[Top 10] Best Studio Ghibli Characters

10 best Studio Ghibli characters, best ghibli characters
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What are some of the iconic characters that stand the test of time in Studio Ghibli?

If you’re an anime fan then there is no doubt that you have probably watched at least one Ghibli film. The studio has never failed to create fantastic imaginary worlds, extraordinary stories and of course; amazing characters that move the very story. Like most films, Ghibli is challenged to create three-dimensional characters which a viewer can either sympathize or empathize with.. Despite this challenge, Ghibli  this feat with their main characters, and even their background characters are given so much depth you can’t help but praise the studio.

While everyone has their own favorite characters, here are 10 of the characters I think were some of the best created by the studio. If this is your first time encountering the character in the list then go and watch the movie! Trust me, you won’t regret a second of it.

10. San/ Mononoke Hime from Princess Mononoke

You're Beautiful Scene

A young girl who was raised by the wolf gods. When she was just a baby her parents abandoned her to appease Moro, a wolf god who was mad at them for violating the forests. Moro then decides to raise San as one of her own. Eventually, San would grow up to be resentful towards humans for harming the forests.

Instead of the film being named after the actual protagonist, San’s name was used instead since she had such a dominating presence in the film despite serving as the Anti-hero in the story. Her disdain towards humans is also very justified due to how she was just left by her parents to starve or get eaten in the forest and well, we humans never really respected the forest to begin with. While Ghibli is known for having strong female characters, San is a great example of a character who is strong both mentally and physically.

9. Nausicaa from Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind

Ending Scene of Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind

Nausicaa is the beloved princess of the Valley of the Wind and the eleventh child of King Jhil. She is also the only one of his children to reach maturity. She assumes the responsibilities of her father, who fell ill prior to the events of the story, and later succeeds him to the throne. Fueled by the love for her people and life itself, she does her best to study ecology in order to understand the earth and how to prevent it from getting worse.

Miyazaki’s first major heroine easily makes it to this list for me. Nausicaa sets a great starting point for all of the other female Ghibli characters. During the 1980 there were only a few female heroines to hit the screens. Nausicaa came into the picture around that time, and what’s so great about her is that she was not sexualized as a female character and could stand toe-to-toe with the male characters in a fight.

8. Sosuke from Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea

Kiss Scene

He is one of the two main characters of the film. He is five years old when he finds Ponyo and decides to keep and protect her. Sosuke is Ponyo’s best friend and towards the end of the movie they are presumed to be a couple. 

I was debating on putting both him and Ponyo as one character in this list because they seem inseparable (they might as well be considering the earth might drown if they part at this point) but I decided to give this spot to Sosuke for being so accepting despite his tender age (but that might be the reason why he is accepting). He finds a magical fish near his home and decides that he will protect her. True to his word, he never left Ponyo’s side despite all the scary things happening around him. Aside from being a good friend to Ponyo he’s a very sweet kid in general to all the other characters in the film most especially to his parents.

7. Sophie Hatter from Howl’s Moving Castle

Flower Field Scene

Sophie is an apprentice hat maker in the small town of Market Chipping in the fictional Kingdom of Ingary. She lives a very dull life till she runs into a wizard named Howl. She also ends up getting cursed by the Witch of the Waste and seeks refuge in Howl’s Castle. 

Getting turned into a granny might have been a good thing for Sophie, she actually grows a backbone after becoming one. The old age also unlocks her courage and she now puts up a bigger fight against those who harass her. While Howl’s Moving Castle is known as one of the lesser Miyazaki Films, they did an amazing job developing a plain anti-social girl to a leading female protagonist which a lot of young girls can look up to.

6. Totoro from My Neighbor Totoro

Under the Rain with Totoro Scene

Totoro is one of the main characters of the film My Neighbor Totoro. He is a wood/forest spirit that would occasionally help and play with the sisters Satsuki and Mei. Miyazaki wrote in the film’s art book that “Totoro” isn’t the creature’s actual name, it was a name given by Mei and no one really knows what its real name is.

