Top 10 Anime Movies [Updated Best Recommendations]

Not too long ago we introduced you to our Top 10 favorite anime movies on this website. Now it’s time to update those recommendations.

The anime universe moves fast and new movies are constantly being released. Sometimes it’s hard to stay up to date and that’s exactly why we want to take the time and introduce you to our personal favorites. With today’s list, we have ten more movies we think all of you devoted anime fans should watch. We tried our best to mix all-time classics with new releases, so there should be something for everyone to enjoy.

To keep our recommendations as diverse as possible we won’t be including any movies we’ve already mentioned in the first list, so if your favorite movie isn’t presented today head on over to the original article located towards the bottom of this article and you might find it there. This being said it’s time for our Top 10 Anime Movies. Enjoy!

10. Kokoro ga Sakebitagatterunda. (The Anthem of the Heart)

  • Episodes: 119 min
  • Aired: September 19, 2015

Our first recommendation is the most recent movie of this list and a definite must-watch when it comes to coming-of-age stories.

Kokoro ga Sakebitagatterunda, or Kokosake for short, tells the story of Jun, a girl who once was a happy child, but who had to change after a traumatic incident. Her emotions were sealed away by a mysterious egg fairy and with them her ability to speak disappeared. Now she is a quiet teenager who would rather just disappear altogether. But her life is about to change again, with the help of love, friends and most importantly, music.

Kokosake was already well-known way before its release, mostly due to the fact that it’s from the makers of ultimate tearjerker Ano Hana. What could have disappointed lots of fans turned out to be a charming movie with a beautiful soundtrack and a refreshingly innocent story. Kokosake received a couple of awards and is thus one of the most recommended anime movies in recent years. Our first pick!


9. Tokyo Godfathers

  • Episodes: 93 min
  • Aired: August 30, 2003

Let’s move on to an older movie that still deserves some love today: Tokyo Godfathers.

One Christmas Eve, three people who couldn’t be more different from each other find an abandoned baby. On a quest to find its parents, a transvestite, a middle-aged alcoholic and a runaway girl find their way around the streets of Tokyo. This turns out to be harder than they had expected and soon enough the three strangers find themselves caught up in a series of mysterious events.

Tokyo Godfathers is a heart-warming story that entertains with its combination of interesting storyline and great characters. On top of that, there are more than just a few funny scenes that will literally make you laugh out loud. Most importantly, an overall festive feeling surrounds the story and makes you think about the meaning of family and friendship. Tokyo Godfathers is a hit even outside the holiday season so why not give it a try tonight?


8. Bakemono no Ko (The Boy and the Beast)

  • Episodes: 118 min
  • Aired: July 11, 2015

We are coming back to recent times with Bakemono no Ko, also known as The Boy and the Beast.

This is a modern fairytale that takes place nowhere else than the streets of Tokyo. The boy mentioned in the title is Ren, a young boy who decides to run away from his terrible life. The beast is Kumatetsu, a fierce-looking monster who is fighting for his right to claim the throne of the Beast Kingdom. To do that, he needs to prove that he can take care of an apprentice and that’s where Ren comes in. The unlikely pair decides to team up and together they tackle their problems and try to make the best out of their situation.

The premise of Bakemono no Ko is a rather unique and is definitely already reason enough to give it a chance. If you still aren’t sure of whether you should give this gem a try, let us just add that it was the second highest-grossing Japanese movie of 2015 and received international approval. Mamoru Hosoda succeeded at creating a lovely mixture of an emotion-filled storyline with unique yet interesting characters. A definite must-watch!


7. Memories

  • Episodes: 113 min
  • Aired: December 23, 1995

Next up on our list is a movie that might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but belongs definitely to one of the most underrated anime movies out there.

Memories is a collection of three different stories that have each been directed by different directors. Magnetic Rose tells a story of loving and losing, Stink Bomb is a humoristic view on the works of a chemical researcher and Cannon Fodder will make you reflect on what wars can do to the minds of people. What ties these stories together is the idea of memories and how much they define a person.

Directing three different stories that are still combined into one final masterpiece is already astounding by itself. What makes Memories stand out, even more, is the fact that you get to see three completely different approaches to creating an animated movie. Of course, this also means that you might enjoy each story differently, but that is part of the charm of Memories. If you enjoy thoughtful movies then check it out.


6. Tekkon Kinkreet

  • Episodes: 111 min
  • Aired: December 23, 2006

Not all anime movies need to have breath-taking animations to be successful and Tekkon Kinkreet will show you why.

