For a cranky old man, dude writes some fantastic, idealistic young women
  1. 1.
    Mei (from "My Neighbor Totoro")
    Unflappable sense of adventure. Beautifully encapsulates the childhood joy of finding everything utterly fascinating.
  2. 2.
    A feminine, feminist superhero figuring out her way in the world. Probably the best role model on the list.
  3. 3.
    Maybe too perfect to be my favorite, but I love how she owns her feminism in a male-driven society and lets that empower her. Compassionate as hell, but brave enough to face down the ohmus, who are freaking terrifying.
  4. 4.
    Is she a heroine? Is she a terrorist? I'm not sure, but she can definitely kick my ass. A complex, difficult character in a way that few women in action movies are allowed to be.
  5. 5.
    Chihiro (from "Spirited Away")
    An ordinary girl who becomes extraordinary in order to survive. Basically Miyazaki's way of challenging the youth of Japan to move past their overindulgent parents and harness their true potential, but it also works universally.
  6. 6.
    Shizuku (from "Whisper of the Heart")
    There's nothing all that special about her, but that's why I like her. Too often, there's a pressure to make characters of any gender extraordinary in some way (super-smart or brave or mean or whatever), but Miyazaki doesn't force any of that. She's just a girl who's got a crush on some cute boy and wants to translate "Country Roads" and sing it in the cutest way ever and is trying to figure out what to do next. That's compelling enough.
  7. 7.
    Sophie (from "Howl's Moving Castle")
    A maternal figure in the best way. Takes an extremely motley crew of magical people and creatures and creates a family, not because she's supposed to as a woman, but because she's a genuinely warm person who makes everyone around her better (even evil witches).
  8. 8.
    Basically a magical version of Mei, but neither cute nor plucky enough (but who is?). Like the movie itself, great by normal standards, pretty good by Ghibli standards.