Anime News Network Ranks the Best (and Worst) of Studio Ghibli

Today, the editorial team at Anime News Network took aim at Studio Ghibli, naming their picks for the best and worst feature films. Movies were selected for Best Movie, Runner-Up and Worst Movie. Writers who contributed to this article include Rebecca Silverman, Theron Martin, Amy McNulty, James Beckett, Christopher Farris, and Anne Lauenroth.

In the Best Movie category, Princess Mononoke received two votes. Spirited Away, The Wind Rises, The Tale of the Princess Kaguya and When Marnie Was There all received one vote.

In the Runner-up category, Spirited Away received three votes. Whisper of the Heart received two votes. The Cat Returns received one vote.

Finally, in the Worst Movie category, Howl's Moving Castle received three votes. Tales From Earths, Ponyo and The Secret World of Arrietty each received one vote.

This was a very fascinating article, with a few surprises. Aside from Spirited Away, there were no real consensus picks on the winner's side. Eight titles in all were named by the ANN writers. The obvious omission, of course: My Neighbor Totoro. Why was Totoro completely overlooked? Did the writers feel compelled to dig deeper into the Ghibli catalog for hidden gems? Were they driven by the critic's desire to appear more sophisticated than the average viewer, who would overwhelmingly choose Totoro as their favorite?

It's important to note that many of the writers noted that they have only seen a few Studio Ghibli movies, so this shouldn't be seen as a critic of the entire studio's library. Perhaps the editors should have held a weekend film festival to bring everybody up to speed.

The biggest surprise is Howl's Moving Castle as the consensus pick for Ghibli's weakest movie. I hadn't expected this result; Tales From Earthsea seemed like the easy choice. Again, it's possible that the writers sought to avoid the easy answers and dig a little deeper. Personally, I love Howl and think it's a terrific movie, but I can appreciate its mixed reputation with fans. It is very loosely based on the book, as though Hayao Miyazaki only scribbled down the back-cover description and then ran off in a completely different direction (he did much the same when adapting "The Incredible Tide" into Future Boy Conan).

At Ghibli Blog, we have conducted a couple movie polls over the years, and the winners are invariably Spirited Away and My Neighbor Totoro. Most of the remaining movies are clumped in together. Miyazaki is more popular than Takahata, although Yoshifumi Kondo's Whisper/Mimi usually ranks highly.

Should we conduct another Studio Ghibli movie poll? I'm curious to hear everyone's opinions now that the studio's feature films have all been released. Let me know if you wanna do it.

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