White and Black are two orphan boys who are trying their best to survive on the streets of a China-inspired version of Japan. With only a handful of possessions, they still manage to make the best out of their situation and enjoy each day as if it was their last. What they didn’t realize though is that they need each other more than they would have thought and when fate starts ripping them apart, their peaceful life as they used to know it is coming to an end.

The most prominent feature of Tekkon Kinkreet is its unique art style that some might describe as ugly. But what seems off-putting at first actually works well for the storyline. After all, Tekkon Kinkreet shows its viewers the dark and dirty sides of a modern city and what it means to be part of life on the streets. This movie shows the beautiful bond between two boys and is the sixth recommendation on this list.


5. Sennen Joyuu (Millennium Actress)

  • Episodes: 87 min
  • Aired: September 14, 2001

After Memories and Tokyo Godfathers we have the third creation of director Satoshi Kon with Millennium Actress.

In the midst of winter, young Chiyoko meets a mysterious stranger who she immediately falls in love with. To follow him on his journey inside and outside of Japan, the girl decides to become an actress who produces one hit movie after the other. Millennium Actress tells the life story of Chiyoko while also shedding some light on the most recent events in Japanese history.

Millennium Actress is a true masterpiece that combines several different storylines, perspectives and time periods seemingly effortless. Satoshi Kon is known for combining reality with fantasy and this movie is definitely no exception. Like many other recommendations on this list, Millennium Actress is an international hit and thus a definite must-watch. Especially fans of bittersweet love stories should set an evening aside to watch Millennium Actress.


4. Sen to Chihiro no Kamikakushi (Spirited Away)

  • Episodes: 125 min
  • Aired: July 20, 2001

You didn’t really expect us to leave out one of the most successful Japanese movies in history, did you?

Spirited Away tells the story of Chihiro who, one day, stumbles into the spirit realm. To save her parents from a gruesome curse she has to go out and find her way around a world that scares and excites her at the same time. With beautiful visuals and unique characters Spirited Away shows the struggle of a girl to find her way home.

In this movie everything just seems to come together perfectly: the story is interesting, each character is more unique than the previous one, the artwork is breathtaking and on top of all of that you also get a soundtrack that is beautiful in its simplicity. Spirited Away is the highest grossing movie in Japanese history and made Studio Ghibli as famous abroad as it is in Japan. If you haven’t watched Spirited Away yet, it is definitely time to do that.


3. Akira

  • Episodes: 124 min
  • Aired: July 16, 1988

We have reached our Top 3 and we want to start with a must-watch anime movie for all Sci-Fi fans: Akira.

The story is set in a future that is not so distant anymore where modern Tokyo is suffering from the after-effects of World War III. Its streets are ruled by tough biker gangs and the government is being under constant attack. To top this chaos off, psychic powers start emerging and now everyone has to fight for their own right to live.

Why should you watch a movie that is almost 30 years old, you may ask. The fact that Akira is one of the most successful anime movies of all time is already a good reason. This little gem has stood the test of time and is still as relevant today as it was in the late 80s. It is a masterwork when it comes to Sci-Fi stories and a must-watch for all self-proclaimed movie connoisseurs. If you haven’t watched it yet, what are you still waiting for?


2. Byousoku 5 Centimeter (5 Centimeters per Second)

  • Episodes: 66 min
  • Aired: November 19, 2007

You have asked for it and here it is: next up on our list is the romantic drama 5 Centimeters per Second.

Similar to Memories, this movie doesn’t tell one, but several different stories in one film. The story starts with two childhood friends who fall in love only to be torn apart by fate and ends with a unique look on what it means to be in love and how fragile human bonds really are. Get ready for an emotional rollercoaster that will make you think about the meaning of sakura petals falling to the ground.

5 Centimeters per Second convinces more with its unique atmosphere than it does with its storyline. With the help of more than outstanding visuals, you will get dragged into the story and start caring about each character as if their problems were your own. This movie is deeply emotional and shows a rare love for detail, so grab yourself a pack of tissues and watch it tonight.


1. Ghost in the Shell

  • Episodes: 83 min
  • Aired: November 18, 1995

We have reached the end of our list, but we cannot let you go before talking about our final recommendation which simply had to be the all-time classic Ghost in the Shell.

It’s the year 2029 and humans have replaced nearly all of their body parts with robotic features. Mankind has reached a new high, but it needs to pay the prize for its advanced technology. What does it mean to be human? How much should we rely on technology? What is the worth of your free will? These are just some of the questions that you will be asking yourself while watching Ghost in the Shell.

