For years and years, the creatives at the renowned Japanese animation outfit Studio Ghibli swore off the “streaming wars.”
“I always believed that films should be seen in movie theaters,” producer Toshio Suzuki recently told Entertainment Weekly. “We were very hesitant about expanding that even further [beyond] physical packages.”
So that’s how it was. Each year, Ghibli teamed up with GKids, the current American rights holders of films like Spirited Away, My Neighbor Totoro, Kiki’s Delivery Service, and Princess Mononoke, for a North American tour of the films dubbed “Ghibli Fest.”
2020 is a watershed moment for the studio, with the collection finally entering the digital space for the first time. But which digital space the films have entered depends on where you live.
You can watch Studio Ghibli movies on HBO Max in the U.S.
Last October, Studio Ghibli, GKids, and WarnerMedia announced an unprecedented deal to bring most of the Ghibli collection to HBO Max, the latter conglomerate’s answer to Netflix. The service, which currently available only in North America, launched on May 27 with the following titles:
Castle in the Sky
The Cat Returns
From Up on Poppy Hill
Howl’s Moving Castle
Kiki’s Delivery Service
My Neighbor Totoro
My Neighbors the Yamadas
Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind
The Secret World of Arrietty
The Tale of the Princess Kaguya
Tales from Earthsea
When Marnie was There
Whisper of the Heart
The Wind Rises
For a full list of prices and supported devices, read our HBO Max breakdown.
You can watch Studio Ghibli movies on Netflix almost everywhere else
In January 2020, hot on the heels of the HBO Max deal, Netflix announced that it would be the international host for all things Studio Ghibli. The company rolled out the same list of titles that is now available on HBO Max across Netflix in every country it serves except for the U.S., Canada, and Japan. If you live in one of those countries and don’t have access to HBO Max, you may be able to use a VPN to access international Netflix for the time being.
You can watch Grave of the Fireflies on Hulu
Isao Takahata’s gut-wrenching adaptation of Akiyuki Nosaka’s wartime short story is the one Ghibli movie you won’t find on HBO Max or Netflix. Due to distribution rights (the film was originally produced for publisher Shinchosha instead of Ghibli’s parent company, Tokuma Shoten), Grave of the Fireflies currently has a home on the Disney-owned service Hulu. Bring some tissues if you want to check this one off your watchlist.
You can purchase Studio Ghibli movies from digital platforms
On top of striking deals with subscription streaming services in late 2019, Studio Ghibli unlocked access to its collection on digital library services. For the first time, the company’s films can now be purchased on Amazon, Apple, Vudu, and a number of similar services.
You can also buy hard copies
Suzuki and the other Studio Ghibli creatives resisted streaming deals because Blu-ray versions of their movies were still selling steadily across the globe. And why wouldn’t they be? The latest GKids versions are gorgeous transfers, each with their own set of special features. Thankfully, the discs are still an option for dedicate Ghibli fans. Because who knows when those streaming deals will dry up ...
You can watch Studio Ghibli’s TV show Ronja, the Robber’s Daughter on Amazon Prime
Co-produced by Studio Ghibli, directed by Gorō Miyazaki, and animated by Polygon Pictures, this cel-shaded series is based on the fantasy book by Swedish author Astrid Lindgren, and a must-see for completists. Amazon Prime debuted the series back in August 2019, and it continues to live there for subscribers.
You can watch the work of Studio Ghibli spinoff Studio Ponoc on Netflix
Ponoc, founded in 2015 by former Studio Ghibli lead film producer Yoshiaki Nishimura, has a handful of films under its belt, and they’re true to the Ghibli spirit. The company’s first feature, Mary and the Witch’s Flower, and a collection of shorts called Modest Heroes, are available on Netflix in most regions.
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