More Ghibli Analysis

School life has really drained all the time I used to have to collect data and write this blog. Who would have thought I actually had more free time when I was working! Anyway, here is a long-delayed post, just before the end of the year.

This post is the second part of my previous post about Ghibli. It contains a few more analysis and interesting tidbits from the data I have collected.


The chart below is a scatter plot of rankings for rating and popularity for all Ghibli-related films. The cool thing about this chart is that it also indicates the overrated and underrate films.  For example, Whisper of the Heart is ranked 7th overall based on all the ratings but only 12th on the number of people watching and rating the film. This means that not as many people watch it as it deserves based on its rating

  • 4 of the top five are right where they should be with only Grave of the Fireflies behind on the popularity by a bit
  • Most overrated (more people saw it than its rating deserves) are:
    1. Tales from Earthsea (2006) [+7]
    2. Howl’s Moving Castle (2004) [+6]
    3. The Cat Returns (2002) [+4]
  • Most underrated are:
    1. Only Yesterday (1991) [-5]
    2. Whisper of the Heart (1995) [-5]
    3. Lupin: Castle of Cagliostro (1999) [-4]
  • From this, it is relatively clear to see that more recent Ghibli films are way more popular than older ones but this is not backed up by its quality, at least on a relatively term in comparison to other Ghibli films.


This section looks at the average rating from each sources and how they stack up to each other. Standardized score refers to the conversion of source score into 1-to-10 score range.

Sources Ghibli Standardized score Avg rating Diff Type
IMDB 7.75 Rating
Rottentomatoes 8.64 Review
MRQE 7.88 Review
DVD Talk 8.60 Review
DVD Verdict 9.20 Review
Anime Academy 8.89 Review
THEM 9.15 6.62 2.53 Review
Anime Planet 7.91 6.85 1.06 Rating
ANN 8.01 7.25 0.76 Rating
MAL 8.01 7.49 0.52 Rating
AniDB 7.97 Rating
Anime Source 8.20 7.42 0.78 Rating
AnimeNfo 7.70 7.56 0.14 Rating
  • Interestingly (to me at least), reviewing sources have on average nearly a point higher rating than rating sources (8.73 vs. 7.93). This seems to suggest that the law of large number is in effect for rating sources and significantly bring down the average score of Ghibli films, relative to review sources (in which only fewer people have the chance to sample)
  • Average rating (across all titles in that site) is consistently lower than Ghibli standardized score. At least this shows that Ghibli films are superior to your average offerings. What it does not show is by how much (of which I will need variance information, something I don’t have time to find out at this point in time!)
  • Anime Verdict and THEM, two review sources, have the highest rating. AnimeNfo, on the other hand has the lowest score. For THEM and AnimeNfo, this is also reflected in the different between Ghibli standardized score and average scores across all titles. THEM has the highest difference, AnimeNfo the lowest


  • Ghibli standardized score = average scores of all Ghibli films
  • Avg rating = average rating of all titles for that site
  • Diff = GSS – Avg rating
  • Average rating comes courtesy of AnimeStat, a really nice website that I would love to do a comparison especially with my Anime 2010 list


My friend shared with me this study from rottentomatoes data the other day. It contains rottentomatoes rating across time of different actors and directors. This gives me an idea to try to do the same for Ghibli film as a quick comparison.


  • Miyazaki is apparently to be the more consistent director overall. Does this strengthen the point that Miyazaki’s films are probably more accessible by Western audience. A look at the same analysis but from a Japanese-centric sources would be highly interesting as a comparison.
  • Takahata has one highly-rated film and the others are so-so. This makes me wonder whether a Japanese-based rating website would have rated Takahata’s film as lowly compared to the sources I use
  • Films from others are hit (Whisper of the Heart) or misses (Tales from Earthsea). If only Kondou (WofH’s director) did not pass away so prematurely…
  • With more time, I quite like to revisit this comparison again but this time with other non-Ghibli directors



  • Highest: Spirited Away – 8.99
  • Lowest: Little Norse Prince – 6.37

Most seen:

  • Highest: Spirited Away – Consensus most seen titles among the five sources I use (IMBb, Rottentomatoes, Anime Planet, ANN, MAL)
  • Lowest: Little Norse Prince

Review counts:

  • Least reviewed – All time: Panda Go Panda – 7 sources (All non-anime sources, Anime SOurce, AnimeNfo)
  • Least reviewed – Ghibli-era: My Neighbour the Yamadas – 3 sources missing (MRQE, DVD Verdict, THEM)

