8 Best Anime Movies Directed by Hayao Miyazaki

Nausicaä from Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind

If you are interested in anime or Japanese pop cultures, you may have watched some Studio Ghibli movies. Many of the renowned anime films of Studio Ghibli have been created by the famous anime director Hayao Miyazaki.

For both beginners and fans of Studio Ghibli, here is the list of 8 best anime movies directed by Hayao Miyazaki of all time with his introduction and all Hayao Miyazaki anime movies in chronological order.

Hayao Miyazaki

Hayao Miyazaki (宮崎駿), now one of the most influential anime directors in Japan and even foreign countries, was both born and raised in Tokyo,. In 1978, his first representative work was released, which is an adventure anime titled Future Boy Conan. He also created his first full-length anime film The Castle of Cagliostro in 1979.

He founded the new animation studio Studio Ghibli in 1985. His 2001 directed anime movie Spirited Away won the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature at the 75th Academy Awards in 2003. Though it was the second case in Japan following Akira Kurosawa in 1989, Hayao Miyazaki achieved the Academy Honorary Award in 2014.

It was announced by Studio Ghibli that Hayao Miyazaki would retire from producing full-length films in 2013 when The Wind Rises was released. Afterward, he made a comeback in 2017, however. Finally, the fans of Hayao Miyazaki have had a good news: the new Studio Ghibli movie How Do You Live? is being directed by him.

List of Anime Movies Directed by Hayao Miyazaki

1979: The Castle of Cagliostro (ルパン三世 カリオストロの城)
1984: Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (風の谷のナウシカ)
1986: Castle in the Sky (天空の城ラピュタ)
1988: My Neighbor Totoro (となりのトトロ)
1989: Kiki’s Delivery Service (魔女の宅急便)
1992: Porco Rosso (紅の豚)
1995: Whisper of the Heart (耳をすませば)*
1997: Princess Mononoke (もののけ姫)
2001: Spirited Away (千と千尋の神隠し)
2004: Howl’s Moving Castle (ハウルの動く城)
2008: Ponyo (崖の上のポニョ)
2010: Arrietty (借りぐらしのアリエッティ)*
2011: From Up on Poppy Hill)*
2013: The Wind Rises (風立ちぬ)
2023: The Boy and the Heron (君たちはどう生きるか)

*Whisper of the Heart, Arrietty and From Up on Poppy Hill are only written by Hayao Miyazaki, which are directed by other directors.

Tales from Earthsea in 2006 and From Up on Poppy Hill in 2011 are the movies directed by his son Goro Miyazaki. Other famous Studio Ghibli movies such as Grave of the Fireflies (火垂るの墓) and Pom Poko (平成狸合戦ぽんぽこ) were directed by another Ghibli’s top director Isao Takahata.

8. The Boy and the Heron

The Boy and the Heron
The Boy and the Heron © 2023 Studio Ghibli

Director Hayao Miyazaki’s latest masterpiece, The Boy and the Heron (君たちはどう生きるか), was released in July 2023, marking his first full-length directorial work in 10 years since The Wind Rises in 2013. Known in Japan as How Do You Live? the film’s title was inspired by Genzaburo Yoshino’s novel published in 1937, though the story is entirely different. Unusually, the movie was released without any prior information about its theme or storyline, other than the depiction of a blue heron in its key visual. This adventurous action-fantasy film has intrigued audiences with its mysterious approach and connection to a beloved literary work.

In 1943, the young protagonist Mahito Maki loses his mother, Hisako, in a fire. His father, Shoichi, remarries Hisako’s sister Natsuko, who is pregnant. Confused by the situation, Mahito moves with his father to Natsuko’s (and Hisako’s) family mansion. There, he notices a mysterious blue heron watching over him. Led by the heron, he heads to an old tower beside the mansion and embarks on an adventure into a different world. In this other realm, in true Studio Ghibli fashion, Mahito encounters various characters who await him.

7. Howl’s Moving Castle

Sophie and Howl from Howl's Moving Castle
Sophie and Howl from Howl’s Moving Castle

In 2004, Hayao Miyazaki released the fantasy anime film Howl’s Moving Castle (ハウルの動く城), which is now one of the most popular Studio Ghibli anime movies in the 2000s. It is based on the English novel written by Diana Wynne Jones in 1986, who has appraised its anime movie adaptation directed by Hayao Miyazaki.

Howl’s Moving Castle is set in a wartime magic world centering on a young lady Sophie and a young wizard Howl. By the curse of the Witch of the Waste, she is transformed into a 90 years old woman. She looks for a way to revert to her natural state with Howl and other Howl’s Moving Castle’s residents including Markl and Calcifer.

6. Kiki’s Delivery Service

Kiki from Kiki's Delivery Service
Kiki from Kiki’s Delivery Service

Kiki’s Delivery Service (魔女の宅急便), directed by Hayao Miyazaki in 1989, has been loved by both domestic and international families for a long time. The fantasy anime film is adapted from the Japanese novel with the same title written by Eiko Kadono in 1985.

Kiki’s Delivery Service depicts a growing-up story of a 13-year-old fledgling witch named Kiki, who travels around the world with a black cat Jiji to become independent. There are encounters with new people, things and problems that she face at the first time.

5. Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind

Nausicaä with Teto from Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind
Nausicaä with Teto from Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind

Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (風の谷のナウシカ) is a classic representative anime movie directed by Hayao Miyazaki. released in 1984. Hayao Miyazaki started making the same-titled manga from 1982 ahead of the anime movie and it was completed with the 7th volume in 1994. Their whole stories are different from each other since the film adaptation was created just 2 years after the manga’s serialization began.

Nausicaä: Valley of the Wind is set in an apocalyptic world after a large-scale war called the Seven Days of Fire. It brings about the destruction of civilization and the birth of the Toxic Jungle. It revolves around Nausicaä, who is the princess of the Valley of the Wind, establishes a good relationship with both people and mutant insects in the jungle while they oppose each other.

4. My Neighbor Totoro

Totoro, Satsuki and Mei from My Neighbor Totoro
Totoro, Satsuki and Mei from My Neighbor Totoro

My Neighbor Totoro (となりのトトロ), directed by Hayao Miyazaki in 1988, is one of the best family-friendly anime movie that both kids and adults can enjoy watching. Studio Ghibli planed to run double-feature films consisting of My Neighbor Totoro by Hayao Miyazaki and Grave of the Fireflies by Isao Takahata.

The story of My Neighbor Totoro begins when a 12-year-old girl Satsuki and her 4-year-old sister Mei move to a village in a countryside with their father while their mother stay at a hospital near the village. The sisters meet mysterious creatures like Totoro and Catbus in the unfamiliar land.

3. Princess Mononoke

Ashitaka and San from Princess Mononoke
Ashitaka and San from Princess Mononoke

Princess Mononoke (もののけ姫), the greatest Studio Ghibli movie directed by Hayao Miyazaki in 1997, has earned an international reputation ever since the release. It broke the record at the domestic box office at that time earning about 20 billion yen, which is now the 4th highest-grossing Japanese movie.

Princess Mononoke is based on Japan in the Muromachi period (1336-1573) following an expected young man named Ashitaka, who is forced to leave his village since he gets a curse as a result of beating a demon. The story is unfolded when he meets a 15-year-old girl San, who is raised in the forest by wolves and feels hostile to human society.

2. Porco Rosso

Porco from Porco Rosso
Porco from Porco Rosso

Porco Rosso (紅の豚), one of the masterpieces of Hayao Miyazaki, was released in 1992. The aircraft-themed Miyazaki anime movie is based on his short manga The Age of the Flying Boat (飛行艇時代).

The setting of Porco Rosso is the period of Great Depression in Italy, especially the Adriatic Sea, a pig is featured as a main character whose name is Porco Rosso. Porco, who was known as an ace in the Italian air force during World War I, gains a living as a bounty hunter. He fights against air pirates, piloting the cardinal red seaplane. The story also depicts his relationships with a lady Gina and a girl Fio.

The classic Miyazaki anime movie is filled with his fetish for aircrafts, which you can also see in the modern Miyazaki film The Wind Rises released in 2013.

1. Spirited Away

Chihiro and Haku from Spirited Away
Chihiro and Haku from Spirited Away

As the best anime movie directed by Hayao Miyazaki of all time, Spirited Away (千と千尋の神隠し) is picked out as many Studio Ghibli fans agree with it. Spirited Away had been the most-grossing Japanese movie making over 30 billion yen at the domestic box office since it was released in 2001, whose record was broken in 2021. In addition to the commercial success, Spirited Away won the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature at the 75th Academy Awards in 2003 and other various domestic and international awards.

Spirited Away centers on a 10-year-old girl Chihiro, who takes a wonder into an unfamiliar town with her parents. She finds her parents are into pigs there strangely and is forced to work at a bathhouse run by a powerful witch named Yubaba. She decides to work there with her new name Sen to break the witch’s curse on her parents.

There are a variety of other unique characters including a mysterious boy Haku, a spider-looking old man Kamaji and a weird creature Kaonashi (No-Face). The renowned Hayao Miyazaki anime movie presents her growing-up story supported by the characters.

Which Hayao Miyazaki movie do you like the most? It is announced that Hayao Miyazaki is making a new anime film, so you look forward to watching it, don’t you?


As international contents, more and more people have become to watch anime on TV and video streaming sites online recent[…]

On Your Mark diercted by Hayao Miyazaki

Check more anime movie recommendations below!


Anime has been one of the most popular movie categories all over the globe lately. A great number of anime come to the b[…]

Chihiro and Haku: Spirited Away

Anime, now a globally popular visual category, is not just about showcasing grand fantasy worlds or displaying flashy ba[…]

Saddest Anime Movies

In the mecca of Japanese pop culture, countless anime have been produced, broadcasted and completed ever. Some successfu[…]

Best Ongoing Anime

<<Editor’s Picks>>


There are a great number of popular anime series that are loved by not only Japanese but also international people. Anim[…]

Mamoru Hodomo Movies

Anime has got more well-known as one of hot series on video streaming services or one of popular movie genres all over t[…]


There are several worldly famous anime directors in Japan, and more expected creators have distinguished themselves as a[…]

Anohana: The Flower We Saw That Day