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Totoro may be the most instantly recognizable Studio Ghibl character, but the exalted animation house has produced a far larger number of memorable heroines than cute critters. From warrior princesses to ordinary schoolgirls who defy anime conventions by actually being ordinary, almost every Ghibli film has had a woman as either its central or most important figure.

Each has her own claim to fame. Spirited Away’s Chihiro remains the studio’s highest-grossing leading lady, Arrietty its shortest, and Princess Mononoke’s San the most violent. Now, a recent poll has bestowed yet another title by asking fans which Ghibli character they’d like to have as a girlfriend.

The survey, conducted by Internet portal My Navi Woman, received responses from 110 men between the ages of 22 and 39. The top ten are below.

9 (tie). Fio Piccolo – 2.7 percent

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Often, the easiest way to win over a guy is by cooking him a delicious meal. Other times, it’s by proving you can overhaul a fighter plane, like ace mechanic Fio from Porco Rosso.

9 (tie). Madame Gina – 2.7 percent

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If you’d prefer a woman who smells like perfume instead of engine grease, there’s the classically feminine and mature Gina, who also appears in Porco Rosso as Fio’s polar opposite.

8. Umi Matsuzaka – 3.6 percent

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Umi, the industrious Yokohama-raised protagonist of From Up on Poppy Hill, was one of only two characters in the top ten who didn’t appear in a film directed by Ghibli co-founder Hayao Miyazaki.

6 (tie). Naoko Satomi – 5.5 percent

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Naoko is the love interest of fighter plane designer Jiro in Miyazaki’s final directorial project, The Wind Rises. Devoted and accepting, Naoko was the first character from the film to be shown prior to its release.

6 (tie). Sophie – 5.5 percent

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Sandwiched between the largely forgotten The Cat Returns and the widely panned Tales from Earthsea, Howl’s Moving Castle came at a relative lapse in Ghibli’s string of runaway successes. Even still, Sophie managed to find a place in the hearts of enough fans to tie for sixth place, despite spending a large chunk of Howl’s running time cursed with the body of a 90-year-old woman.

5. San – 7.3 percent

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Is strength beautiful? It is to many of the survey’s respondents, who raised the monster princess herself, Princess Mononoke’s San, to number five on the list. “There’s something about her strong, commanding presence that draws me in,” mused one fan.

4. Sheeta – 11.8 percent

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For most of Laputa: Castle in the Sky, Sheeta is demure and courteous, as you’d expect from a young lady born of royal blood. That doesn’t mean she won’t crack a bottle over the head of someone who’s trying to kidnap her, though. As one admirer put it, “She’s cool and cute.”

3. Shizuku Tsukishima – 12.7 percent

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The second non-Miyazaki-directed character on the list is Shizuku, Whisper of the Heart’s avid reader and budding writer. “She seems so pure and innocent,” commented one fan. Sadly, Shizuku’s already got her eye on someone, as her developing relationship with the talented violinist Seiji is the focus of the film in which she stars.

2. Nausicaa – 15.4 percent

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“Wait a second!” some of you are shouting. “Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind came out in 1984, but Studio Ghibli wasn’t founded until the following year. Nausicaa isn’t a Ghibli character, she’s a Topcraft character!”

Full points for your knowledge of anime history. Nausicaa was directed by Miyazaki and produced by Isao Takahata, two of the three men who would later found Studio Ghibli by drawing heavily from the former staff of the already defunct animation house Topcraft. And besides, it just wouldn’t seem right to bar Nausicaa, who one respondent praised for her “intertwined strength and gentleness,” over a technicality.

1. Kiki – 25.4 percent

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Taking the top spot, and by a large margin was, little witch Kiki. “She’s cheerful, pure-hearted, and always honest and true to herself,” said one fan. Aside from her earnest, hardworking attitude, others were simply impressed with how cool she looks soaring through the skies on her broom.

Kiki may have gotten a bit of a boost from the recent live-action Kiki’s Delivery Service movie, which, like Studio Ghibli’s 1989 anime, is an adaptation of the novel written by Eiko Kadono.

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While the live-action film hasn’t achieved nearly the same success of critical acclaim as the anime, we wouldn’t be surprised if the spunky smile of lead actress Fuuka Koshiba won a few extra votes for the anime version of the character.

Whatever the reason, I’m always happy to see a little more love for my personal favorite Ghibli film. Like with Shizuku, though, anyone wanting to ask out Kiki is going to have to get past her pre-existing suitor, Tombo. We suppose you could try fighting him for her, but we doubt that Kiki is the kind of girl who’d be impressed by such a violent and barbaric gesture.

▼ Besides, would you hit a guy with glasses?

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Source: Niconico News
Top image: Anime Vice, Mini Tokyo,, iPhone WP (edited by RocketNews24)
Imsert images: My Movies, Anime Vice, Blogspot, Cineplex, Mini Tokyo, Sense of Cinema, Wikia, Livedoor,, iPhone WP, YouTube, Wikia (2)