[Top 10] Best Studio Ghibli Books We Love

Best Studio Ghibli Books, top 10 best Studio Ghibli books, must have ghibli books
Immerse yourself deeper into the rabbit hole of Ghibli

More than just an animation studio, Ghibli has some pretty good books under their belt that you might love, because we sure did!

Movies have been pretty easy to come by these days and with stuff like Netflix and other streaming sites readily available on our smartphones or laptops it seems pretty weird to be carrying something as bulky as a book in your bag. But that doesn’t stop us from wanting to read them (and Ebooks are a thing now too!) especially if the book is about something you love… for instance, if you’re a fan of Studio Ghibli; surely, you’d want to know a little bit more about the films you love and of course the great director behind it himself.

While the internet may provide you with some information about them—For a collector you can’t beat the fulfillment of owning the book about the film that you love and even if you decide to read it as an ebook, all the extra lore and information about the film is always welcome. If you’re a Ghibli fan looking to upgrade your collection a bit, here are 10 of the books we love and think you should consider taking a look at.

10. Starting Point: 1977-1996 

Cover Image of Starting Point

Get inside the mind of one of Japan’s greatest filmmakers: Hayao Miyazaki with the book: Starting Point. In the book Miyazaki speaks about life, love and the world of anime; as he recounts what he’s been through in his first 2 decades of his career. The book is a collection of essays, interviews and memoir that go back to the filmmaker’s childhood, which helped him formulate his theories of animation and eventually led to the founding of Studio Ghibli.

A story probably every Ghibli fan should read is the story of what brought us Ghibli in the first place. The book allows you to take a peek at Miyazaki’s life from his time as a kid to being another salaried animator and eventually the respected director we now know of. Miyazaki's road to success was not an easy one, and if you happen to get your hands on a copy of the book, we get to learn about his struggles in the animation industry.

9. Turning Point: 1997 – 2008

 Cover Image of Turning Point

Now more successful, Hayao Miyazaki builds himself as a legend in the animation world. This is the second volume of Starting Point which includes more essays, interviews and discussions about his more popular films that made western communities look at him as an excellent storyteller and film director. Learn more than just about the lore of his later films, and there are even a few concept sketches included in this book.

This is probably the time some of us first started hearing of Miyazaki as most of his more popular works were being released at this point,  such as Spirited Away, Ponyo and Howl’s Moving Castle which were internationally lauded as some of the best in the industry. If you want to hear what Miyazaki was going through and some concept drafts of the films then this is a book you absolutely have to get your hands on.

8. My Neighbor Totoro: The Novel

My Neighbor Totoro The Novel Cover

Not only is this beloved Ghibli work a film, it is now a children’s novel. In celebration of the 25th anniversary, Hayao Miyazaki works together with a veteran children’s author Tsugiko Kubo to create the My Neighbor Totoro Novel. This novel also features his original illustrations. The story is about the siblings Satuski and Mei who moved to the countryside. They get a lot of surprises but the best surprise of all is who they are neighbors with, A forest spirit Mei named “Totoro”.

It’s basically the movie only in novel form. I’d definitely buy this for my kid (if I ever get one) to use as reading material or to hype them up for the movie. I know a great introduction to films is by getting them used to the different memorabilia the film has to offer. So, this book is one way of introducing them to the film.

7. The Journey of Shuna

Shuna Saving an Old Traveler 

One of the stories that never hit our screens but worth a read. The Journey of Shuna is a one volume watercolor-illustrated graphic novel by Hayao Miyazaki. The Graphic novel opens with Shuna, a young prince of a village that is suffering from famine. He meets an old traveler carrying a bag of dead gold seeds. Before passing away he tells Shuna about the living grain that he is searching for to save his people. Shuna, who believes the man's story, decides to journey the harsh landscapes in search for the golden seeds to save his village.

The work might remind you a lot of Miyazaki’s films Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind and Princess Mononoke. There’s a lot of similar themes and our main characters all share similar backgrounds or royalty and belonging to a community plagued with problems (death and disease probably due to the imbalance of nature). While the story is more simple and fast-paced there still is a slight hint of mystery along with the adventure. A great prototype to Miyazaki’s later works. 

6. The Art of Castle in the Sky

Art from the Castle in the Sky

For anyone who collects Ghibli merchandise, this art book is a must have. Hayao Miyazaki’s Laputa: Castle in the Sky is the first official feature film done by Ghibli about a girl who has the ability to defy gravity. Due to this ability, she is on the run from pirates. The Art book includes original concept art and even Miyazaki’s first proposal of the film. Included in it is the production history and even interview notes by Miyazaki himself.

While getting an art book for the art is one way to look at it, I’m more in it for the additional lore about the film that’s included in these art books. World building is an important part of story-telling. So, it comes to no surprise that Miyazaki and his staff created the world the characters are in and we’d like to get all the information about what this world has to offer beyond what the movie reveals.