How could I forget this iconic Ghibli mascot? Totoro embodies everything magical and whimsical when it comes to Ghibli’s word building. For me there isn’t anything wrong with just loving Totoro for what the film had to offer. I don’t think I’m the only one who loved this gentle giant of a forest spirit. The Totoro icon/image can be seen almost everywhere nowadays.

5. Chihiro Ogino/Sen from Spirited Away

Spirited Away Trailer

Chihiro is a young girl who is very unhappy about the prospect of changes. On the way to her new home she and her parents end up exploring an abandoned park and get themselves trapped in the Spirit World. Chihiro now has to face some of the biggest changes in her life in order to save her parents.

When we talk about character development in Ghibli Films, Spirited Away’s Chihiro would be one of the perfect examples for the topic. She starts off really bratty in the film but gradually begins to open up and become a caring and understanding individual, including to enemies in the film. While she’s no warrior princess like San and Nausicaa she is one of the bravest girls out there—not to mention she’s only 10 years old.

4. Jiro Horikoshi from The Wind Rises

First Test Flight Scene

Jiro Horikoshi is the protagonist of the Ghibli Film The Wind Rises. He has a passionate love towards airplanes since his childhood which continued all the way to his adulthood. Throughout the events of the series, he marries Naoko Satomi and also creates the “perfect aircraft”.

Jiro is one of the few Ghibli characters based on an actual person; however, Miyazaki may have altered some of his personality traits to keep the movie less political. Jiro, unlike other Ghibli characters, is incapable of reaching his true goal. As a kid he dreams of one day piloting an airplane however, due to his poor eyesight he is not permitted to even fly a plane. This does not hinder him from working on planes. He becomes a designer for planes and shifts his goals to making a great plane. Despite working on something he loves, Jiro does express guilt over the future use of the planes he designed. He’s a tragic character constantly overlooked since this film deals with different themes as compared to most known Ghibli Films.

3. Anna Sasaki from When Marnie Was There

The Marsh House Scene

Is the main protagonist of the Ghibli Film When Marnie Was There. She starts off as a polite but rather withdrawn individual with a love for art in the movie. After she meets Marnie she gradually opens up about herself to her new friend and the people surrounding her.

If you’re an introvert who loves art then maybe you can see a little bit of yourself in Anna. In turn, this character might give you the courage you need to let other people in your life. Ghibli is known for pushing change upon characters through their interaction with either mythical being or even spirits. In the film Anna learns to open up more due to her interactions with Marnie, who is actually her dead grandmother.

2. No Face from Spirited Away

No Face Scenes

A lonely and faceless spirit that Chihiro let in the bathhouse. Due to her kindness to him, he grew a sort-of affinity towards her. He eventually takes advantage of the greed of the other workers in the bathhouse by providing them with fake gold to get fed and cared for.

Another iconic non-human character other than Totoro, he probably wasn’t a bad spirit in the start, he just wanted to repay Chihiro’s kindness in some way…although, he was a bit extreme. What “corrupted” him was he learned how to control other characters with the use of gold—also when he ate the other workers, he took in some of their personality traits which may explain his obsessive and greedy behavior. As he throws them up, you can see that he gradually becomes better and only wishes to have a friend by his side. 

1. Kiki from Kiki’s Delivery Service

Kiki Gets Hired Scene

Kiki is a 13-year-old witch who has left home to begin her training to become a full-fledged witch. When she flies she is usually seen with her animal companion Jiji and a radio.

Despite being an individual of supposed great magical power, Kiki seems only proficient when it comes to flight and it doesn’t seem like the film she starred in was about her getting better in magic. In fact, the film seemed more of a coming-of-age story for any young girl and what she has to go through when she enters her teenhood or adolescence when she first moves out of the comfort of her own home.

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