Hayao Miyazaki is the most illustrious and distinguished Japanese animator and director. He began his career as an entry-level animator at Tōei Animation in 1963. His first animated feature film debuted 16 years later, following another film release in 1984, before he decided to launch Studio Ghibli together with Isao Takahata in 1985.
It didn’t take long before his way of storytelling asserted a special place in his homeland, which then reached the global market once Mononoke-hime hit the theatres in America in 1997. An undisputed master of his craft, Miyazaki’s projects feature immersive and captivating storytelling complemented by impactful messages and mythological references. Following in this article are all animated feature films by this ingenious pioneer, whose work has been gracing our screens for 43 years, directed and/or written.
How Many Movies Created by Hayao Miyazaki Are There?
A total of 14 movies were either written or both written and directed by Hayao Miyazaki. In addition to the said projects, Miyazaki has worked on numerous short films, video games, and manga, created concepts for some of the movies directed by his son, and was credited as an animator or writer in various TV series, music videos, and movies.
Miyazaki’s Movies in Order (at a Glance)
Miyazaki is also credited as one of the writers of Heisei tanuki gassen ponpoko (Pom Poko), a movie directed and written by Isao Takahata in 1994. However, while the idea behind the film is Miyazaki’s, he is not credited for the screenplay, thus it will remain an “honorable mention” (and our recommendation).
- Rupan sansei: Kariosutoro no shiro
- Kaze no tani no Naushika
- Tenkû no shiro Rapyuta
- Tonari no Totoro
- Majo no takkyûbin
- Kurenai no buta
- Mimi wo sumaseba
- Sen to Chihiro no kamikakushi
- Hauru no ugoku shiro
- Gake no ue no Ponyo
- Karigurashi no Arietty
- Kokuriko-zaka kara
- Kaze tachinu
Miyazaki’s Movies in Order (by Release Date)
1. Rupan sansei: Kariosutoro no shiro (Lupin III: The Castle of Cagliostro, 1979)
Rupan sansei: Kariosutoro no shiro – which is an addition to a well-known Monkey Punch franchise by Kazuhiko Katō – was Miyazaki’s directorial debut. The franchise is built around a seemingly goofy, yet quite dashing thief and his many adventures.
2. Kaze no tani no Naushika (Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, 1984)
One of the most memorable animated feature films, Nausicaa was a great success with the Japanese audience. Unfortunately, even though the film’s achievement in animation and writing warranted its release overseas, the English version robbed it of its glory. It was later remade with a translation befitting of the original and, today, the movie enjoys its well-deserved reputation. It tells a story about a young, enthusiastic explorer, Nausicaa, whose peace-loving nature guides her on her quest to prevent a war between 2 nations while also saving their dying planet.
3. Tenkû no shiro Rapyuta (Laputa: Castle in the Sky, 1986)
Tenkû no shiro Rapyuta was Miyazaki’s first Studio Ghibli movie. It showcases the tranquil, harmonious side of nature, and deals with matters of human nature, mainly mankind’s greed and hunger for power and wealth. The gentle giants watch over the Castle, as it floats above what is mundane. The Sci-Fi adventure follows a young girl and a boy who join a pirate crew in search of a mysterious castle.
4. Tonari no Totoro (My Neighbour Totoro, 1988)
The face of the studio, Totoro soon proved to be the greatest success in marketing that Studio Ghibli achieved. The merchandise inspired by the movie, as well as the movie itself has not lost popularity to this day. This beautifully animated film focuses on 2 sisters who moved to the countryside with their father in order to be closer to their ailing mother. There, they came across a magical forest spirit veiled in mystery and their adventure began.
5. Majo no takkyûbin (Kiki’s Delivery Service, 1989)
Another fan favorite majorly known under its English title – Kiki’s Delivery Service – is a witch’s coming-of-age story. Young Kiki became independent and is now supporting herself by running an air delivery service on her magical broom. The movie’s radiant energy, while a result of beautiful animation and writing, is elevated by the emphasis that has been placed on the flight. The reflection of Miyazaki’s fascination with flight, along with charismatic and likeable characters, made this wonderful cinematic achievement into one of the most joyous Studio Ghibli movies.
