Top 25 Best Studio Ghibli Characters Of All Time

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The breathtaking worlds of Ghibli and Miyazaki would be nothing without their characters.

And across so many incredible films, there are plenty of characters to love.

Here we’ll be taking a look at some of the best ones – whether they be human or otherwise – including some imaginative personalities that I believe are among the best the acclaimed studio has to offer.


25. Catbus

Catbus from My Neighbor Totoro Studio Ghibli anime

Anime: My Neighbor Totoro

Catbus is the large bus-cat-shaped-creature from My Neighbor Totoro, funnily enough.

It’s one of the most iconic characters across the Ghibli-verse, being featured in his own spinoff OVA and exhibited in the Ghibli museum.

It screams imagination, with its large cat-eyes serving as headlights and a hollow body filled with seats.

It runs and bounces across the luscious scenery, and knows where you want to go before you do. It’s very similar to the Cheshire Cat, and has become similarly revered over time.


24. Marco Pagot

Marco Pagot Porco Rosso Studio Ghibli anime screenshot

Anime: Porco Rosso

Porco Rosso wasn’t always a cynical bounty hunter pig-man.

He was once Marco Pagot, a human pilot with large dreams and a great love for the sky, sea, and his friend, Gina.

He’s competent, witty, and wonderfully voice acted. Marco headlines the under-watched Ghibli classic Porco Rosso, and carries the entire narrative on his shoulders.


23. Susuwatari / Makkuro Kurosuke

Susuwatari / Makkuro Kurosuke from My Neighbor Totoro anime

Anime: My Neighbor Totoro

The Susuwatari are another simple environmental creature designed by Miyazaki.

They’re the personification of dust bunnies, and are referred to as ‘soot sprites.’ They have large cartoony eyes, and small thin arms and legs to carry things like ants.

When they’re excited they make squeaky noises, and are often used to comedic effect. Quite well, might I add.

They’re wonderfully simple yet imaginative, and have never left my memory (especially considering they appeared in both Spirited Away and My Neighbor Totoro).


22. Yubaba

Yubaba Spirited Away Studio Ghibli anime screenshot

Anime: Spirited Away

Yubaba is technically the main antagonist of Spirited Away, as the authoritarian owner of the bathhouse who’s consumed by greed.

She has all the renamed workers at her whim via sorcery, with their freedom tied to their original name, and refused to let anyone leave.

They live in relative squalor, driven to be obsessed with money and wealth, while she hoards her fortune in grander lodgings. She has a distinct, frightening yet motherly design, and is able to transform into a bird and throw fire.

Honestly, she’s a bit terrifying. And I’ve never forgotten her.


21. Kodama

Kodama from Princess Mononoke Studio Ghibli anime

Anime: Princess Mononoke

Much like the Susuwatari, the Kodama are a mystical and imaginative species.

They are also personified aspects of the environment. However whereas the Susuwatari represent a lived-in environment (or a workplace environment), the Kodama are indicative of a healthy and prosperous forest.

They have an alien, uncanny design, with very few looking identical. Not to mention the odd glowing white bodies with oddly shaped oblong heads and small pebble eyes.

I love their design a ton, and so do Ghibli fans, as the Kodama have become some of the most iconic Ghibli characters to date.


20. Kiki

Kiki from Kiki's Delivery Service anime

Anime: Kiki’s Delivery Service

As a young teenager, Kiki dedicates a year of her life towards training to be a witch, learning about the value of hardwork, relaxation, and patience in the process.

Her best friend and pet, Jiji, accompanies her wherever she goes. Whether by foot or broom, Jiji is there.

Kiki is a bright upbeat girl, but sometimes her personality can get the better of her – and this makes her feel even more realistic.

She’s expressive, enthusiastic, and a delight to watch.


19. Dola

Dola Laputa: Castle in the Sky Studio Ghibli anime

Anime: Laputa: Castle in the Sky

Dola is legendary.

At first, she seems like the antagonist. But her and her merry band of air pirates join our protagonists in confronting Colonel Muska and finding Laputa.

Despite her motives being material, wanting to colonialize and pillage the Castle in the Sky for its fortunate resources, she ultimately changes her ways and becomes a valuable ally.

Her upfront attitude, innately motherly nature, and soft-heart is endearing and unforgettable.


18. Brunhilde

Brunhilde from Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea

Anime: Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea

Heavily inspired by The Little Mermaid, particularly the original Hans Christian Andersen version, Brunhilde is a fish that can transform into a human.

She’s mischievous, given her infantile age, and quickly bonds with Sosuke: a human she becomes attached to.

Her design is simple in both forms, and she manages to look but human and fishlike no matter what!


