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10 Most Likable Studio Ghibli Characters, Ranked | ScreenRant

For over 35 years, Studio Ghibli has enamored audiences around the world with its beautiful animation and storytelling. There are so many amazing characters in Ghibli films that fans are hard-pressed to find one they don't like.

RELATED: 10 Most Emotional Endings in Ghibli Films, Ranked

That said, there are several notable Ghibli characters that are universally beloved. Even by the studio's high standards, these characters, from the cuddly Totoro to the wise-cracking Calcifer, teach audiences life lessons and deliver memorable quotes that count them among the most likable characters ever created by the renowned studio.

10 Muta Is A Lovable Sidekick

Neither Whisper of the Heart nor The Cat Returns are the most popular Ghibli films, but they do feature one of the franchise's most likable characters. Muta the cat is in both films, but it's his supporting role as the portly companion of the Baron in The Cat Returns where he really shines.

Muta's sarcastic and condescending attitude is all a big charade, as he is actually a softie at heart. While he acts the part of the lazy and uninterested cat, deep down he is a brave and trustworthy companion, as seen by his support of Haru for standing up to one of Ghibli's best villains, the Cat King, and helping her to escape the cat realm.

9 Ponyo's Curiosity And Enthusiasm Are Infectious

In addition to featuring one of the most catchy theme songs in any Ghibli film, Ponyo also lays claim to one of the studio's adorable and enthusiastic characters. The film follows Ponyo, a magical goldfish who desperately wishes to be human, and when she befriends a young boy named Sosuke she finally gets her chance to live on dry land.

Unlike her scientist father, Ponyo is enamored with the human realm. It's hard for fans not to be won over by her boundless curiosity as she falls in love with life as a human and all its wonder, especially the taste of ham. Through her experience as a human, Ponyo delivers some tremendous quotes full of wisdom that teach fans to live in harmony with others and not take anything for granted.

8 Seita And Setsuko Endure So Much Hardship Together

Considered by critics to be one of the best anti-war films ever made, Grave of the Fireflies tells the story of Seita and Setsuko Yokokawa. Over the course of the film, viewers follow the young siblings as they try to survive through the last few months of WWII, and in the process teach audiences about the unseen horrors of war.

While Seita acts cocky and sure of himself, inside he is just a scared and naive kid. He does his best to help his younger sister Setsuko, but ultimately he is not able to do save her life. Despite all the hardship they endure, they never lose faith in each other and demonstrate how even though love is not enough to keep you alive, it is enough to keep you happy.

7 Kiki Is A Charming And Delightful Young Witch

Since its release in 1989, Kiki's Delivery Service has gone on to capture the imaginations of millions of anime fans all over the world. The film's success is largely due to its titular character, the young witch Kiki, who teaches the audience through her hard work and tenacity the importance of never giving up on one's dream.

RELATED: 10 Most Iconic Looks From Studio Ghibli Movies

While she is hardworking and eager, Kiki struggles to find her purpose in life. Although she is a witch, she struggles with feelings of self-worth, which makes her a relatable protagonist. In many ways, Kiki is just a normal girl, but it's her pure heart and unwillingness to give up that makes her a truly likable and magical character.

6 Chihiro Grows Into A Mature And Competent Character

In the eyes of many fans, Spirited Away is Hayao Miyazaki's best film. From the story to the animation to the characters, it's easily the most complete Ghibli film ever made, and a large part of its success can be attributed to the likability of its main character, Chihiro.

At the start of the film, Chihiro is slightly bratty and annoying, but over the course of the story she grows into someone others can depend on. She learns the value of hard work and caring for others, and this transformation from a self-centered child to a mature person is something that everyone can find relatable, no matter their background.

5 Captain Dola Steals The Show And The Loot

Studio Ghibli's first film, Castle in the Skyis a timeless classic. Sheeta and Pazu's journey to discover the flying city of Laputa while fending off sinister military forces bent on power makes for a magical movie experience, but it's the pirate Captain Dola who really steals the show.

At the beginning of the film, Dola is portrayed as nothing more than an evil treasure-hungry pirate, but upon taking on Sheeta and Pazu as crewmates she quickly reveals her true colors. While she is treasure-hungry, she is first and foremost a mom. Dola cares deeply about her family and looks after Sheeta and Pazu as if they were her own children. It also doesn't hurt that she's a fearless sky pirate who loves a good fight.

4 Calcifer Is A Great And Not So Terrible Fire Demon

Billy Crystal is one of the greatest comedic actors of all time, and his voice talents combined with Studio Ghibli's animation are a surefire formula for success. So, it's no surprise that his performance as the Fire Demon Calcifer in Howl's Moving Castle led to one of the most hilarious and enjoyable characters in Ghibli's storied history.

As a Fire Demon, Calcifer is less than honest. He deceives Howl by not telling him that Sophie is under a spell, but he is also quite loyal, as he chooses to stay with Howl even after being set free. Calcifer delivers some of the most memorable one-liners in Howl's Moving Castle, and even though he acts nasty at times, it's obvious that his attitude is all an act to cover up his true feelings.

3 Ashitaka Never Gives In To Hate Or Anger

While Princess Mononoke might be Studio Ghibli's darkest and most violent film, it is also one of its most-loved narratives. It teaches audiences to respect the environment and not to hate the foreign or the unknown. To deliver this message, the film relies on the likability of the brave and honorable Prince Ashitaka.

Related: 10 Behind-The-Scenes Facts About Princess Mononoke

Despite being surrounded by characters and creatures who hate and distrust each other, Ashitaka never gives in to feelings of hate or anger. Even though he is strong, he detests violence and repeatedly sacrifices his own body such as when he stops the fight been Mononoke and Lady Eboshi. He is a model hero, one who never compromises his values even when others resort to underhanded tactics.

2 Nausicaa Is The Ultimate Warrior Princess

Although Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind was technically produced by Ghibli's predecessor studio, Topcraft, many fans still consider it to be part of Ghibli's canon. In addition to being an excellent cautionary tale about the dangers of taking advantage of nature, the film also features one of Miyazaki's greatest heroes, the princess Nausicaa.

Nausicaa is such a likable character that it's hard to think of a reason not to fall in love with her. She's a scientist and a warrior, humble yet strong, and a lover of nature who teaches people to respect even the terrifying insect-like monstrosities, the Ohmu. She is Ghibli's foremost feminist hero and someone whom everyone can look to for inspiration.

1 Totoro Is As Likable As It Is Iconic

While Spirit Away is considered to be Studio Ghibli's best film, My Neighbor Totoro is arguably its most iconic movie. The film is a cult classic thanks to the titular character and unofficial mascot of Studio Ghibli, Totoro, a cuddly Ghibli creature inspired by folklore who comes to aid those in emotional need.

Totoro may not say a word, but he doesn't need to speak to have an impact. His mere presence can bring a smile to viewer's faces, and his tiny facial expressions and mannerisms are brilliant examples of the power of animation. Totoro's calming presence reminds audiences that even in times of hardship there is reason to have hope.

NEXT: 10 Non-Studio Ghibli Movies To Watch If You Love Their Films

 

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