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16 Strong Heroines of Studio Ghibli

16 Strong Heroines of Studio Ghibli
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9. Chihiro (Spirited Away)Spirited-Away

10-year-old Chihiro accidentally strays into the spirit world, and is forced to work in a bath-house for spirits when her parents become pigs. Initially afraid and confused, her courage, kindness and resistance to corruption eventually win transformation, not only for her parents, but for many of the spirits as well.

10. Haru (The Cat Returns)The-Cat-Returns

This film is a spin-off from Whisper of the Heart and conceived as the sort of story Shizuku might write. In it, shy heroine Haru is taken to the Kingdom of Cats in return for saving its prince’s life. There she learns greater self-confidence, learning to speak her mind and take greater control of her own destiny.

11. Sophie (Howl’s Moving Castle)howl's-moving-castle

My very favourite Ghibli heroine, quiet, dutiful Sophie only begins to discover her true self when she is turned into a 90-year-old woman and forced to take refuge in Wizard Howl’s magical castle. Being an old woman gives her license to tell everyone – including Howl – what she really thinks of them, and her growing confidence in turn makes her younger. What I particularly like is how you can see how Sophie feels about herself by how old or young she appears, until she finds a version of herself she is happy with.

12.  Therru (Tales from Earthsea)earthsea

In this clever amalgam of the Earthsea novels, Therru is initially distrustful of Prince Arren and men in general. However, through a mutual sharing of secrets, she eventually trusts him with her true name and helps save his life, revealing her true self when she is reborn as a dragon. How many girls do that?!

13. Ponyo (Ponyo)ponyo

The child of an underwater wizard and a sea-goddess, Ponyo decides to be different from her identical sisters and escapes to land to befriend a little boy called Sosuke. She is full of love, high spirits and determination, but causes problems for herself and others by over-using her magic powers. Eventually she must decide what she would rather be: a magical fish or a human girl?

14. Arietty (The Secret World of Arietty)arrietty

In this Japanese take on The Borrowers, Arietty is part of an endangered species of tiny people. She shows bravery in her “borrowing” expeditions, but what is most touching is the friendship she forms with human boy, Sho, who has a serious illness and fears that he, too, will die. By befriending one of her people’s so-called persecutors, she shows herself to be a much bigger person than many humans.

15. Umi (From Up on Poppy Hill)from-up-on-poppy-hill

16-year-old Umi  unexpectedly becomes a campaigner for historic building preservation when she meets Shun and gets involved with the previously all-male clubhouse. Umi and the girls soon show the boys what a female touch can do to the dilapidated building. But Umi is forced to confront deeper issues when she finds out more about her deceased father and his relationship to Shun.

16. Princess Kaguya (The Tale of the Princess Kaguya)


In this re-telling of a traditional Japanese name, Princess Kaguya – a moon princess reborn on earth – refuses to conform to the expectations of her father. She would rather spend her time running free amongst nature than studying calligraphy in layers of silk kimono. And she refuses to accept any marriage proposal, be it from a wealthy prince or the Emperor himself.

Which Studio Ghibli heroines have you encountered?  Who is your favorite?

Photo Credits: Studio Ghibli


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About The Author

Elizabeth Hopkinson

Elizabeth Hopkinson is a fantasy writer from Bradford, West Yorkshire, UK – home of the Brontë sisters and the Cottingley Fairies. She loves fairy tale and history, especially the 18th century, and is currently writing a trilogy set in a fantasy version of baroque Italy. Her short fiction has appeared in many publications, and her historical fantasy novel, Silver Hands, is available from all good book outlets. You can check out Elizabeth’s website at

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The Silver Petticoat Review covers both classic and modern entertainment from around the world and specializes in Old-Fashioned Romance, Period Dramas, and Romantic Storytelling in Film, Literature, & TV. Our objective is to promote and bring back enthusiasm for swoon-worthy love stories and diverse storytelling steeped in or influenced by Romanticism without the excess of explicit content and unsentimental cynicism.




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