If you’ve seen all of these, then count yourself among the most elite of Ghibli otaku.
Whenever we think of Ghibli movies, we tend to think of the big ones: Spirited Away, Princess Mononoke, My Neighbor Totoro, and more. Then there’s the lesser-known but still popular films, like Whisper of the Heart, The Cat Returns, or Pom Poko.
After that, we get into some of the more obscure stuff. But how obscure is obscure when it comes to something as popular as Studio Ghibli?
To answer that question and find out how many Japanese college students haven’t seen certain Ghibli films, Mynavi conducted a survey of over 400 students to find out which were the rarest of them all.
Here are their findings, starting with number 10:
10. Arrietty (2010) – 31.3% haven’t seen it
We start off with one that just barely squeaks into the obscurity-list. Arrietty is a fun movie about tiny people who live in a normal-sized family’s home, making their living “borrowing” things like sugar and tissue paper. With good reviews and a fun story, what’s not to like?
Here’s what one survey-respondant said about Arrietty: “My family just never bought the DVD for some reason.” Well, I think there’s an easy way you can alleviate that problem very quickly!
9. Tales from Earthsea (2006) – 37.8% haven’t seen it
This one isn’t so much obscure as it is just kind of disappointing. It was directed by Hayao Miyazaki’s son, in his first such role, and got mixed reviews.
Here’s what one survey-taker said about Tales from Earthsea: “I heard it wasn’t interesting, so I didn’t bother seeing it.” And that pretty much sums up why most of the rest of us haven’t seen it either.
8. Only Yesterday (1991) – 38.8% haven’t seen it
Now we’re getting a little more obscure. Personally I had never heard of Only Yesterday, but this movie about one woman remembering her childhood apparently has great reviews, with a 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
Why haven’t more students seen it then? Because its intended audience is adults, not children. Since the people surveyed were college-age, they’ve only just recently gotten to the age at which Only Yesterday was meant to be seen.
Only Yesterday finally received an English-language release this year, in 2016, with Daisy Ridley (from Star Wars: The Force Awakens) as a voice actor. So now it may be time to add this one to the must-watch-list!
7. The Wind Rises (2013) – 41.3% haven’t seen it
The Wind Rises has to be number-one on my list of Ghibli films I’ve heard people talk about but have never seen myself. It received wide acclaim and was a big success, but for some reason it has never made its way into mine (or 41.3% of Japanese college students’) viewing schedule.
I have no excuse, but one survey-responder said this to shed some light on why: “I wasn’t allowed to see it because one of the characters smokes.” Ah, good old-fashioned parent-censorship at it again!
6. From Up on Poppy Hill (2011) – 48% haven’t seen it
From Up on Poppy Hill is another one that I’ve heard people talk about, but just haven’t seen. This time, however, I have an excuse, and it’s the same as what one survey-taker said: “It didn’t look interesting, so I never watched it.”
Unfortunately From Up on Poppy Hill is missing the cool draws of other Ghibli films. There’s no spirit worlds or magical animals here, just… a nice story from post-WWII Japan. It’s not supposed to be bad by any means, but it’s not something people are clamoring to see either, hence its place on the list.
5. The Tale of Princess Kaguya (2013) – 52% haven’t seen it
The Tale of Princess Kaguya is the Ghibli retelling of the classic Japanese folktale of a bamboo cutter finding a tiny girl and dubbing her “Princess.” This is a pretty recent release as far as Ghibli films go, and that is a big part as to why many of the survey-takers hadn’t seen it yet. It just hasn’t had enough time to permeate its way through the masses.
Here’s what they had to say: “It’s never on TV, so I can’t watch it even if I want to,” and “I’d like to see it if I had the chance.”
Come on, college kids! Take a break from those classes and parties and get together with your friends to watch The Tale of Princess Kaguya!
4. When Marnie Was There (2014) – 57.8% haven’t seen it
When Marnie was There is another film that suffers from being a recent release. Here’s what the survey-responders said: “I haven’t seen any of the new Ghibli films,” “I feel like Ghibli lost its magic after Ponyo,” “It’s never on TV, so I haven’t seen it.”
3. Panda! Go, Panda! (1972) – 58% haven’t seen it
This film that served as the precursor for My Neighbor Totoro has the opposite problem as the previous films: it’s too old. Here’s what the survey-takers said: “It’s so old I’ve never even heard of it,” and “It wasn’t it my family’s DVD library growing up.”
Hmm… can we smell a Ghibli DVD re-release on the horizon?
2. My Neighbors the Yamadas (1999) – 62% haven’t seen it
And then we get My Neighbors the Yamadas, which suffers from both being an older film, and not being that great either. The animation style is such a departure from other Ghibli movies that it didn’t do well at the box-office, and people aren’t exactly excited to watch it on their own.
Here’s what the survey-takers said: “I’d have to go out of my way to watch it, and I don’t really want to for this movie,” and “Not something I’ve ever thought about really wanting to see.”
And now, the least-watched Ghibli film is…
1. Ocean Waves (1993) – 65.2% haven’t seen it
Yeah, uh, what? I’ve never heard of Ocean Waves, though there is a good reason: The made-for-TV movie is one of the few Studio Ghibli anime that hasn’t gotten a North American release yet!
It should also be noted that Hayao Miyazaki did not direct Ocean Waves, and much of the animation was done by outside companies in an effort to produce it “quickly, cheaply, and with quality”…even though it went both over-schedule and over-budget.
Here’s what survey-responders had to say about it: “I’ve never even heard of this one.” Basically that, repeated for 65.2% of the survey-takers.
So there you have it, the top ten Ghibli films that Japanese college students haven’t seen. But what about you? Have you seen them all? Let us know in the comments so we can see who the most hardcore Ghibli fans are!