1. The Grave of the Fireflies
    No fantasy. Very realistic. Very sad. Brutal.
  2. Princess Mononoke
    Fantasy characters that don't require too much of a stretch, with clear, relatable motives. Would be a good film to teach kids how to recognize themes.
  3. Kiki's Delivery Service
    Expects you to jump straight into their witch world without a ton of explanation, but fairly straightforward.
  4. My Neighbor Totoro
    Fantasy characters that require a bit of a stretch, but a clear plot.
  5. Howl's Moving Castle
    Makes a fair amount of sense. Some weirdness, for sure, but you don't get distracted by it.
  6. Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind
    Very similar themes to Mononoke, but with the fantasy dialed up about 6 large notches.
  7. The Tale of Princess Kayuga
    Fairly straightforward but some very weird parts. Starts with a micro princess born in a bamboo shoot who shortly becomes a human baby, and ages at, like, double speed, but no one points that out because... Rude? I guess? STRIKINGLY beautiful film and story though. Gee whiz.
  8. Ponyo
    Straight up weird but so cute. She's a fish? What kind of fish is that? What is going on? Still a fairly straightforward plot, however surreal the points connecting it are. (The mom just going with it and seemingly unconcerned with Ponyo's parents is kind of weird, but if you ignore that, the plot is easy.)
  9. Spirited Away
    Straight up weird. Psychedelic in a clinical sense. Some easily followed plot points and a human protagonist wandering around a phantasmagorical world with some totally wild characters. A cacophony of frenetic, beautiful fantasy.