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Best Anime Movies - The Top Japanese Animated Movies You Should Watch

Updated on March 11, 2013

Whether you are already a solid anime enthusiast and have seen plenty, but you do not know what to watch next; or you are just getting to know the genre and want to find the best movies, here is a list of anime movies that are among the most influential and enjoyable to watch.

Nausicaa and the Valley of the Wind

Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind

I am going to start with my personal favorite one movie i believe that everyone should watch at least once to get a true impression of the power of Anime. Nausicaa, the eponymous heroine of the story, is a young princess whose kingdom lies in the midst of a crumbling world constantly under threat from the expanding toxic jungle and its terrifying inhabitants. Set in a post-apocalyptic world, Nausicaa's kingdom has to face the threat of two other warring nations, both after a dangerous solution to the toxic jungle; both willing to fight the other to get there first. In the midst of this is the young and brave Nausicaa trying to make sense of it all - trying to understand the true nature of the toxic jungle - while protecting her kin and more helpless in the world caught up in the confusion.

Entertaining from beginning to end and stunningly animated, Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind leaves you with a sense of awe and lingers on into your dreams. Not only is this movie suitable for kids, adults will undoubtedly be affected by it. One of Hayao Myazaki's most acclaimed movies and a marked departure from traditional anime, this is a tale wrapped in mystery, suspense, drama, and action. Do not miss it!

Princess Mononoke

Princess Mononoke

Continuing with another one of Myazaki's masterpieces is Princess Mononoke. Released in 1997 - at the time breaking records for the fastest grossing anime movie of all time ($150 million in Japan alone in the first seven months) - Mononoke is set in the 14th century Japan (Muromachi period), combining a sense of traditional and the fantastical. The world is composed of two opposing forces: the Animal Gods of the forest and the humans, who systematically are taking the forest apart for resources.

The story follows a young village warrior named Ashitaka as he tries to find a cure for a fatal wound suffered at the hands of a demonic wild bore. Once he sets out to find his cure he learns of the true extent of the battle between the gods of the forest - among their number being the eponymous Princess Mononoke - and the human race. Ashitaka sees with his own eyes the devastating effect the withdrawn war is having on both sides, and attempts to stem the flood of wasteful blood.

Another great Myazaki movie that is both stunning visually and powerfully written, definitely among the best Anime movies, and indeed movies in general, of all time.


This 1998 anime movie, base on a manga comic book, has a totally different feel to Myazaki's movies. Set in the year 2019 in a post-apocalyptic Tokyo, the story of Akira is based around two members of a motorcycle gang: its leader Kaneda, and Tetsuo. Involved in an accident together, their paths separate as Kaneda becomes connected with an underground revolutionary force battling the despotic government; and Tetsuo is born again with superhuman powers, on the run from the government and rival biker gangs. Eventually these two old friends become enemies as Tetsuo tries to release the psychic Akira.

Considered a landmark in anime, the cyberpunk action Akira has acquired a cult following since its release, and is definitely among my suggestions of Anime movies that you cannot miss.

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Grave of Fireflies

The next film on my list of best anime movies is one that departs from the fantastical nature of the previous films. The 1988 anime Grave of Fireflies, written and directed by Isao Takahata, is set in World War Two Japan and follows a young boy - Seita - and his infant sister - Setsuco - as they struggled to survive the hard times of the war. This emotional story begins with the siblings living a quite comfortable life before the death of their mother leaves them alone and desolate, with their father serving in the navy, in a world torn apart by the war.

A tragic and saddening story, this movies brings to life the horrors of war and the inevitable human cost.

This is but a few of the best anime movies out there to watch. If you have an interest in anime i definitely suggest you watch any of these, they are bound to leave your imagination flying and your senses rocked. There is definitely many more out there, and i can promise you i will be looking for more great anime movies to add to this list, so come back and i will have more suggestions in the future to watch.


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