Studio Ghibli and Hayao Miyazaki are often seen as synonymous, but there are plenty of masterpieces under the Ghibli banner that weren't crafted by Miyazaki. Even so, this perception isn't totally off base. Miyazaki co-founded the studio with his creative partner Isao Takahata, and directed some of the studio's most renowned films, including My Neighbor Totoro, Spirited Away, and Princess Mononoke.
Miyazaki's work is spectacular – but so is the work of the other directors Studio Ghibli has worked with, like Isao Takahata, Yoshifumi Kondo, Hiroyuki Morita, Gorō Miyazaki, and Hiromasa Yonebayashi. Studio Ghibli movies not directed by Miyazaki have their own merit and charm, and are often underrated hidden gems, such as Only Yesterday and When Marnie Was There. Others – particularly Grave of the Fireflies – are just as well known as anything Miyazaki directed.
Gorō Miyazaki's second film, 2011's From Up on Poppy Hill, deals with student activism. Umi Matsuzaki and Shun Kazama clean up their high school's clubhouse in order to use it to run the school newspaper. When Tokumaru (the school's chairman and local businessman) decides to destroy the clubhouse for redevelopment, the students must persuade him to forgo his plan.
Actors: Masami Nagasawa, Teruyuki Kagawa, Yuriko Ishida, Nao Ōmori, Keiko Takeshita, + more
Directed by: Gorō Miyazaki
Whisper Of The Heart is a coming-of-age story about a teenage girl who wants to pursue a writing career, and who is developing romantic feelings for the first time in her life.
The movie, which debuted in 1995, was the first and only film to be directed by Yoshifumi Kondō. He was expected to succeed Hayao Miyazaki as a primary director for Studio Ghibli, but he died suddenly of an aneurysm in 1998. His death was said to be caused by overwork, which inspired Miyazaki to temporarily retire, and then return to work at a more relaxed pace.
Actors: Mayumi Iizuka, Minami Takayama, Shigeru Muroi, Yōko Honna, Toshio Suzuki, + more
Directed by: Yoshifumi Kondō
Like many Studio Ghibli films, The Secret World Of Arrietty is based on a book by a Western author. In this case, it's The Borrowers by Mary Norton. The 2010 film, which was the first film directed by Hiromasa Yonebayashi, follows a group of miniature humans called Borrowers, who live inside walls and borrow items from humans to survive. This move is particularly lauded for its soundtrack, which was composed by Cécile Corbel – a departure from the studio's usual composer, Joe Hisaishi.
Actors: Mirai Shida, Tatsuya Fujiwara, Kirin Kiki, Ryunosuke Kamiki, Tomokazu Miura, + more
Directed by: Hiromasa Yonebayashi
When Marnie Was There tells the story of a young girl named Anna Sasaki who forges a deep friendship with a mysterious girl named Marnie. Marnie isn't who Anna thinks she is, but her unexpected identity helps Anna come to terms with some troubling aspects of her personal and family history.
The movie came out in 2014, and was directed by Hiromasa Yonebayashi. It's based on Joan G. Robinson's novel of the same title, though its English setting is transposed to Japan. This was the last film Studio Ghibli made before it announced a hiatus following Hayao Miyazaki's retirement, which later proved to be temporary.
Actors: Kasumi Arimura, Susumu Terajima, Kazuko Yoshiyuki, Nanako Matsushima, Hitomi Kuroki, + more
Directed by: Hiromasa Yonebayashi