There aren’t many people in today’s modern world that hasn’t seen (and likely grown attached) to at least one anime film. You may have grown up with Castle in the Sky or your first experience may have been When Marnie Was There. No matter your story, your appreciation is present. So, let’s take a look at the ten best anime movies of all time. Dare you to watch them all!
Note: there are so many amazing films that it was hard to make this list. So please don’t feel bad if your favorite was left out. Feel free to share. I’d love to hear it!
1. Akira (1988)
Akira is one of the few non-Ghibli anime films to make it big, and one of the only anime military movies. If you’re going to watch one anime film this year, let it be Akira. Why? Because Akira is a futuristic movie made in the 80s… about 2019. It’s interesting to see what Akira got really right…and what it got really wrong.
2. Grave of the Fireflies (1988) – 10 Best Anime Movies of All Time
What makes Grave of the Fireflies so special is its realism. Released in the 80s and based on tales of World War II, Grave of the Fireflies shows us a side of World War II Japan that we don’t want to see. Yet, one that we all need to. If you are looking for a tug on your heartstrings, pick up this jewel.
3. Kiki’s Delivery Service (1989)
Casting Kirsten Dunst as Kiki in the English version of Kiki’s Delivery Service was one of the best moves that Ghibli could have made. However, no matter which language you watch this in, it is sure to satisfy. Kiki is a likable girl with an innocent story of finding where she belongs. A sweet story with a sweet cast.
4. Whisper of the Heart (1995) – 10 Best Anime Movies of All Time
Ever wonder why ‘Country Roads’ all of a sudden became popular again? It wasn’t John Denver’s fault, but rather Whisper of the Heart. This anime film somehow rose to the American surface a few years ago and is playing in theaters to this day! Who knew such a cult following would arise after all these years?
5. Princess Mononoke (1997)
Finally, a hero who isn’t 10! Princess Mononoke offers a story and characters more mature than we’re used to seeing in other “Japanese Disney” films. A favorite for many, Mononoke is a 14th century beauty about love, harmony, and peace.
6. Spirited Away (2001) – 10 Best Anime Movies of All Time
Aside from My Neighbor Totoro, Spirited Away is probably the most well-known Ghibli film to date. In fact, it just recently beat out Toy Story 4 in the Chinese box office’s first screening. Although the film is one of the strangest you’ll see, it’s also one of the most unique. Not one you want to miss if you haven’t already seen it a dozen times.
7. Tokyo Godfathers (2003)
Is Tokyo Godfathers better than Three Men and a Baby? The movie’s hundreds of thousands of fans seem to think so. Following the same story as the American classic, Tokyo Godfathers digs deeper than we thought possible. Definitely a tale of Christmas magic.
8. Howl’s Moving Castle (2004) – 10 Best Anime Movies of All Time
There’s a certain magic that Howl’s Moving Castle offers that is quite hard to find. There’s no genre that the magic doesn’t touch: romance, comedy, drama, fantasy, and adventure. People fall in love with the characters and are captivated by the story. Howl’s Moving Castle is sure to please every member of your anime-loving family.
9. The Tale of the Princess Kaguya (2013)
Though the art is different than anything we’ve seen before, The Tale of the Princess Kaguya has been called perfect by more than a handful of critics and fans alike. Perhaps it’s the movie’s uniqueness and perhaps it’s the wholesomeness we all crave. Or perhaps…you’ll have to watch the movie and find out for yourself.
10. Your Name (2016) – 10 Best Anime Movies of All Time
Freaky Friday, The Change-Up, and The Hot Chick! There are dozens of body swap movies out there, but Your Name competes with the best of them. It’s no surprise that this movie has won the title for “Highest-Grossing Anime Movie of All Time.” If you watch one anime movie that isn’t Studio Ghibli, then you should watch Your Name.
Honorable Mention: A Silent Voice (2016)
Although A Silent Voice may not deserve a spot with the classics, it does deserve to be mentioned. One of the biggest problems that young people deal with today is bullying. A Silent Voice takes us on a journey through the bully’s eye. Who does bullying effect? How long do these effects last? And is there any hope for reconciliation?