Finally, we have easy ways to watch Studio Ghibli movies online. It took years, which many spent buying Blu-rays and DVDs of Hayao Miyazaki's movies, but now they're on some of the best streaming services including Netflix and HBO Max, a change that means fans no longer have to buy these iconic films outright.
But, yes, because licensing rights always get complicated, not everyone streams classic movies such as Princess Mononoke, Howl’s Moving Castle, My Neighbor Totoro and Spirited Away on the same service. And as some will find frustrating, they're not on a service that many likely already can get.
- The best family movies on Netflix
- Our best Netflix shows list has 59 picks for your next binge watch
- Trying to find the best Family Movies on Amazon Prime?
Co-founded in 1985 by Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata, Studio Ghibli is a feature-length animation studio that has produced some of the most imaginative films of all time. It's also where some of the most iconic characters, including the floofy Totoro, the mystifying Kaonashi and the high-spirited Kiki originated. Those personalities populate lush, hand drawn universes and inspire countless fans to think of what's possible, rather than just what's marketable.
Ghibli's also won its fair share of awards, too. For example, Princess Mononoke was the first animated film to win the Japan Academy Film Prize association's Picture of the Year award. And Spirited Away isn't just critically beloved — winning the Best Animated Feature Academy Award in 2003 — but it also stole the title of Japan’s highest-ever grossing film from no less than Titanic.
The first piece of Ghibli streaming news came in October, when Variety detailed that HBO Max, the upcoming WarnerMedia-owned service, would be the exclusive streaming house Studio Ghibli films in the United States. On January 20, Netflix announced it was bringing the Studio Ghibli library to audiences around the world:
From February 2020, 21 films from the legendary animation house Studio Ghibli are coming exclusively to Netflix. We’re proud to bring beloved, influential stories like Spirited Away, Howl’s Moving Castle and My Neighbour Totoro to first-time viewers and high-flying fans alike. pic.twitter.com/955uiYAzA1January 20, 2020
That said, figuring out how to watch Studio Ghibli films might require starting a new streaming service account if you're in the states. Especially since there's one movie that's not on Netflix nor HBO max. Here's our complete guide on where to watch Studio Ghibli films online:
Are Studio Ghibli movies on Netflix?
Unfortunately for those in America, nearly all of the Studio Ghibli movies are only on Netflix for those outside of the United States. Yes, that means everyone with Netflix in the U.K., Australia, New Zealand and in countless other regions gets the Ghibli collection from the streaming service that they probably have already.
There is, of course, one exception to this rule, which we'll get to below.
Those outside of the U.S. have it really easy -- if they're Netflix subscribers that is. The service is already home to tons of animated classics, but the Ghibli movies arguably make Netflix complete for parents who are trying to push their kids to more high-brow stuff than what litters the floors of Disney Plus and the rest.
How to watch Studio Ghibli films with a VPN
Say you're traveling but don't want to spend money on a new streaming service to watch the Studio Ghibli movies. Netflix members on holiday in the U.S. — and HBO Max subscribers outside of the U.S. — don't need to wait til they get home. A VPN (virtual private network) can help your computer look like it's in a region of your choice.
We've evaluated the field and found that best VPN service is ExpressVPN. It meets the VPN needs of the vast majority of users, offering outstanding compatibility with most devices and impressive connection speeds.
ExpressVPN can access more than 3,000 servers spread out across 160 locations in 94 countries. The service performed reliably in our testing, and we found customer service responsive.
How to watch Studio Ghibli films online
In America, most of the Studio Ghibli films are available exclusively on HBO Max. The recently launched streaming service also has other family friendly content from Sesame Workshop, and anime from Crunchyroll.
Americans have one choice and one choice only for where to stream Ghibli movies: HBO Max. Yes, WarnerMedia acquired the complete Ghibli catalogue, and it's one of their biggest gems. And personally, this is a top reason for me to sign up for HBO Max.
Hulu (for now) has one Studio Ghibli film that Netflix and HBO Max do not: Isao Takahata's 1988 film "Grave of the Fireflies." This means that audiences outside of the U.S. have no access to the early Ghibli film, since Hulu is U.S.-only.
Grave of the Fireflies is just one of many great movies streaming on Hulu. In addition to next-day airings of current TV shows and library content from FX, Hulu streams the Academy Award-winning Parasite and offers exclusive award-winning series like The Handmaid's Tale. Other originals include Little Fires Everywhere, High Fidelity, Shrill, PEN15, Casual and Ramy.
Studio Ghibli movies on Netflix and HBO Max
Here is the big list of all the Studio Ghibli movies you can stream on HBO Max and Netflix, depending on your location. As noted above, director Isao Takahata's "Grave of the Fireflies" is stuck on Hulu for the time being.
- Castle in the Sky (1986, dir. Hayao Miyazaki)
- My Neighbor Totoro (1988, dir. Hayao Miyazaki)
- Kiki's Delivery Service (1989, dir. Hayao Miyazaki)
- Only Yesterday (1991, dir. Isao Takahata
- Porco Rosso (1992, dir. Hayao Miyazaki)
- Ocean Waves (1993, dir. Tomomi Mochizuki)
- Pom Poko (1994, dir. Isao Takahata)
- Whisper of the Heart (1995, dir. Yoshifumi Kondō)
- Princess Mononoke (1997, dir. Hayao Miyazaki)
- My Neighbors the Yamadas (1999, dir. Isao Takahata)
- Spirited Away (2001, dir. Hayao Miyazaki)
- The Cat Returns (2002, dir. Hiroyuki Morita)
- Howl's Moving Castle (2004, dir. Hayao Miyazaki)
- Tales from Earthsea (2006, dir. Gorō Miyazaki)
- Ponyo (2008, dir. Hayao Miyazaki)
- The Secret World of Arrietty (2010, dir. Hiromasa Yonebayashi)
- From Up on Poppy Hill (2011, dir. Gorō Miyazaki)
- The Wind Rises (2013, dir. Hayao Miyazaki)
- The Tale of the Princess Kaguya (2013, dir. Isao Takahata)
- When Marnie Was There (2014, dir. Hiromasa Yonebayashi)