This movie revolutionized Japanese movie making and has opened new doors in the animated film industry. It is deep, entertaining, dark and most importantly still relevant today. Even Ghost in the Shell’s animation can still compete with today’s artwork, but if you are not a fan of older visuals you might want to check out its remake of 2015. Everyone else, definitely watch the original version as Ghost in the Shell is one of the most touching and thoughtful anime movies out there.


Final Thoughts

Compiling today’s list was a tough task. Not only are there countless anime movies out there that deserve a spot in our Top 10, but each one of them is entertaining in its own way. There are dark stories that will make you start asking questions, but also entertaining and heart-warming movies that can put a smile on your face. There are more than enough anime movies out there for every person and every occasion, so give our recommendations a try, you certainly won’t be disappointed.

What do you think of our recommendations and which other movies did we miss out on? Once again, don’t forget to check out our original Top 10 in case you want even more recommendations. Leave your comments and opinions down below!

Cornelia Wagner

Writer

Author: Cornelia Wagner

Coffee enthusiast, world traveler and writer at heart. Left Europe to live and study in the insanity called Tokyo.

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Top 5 Anime by Cornelia Wagner




Original Article Below

Movies are a great for short bursts of time or for those who do not want to make a long-term commitment to a series (or binge-watch) and what better way to get started than to watch some classic movies for lovers of every genre. Lucky for you readers, I have provided a great starting point for those concerned about the quality of the animation and story. Make a bag of popcorn and have a marathon!

10. Wolf Children (Okami no Kodomo no Ame to Yuki)

  • Episodes: 1 (117 min)
  • Aired: July 21, 2012

The beginning of the movie starts out like a typical love story where two young adults meet in a college classroom. They spend time together and eventually become attracted to each other, when things begin to move rapidly. Hana, the young woman, discovers her new lover is actually a shapeshifting wolf and from then on things progress rapidly. Hana discovers she is pregnant and quits school in order to raise her child while her lover works ever harder to support her. Yuki is born and Hana quickly becomes pregnant again. When her second child Ame is born, her lover goes out on the hunt to feed his ever growing family, but never returns. Hana quickly finds out that he will never return and resolves herself to raise her two unique children who have inherited their father’s strange power without being discovered.

Wolf Children is a story about personal growth and how the decisions we make lead us to where we are and to who we become. Even with its fantasy elements, this movie speaks to the soul and forcing viewers to ask questions about who they really are and are they happy with the decisions they have made to get there. Both Yuki and Ame must dig deep to discover their paths just as their mother decided to set her own needs aside for those of her children. Motherhood is one of the central elements of the movie, showing just how hard young mothers try to give everything to their children to the best of their abilities. Wolf Children is heartwarming and will leave viewers not only questioning themselves, but thanking their mothers for getting them to where they are today.


9. Beserk The Golden Age Arc (Beruseruku Ogon Jidai-hen)

  • Episodes: 1 (80 min)
  • Aired: February 4, 2012

Based on the manga of the same name, Beserk is not for the faint of heart. This action packed movie contains blood, gore, sexual violence, and plenty more, but beyond this lies an excellent story about revenge and betrayal. Set in a medieval fantasy world, the story revolves around Guts, a mercenary for hire accompanied by his large sword. When he encounters Griffith, the leader of a band of mercenaries, on his travels he is defeated in combat and forced to join their ranks. Befriending Griffith over time, Guts becomes his right hand man as they gain more glory from their victories and are eagerly sought after.

For those who love a good action anime, this anime is for you. For those who love drama, this anime is for you. For those who love fantasy, this anime is for you. This movie is amazing and has powerful storytelling. The characters each have their own grim backstories and there are elements of mystery tying them together. While this is a fantasy movie, the writers don’t try to hide the grisly details of survival in such a world even going so far as to address feminine hygiene at one point. While there is only one movie named here, there are currently three out and more being made in order to continue the story. If you like Game of Thrones, you will love this.


8. One Piece Film Z

  • Episodes: 107 min
  • Aired: December 15, 2012

Taking place somewhere between Fishman Island and Punk Hazard, Film Z further explores the idea of justice taken too far in an era where Akainu has control over the Marine forces. Centering on the mysterious “Z” character, the Strawhat crew are caught off guard when they end up rescuing him at sea. Z believes pirates are an absolute evil and is willing to destroy the entire New World, including innocents, in order to rid the seas of them. While the Strawhats are able to survive, they are left with a young Nami, Chopper, and Robin (also Brook). Luffy, determined to get his crewmates back to normal and settle the score, sets out in search of “Z’ and discovers his true identity, the ex-Admiral Zephyr.

