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10 Best Japanese Anime Movies of All Time

I think I know why you are here now. You probably have watched one or two anime movies, and enjoyed watching them thoroughly.

So, are you looking for some other famous Japanese anime films? The following top animated movies often make you smile, sad, and cry, and of course the story of each movie is unique.

Manga and anime have been an important part of modern Japanese culture since a long time ago.

If you ever visit Tokyo, don’t forget to pay a visit to Akihabara (a mecca for anime and manga lovers), and Ghibli Museum! Awesome experiences are waiting for you there, guaranteed!

A scene from the movie of Grave of the Fireflies.

Anime movies are a diverse and large genre. It can be hard to figure out where you should start off if you’re trying to get into anime. Luckily, there are a lot of really great anime movies out there to get started with.

A lot of them have English dubs, as well (voices translated and recorded in English), often with really amazing casts.

This list of ten movies features some of the best anime movies that have made their way to the West, often to critical acclaim. These movies offer a view into many of the themes and styles found in anime and a great place to start with genre.

1) Spirited Away

Spirited Away Poster. Photo Credit:

Spirited Away is a classic that blends modern Japanese sensibilities with ancient Japanese myths and legends.

A family on their way to a new home finds a seemingly abandoned theme park, beginning their daughter’s entanglement in a strange spirit world as she tries to rescue her parents.

Along the way, she meets some amazing beings who either help or hinder her quest. As with every film by Studio Ghibli, Spirited Away is a visual marvel. The excellent voice acting and beautiful animation draw you in to this amazing adventure.

Please note The Ghibli Museum is one of the must-see places in Mitaka City, Tokyo. You can take a walk from Mitaka Station to the museum through Inokashira Park, which will take less than a 20-mintue.

2) My Neighbor Totoro

The movie “My Neighbor Totoro” is all about family, though it is defiantly a fantasy movie. Another classic from Studio Ghibli, this is a very sweet movie.

A family moves into a new house and meet the friendly nature spirits of the area.

From there, they learn more about the spirit’s strange world and deal with their own problems with their help.

The movie is by turns sweet, sad, funny, and frightening. It’s a beautiful tale for young and old alike.

3) Grave of the Fireflies

Grave of the Fireflies is one of the darker well-known anime movies. A pair of siblings struggle to survive during the last few months of World War II.

This is a hard watch and should not be shown to young children. It depicts loss after loss and immense amounts of human pain.

The movie has been subjected to many interpretations, most often being seen as an anti-war film, but the director denies that.

This is a deeply painful film, and a good introduction to anyone who wants to see how the often playful genre of anime can be used to depict darker themes.

4) Princess Mononoke

A wondrous and sweeping epic, Princess Mononoke tells the tale of a young cursed Prince’s exile into a forest in the throes of a vicious struggle between ancient spirits and industrializing humans.

The movie is sympathetic to both sides in many ways and the English voice cast is spectacular.

There is a romance and adventure in spades in this film, another wonderful offering from Studio Ghibli.

If you are looking for an epic fantasy movie, you should watch this movie, even if you are not a particular anime or animated movie fan.

5) Kiki’s Delivery Service

Apprentice witch Kiki opens up a delivery-by-broom service. The film follows her through various misadventures. It’s a fun and sweet coming-of-age tale.

It’s a delight to watch Kiki grow and learn as a person and as a witch (witches are pretty charming in this film’s world).

This is yet another movie brought to us by Studio Ghibli and you can see their touch in the fine quality of the animation and writing.

It’s a great film for kids, especially, since the main characters are children learning their way in the world themselves. Check out the DVD of this exciting animated film here.

6) Castle in the Sky

This fantastic epic was the debut of Studio Ghibli.

We are introduced to a strange world full of air pirates and flying cities, where we join a young couple in a quest to keep a magic crystal from the hands of an ambitious and cruel man.

The quest goes through many twists and turns, ending spectacularly. This is a fun adventure, beautiful and full of action animated film.

7) Howl’s Moving Castle

Howl’s Moving Castle” is Studio Ghibli’s interpretation of a Western novel of the same name by Diana Wynne Jones. It varies quite a bit from the book, so if you are a fan of the novel, there is still a lot new to see here.

Young, unadventurous Sophie is rescued from an evil witch by the showy wizard Howl—then she finds herself cursed into the form of an old woman by that same witch.

She finds a job working as a house-cleaner for the very same wizard Howl, whose own troubles are about to overwhelm him.

This movie is very beautiful, very romantic, and also very, very funny. Christian Bale provides the voice of the charming Howl in the English dub. Give it a watch!

8) Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind

Princess Nausicaä struggles to bring together a world torn and changed by apocalyptic war.

She comes to understand and befriend giant mutant insects that have arisen from a toxic jungle, and finds herself trying to defend them from frightened human beings.

It is a strange, hopeful work, though there is certainly plenty of tragedy in it, as well. If you want to see something very different and beautiful, give it a watch. Buy the movie DVD here.

9) Akira

Akira is set in a dystopian, cyberpunk future. The main characters are all a part of a motorcycle gang in Neo-Tokyo that is embroiled in a vicious war with a rival gang. 

A chance encounter between one member and a psychic esper during one of their battles triggers a mad chase with apocalyptic consequences.

This is a strange movie, with plenty of disturbing imagery, especially in the climatic sequence.  It is not only an anime classic, but it’s also regarded as a science fiction classic.

10) Your Name (Kimi No Na Wa)

Your Name (Kimi No Na Wa)” is a recent film, released in 2016 and promptly garnering much recognition.

It tells the tale of a high school boy and a high school boy who swap bodies.

The tale is much more complex than a fish-out-of-water tale. There is a romance, of course, and also a few interesting twists that up the intensity. This movie received an English dub and has been lavishly praised for its art style.

The above are considered the best Japanese animated films. Except these there are some anime films I must recommend you to watch, they are: The Wind Rises, I Want to Eat Your Pancreas, A Silent Voice, Tenki no ko (Weathering with You), Wolf Children, and Byosoku 5 senchimetoru (5 Centimeters Per Second).

So watch all these one by one and let me know what do you think of them. Are not these movies worth watching? Let me know in the comment section below.