17. Lady Eboshi

Lady Eboshi from Princess Mononoke anime

Anime: Princess Mononoke

Despite being the major antagonist of Princess Mononoke, Lady Eboshi isn’t an evil person.

She’s arrogant, outspoken, and sometimes brutal, but she’s only trying to protect her clan.

Nonetheless, her authoritarianism comes out as the movie progresses, proving her allegiance to steel over nature and cementing herself as a martyr towards human progression – even if it means sacrificing the environment.

Eboshi is a complex and interesting character with a great vocal performance, not to mention some shocking scenes.


16. Calcifer

Calcifer Howl's Moving Castle Studio Ghibli anime

Anime: Howl’s Moving Castle

Calcifer is a fallen star. He’s bonded to Howl through a contract they made when he caught the Fire Demon.

He’s loudmouthed, protective, and initially even vindictive.

However, he eventually warms up to the cast to prove his mettle both as a magician and a friend.


15. Nausicaa

Nausicaa from Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind anime

Anime: Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind

She’s the Princess of the Valley of the Wind, and the only surviving child of King Jhil.

Her distinct personality and attitude have given her the nickname The Blue Clad One, as she flies her Mehve through the valleys and jungles.

Despite her young age, she’s incredibly smart and wise. This girl stands up for herself, assertive when she cares, yet well-mannered and compassionate to those who cross her.

A memorable character by any stretch of the imagination.


14. Ashitaka

Ashitaka Princess Mononoke Studio Ghibli anime

Anime: Princess Mononoke

Despite the name of the movie, Ashitaka is the protagonist of Princess Mononoke.

He’s a late-teenager with a strict and stubborn personality when it comes to his goals.

He can be violent, ruthless, but is a kind person with a utilitarian stance. He wants to protect both nature and humanity, and his allegiance to both is what causes him strife throughout the film.

He’s a surprisingly competent and assertive protagonist, even if he is overshadowed by the titular character.


13. Howl Jenkins Pendragon

Howl Jenkins Pendragon from Howl's Moving Castle

Anime: Howl’s Moving Castle

It’s truly difficult to not like Howl.

His design is incredible, from his coat to his golden locks, and his lodgings are even more incredible.

Howl is very powerful, too. Capable of near-instantaneous teleportation and the ability to metamorphose into any creature.

However, using his incredible magic turns him gradually into a beast, with claws and black feathers.

But he’s a fascinating character, even more-so in the novels, with a wonderful voice actor enthusing him with a distinct personality.


12. Totoro

Totoro from My Neighbor Totoro Studio Ghibli screenshot

Anime: My Neighbor Totoro

Is there a person who hasn’t heard of Totoro?

His distinct and wonderfully whimsical design, plus his subdued drowsy personality made him an iconic member of the Ghibli cast.

Their whole identity has basically revolved around the iconography of My Neighbor Totoro.

Truly a legendary Ghibli character if I’ve ever seen one. Even non-anime fans probably recognize the design.


11. Sheeta

Sheeta from Laputa: Castle in the Sky Studio Ghibli anime

Anime: Laputa: Castle in the Sky

Lusheeta Toel Ul Laputa is the descendant princess of Laputa and possessor of the Aetherium crystal. She’s on the run because of this, and accidentally encounters our other protagonist – Pazu – who also wants to find Laputa.

They befriend one another and team up in one of the coolest, slickest anime films around.

She’s got a very simple, humble appearance, and is a reserved and quiet person.

Despite her royal status, she asserts herself throughout the film. And proves her devotion to the floating Castle, Laputa.


10. Kamaji

Kamaji Spirited Away Studio Ghibli anime screenshot

Anime: Spirited Away

Kamaji is an elderly man of spider-proportions.

He works day-in-day-out in the boiler room of the bathhouse, operating with Susuwatari in a sedentary lifestyle.

As such, when Chihiro first meets him, he’s unkind, uncaring, and unwilling to help her in her quest.

However he does grow a soft spot for her throughout the narrative, and ends up providing assistance at integral moments.

This guy has got a cool Ivo Robotnik-esque design, and a wicked voice actor. One of my favorite Spirited Away characters without a doubt.


9. Chihiro

Chihiro from Spirited Away Studio Ghibli anime

Anime: Spirited Away

Chihiro initially starts the movie disgruntled, unhappy by her parents’ decision to move.

They take a wrong turn and decide to explore an abandoned theme park, where her parents are transformed into pigs and she ends up spirited away into the world of spirits.

She eventually comes to regret her old attitude, longing for home more than anything. And we see her come to assert herself and become fearless in her efforts for freedom.

She’s an endearing, simple, and realistic 10-year-old character that can be immediately relatable to any younger person watching.

But even as an adult, I love watching Chihiro go through the phantasmagoria of the world around her to save those she loves.