While this movie does require some familiarity with One Piece, it’s still a fun adventure that is one of the few incredibly well written and animated movies based around a major shounen franchise. The plot is believable within the canon timeline and even eludes to current events in the manga giving the story more believability and weight. Luffy is also surprisingly emotional during the majority of the film and viewers are able to see his internal struggles as he often questions if he is strong enough to protect those he cares about. On top of a fantastic story, the animation sequences put the anime series to shame. Fight sequences are composed of beautifully blended animation and CG, leaving viewers with the jaws agape.


7. Perfect Blue

  • Episodes: 85 min
  • Aired: February 28, 1998

A psychological thriller, Perfect Blue will leaver viewers scratching their heads and wondering what they just watched. The movie revolves around Mami, the lead in an Akihabara idol group, who wishes to become an actress. Her fans disagree with her move and she is opening ostracized and ripped apart. One fan takes things too far when she lands a role on a TV crime drama. Writers and directors go missing and weird letters are left around for her to find. Mami is frightening and begins to question even her own surroundings wondering if she really is who she things she is.

Perfect Blue perfectly displays Japan’s idol culture where fans rule these young women’s personal lives lest their popularity decline. The film touches on very real issues that idols have faced in the past and does not shy away from the harassment received by these idols for even dating. The character Mami is persistent in her dreams and is undeterred by the warnings of her managers, but quickly begins to fall apart once the pressure of succeeding is forced upon her. The movie does a great job jerking viewers around and always keeping them on their toes.


6. My Neighbor Totoro (Tonari no Totoro)

  • Episodes: 86 min
  • Aired: April 16, 1988

Two young girls named Mei and Satsuki move to the countryside with their father, leaving their mother behind in a hospital to recover from a long-term illness. While they wait for their mother’s recovery, the girls explore the local forest and befriend a local deity who Mei deems to be “Totoro” or troll in Japanese. Together, they play and go on adventures in the forest until one day Mei becomes lost. Satsuki sets on in search of her younger sister with the help of Totoro and all is set right.

My Neighbor Totoro is a classic in its own right and is a must see for anime lovers across the world. Miyazaki captures the magic and wonder of Japanese folklore and beautifully ties it to the modern world in a heartwarming tale about childhood and growing up. The music provided by resident Ghibli composer Joe Hisaishi is whimsical and lovely, while the amazing hand drawn animation captures every detail. There is a reason that Totoro is more popular than Mickey Mouse in Japan.


5. Summer Wars

  • Episodes: 114 min
  • Aired: August 1, 2009

In a world where online activity is require for everyday interactions, Kenji has a promising future as an admin and is quite gifted with mathematics and programming. When he runs into a classmate Natsuki, she invites him to her grandmother’s birthday party where Kenji is introduced as her fiancé. With both parties surprised, Kenji leaves and meets Natsuki’s uncle who happens to be a computer genius. Little does he know how much trouble this uncle will cause? Kenji receives a mysterious email with a mathematical equation that he is determined to solve, but once he does a mysterious computer virus hacks his online account and begins to hijack other accounts causing chaos in both the virtual and real worlds.

While technology can be useful to solve everyday problems, perhaps mankind may rely too heavily on machines that anybody with bad intentions can easily overturn and wreak havoc. Summer Wars seems to encourage a healthy balance between the two and shows what gets lost when control of our creations is taken away. There are boundaries that are never meant to be crossed and many times humans forget this in their pursuit of knowledge. Natsuki eats from the forbidden fruit and must rectify his error lest more is taken away from him. Action-packed and an all-out fun film, Summer Wars won’t disappoint.


4. The Girl Who Leapt Through Time (Toki wo Kakeru Shoujo)

  • Episodes: 98 min
  • Aired: July 15, 2006

Makoto Konno mysterious gains the power to leap through time after she comes across a strange walnut shaped object inside her classroom. After narrowly escaping death, she decides to continue using her power for small things, such as passing exams and arriving on time places, but things take a turn when her best friend Chiaki confesses his love for her. She jumps back in time to avoid him and begins to understand that her actions have consequences. After discovering she has a limited amount of jumps left, Makoto sets out to set things right and reverse all the damage she cause with her previous jumps.

An answer to everyone’s favorite fantasy of reversing time to avoid undesirable situations, this movie is based on a novel of the same name by Yasutaka Tsutsui. When a person can change their decisions at will, morals are blurred since the user can easily change outcomes. Makoto realizes that the thrills she gained from fixing mundane habits in her life quickly wore off so she began upping the stakes. Time travel became a drug and power quickly rose to her head until she realized she was only given limited power and her new world that she created was not one she wanted to live in. The Girl Who Leapt Through Time is an adventure and drama filled ride giving viewers a taste of something they will never have.


