St Vincent’s DeJamz


While many people have fond childhood memories of Studio Ghibli movies, I didn’t see my first until the summer of 2021 with my roommate. It became our pandemic pleasure, trying to watch every Studio Ghibli film we could find — even the extremely depressing ones like Grave of the Fireflies. One of the most acclaimed animation studios in the world, created by Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata in 1985, is also known for its beautiful soundtracks. While there were so many to choose from, here are some of my favorite songs from Studio Ghibli movies.

The Flower Garden by Joe Hisaish

‘Howl’s Moving Castle’ was my first Studio Ghibli movie I watched and one of my favorites. This scene, in particular, when this song plays is when Howl (Takuya Kimura) shows Sophie (Emily Mortimer) his flower garden and cabin where he grew up. There were too many good songs from this film, but this scene and this song “The Flower Garden” takes the cake. With its unforgettable orchestral theme and strong string section, this song is one of the most popular of Joe Hisaishi’s extensive list of songs.

One Summer Day by Joe Hisaishi

Studio Ghibli’s most famous movie, “Spirited Away,” also won an Academy award for Best Animated Feature Film. This is also one of the most popular songs of Studio Ghibli movies. Joe Hisaishi, Japanese composer and musical director, is known for over 100 film scores.  He wrote the music for Spirited Away and as you can tell, I am quite the fan of his work with three of his songs used in the playlist. As an orchestra nerd myself, hearing a song like “One Summer Day” just fills me with joy.

First Impression by Shigeru Nagata

Everyone hates “Ocean Waves” and for good reason, from its seemingly queer-bating story arc with two of the main characters to romanticizing agression in the key relationships, this film as a whole was completely disorienteted and in a word: bad. But we aren’t talking about the film. The music, like in most Ghibli movies, stands against the mess and almost saves it from its failed ending. I can’t get enough of this song. The jazz style piano intro gives it a fun almost teasing sound throughout the song. I can’t tell you a single other song for this movie that I’d include in this list but this one is top tier.

Spiller – instrumental version by Ce’cile Corbel

I want to be clear that I am not a hater of ‘The Secret Life of Arrietty’. I just didn’t like it compared to the others. But this song is a masterpiece. I love the folk style with this song and, honestly, like it better as an instrumental than with the words. The high energy of this song relates to the movie which is action-filled of Arrietty trying to save her home.

A Town with an Ocean View by Joe Hisaishi

“Kiki’s Delivery Service” might be my absolute favorite product of Studio Ghibli’s. I don’t know if it’s the fact I also have a black cat or the act of Kiki finding herself through her depression, but Kiki will always have a special place for me. This song in particular is absolutely beautiful and reminds me of summertime with its bright and spirited orchestral sound. As this is the first song on the album, it’s a great introduction to the movie giving way to its summer in Europe vibe.