8. Robots

Robots from Laputa: Castle in the Sky anime

Anime: Laputa: Castle in the Sky

The Robots of Laputa are as much automatic and mechanical as they are natural and organic.

They are humanoid titans capable of flight and shooting lasers, designed to protect the ancient and anachronistic castle. Their design is incredible, rustic yet futuristic.

And a fun fact: they also appeared in the Miyazaki directed Lupin the 3rd: Castle of Caliostro!


7. Haku

Haku Spirited Away Studio Ghibli anime screenshot

Anime: Spirited Away

Nigihayami Kohakunishi, the God of the Swift Amber River, is one of the protagonists of Spirited Away.

He looks young, but could be far older, as he’s actually a great white serpentine dragon of unknown age. Welcome to anime, right?

Throughout Spirited Away, he aids Chihiro with trying to escape the land of the spirits and the bathhouse, and in the process seeks freedom himself.

His design is incredible, and his personality is calm and infectiously cool.


6. Princess Kaguya

Princess Kaguya from The Tale of the Princess Kaguya

Anime: The Tale of the Princess Kaguya

We see Kaguya from her impossibly small, seed-like beginnings, all the way to her young adulthood.

She was entitled a spot of Princess due to her miraculous ‘birth’ from a bamboo shoot and rapid growth, seen as a sign from a God.

She’s well-meaning, loving, and very appreciative – however the nobility thrust upon her fills her with unease, and she wishes only for the individualist lifestyle of her childhood.

The art style compliments her quaint and soft personality so well, embedding every scene with an air of mysticism and beauty.


5. Shizuku Tsukishima

Shizuku Tsukishima Whisper of the Heart Studio Ghibli anime

Anime: Whisper of the Heart

Shisuku is the protagonist of Whisper of the Heart, a mid-teenaged girl troubled with motivation, ambition, and feelings of inferiority.

She wants to write a book – entitled Whisper of the Heart – but is unable until she meets someone with equal but more proactive drive.

This throws her into a romantic tale of finding oneself through artistic endeavor, putting passion and effort into ink no matter the result.


4. Jiro Horikoshi

Jiro Horikoshi from The Wind Rises Studio Ghibli anime

Anime: The Wind Rises

Jiro is the myopic plane-obsessed protagonist of The Wind Rises, who overcomes his vision issues to become an accomplished airplane designer.

He’s a good natured man with great, though complex, ambition.

He becomes embroiled in something far greater than himself, and is stricken by a moral conflict… but never lets anything overrule his true love for Naoko.

Jiro is a realistic, lovable protagonist, with adult wants and needs – and he quickly became a Ghibli fan favorite.


3. Seita Yokokawa

Seita Yokokawa from Grave of the Fireflies anime

Anime: Grave of the Fireflies

Seita’s ambition is a simple and entirely honorable one.

Unlike other characters on this list, he’s driven by a selfless desire for the basic aspects of human survival.

Water, shelter, food, and warmth.

After losing their family and home in the Kobe firebombing of World War II, Seita and his younger sister Setsuko are forced to the streets to survive.

He puts everything on the line for him and his little sister, trying his hardest to turn the impossibly cruel tide that’s washing them both away.

One of the most human characters in anime, not just in Studio Ghibli but of any series.


2. No Face

No Face from Spirited Away Studio Ghibli anime

Anime: Spirited Away

Here we go.

No Face is perhaps the modern face of Studio Ghibli.

His ominous grunts, non-binary spectral form, and grotesquely horrifying other-side, made him one of the coolest and grittiest characters the studio had to offer.

He’s lonely, unable to communicate beyond a basic level, and frightening to most. Once the greed and gluttony of the bathhouse consumes him, he transforms into a monstrous creature, proving he’s just a reflection of those around him.

His story arc is a complete yet enigmatic one.

And that only adds to the unusual allure and mystique surrounding his character. One of the greatest characters Studio Ghibli has to offer.


1. San

San from Princess Mononoke Studio Ghibli anime

Anime: Princess Mononoke

The Wolf Girl herself, San, was abandoned as a baby and raised by the wolf goddess Moro.

She concerns herself entirely with protecting the forest, driven by an animalistic nature.

But over the course of the story, and due to meeting Ashitaka, she’s driven to reflect upon human nurture and the environment on a more macroscopic level.

Nonetheless, she’s ferocious and vindictive, pushing herself to assassinate Lady Eboshi and end Irontown at any cost.

With her necklace and fur cape, red facial war paint, and opal earrings, her character design is easily the coolest to me.

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Kafka Champin

Kafka was playing games in utero, and writing lists even longer. He has published numerous books and video essays, and is currently a student at university.