5.The Age of the Flying Boat

Age of the Flying Boat Art

How Hayao Miyazaki shows his love for planes is expressed  even in his early works such as in Hikotei Jidai or The Age of the Flying Boat. A collection of a short manga by Hayao Miyazaki including 15 pages of the Porco Rosso Manga, several airplane vignettes, and several other aircraft related trinkets and an interview with Miyazaki. The Age of the Flying Boat story is actually the basis of the Porco Rosso anime film. In the 1920s over the Adriatic Sea, Air pirates plague the sea and attack ships for their money, goods and women. Enter Porco Rosso who saves the people from these  pirates with his red seaplane. He is great at his job but there is only one problem—he is a pig.

If you’ve watched Porco Rosso then you’ll probably notice the extra care Miyazaki put in this particular film compared to the rest. If you want to take a look at the prototype or the basis of the film then this 15-page watercolor-illustrated manga by Miyazaki himself is sure to be a treat. The manga is a manifestation of his love for old planes and is filled with images and drawings of aircrafts dated from the 1920s (with a touch of Miyazaki’s imagination of course).

4. Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind (Manga)

Nausicaa Manga Colored Panel

Is a Japanese manga series (and later film) written and illustrated by Hayao Miyazaki and is credited for the foundation of Studio Ghibli. The manga, much like the film, tells the story of Nausicaa, a young princess of a small kingdom on a post-apocalyptic Earth with a toxic ecosystem. She gets herself involved right in the middle of a war between kingdoms and the ongoing environmental disaster that threatens humankind.

This is the very book (manga) that started it all. While it was made pre-Ghibli, a lot of us consider it already a piece of Ghibli’s work since the development of the film caused the process of the studio’s establishment. The manga was so popular that Tokuma Shoten agreed to sponsor the creation of the film. The manga is a lot more complex and deals with a larger array of themes compared to its anime counterpart. If you loved the adventure of Nausicaa in the film then it’s about time to figure out her entire story in the manga.

3. Studio Ghibli’s Trajectory as Seen on Animage (1984- 2011)

 Animage Features

Want to know about what goes behind the scenes of every Ghibli movie? Then this book is just for you. Studio Ghibli’s Trajectory as Seen on Animage (1984-2011) is a compilation of every Animage feature article and cover art that features Studio Ghibli films. The book includes all the interviews with Ghibli’s Directors, animation team and other staff members involved with the films, you’ll also get to read film analysis from different perspectives within the animation and film industry.

While extra lore is always welcome to us, this compilation talks more about the Ghibli staff behind the beloved films. We get to learn about what some of the stuff had to go through, and even how Miyazaki works alongside his team to produce a storyboard and script for his studio to work on. The book allows us to appreciate the work put into the film on a deeper level.

2. Children’s Picture Book Ghibli’s Dining Table Earwig and the Witch

Cook Book Cover for Earwig and the Witch

Have you ever wanted to have your own Ghibli inspired meal? Now, you can eat the treats found in the world of Earwig and the Witch with this book. The cookbook features simple and easy to understand recipes suited for young children to try at home together with their guardians. It is also the first official cookbook released by Ghibli itself. Some recipes you can find here include the Shepherd’s pie from “St. Morwald’s Children’s Home”, Earwig and Thomas’ Magical Gel Drink and other food inspired by the anime.

Ghibli always has a way of making you want to try eating the food they feature in the anime. This book allows you to try those treats at home, and since visiting the Ghibli Museum is a bit out of reach for a lot of us, then this is the next best thing. Hopefully when I try out any of these recipes they’d look just as good.

1. The Art of Spirited Away

 Bathhouse in Spiritied Away

Experience the wonders of the spirit world in The Art of Spirited Away as the fantasy continues. The book is a collection of colored illustrations of the film Spirited Away. Aside from the artwork we already see in the film, additional commentary, color stills, sketches and even the film’s storyboards are included in this coffee table book. For the english edition they included the full dub script. All the needed illustrations used to envision the award-winning film of 10-year Chihiro navigating herself to the unknown is included here.

Among all the art books, I think this one would have to be my favorite. As a fantasy film Spirited Away is easily my favorite Ghibli film, and the Art Book/ coffee table book doesn’t fail to impress. There’s just something charming about seeing the raw storyboards and how they get mastered once rendered into the anime. 

You may also be interested in:


An Alchemist who offers her creations to wandering travelers for their stories. Pat’s potions often have immense healing capabilities, sometimes a potent poison— you never really know till you try.
Gamer Since: 2001
Favorite Genre: RPG
Currently Playing: Pokemon Sword
Top 3 Favorite Games:Child of Light, Danganronpa Trigger Happy Havoc:, Mortal Kombat X

More Top Stories