Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind is set in a post-apocalyptic future where the dwindling human population lives in a constant struggle against giant mutant insects, called Ohmu. Princess Nausicaä is caught between protecting her people from foreign, power-hungry invaders and protecting her home from the angered insects of the Toxic Jungle. Caring for both humans and creatures equally, Nausicaä must convince the invaders from destroying her village and the Toxic Jungle, which would enrage the Ohmu further, and bring peace back to the ravaged planet.
Castle in the Sky begins with a young girl named Sheeta on a plane with her kidnapper, Colonel Muska, on their way to a military prison. When the plane is attacked by pirates, Sheeta escapes and falls out of the plane, but her mysterious magic crystal necklace slows her descent. She is saved by a fellow orphan named Pazu and the pair quickly becomes friends as Sheeta tells him about the floating city of Laputa. Working together to discover the mystery of the city, Pazu and Sheeta must avoid both Muska and the pirates, who yearn for the city's treasures.
My Neighbor Totoro follows the story of two sisters, Satsuki and Mei, as they move with their father to the country in order to be closer to their mother who is recovering from an illness in a nearby hospital. As the sisters explore their new home, they encounter friendly spirits of the forest, including the giant, rabbit/Bear-like creature named Totoro, the spirit of nature and growth. While trying to remain hopeful about their mother’s condition, the girls explore the wonders and mysteries of nature and childhood with the help of their new friends, both human and spirit.
Kiki’s Delivery Service follows a 13-year-old witch named Kiki who is ready to leave her home and begin her year-long journey as a witch-in-training. Along with her talking black cat Jiji, Kiki moves to a seaside town, although not having a particular skill and barely being able to control her broomstick. After befriending a kind baker, Kiki sets up a flying delivery service and becomes a friend to the community. When Kiki questions her abilities and finds herself without friends, she loses her magic and must overcome her self-doubt to get her powers back.
Princess Mononoke follows the young prince Ashitaka who protects his village from outside forces. After being cursed by a corrupted boar spirit, Ashitaka leaves his village to find a cure for the infection slowly killing him. In Iron Town, he meets Lady Eboshi who desires to kill all spirits and use the forest’s resources. He also meets San (Princess Mononoke), a girl who lives in the forest & is raised by wolf spirits, who are also willing to risk their lives for the forest’s preservation. Respecting all life, Ashitaka struggles to prevent humans and spirits from destroying the balance of nature.
After stumbling upon an abandoned amusement park with her parents, 10-year-old Chihiro finds herself transported to a land full of spirits. Scared and confused, Chihiro meets a mysterious boy named Haku, who tells her she's in a resort for spirits. After having her name taken from her by the witch Yubaba, Chihiro works in Yubaba's bathhouse and meets a variety of characters including, the mysterious spirit No-Face. Over time, she learns to be brave and more independent to free herself and her parents, who were turned into giant pigs after eating food from the spirit world.
Howl’s Moving Castle follows a young woman named Sophie who leads an uneventful life working at a hat shop. After being saved from a mysterious man named Howl, Sophie is turned into an old woman by a spiteful witch who is jealous of Sophie’s interactions with Howl. On her journey to reverse the curse, she finds Howl’s magic walking castle and becomes his housekeeper, making a deal with the fire spirit Calcifer into breaking each other's curses. Over time, the unconfident Sophie grows closer to Howl and realizes that she is more than her appearance.
A young magical goldfish is found by a 5-year-old boy named Sōsuke after getting trapped in a glass bottle. The boy and the fish, whom Sōsuke names Ponyo, become closer and Ponyo expresses the desire to become a human girl. After being warned of the dangers of humans by her father, Ponyo transforms into a human and causes a catastrophic tsunami on her way back to Sōsuke. With Ponyo’s magic causing a dangerous imbalance in the world, the two children embark on a journey in Sōsuke's flooded town to find his missing mom and fulfill Ponyo's dreams of being a human.