3. Paprika

  • Episodes: 90 min
  • Aired: November 26, 2006

Researchers discover a path to helping patients through their dreams, but little do they know how far down the rabbit hole goes. One of the research doctors, Atsuko Chiba, takes on an avatar she names “Paprika” and begins to treat patients outside the facility she works for and against regulations. Paprika begins treating a detective by the name of Toshimi Konokawa who has an incomplete dream giving him a bad case of anxiety. He is given information for the physical offices where the dream machines are stored and told to come in secret, since Atsuko does not want her secret getting out. Soon the machines are stolen and it is revealed that they do not have restrictions on who a person can access, leaving everyone as fair game.

Paprika was directed by the amazing Satoshi Kon who also directed Perfect Blue and was taken from us too soon in 2010. The movie has similar elements to the live-action film Inception who many loyal fans claim to have stolen Paprika’s plot. As in most of Kon’s work, the movie can be slightly hard to follow and might require several viewings before all of its secrets are revealed, but it’s a fun ride attempting to catch all of the tiny details Kon has packed into this movie. The art and color palette are spectacular as well as the animation. Viewers who are looking for something different, look no further than Paprika.


2. The Tale of the Princess Kaguya (Kaguya-hime no Monogatari)

  • Episodes: 137 min
  • Aired: November 23, 2013

When a simple bamboo cutter discovers a magical glowing bamboo stalk in the bamboo forest, he finds a tiny young baby girl inside its bloom and brings her home with him. He and his wife quickly realize that she is no ordinary child as she grows at an astonishing rate and attracts the attention of the local children she befriends. The bamboo cutter returns to the forest and begins to find gold and silk cloth in the bamboo he cuts. Taking this as a sign of what his adoptive daughter must become, he sets out to the capital in order to establish a residence and a name for her. He returns to their village and brings the young girl back to the new palace he had built where she further draws the affections of five of the highest ranking men in the country. Unsatisfied with all of them, she sets them to do impossible tasks in order to remain free.

Nominated for Best Animated Feature Film at the Academy Awards, The Tale of the Princess Kaguya is loosely based on one of the oldest Japanese folktales in existence called, The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter. The movie is gorgeously animated in the style of traditional Japanese brush strokes and is a feast for the eyes. In addition to its visuals, The Tale of the Princess Kaguya has an amazing story that touches on the treatment of women during feudal Japan. Kaguya is often complimented and valued because of her looks, which men often wish to own as a form of accomplishment. Kaguya quickly realizes this and therefore realizes that the only way to remain free is to escape a life amongst the nobles. The movie is heartbreaking and will leave an audience in tears.


1. Grave of the Fireflies (Hotaru no Haka)

  • Episodes: 89 min
  • Aired: April 16, 1988

During World War II, many Japanese families were displaced and innocent children were often left to fend for themselves. Sirens were commonplace and fear was rampant. Seita and his younger sister Setsuko found themselves caught in a firebombing and while they survived, their mother was not so lucky. With their father away on a war ship, they are shipped off to their aunt’s house who is upset she has to share rations with her nephew and niece. Seita becomes fed up with his aunt’s behavior and decides him and Setsuko and fend for themselves inside one of the many bomb shelters. He is sorely wrong and both begin to starve. Seita tries everything in his power to find food and survive with the hope that one day their father will return from war.

Probably one of the most depressing movies of all time and a rare movie that requires a chaser film afterwards, there isn’t even an ounce of happiness in this film. The subject of the movie isn’t meant to be light-hearted though and the writers wrote the story with extreme care making sure not to sugar-coat the suffering of the innocent Japanese citizens during the fire bombings of World War II. Grave of the Fireflies is powerful and is often heralded as one of the greatest war films ever made, just make sure tissues are available upon viewing this film.


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While anime series are by far the most popular go to for viewers, movies are often left out or behind when talking about favorites despite having a bigger budget and better animation. While stories are shortened down to several hours instead of many, there are plenty of movies that will quench the thirst of the anime hungry and may even convert anime naysayers.

Nikki Flores

Writer

Author: Nikki Flores

You may know me by my witty and excellent prose, but I assure you there is a real person underneath this brilliant exterior. As a graduate of Purdue University with a degree in English Literature and a minor in Medieval and Renaissance Studies, I traveled to Okinawa, Japan in search of the One Piece. Together my crew consisting of a white dog named Yuki, an evil cat named Kyubei, the wise feline Pickles, and my ever supportive husband Aaron, we travel the globe seeking life’s greatest treasures. Oh, and I’m sure one day I’ll eventually meet Trafalgar Law in the New World. I hope. Please? *pout*

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