% watched and voted by under-18 (based on statistics from AniDB):

  • Most Spirited Away – 7.8%
  • Least: Only yesterday – 2.5%
I thought Totoro might take the top spot here and Grave of the Fireflies the bottom

% watched by female (based on statistics from AniDB):

  • Most: The Cat Returns – 17.1% (followed by Whisper of the Heart at 16.2%)
  • Least: Castle of Cagliostro – 7.8%
The Cat Returns has cats as an extra drawing point while Cagliostro is action so it makes sense in some way. The one sticking point is the underlying AniDB demographic which seems to consist mostly of men voting.

% dropped (based on statistics from MyAnimeList):

  • Most: Panda! Go Panda! – 1.51%
  • Least: Spirited Away – 0.07%
Not sure if this stats means much since most of these films are so short it has to be so bad for people to ‘drop’ it. Interesting to see that barely anyone drop Spirited Away.

% plan to watch (based on statistics from MyAnimeList):

  • Most: Ocean Waves – 29.0%
  • Least: Spirited Away – 3.9%

I guess anyone who plans to watch Spirited Away ends up watching it because it is so much more accessible. Ocean Waves on the other hand does not have a flashy synopsis nor is it well-known so lots of people put it off.

Once Ghibli releases a couple more films, I would like to come back and refresh these analyses again. I would be really interested on whether there is any major change in trend between now and then. I also hope to put out more posts and not go on quite as long a hiatus as this one. Happy New Year everyone!

4 Comments on “More Ghibli Analysis”

  1. alua says:

    Really enjoying your statistical approach. Definitely a different offering than from other blogs!

    Funnily, I love some of the most overrated films (Howl’s Moving Castle) as well as some of the most underrated ones (Whisper of My Heart). Don’t have ‘one’ favourite – love Howl’s Moving Castle for very different reasons from Whisper of My Heart, plus there are other Ghibli movies I equally (but differently) adore.

    A Japanese comparison would be very interesting indeed.

    • Thank you so much for your comment! I just can’t write quite as eloquently as others so this is the best way I can contribute:)

      I love Howl’s Moving Castle too when I saw it in cinema. I wonder what I will feel about it rewatching it again now though. Favourite is definitely a personal and ever-changing thing. I personally define it as a film I can go back and watch over and over again without getting bored. I normally also just have a list (two for Ghibli: Spirited Away and Whisper of the Heart) since, like you said, it is too difficult to select one. I normally say my favourite is Spirited Away to other people though since no one would have heard of Whisper of the Heart…

      Working on the Japanese comparison. Do let me know if there is any trustworthy aggregating sites around I can use!

      • alua says:

        I have rewatched Howl’s Moving Castle multiple times and never get tired of it. Same for Whisper of My Heart (I think you said somewhere on your blog that the chamber music scene is one of your favourite Ghibli scenes – I very much concur.). Although I love Spirited Away, Princess Mononoke , Nausicäa and Kiki’s Delivery Service almost mean more to me. Everyone adores Spirited Away – it’s kind of easy to love. But I loved the unpredictability of Princess Mononoke, loved how an old film like Nausicäa could be as fascinating as it is (and it’s too bad that some people will miss it because they will find the animation too ‘old’), and Kiki, well, that was my first Studio Ghibli film so it’s got a special place in my heart. Saw Kiki flop on the bed, and thought to myself, ‘That’s so real. Here’s a filmmaker that notes the tiniest, truest details’. And was hooked 🙂

        Don’t know any Japanese sites at the moment, but will keep a lookout for them.

      • Yes, I love the chamber scene so so much (and thanks for reading through my blog to find that out! I can’t even remember now where I wrote that). Spirited Away is just special to me because it was the gateway anime for me to get into Ghibli and really get back into anime after the interval from watching it on TV during my childhood. It mesmerized me and got me to go find out more about Ghibli and other series such as Cowboy Bebop and Evangelion.

        For Nausicaa, I find the music is probably the one that shows its age a lot more. The synthesizers just scream 1980s! I really wish that Ghibli would go back and make a sequel out of Nausicaa. The manga goes so far beyond where it ends in the anime and I would love to see the depth of storytelling being turned to life. If anything, this is the one title I would be intrigued to see turned into live-action feature, but only with production value and quality of Lord of the Rings and not Conan the Barbarian!

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