Top 20 Japanese Anime Films Of All Time

The Anime fever is spreading like wildfire. Today anime is much popular than ever. Though anime is usually associated with series, the world of Japanese Anime Films is incredibly rich and diverse. However, the tough part is to find gold material to watch. Be it for a newbie or a regular seasoned anime watcher.

Talking of gold, here are some of the best anime movies of all time. A foolproof list of must-watch!

1. Spirited Away (2001)

Obviously, sitting at the top is the phenomenal Spirited Away (2001) by Studio Ghibli. One of the most iconic movies ever created, Spirited Away was the first anime film to ever receive an Academy Award. Trying to save her parents, Chihiro, a 10-year-old girl is set on a mission to escape the spirit world. This beautifully hand-drawn movie is a blessing to the world.

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2. Weathering With You (2019)

Writer-director Makoto Shinkai has crafted yet another visually pleasing, dainty piece of art. This romantic fantasy is about a 16-year-old boy Hodaka, a high school student. Hodaka runs away from home and meets and falls for a mysterious girl who can manipulate the weather. The movie is packed with incredible visuals and amazing soundtracks and also won the Animation of the Year and Outstanding Achievement in Music in the 43rd Japan Academy Prize.

3. Princess Mononoke (1997)

Another masterpiece from Studio Ghibli, Princess Mononoke is filled with adventure and magical elements. Based around the 14th century, this movie cites an epic battle between humans versus gods. Cursed by a wild boar spirit, Ashitaka, a young prince is on the hunt for a cure. Upon meeting a strange girl raised by wolves, Akshita finds himself stuck between the feuds of humans and gods. The movie is an incredible narrative that revolves around both, spirituality and the environment.

4. Ghost in the Shell (1995)

Did you know Wachowski’s The Matrix (specifically the digital rain sequence), was highly inspired by a cyberpunk anime film? Ghost in the Shell 1995 is an excellent sci-fi film worth every second of your time. This beautiful futuristic film is set in 2029 where a cyborg policewoman is on a hunt for a brain hacker called The Puppet Master. Moreover, a live-action starring Scarlet Johansson was also released in 2017 which attracted a lot of controversies.

5. My Neighbour Totoro (1988)

A Japanese classic family movie, My Neighbor Totoro is a quick fun watch. 10-year-old Satsuki and her 4-year-old sister Mei along with their father move to the countryside. The girls are set on new adventures as they befriend the forest spirits.

6. Wolf Children (2012)

Wolf Children is a beautiful heartfelt story about a young mother and her two children. Following the tragic death of her husband, (a wolfman) Hana is left alone to take care of her two half-wolf children. Hiding the identity from the world, the trio struggle, as they live in the countryside.

7. Your Name (2016)

A globally acclaimed movie, Your Name is another work of art by Makoto Shinkai. A gorgeous romantic tale about two high school students who happen to swap bodies in their sleep. In short, the visuals, soundtracks, and unique storyline will surely win your heart.

8. Ponyo (2008)

Studio Ghibli definitely rules the chart with so many hits. In this fantasy world of Ghibli, a 5-year-old boy named Sosuke saves a goldfish and names her Ponyo. Falling in love with Sosuke, Ponyo now dreams to become a human. Although Ponyo manages to become a girl, she also disrupts the balance of nature and causes a threat to Sosuke and his village. The movie is like a more mystical version of The Little Mermaid.

9. Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (1984)

One of the initial projects of the Ghibli empire. It has been 1000 years since civilization perished after the apocalypse. However, Nausicaä a young princess dedicated her life to bring peace to this post-destruction toxic world.

10. Akira (1988)

A gold standard for anime movies. Akira revolves around Neo-Tokyo post World War III, in the year 2019. One of the pioneering animated movies which introduced the world to Japanese anime. Furthermore, it is considered to be one of the most expensive movies of its time.

11. Castle In The Sky (1986)


Castle In The Sky follows two orphaned kids, Princess Sheeta and Pazu on a crusade to find the mystical floating city of Laputa. The kids are chased by evil sky pirates who are after the treasure of the long-lost fortress. Also, inspired by Gulliver’s Travels, this is another marvel from the house of Ghilbi.

12. The Garden of Words (2013)

The most aesthetically pleasing movie for the eye. Garden Of Words is another of Makoto Shinkai’s masterpieces. With real-life scenes and amazing artwork, the movie also offers a promising storyline. Takao a 15-year-old boy aspires to become a shoe-maker. He happens to meet Yukino, a 27-year-old woman in a park, and both form a bond over common feelings. In short, the movie depicts warmth and coldness at the same time, with a relationship with no future. (not a stereotypical one huh?)

13. The Girl Who Leapt Through Time (2006)

A coming of age movie about a girl who has the power to travel through time. As she learns about her new profound powers, Makoto uses her time-leaping abilities to solve her silly problems. On the other hand, she realizes there are several consequences of time meddling and maybe this new power is not the solution to all her problems.

14. 5 Centimeters per Second (2007)

From the makers of Weathering With You, Your Name, and The Garden Of Words, writer-director Makoto Shinkai never fails to amaze his viewers. Likewise, 5 Centimeters per second is a beautiful love story divided into three parts. Each segment focusing on different times from the life of a boy named Takaki Tono and revolves around his unrealized love for his childhood friend Akari.

15. Paprika (2006)

This psychedelic thriller is based on a psychotherapist who uses a machine to enter the dreams of her patients. However, the world is in a complete mess after one of these machines is stolen. If this sounds familiar then yes, this was an inspiration for the award-winning film by Christopher Nolan, Inception.


16. Summer Wars (2009)

A unique coming of age movie with a twist. A math prodigy faking to be a schoolmate’s fiance ends up solving a complex math equation. As a result, the artificial intelligence of a virtual world is set to destroy Earth.

17. Perfect Blue (1997)

A singer-dancer, Mima drops out of her pop-idol band to shine on her own as an actress. As she sets to explore the new world of acting she encounters deadly threats from obsessive stalkers and her ghosts from the past. Meanwhile, as people start dying around her Mima loses track of her reality.

18. Redline (2009)

Redline is the most famous and deadliest race of the entire galaxy. The racers would do just anything to win. Jampacked with action and beautifully animated, Redline is a great fast-paced science-fiction.

19. Ocean Waves (1993)

A sweet nostalgic movie with a love triangle between high school friends. The arrival of a new transfer student, Rikako proves fatal to the relationship of two best friends as they both fall for the same girl. Yet another gorgeous Studio Ghibli creation.

20. Howl’s Moving Castle (2004)

Studio Ghibli doesn’t stop to astonish us with their beautifully handcrafted animation. Certainly, with gorgeous art and strong characters Howls Moving Castel needs to be on your ‘to watch list’. In this magical world, a young woman named Sophie is cursed to live in a body of a 90-year-old. Howl a young wizard who lives in a moving castle is the one capable to cure her.

Tell us some of your favorite animated movies in the comment section below!

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Source: TheSmartLocal






Written by Muneer

Muneer is an Indian writer at FandomWire who plans to visit all countries in this world to eat the food on their streets. Obsessed with joggers, he sings and plays the strings too.