Anime Underground 11 Great Studio Ghibli Films Not Directed By Hayao Miyazaki  

Anna Lindwasser
154 votes 40 voters 11 items

List Rules Vote up the best Studio Ghibli films by directors other than Miyazaki.

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 TotoroSpirited 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. 


From up on Poppy Hill is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list 11 Great Studio Ghibli Films Not Directed By Hayao Miyazaki
Photo:  Studio Ghibli

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

Initial Release: 2011

Directed by: Gorō Miyazaki

Also Ranked

#14 on Amazing Japanese Kids Movies You Should Watch

15 0
Is this movie good?
see more on From up on Poppy Hill

Grave of the Fireflies is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list 11 Great Studio Ghibli Films Not Directed By Hayao Miyazaki
Photo:  Studio Ghibli

Grave Of The Fireflies, which premiered in 1988, was directed by Isao Takahata, one of the original founders of Studio Ghibli. Often cited as the saddest anime movie ever made, this film follows Seita and Setsuko, two children who are struggling to survive after their mother is killed during a World War II firebombing. They must deal with illness, starvation, and loss, all while trying to maintain a sense of innocence. 

Actors: Yoshiko Shinohara, Akemi Yamaguchi, Ayano Shiraishi, Tsutomu Tatsumi

Initial Release: 1988

Directed by: Isao Takahata

Also Ranked

#37 on The Best Movies You Never Want to Watch Again

#25 on Animated Movies That Make You Cry the Most

#9 on Anime With The Darkest Endings

#12 on The Saddest Anime Series of All Time

16 1
Is this movie good?
see more on Grave of the Fireflies

Whisper of the Heart is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list 11 Great Studio Ghibli Films Not Directed By Hayao Miyazaki
Photo:  Studio Ghibli

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

Initial Release: 1995

Directed by: Yoshifumi Kondō

Also Ranked

#11 on Amazing Japanese Kids Movies You Should Watch

16 1
Is this movie good?
see more on Whisper of the Heart
4 17 VOTES

The Cat Returns


The Cat Returns is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list 11 Great Studio Ghibli Films Not Directed By Hayao Miyazaki
Photo:  Studio Ghibli

The Cat Returns is a spin-off of Whisper of the Heart that focuses on a minor character: a cat statue named named Baron who was brought to life by human creativity. In Hiroyuki Morita's 2002 film, a young girl named Haru Yoshioka saves the Prince of Cat's life, and is offered his hand in marriage as a thank you. Her vague reply is taken as a yes, and she has to travel to the Cat Kingdom to clear up the mistake. 

Actors: Aki Maeda, Tetsurō Tamba, Takayuki Yamada, Yōko Honna, Yo Oizumi, + more

Initial Release: 2002

Directed by: Hiroyuki Morita

Also Ranked

#8 on Amazing Japanese Kids Movies You Should Watch

16 1
Is this movie good?
see more on The Cat Returns