Miyazaki for a 3-1/2 year old

Two of my son’s absolute favorite movies are My Neighbor Totoro and Spirited Away. We haven’t seen Ponyo yet but plan on getting the DVD in (March?).
I haven’t seen any of the other Miyazaki films and was checking them out at BestBuy. They all seem to be a bit more mature in their material than the two he has (i.e. they aren’t about children).
Could you, or would you even, recommend any other for a 3-1/2 year old.
Princess Mononoke is rated PG-13 so I think thats out.
Nausicaa looked interesting but the story looks complex.
Howl’s Moving Castle looked to have a mature storyline.
Kiki’s Delivery Service looked tame enough but not that appealing to a pre-schooler.

So do I just wait for Ponyo and wait till he gets older to watch the others?

Kiki’s Delivery Service is the best bet of those you listed for younger kids. Ponyo is aimed at the youngest children and should be a big hit at your house.

I haven’t seen Nausicaa, but of the others you list, I wouldn’t try any but Kiki’s Delivery Service for kids less than 8-10, though if he’s okay with Sprited Away, Howl’s Moving Castle might be okay too.

It’s not a Miyazaki movie, but it’s out of Studio Ghibli so is strongly influenced by him: The Cat Returns might appeal to a 3 or 4 year old.

Nausicaa is possibly the last one I’d recommend for little kids of the Miyazake films.

Seconded. My two girls enjoyed it, nice songs too.

Not Miyazaki, Ghibli, but you could try Pom Poko - depending on how you feel about racoon-dog testicles, that is…

…or there’s always Grave of the Fireflies.

Which might emotionally scar a 3 1/2 year old for life.

My Neighbor Tortoro is also great for kids of any age.

my nieces… now 10 and 6 LOVED Howl’s Moving Castle. We watched it twice while I was there for Thanksgiving two years ago. So… maybe little too young but not by much.

See it!

(Not for kids.)

I can’t imagine that Pom Poko would hold the interest of anyone under 10 years-old. It barely held mine.

My kids loved “Lupin III: The Castle of Cagliostro” when they were around 5 or 6. Some mild profanity and violence though.

All of the above are great movies but the only one I’d recommend for very young children is “Kiki”, which is utterly charming. You won’t regret picking this one up (and “Ponyo”, too, when its released). Unlike most anime, the english dubbing is excellent although I much prefer the title song on the Japanese soundtrack over the bland country-pop song of the english soundtrack.

“The Cat Returns” is also a pretty entertaining Studio Ghibli (although not Miyazaki) fantasy adventure about a young girl who visits the world of cats but I’d rank it as second-tier Ghibli and not quite up to the superb standards of “Kiki.”

Heck, I saw “Grave of the Fireflies” in my 30s and I think I’m scarred for life. It’s one of the best war movies I’ve ever seen; an emotionally devastating masterpiece. And I never, ever want to watch it again.

Porco Roso is another one that kids won’t really like. Castle in the Sky, also, probably won’t be good fits. The best for that age (at least for my 3-4 yr old) are Howl’s, Spirited, and Totoro - and that’s the order that she picked.

My first Miyazaki experience was Porco Roso in Japanese with no subtitles.


Kiki’s Delivery Service*
Pom Poko
Spirited Away

Castle in the Sky
Porco Rosso
Whisper of the Heart

Castle of Cagliostro
Princess Mononoke

Grave of the Fireflies

  • Though note that Kiki is essentialy a story about a girl going through puberty. Even though it’s suitable for children of a fairly young age, it might not resonate.

Nah, kids that young simply wouldn’t get it. If you want to scar a kid for life, wait until they’re ten and understand dead is forever.

Let me second this recommendation. My three year old nephew loved this one. It ‘feels’ like a Miyazaki movie aimed at younger children.

I’m far removed from a 3 1/2 year old but I still LOVE Kiki’s Delivery Service!