residing quietly beneath the floorboards.

Arrietty, a tiny teenager, lives with her parents in the recesses of a suburban home, unbeknown to the homeowner and housekeeper. Like others of her kind, Arrietty remains hidden from her human hosts, but occasionally ventures forth from beneath the floorboards to borrow sugar cubes and other supplies. A secret friendship forms when 12-year-old Shawn meets Arrietty, but their relationship could spell danger for Arrietty’s family.

#6. Ponyo (2008)

Five-year-old Sosuke lives by the sea. One morning, while playing on the rocky beach below his house, he discovers a goldfish he names Ponyo, her head stuck in a jam jar. Sosuke rescues Ponyo and keeps her in a green plastic bucket.

Both Ponyo and Sosuke are fascinated by each other and promise to stay firm friends until Ponyo’s father, a sorcerer who lives deep under the sea, forces her to return with him to the ocean depths. What follows is an amazing underwater adventure for all ages…

#7. Howl’s Moving Castle (2004)

Based on the book by Diana Wynne Jones, Howl’s Moving Castle tells the story of Sophie, an average teenage girl working in a hat shop. She finds her life thrown into turmoil when she is literally swept off her feet by a handsome but mysterious wizard named Howl. After this chance meeting she is turned into a 90-year-old woman by the vain and conniving Witch of the Waste.

Embarking on an incredible adventure to lift the curse, she finds refuge in Howl’s magical moving castle where she becomes acquainted with Markl, Howl’s apprentice, and a hot-headed fire demon named Calcifer. As the true power of Howl’s wizardry is revealed, and his relationship with Sophie deepens, our young grey heroine finds herself fighting to protect them both from a dangerous war of sorcery that threatens their world.

#8. Castle in The Sky (1986)

Young orphan Sheeta and her kidnapper, Colonel Muska, are flying to a military prison when their plane is attacked by a gang of air pirates led by the matronly Dola.

Escaping from a mid-air collision via a magic crystal around her neck, Sheeta meets fellow orphan Pazu and the pair join forces to discover the mystical floating city of Laputa while pursued by pirates, who seek the sky kingdom for its legendary treasure, and the army, led by a government agent with his own mysterious agenda for Laputa.

#9. Tales from Earthsea (2006)

Based on the bestselling books by Ursula K. LeGuin, Tales of Earthsea tells the story of Ged, an archmage and great wizard. In the land of Earthsea, crops are failing and livestock dying. Two dragons appear from the storm clouds and devour each other – an omen of impending disaster. The balance of the world is in peril of tearing apart.

In his search for the cause of this encroaching catastrophe, the Archmage Ged, the greatest of wizards, meets Arren, exiled Prince of Enlad, in flight from a nameless Shadow. They journey through ruined landscapes and cross paths with Therru, an orphan girl with a fire-scarred face.

Ged learns that the wizard Cob, in his search for eternal life, is preparing to open the door between the realms of the living and the dead. An old and defeated adversary, Cob has sworn to take terrible revenge on Ged.

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Have you seen any of these Studio Ghibli films? Which one is your favourite? Leave a comment below and let us know – we’d love to hear from you!

10 Studio Ghibli Films To Watch With The Kids

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