6. Kurenai no buta (Porco Rosso, 1992)
Another movie focused on flight, Kurenai no buta tells a story about a pilot who was cursed to have an appearance of a pig. The movie is set in Italy some years after the first World War, and its protagonist is an incredibly skilled pilot and a war veteran. The humorous adventure is built around romance, friendship and rivalry between 2 pilots.
7. Mimi wo sumaseba (Whisper of the Heart, 1995)
This winsome animated drama is about a love story between a young girl and a boy. The fictional elements in the film emphasize the beauty of passion, imagination and creation, as the girl chases her passion for stories and writing, aspiring to one day become a writer. While it wasn’t directed by Miyazaki, the screenplay for the picture is signed by him.
8. Mononoke-hime (Princess Mononoke, 1997)
Mononoke-hime is the masterpiece that took Miyazaki overseas once again. This time, the movie was a major success on a global scale, which opened the door to a different kind of storytelling. Unlike most animated films in America and the Western market, Mononoke dealt with big questions and essential topics in a profoundly mature manner. Animated movies were now something more than a fight between good and evil imbued with dichotomous thinking.
9. Sen to Chihiro no kamikakushi (Spirited Away, 2001)
The first, and so far the only Studio Ghibli movie that won an Academy Award for Best Animated Feature, Sen to Chihiro no kamikakushi was both written and directed by Miyazaki. The enchanting, mystery-instilled adventure of a young girl whose parents were turned into pigs after they crossed into the spiritual realm has won the favour of both critics and audiences worldwide.
10. Hauru no ugoku shiro (Howl’s Moving Castle, 2004)
One of the most beloved romances among the fans of Miyazaki’s and Studio Ghibli’s filmography, Hauru no ugoku shiro brings stunning animation sequences and a bewitching story about a young man whose mysterious life begins to unveil after he crosses paths with Sofi – a young woman who was cursed by a witch known as Arechi no Majo.
11. Gake no ue no Ponyo (Ponyo, 2008)
Similarly to Kiki’s story, Ponyo is a fun, magical adventure of a five-year-old boy who happened to meet a little goldfish princess that escaped her loving father’s watchful eye, and left to learn about the world above the sea. Filled with mythical and imaginative references, this movie is another beautiful celebration of Miyazaki’s creativity and storytelling.
12. Karigurashi no Arietty (Arrietty, 2010)
Karigurashi no Arietty is somewhat based on The Borrowers, a novel by Mary Norton. It follows a teenage girl, Arriety, and her family, as it unveils a world hidden from our own. When a young boy learns of her existence, Arriety’s life starts to change. This beautiful story wasn’t solely Miyazaki’s work, but yet another project he was involved in as a screenplay writer.
13. Kokuriko-zaka kara (From Up on Poppy Hill, 2011)
Much like the previous, Miyazaki’s touch in Kokuriko-zaka kara is recognised in its screenplay. The movie was directed by his son, and it follows a group of teenagers looking to save the clubhouse of their school from the wrecking ball.
14. Kaze tachinu (The Wind Rises, 2013)
The final movie Miyazaki both wrote and directed before announcing his retirement in 2013, Kaze Tachinu is breathtaking for both the scenes that inspire, entwined with passion, love and virtues and those which showcase the destruction caused by war. Once again, his imagination “took flight” as he masterfully animated the story of Jiro Horikoshi – the man who designed Japanese fighter planes during the 2nd World War.
What is the best way to watch Miyazaki’s movies?
