Streaming services haven't always let you watch Studio Ghibli and its weird and wonderful back catalogue. But after years in the wilderness, HBO Max and Netflix have recently agreed deals allowing them to stream the company’s entire ouevre. This collection of critically-lauded, record-breaking hits from the Japanese animation powerhouse haven’t been available to stream or download digitally… until now!
Netflix now has exclusive streaming rights for all territories except the US, Canada, and Japan. Meanwhile, when the new service goes live in May, HBO Max will be the home for Studio Ghibli content for the North American market. With these services providing easy access to 20 feature films, lesser known fare like Pom Poko and a TV movie called Ocean Waves, it should grant them a competitive edge over rival platforms Disney Plus and Apple TV.
Co-founded in 1985 by Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata, Studio Ghibli has left an indelible impression on the cinematic landscape. Their highly imaginative, morally complex and humanistic films have endeared themselves to audiences and critics alike across the globe. Princess Mononoke won Japan’s Best Picture award in 1997, and was the first animated film to do so. Four years later, Spirited Away received the Best Animated Feature at the Oscars while also knocking Titanic from the top spot of Japan’s highest-ever grossing film.
So, are you ready to soar with porcine pilot Porco Rosso or join Totoro and his forest-dwelling friends? Then we’ll break down for you where to watch Studio Ghibli content based on your location, and let you enjoy some of the finest anime cinema has to offer.
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Where to watch Studio Ghibli films online in the US
American audiences will require a little patience, because, while HBO Max has the studio’s streaming rights in the bag, the new platform isn’t expected to launch until May 2020. When it does, however, you’ll be able to gorge yourself on all that Studio Ghibli gold for $14.99 a month.
Alternatively, the studio’s animated movies have been available to purchase in digital form since December 2019, on major platforms like Amazon Prime Video and Apple TV. This includes Grave of the Fireflies, which isn’t available to stream on HBO Max due to rights issues, sadly.
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Where to watch Studio Ghibli films in the rest of the world
Should you live outside of Canada, Japan and the US, Netflix has you covered. It staggered the release of Ghibli's 21 features, but the likes of Princess Mononoke, Spirited Away, Howl’s Moving Castle, The Tale of Princess Kaguya and 17 others are now ready to stream - there's a full list below.
Depending on your location, basic monthly subscription costs for Netflix are: £5.99 (UK); €7.99 (Europe); R99 (Africa); AED29 (United Arab Emirates); $9.99 (Australia); $11.99 (New Zealand).
As mentioned above, no platform currently has the rights to stream Grave of the Fireflies. However, you can purchase a digital copy of the movie from Amazon Prime Video.
Where to watch Studio Ghibli films from outside your country
If you find yourself away from home – on a sabbatical abroad or temporarily relocated for work or on vacation, perhaps – you don’t have to skip your audio-visual visits to the wonderful world of Ghibli.
Utilizing a VPN will allow you to watch these anime masterpieces no matter where you are. This basic bit of software alters your IP address, giving you access to regional content that you’d usually be watching on your Totoro bedspread at home.
There are hundreds of VPNs you can select. The one we’ve found most reliable is ExpressVPN. It's fast, secure, and a breeze to use. It's compatible with numerous devices, including Apple TV, PlayStation, Amazon Fire TV Stick, the Xbox, iOS software and Android too.
What makes this simple piece of kit even better is Express VPN’s flexible 30-day money back guarantee. Although, if you sign up for an annual plan you'll get a 49% discount and 3 months extra FREE, which is a bargain for an invaluable piece of tech. When its downloaded, find the location of your home country and then select connect. You will then be free to watch Studio Ghibli’s idiosyncratic output to your heart’s content.
What Studio Ghibli films have hit Netflix?
Listed below – with breathless excitement – are the dates that each Studio Ghibli feature became available on Netflix:
- Arrietty (March 1st 2020)
- Castle in the Sky (February 1st 2020)
- From Up On Poppy Hill (April 1st 2020)
- Howl’s Moving Castle (April 1st 2020)
- Kiki’s Delivery Service (February 1st 2020)
- My Neighbor Totoro (February 1st 2020)
- My Neighbors the Yamadas (March 1st 2020)
- Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (March 1st 2020)
- Ocean Waves (February 1st 2020)
- Only Yesterday (February 1st 2020)
- Pom Poko (April 1st 2020)
- Ponyo – (April 1st 2020)
- Porco Rosso (February 1st 2020)
- Princess Mononoke (March 1st 2020)
- Spirited Away (March 1st 2020)
- Tales from Earthsea (February 1st 2020)
- The Cat Returns (March 1st 2020)
- The Tale of Princess Kaguya (March 1st 2020)
- The Wind Rises (April 1st 2020)
- When Marnie Was There (April 1st 2020)
- Whisper of the Heart (April 1st 2020)