If you’re new to the riches of the Japanese animation studio, our guide can help you sort through its wonderfully deep catalog.
Clockwise from top left, scenes from “When Marnie Was There,” “Kiki’s Delivery Service,” “Ponyo” and “Howl’s Moving Castle.”Credit…Photographs via Studio Ghibli/ Gkids.
For decades, Studio Ghibli has broken mold after mold of what we expect films for kids to be.
The Japanese animation house — founded by the filmmakers Hayao Miyazaki, Isao Takahata and Toshio Suzuki — has spent 35 years telling winding, complex stories that stretch the bounds of what animation can do. In one, a treacherous battle rages between humans and the deities of a forest fighting to maintain the balance of nature. Another tale pits sorcerers against each other and questions the supernatural ethics of using magic in warfare. And one story opens up a transcendent and terrifying spirit world, in a work heralded by New York Times critics as one of the best films of the 21st century.
But Studio Ghibli has also, with impeccable consistency, struck a rare balance that most family-oriented movies struggle to achieve. These are undoubtedly children’s movies — but they also have a loyal following of adult fans, who devour their favorites over and over again.
Now 21 of the studio’s classics and lesser-known favorites are finding a new audience via HBO Max, the first time the films have been licensed to an American streaming platform. But if you haven’t been stockpiling the DVDs for years, navigating such a hefty, wide-ranging catalog can be difficult. We’re hoping to make that easier with a few starting points.