As all of the movies are separate stories set in entirely different worlds, the order in which one would watch them is preference-based. Miyazaki’s awe-inspiring storytelling and artistry are the sole constants in all of these movies, with the small exception being his very first directorial project – Rupan sansei: Kariosutoro no shiro. The Rupan sensei franchise has been enjoying quite a popular reputation with the audiences, therefore it requires the directors and writers to stay true to its origin. However, Miyazaki’s signature soon became prominent. His masterful and recognizable storytelling caught attention already in Kaze no Tani no Nausicaa, his 2nd full-length animated feature film. This movie, along with the rest of his masterpieces, is not co-dependent.
Possibly, the best way to stream them would be depending on one’s overall preference in terms of genre and gravity of a topic. We could roughly assume a division of the movies into an “idle-watch” and a “heavy topics” category. Once you settle for either of the 2, the order in which the movies are streamed ceases to matter. However, this does not by any chance mean that the movies which fall in the former category lack emotional impact or are deprived of deeper meaning, as all of the films are brimming with mythological references, symbolism, and compelling stories and characters. They are merely less focused on dealing with big, essential questions.
Where to Watch Miyazaki’s Movies?
The Studio Ghibli movies, majorly signed by Hayao Miyazaki, are currently streaming on Netflix and HBO Max, along with Kaze no Tani no Nausicaa which was released a year prior to the studio’s launch. Rupan sansei: Kariosutoro no shiro, along with the rest, can be found on Amazon Prime Video.
Do You Need to Watch Miyazaki’s Movies in Order?
Referring to what was formerly stated, the movies created by Hayao Miyazaki do not need to follow any particular watch order. Each film is a different and independent fragment of the visionary’s imagination and brings forth divergent types of magic. The sole exception to this would be his directorial debut – Rupan sansei: Kariosutoro no shiro. While the movie was a success, it doesn’t showcase Miyazaki’s signature traits as much as the rest.
For sci-fi and fantasy fans, the recommendation would be Kaze no Tani no Nausicaa, Tenkû no shiro Rapyuta, Tonari no Totoro, Majo no takkyûbin, Kurenai no buta, Mononoke-hime, Sen to Chihiro no kamikakushi, Hauru no ugoku shiro, Gake no ue no Ponyo, Karigurashi no Arietty.
Drama and adventure fans on the other hand may prefer to start off with Tonari no Totoro, Majo no takkyûbin, Heisei tanuki gassen ponpoko, Mimi wo sumaseba, Kokuriko-zaka kara, or Kaze tachinu.
Since the distinction by genre isn’t too strict per se, we’ll follow up on the previous grouping. The titles which would fall under the “heavy topics” category are Kaze no Tani no Nausicaa, Mononoke-hime, Tenkû no shiro Rapyuta, Sen to Chihiro no kamikakushi, Hauru no ugoku shiro, and Kaze tachinu.
The other category would include Tonari no Totoro, Majo no takkyûbin, Kurenai no buta, Gake no ue no Ponyo, Karigurashi no Arietty, Heisei tanuki gassen ponpoko, Mimi wo sumaseba, and Kokuriko-zaka kara,.
Are Miyazaki’s Movies Connected?
None of the films written or directed by Hayao Miyazaki are in a sequel, prequel, or spinoff relation. The only movie which had a sequel made is Mimi wo sumaseba. The sequel, titled Neko no ongaeshi, is Studio Ghibli’s only sequel ever made. However, while it features some of the characters from its predecessor, it isn’t as much of a sequel as it is a spin-off. The story is not at all reliant on the original movie and it was not directed by either of the co-founders of the studio.
Will there Be More Movies by Hayao Miyazaki?
In terms of future projects, we dare say that the fans of Miyazaki’s work have had their wish fulfilled after being struck with a retirement announcement back in 2013. Mainly, Miyazaki officially retired from Studio Ghibli in 2013, but the following year the artist announced that he would be coming out of retirement to make one more film. Thus, the final movie written and directed by Hayao Miyazaki will be Kimitachi wa dô ikiru ka (How Do You Live? ), which should be released in 2026.