In February 2020, Netflix began streaming beloved Studio Ghibli classics like My Neighbour Totoro and Porco Roso in a move praised by many fans of the movie house.
In addition to classics viewers all around the world have come to know, the streaming service has also be releasing some of Miyazaki’s hidden gems, forgotten knock-outs, and unappreciated masterpieces.
For when you’ve made your way through the studio’s most well-known films, here’s a list of Studio Ghibli’s five most underrated movies — for when you’re ready to level up.
1. Only Yesterday
Unlike a lot of Ghibli movies, Only Yesterday’s plot is rooted in the minutiae of everyday life. It’s about a grown woman, Taeko, travelling to the countryside and trying to discern her childhood memories from her childhood dreams.
And just because there’s no magic in this film, doesn’t mean it isn’t magical. Every frame is an artwork and an excellent exploration of adulthood.
2. My Neighbors the Yamadas
My Neighbors the Yamadas has one of the most unique art styles to ever grace a Ghibli film. The whole movie is animated with inky lines and has these gorgeous watercolour type colours. The plot is also a fun string of vignettes about the Yamadas living together.
3. The Tale of the Princess Kaguya
The Tale of the Princess Kaguya is based off a 10th-century Japanese fictional prose narrative. Its story begins with a bamboo cutter finding an infant, the size of his thumb, inside a shining bamboo stalk.
But don’t let that premise fool you into thinking this story is out of date. This film encapsulates what’s beautiful and tragic about life better than any other picture I’ve seen.
4. The Cat Returns
Do you like talking cats, laughing until you cry, and watching amazing animation? Then you need to check out this film. The Cat Returns focuses on highschooler Haru being teleported to The Cat Kingdom, and the film’s an absolute riot.
5. Pom Poko
I’m calling it: Pom Poko is my favourite Studio Ghibli film. This movie’s about a group of transforming tanukis (Japanese raccoon dogs) trying to save their forest from turning into a housing development.
However, this picture is not just another Ferngully. Pom Poko deep-dives into what causes deforestation, how this affects wildlife, and what can be done to make things better.