Studio Ghibli was officially formed in 1985. Before that time many of the writers, directors, producers and animators that would come to form Studio Ghibli worked together on several anime movies. These movies have much of the charm of Studio Ghibli features and are in many cases now also owned and distributed by Studio Ghibli. Despite their age these movies are of excellent quality, even by today’s high standards, and are by all means worth a watch.
Lupin III: Castle of Cagliostro (1979)
Rupan Sansei: Kariosutoro no Shiro (ルパン三世 カリオストロの城)
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Buy on Blu-ray: Amazon | eBay
A random anime series film that just so happens to have been co-written and directed by Hayao Miyazaki. As such, this movie contains far less crudeness and nudity than your average Lupin III fare. This movie also happens to be the general favourite in the anime community out of the six Lupin III movies. This movie follows Lupin III, a famed thief descended from Arsène Lupin, and his sidekick Daisuke Jigen as they escape from a high-profile robbery of a national casino called Monaco. Discovering that their loot is counterfeit, they go in search of the source of these perfect “goat bills” which leads them to the Castle of Cagliostro featuring both a princess and a huge hidden secret. Good times to be had by all, and a more decent story than is usually found in non-canonical anime series movies.
Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind (1984)
Kaze no tani no Naushika (風の谷のナウシカ)
Buy on DVD: Amazon
Buy on Blu-ray: Amazon
Now considered Ghibli’s first full-length movie even though it was released a year before the official formation of the Studio, Nausicaa has aged a lot better than most of the other animes from that time. The art, music, and story-line of this anime were all way ahead of its time. The story revolves around the princess Nausicaa and how she gives her absolute all to save those around her from both the aggressive foliage/fungi surrounding them, the neighbouring countries, and the impending threat of giant stampeding insects. One of the best sci-fi animes ever made, and certainly a must-view for any anime fan. You’ll be able to see why this put Ghibli in its formative years on the anime world’s map.