[Top 10] Best Studio Ghibli Movie for Kids

Best ghibli movies for kids, best ghibli films for kids
If we scream loud enough, the sun will rise.

A lof of anime fans would like to introduce their own kids to anime, one of the best ways to do it is through Ghibli.

I remember as a kid my mom would wonder what cartoon movie she would rent out for me as a reward for a great job at school. Back then, movies were a really big treat for me and weren’t as easily accessible as they are now.  Eventually, she opened my world to Ghibli and I preferred it over most movies she picked out over the years. Ghibli is pretty much hailed as the Disney of Japan. While it definity does feel like a Disney film, it does feel slightly more sophisticated and may have darker elements than your usual show for kids.  So, while it is generally friendly for kids, they might not be enamored with it right away if not introduced right.

I put together a list of must watch Ghibli films you can view together with siblings or even with your own kids. Movie watching is a great bonding activity, and if you’re with your own kid, you can help them understand the film even more. Please take into consideration the age of your kid when you watch movies with them, as certain themes are more appropriate for older audiences or when your kid is ready to get introduced to certain concepts.

10. My Neighbor Totoro

My Neighbor Totoro Trailer

A well-known Ghibli film by Hayao Miyazaki, the character Totoro even became an icon for Ghibli films. My Neighbor Totoro follows the tale of two young girls Satsuki and her younger sister Mei. The two of them have just moved  to their new home in the countryside to wait for their mother to recover from an illness in a nearby hospital. The two sisters explore their new home, and even discover that they have a few playful spirits as their neighbors, one particular big forest spirit Mei named Totoro.

Probably the perfect movie to start off your journey in the whimsical world Ghibli creates for us. Since this movie isn’t action packed, I think it’s a great introductory movie to kids since there is no violence involved. It might even get your kids a little less afraid of any creepy monsters under the bed. The forest spirits may come off a bit creepy to a child but if the kid manages to stay engaged with the movie, he/she will come to realize that these spirits are friendly, and have no intention to harm them. 

9. Ponyo

Ponyo Trailer

A tale of friendship and love loosely based on Disney’s own The Little Mermaid. Ponyo tells the adventures of a 5-year old boy, Sosuke who finds a magical goldfish trapped in a jar on the beach beside his house. As a reward for saving her, the fish licks his finger (which was wounded) and it heals instantly. By ingesting human blood, Ponyo can now transform herself to human at will. This sparks the beginning of Ponyo and Sosuke’s friendship. However, due to using her powers, Pony unknowingly triggered ecological changes that caused tsunamis and floods that wreaked havoc in their small town.

This or My Neighbor Totoro are great introductory films to your kids. If your kid is looking for something more exciting when it comes to movies, then Ponyo might be just the right fit. The film features a wider and brighter color palette as compared to My Neighbor Totoro, and there’s a bit of action thrown in here and there. The water animation is also something to take note of and it just might be the key to keep your kid hooked on the movie. 

8. Kiki’s Delivery Service

Kiki's Delivery Service Trailer

When is it time for a witch to leave her nest? For Kiki and her fellow witches, 13 is the age of maturity. Due to tradition, witches start to become independent and begin their formal training by the time they hit 13. Kiki has to leave her home and find a town without a resident witch so she can become that town’s witch and lend her magic to help the townsfolk. The problem is, Kiki only knows how to fly on her broomstick and has no other skill. Deciding to make use of her only skill she sets up the “Witch Delivery Service”.

Now, once your kid or your sibling has a longer attention span, maybe Kiki’s Delivery Service is your next best watch. The film is beautifully animated and the story is pretty simple and easy to understand. Despite its simpleness it does carry a great message, one about friendship and bravery. Through Kiki we can learn to become self-reliant and have trust in our own abilities, we also learn later on, that creating bonds with other people and putting trust in friends is also a good thing.

7. The Cat Returns

The Cat Returns Trailer

While not directed by Hayao Miyazaki, The Cat Returns is another Ghibli Animated Film you should get your kid to watch. The 2002 film directed by Hiroyuki Morita tells the story of an introverted and klutzy high school girl named Haru Yoshioka, who has a suppressed ability to talk to cats. She saves Lune, Prince of the Cat Kingdom who gifts her his hand in marriage as a thank you for saving his life. One incident after the other she somehow ends up in the Cat Kingdom and to make matters worse, she herself is turned into a cat.

While not the best film out there, it is a pretty cute and fluffy watch and if you’ve watched the Whisper of the Heart prior to watching this you can treat this as an animated version of Shizuku’s future book, considering the Baron is a character in there as well. Haru as a character is very believable and relatable. A lot of girls her age and younger may feel a bit lost and unsure with themselves, this is what makes her a bit unique compared to other Ghibli protagonists (especially the earlier ones). Through Haru, any girl can feel she is capable of doing a lot of things as long as they set their mind to it. It’s a great inspirational film if you aim to build courage in your kid’s heart.

