[Top 15] Best Studio Ghibli Soundtracks

Best Studio Ghibli Soundtracks, Best Ghibli Music
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Looking for an immersive experience when you watch a film? Ghibli does just the trick with it's music in their movies.

When you hear Studio Ghibli, most of us will probably think about its unique art style and its whimsical stories that took the animation world by storm. But a key part of bringing out the magic of these stories is actually the musical scores we hear while the film is playing. In fact, sometimes the music is made during the early stages of production to help the staff understand the “feeling” they want to deliver when making the film.

It’s hard to imagine a Ghibli film without it’s calm yet powerful music. Some of us might even be familiar with the tunes and the movie it associates with, even without knowing the track’s title. If you’re looking for some Ghibli Music to add to your evening playlist, this list may help you find what you are looking for. 

15. The Bygone Days (Porco Rosso)

The Bygone Days Track

From the movie Porco Rosso, which is set in Europe. The setting of the movie challenges Miyazaki and Hisaishi to make the viewers feel as if they are walking into an Italian pub. A lyric version of the song is sung by Tokiko Kato who is also the Japanese voice provider of Gina in the film. While Ghibli is known for having Fantasy or Japanese sounding tracks, The Bygone Days stands out by delivering Euro-centric sounds. The horn section of the piece is something you don’t hear in other Ghibli films.

14. Sayonara no Natsu (From up on Poppy Hill)

Sayonara no Natsu Trailer

Sayonara no Natsu or A Summer of Goodbye serves as the theme songs for the movie: From Up on Poppy Hill. The movie has a bit of underlying sadness around it, being a post-war film. However, the film itself is not sad altogether. There are several uplifting moments and some scenes that raise hope. A good match to its main theme: Sayonara no Natsu.

13. Arrietty’s Song  (The Secret World of Arrietty)

Arrietty's Song Track

Arrietty’s Song for The Secret World of Arrietty is sung and composed by Cecile Corbel with the Japanese lyrics written by Ihira Yoko. If you’ve been a fan of Japanese anime for some time, you’d probably have heard the term “Character Songs” usually sung by the seiyuu/ voice actor of the character. While Arrietty’s Song is not sung by her voice actor, the theme does capture her very essence. I also loved the fact that different versions of this song (different languages) were all sung by Cecile Corbel herself.

12. A Journey- A Dream of Flight (The Wind Rises)

Another soundtrack from the movie Porco Rosso, this time something more upbeat that gives you an idea of an exciting adventure. Overall, the tune is pretty playful and uplifting, perfect for all of those flight scenes in the movie. Miyazaki is a huge fan of airplanes so you can see special care when it comes to both the animation and the music whenever an airplane is about to take flight.

6. The Procession of Celestial Beings I (The Tale of the Princess Kaguya)

Procession of Celestial Beings I Track

Usually, Joe Hisaishi would write scores for Hayao Miyazaki but this time he did the score for this movie, which is directed by Isao Takahata. Since the film is based on the Japanese folklore “The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter” you hear a lot of traditional instruments native to the country being mixed into the piece. The theme is also played during the final scene of the movie when Kaguya Hime, despite trying to stay on earth, gets her earthly memories taken away and accepts her fate. She does however, look back with tears signifying that she hasn’t lost her memories.due to it being a procession song when the gods descend, the scene makes us feel like the music is meant for parting.

5. Opening Theme (Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind)

Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind Title Sequence 

One of the first pieces we hear from Joe Hisaishi for Ghibli, or rather Pre-Ghibli as the movie was made prior to the studio’s founding. The theme pairs well with its haunting opening sequence. We’re given a brief history of what happened  to the now, dystopian world. The music shifts to a hopeful tone once we get a glimpse of Nausicaa’s Glider. A great opening for us, and the first of many pieces we will get to enjoy from Ghibli.

4. A Town With An Ocean View (Kiki’s Delivery Service)

A Town With An Ocean View Track

Joe Hisaishi treats us with something warm and uplifting with this track in Kiki’s Delivery Service. While most of the music in this list seems to lean over to the feeling of melancholy, that may not be the case for this particular soundtrack. The iconic town music also greatly compliments Kiki as a character, a young curious witch ready to learn all she can from this new town.

3. Merry Go Round of Life (Howl’s Moving Castle)

Merry Go Round of Life Track

The main track of the movie Howl’s Moving Castle, and probably one of the most loved themes of all. At first, I wasn’t sure if this was a waltz or not, but a few seconds in, the theme begins to  blend into a warm waltz arrangement. The music was so iconic, most people who’ve watched the film can immediately identify that it’s the theme of Howl’s Moving Castle once it plays. The soundtrack itself feels rich and magical, something you’d imagine straight out of a fairy tale.

2. The Legend of Ashitaka (Princess Mononoke)

The Legend of Ashitaka Track

A fantasy epic such as Princess Mononoke deserves just as grand of a theme. Ashitaka is often overshadowed by San as the main character of this film, but we get reminded that Ashitaka is the hero of this tale as some of the more notable tracks are about him. This one in particular is Ashitaka’s theme and is also the first track in the album. We hear the track again (although a different variation) at the end of the movie.

1. One Summer’s Day (Spirited Away)

One Summer's Day Track

Another melancholic theme by Hisaishi, that played at the part of the movie when Chihiro showed her most vulnerable state to Haku. I remember Ghibli for this particular theme as it shows the raw emotions and confusion the main character was going through. Chihiro, who is obviously still young, suddenly feels a huge amount of pressure on her shoulders and she is very uncertain with her future at this point of the movie. She was even surprised she forgot her own name. This particular scene paired with this music is enough to make a lot of people break into tears.

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