Out of 24 Studio Ghibli Movies Only 2 Were So Bad, They Ended Up 'Rotten'

Out of 24 Studio Ghibli Movies Only 2 Were So Bad, They Ended Up 'Rotten'
Image credit: Hakuhodo DY Media Partners, NTV

Perhaps we should reconsider our perspective on these two 'bad' movies.


  • Studio Ghibli has been around for 38 years and has produced a huge number of animated films.
  • Two of them, directed by someone other than Hayao Miyazaki, are considered the worst in the studio's history.
  • Yet they have their own unique charm.

Although Hayao Miyazaki has decided to finally retire after The Boy and the Heron, his co-founded Studio Ghibli continues to bring us great animated films and is sure to have some projects in the pipeline for years to come. Founded in 1985, the animation studio has released an impressive number of great stories, and without diminishing the All-Father's contribution, the company's fame is not only due to Hayao Miyazaki. For example, Grave of the Fireflies, one of the most gruesome war dramas ever made, was directed by none other than Isao Takahata.

However, the presence of various filmmakers under the aegis of Ghibli, who do not always work directly with Miyazaki, has a downside. As such, among all the films produced by the Japanese studio, there are two that are considered the worst in the company's history, according to their Rotten Tomatoes scores.

Two 'Rotten' Ghibli Movies

Of course, it's impossible to imagine Ghibli without Hayao Miyazaki, so we have no choice but to compare the films not produced by him to those that he personally worked on. And while this may seem to lead to a fairer assessment of projects that try to emulate the veteran Japanese animator's style, in reality we may find ourselves being too harsh on them.

Take Hayao Miyazaki's son Goro, for example. Even though he is a prolific managing director and landscape architect for Ghibli, his own animation projects have not always been successful.

You've probably heard stories that Hayao Miyazaki, despite all the colorful stories he creates, is not the easiest person to work with, and so Goro had a very strained relationship with his father. This was mainly due to the 2006 movie Tales from Earthsea, based on the Earthsea book series by Ursula K. Le Guin.

The project was originally supposed to be handled by Hayao, but he focused on another adaptation, Howl's Moving Castle. As a result, producer Toshio Suzuki appointed Goro, who had no directing experience, to adapt Tales from Earthsea.

Goro had to work under harsh conditions and time constraints, and the result was not the best. On Rotten Tomatoes, the critics' score is only 38% and the audience score is 46%. Viewers noted the beautifully done animation but criticized the script.

Another Goro Miyazaki project that unfortunately failed was Earwig and the Witch, based on the novel of the same name by Diana Wynne Jones, released in 2021. Critics gave the movie only a 28% rating, calling it a 'misfire' for its CGI. Notably, audiences gave it a 68% rating.

But Are These Movies Really That Bad?

Although both films were critically disappointing, they were quite successful commercially, and outside of Rotten Tomatoes, fans of the studio recognize that Tales from Earthsea and Earwig and the Witch may not compare to the work of Hayao Miyazaki, but they have every right to exist. Perhaps one of the main factors in why both films have such low scores is the inflated standards expected of Goro, being the son of a legendary filmmaker. As a result, many people compare the work of the two to see if Goro follows Hayao's creative mood and approach to storytelling.

But maybe we're overlooking the fact that despite the same animation style, all Ghibli films have their own unique characteristics, and that's exactly what Goro wanted to bring to his projects. So even if both Tales from Earthsea and Earwig and the Witch are 'rotten', it doesn't change the fact that they are still worthy representatives of the Studio Ghibli roster.