6. Howl’s Moving Castle

Howl's Moving Castle Trailer

A movie based on a novel with the same name by writer Diana Wynne Jones. The movie focuses on Sophie, a hatter and the eldest among 3 sisters. Sophie is plain looking and doesn’t seem to be very confident with herself. On her way to visit her sister, she encounters the wizard Howl. Unknown to her, the meeting angers the Witch of the Waste who later curses her, by transforming her into an old-lady. The curse also prevents her from telling anyone of her condition. Wanting to turn back to normal, Sophie begins her journey to search for a cure.


If you feel like your kid is really into Disney and Pixar films, then Howl’s Moving Castle with its stunning visuals would be a treat to the eye for them. Unlike the earlier recommendations, Howl’s Moving Castle is slightly more fast paced and magic is being used in almost every scene. In the movie, both Howl and Sophie learn and grow by learning about the other, this well-paced romance is great for teaching kids about courage, trust and loyalty,

5. The Secret World of Arrietty

The Secret World of Arrietty Trailer

A fun movie loosely based on Mary Norton’s classic Novel: The Borrowers. The story focuses on Arrietty and her family who are “Borrowers”, tiny people who are about 10 cm tall who borrow/take items that humans no longer need. Arrietty is still learning the ropes of being a borrower and accidently gets spotted by a human boy named Sho/Shawn. Unknown to the both of them, they’ll inspire each other with how they live.

While it might seem like a Thumbelina movie, it really is not. Arrietty is a great family movie, while it does center around the relationship of the two main casts, the film also brings the idea of family to focus. Arrietty is allowed and encouraged to be courageous and daring, sometimes being too protective may hinder a kid from growth. But of course, some limitations and house rules are in order for safety purposes. Just make sure to give your kid space to breathe and have fun and most importantly explore.

Arrietty also shows the importance of hope and inspiration. Shawn has little to no expectations of his upcoming surgery. But observing the burrowers live their difficult lives and survive each day despite the harsh conditions, inspired him to live-on and not give up hope.

4. Whisper of the Heart

Whisper of the Heart Trailer

While in a very normal junior high school setting, Ghibli has not failed in making yet another whimsical masterpiece with Whisper of the Heart. The film follows the story of the manga with the same name. Shizuku, a young girl who loves to read and write longs to be a writer when she grows up, but she doesn’t have the drive to start. One day, in the library she notices all the books she has checked out have also been borrowed by a person named  Seiji Amasawa. She eventually does meet Seiji though the two didn’t exactly hit it off. After their second meeting they developed a good relationship. Once Shizuku sees Seiji work towards his dream she gets inspired to work for hers.

If you want to teach your kid the importance of hard-work then you should introduce them to Whisper of the Heart. Although, I would recommend this when your kid is a bit older as the story may seem a bit dull and slow at the very beginning. But if you manage to get him/her to sit through it, the movie shows valuable life lessons and prompts kids to start dreaming at a young age. While there is a bit of romance in the movie, it’s very safe and child-friendly. 

3. Spirited Away

When Marnie Was There Trailer

Hiromasa Yonebayashi’s final film before he left Ghibli and his second film following The Secret World of Arrietty. Anna Sasaki moves to the countryside for health reasons. She is quiet and withdrawn from her other peers however, she seems to have a talent in drawing. One day she meets a strange young girl with blonde hair who befriends her. As their friendship deepens, Anna slowly opens up about herself to Marnie and the people around her.

For slightly older kids, preferably 10 years old and above. When Marnie Was There deals with darker themes than the previous entries and some scenes may come off as disturbing. However, the film does show us the importance of friendship. Anna, as a character, is also very relatable to audience members who have difficulty with socializing. There aren't a lot of magical elements so it might not be as appealing as Spirited Away, but the film is charming in its own right. It’s also a good idea to expose young children to Slice-of-Life films every now and then.

1. Princess Mononoke

Princess Mononoke Trailer

Will humans ever find harmony with forest spirits? Or is this another spiral of battles with no clear victor? Princess Mononoke is a film about the Emishi prince named Ashitaka and his involvement in a struggle between the gods of the forest and the humans who consume the forest's resources. Along the way he gains the trust of San, a young girl who is raised by the wolf god of the forest.

Princess Mononoke is a must watch film but it’s best to introduce this film to an older kid rather than someone too young, as this film deals with violence. Miyazaki during an interview for Cine Front expressed that he wanted elementary kids to be introduced to it despite the presence of violence. Violence is already a part of daily life and unless the film does not touch the subject then it might not be convincing to kids who are developing. At the end of the day, I believe it’s the parent who makes the final decision on when to introduce this film to their kids. But I think it’s a good move to let them watch it someday since it is a great Ghibli classic. 

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An Alchemist who offers her creations to wandering travelers for their stories. Pat’s potions often have immense healing capabilities, sometimes a potent poison— you never really know till you try.
Gamer Since: 2001
Favorite Genre: RPG
Currently Playing: Pokemon Sword
Top 3 Favorite Games:Child of Light, Danganronpa Trigger Happy Havoc:, Mortal Kombat X

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