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The 10 Best Japanese Anime Movies

Updated on December 7, 2016
Best Japanese anime movies of all time
Best Japanese anime movies of all time | Source

What are the Best Japanese Anime Movies?

I grew up with conventional American cartoons, the first time I was exposed to Japanese anime it was like falling in love with animation all over again. I became obsessed with getting my hands on more of it, this was two decades ago, when there weren't anime list of any kind. Today, in the information age, it's more effortless then ever to track down the best of anime. Here are the top ten Japanese anime movies of all time!

1. Akira Anime Movie

In my own humble opinion, Akira is one of the most creative and true gems of story telling animations that have ever been released. It was released in 1988, created and directed by Katsuhiro Otomo, an accomplished manga artist and renowned anime producer in Japan.

The animation, understandably was what you'd expect from an animation from the late 80's. But make no mistake, Akira is one of those movies every hardcore anime fans has on their "best" lists. It has plenty of replay value, I've just about watched it over 20 times.
Without giving too much away, It takes place during a post war era in Japan.

The story is engrossing and the characters are relate-able and woven together seamlessly throughout the film. Be warned, this film is definitely not for children, nor is it for the squeamish. But' if you're an anime fan, you owe it to yourself to find a quiet place and get taken away by Akira.

Best Anime Scenes Ever

2. Ninja Scroll Anime

Ninja scroll is certainly one of the most visually gratifying and entertaining anime movies I've ever watched. A story that starts with a mysterious warrior, Jubei masterfully slashing his way through feudal Japan, there's a lot a bit of a love story of sorts if you're into that.

The dynamic characters were created by Yutaka Minowa, and was directed and created by Yoshiaki Kawajiri, one of the superstars in the Japanese anime production. Visually, it's so creative in the scenes, especially it's action sequences will have you rewinding to see it again. Just utterly beautiful action sequences. I hate to say it, but definitely not for young children, somewhere between a pg-13 and R rating.

Top japanese animated movies
Top japanese animated movies | Source

3. Princess Mononoke Anime Movie

Written and directed by Hayao Miyazaki, hailed as one of the greats in the Japanese animation industry. It was the highest grossing movie in Japan, before it was dethroned by Titanic, with Leonardo DiCaprio. It was released in 1997 and utilized some computer graphics which enhanced the film even further.

It opened in many countries and was highly rated by both fans of anime and critics. The story of Ashitake, the prince of Emishi village. Upon saving his entire village from destruction of a demon god, he sets out on a quest to lead the forest in battle with the an iron mine populace. The story is compelling and a unique treat for the eyes. Unlike many great classic Japanese anime, this is quite family friendly, comparatively.

4. Spirited Away Full Movie

Yet another family friendly addition to this list, Spirited Away is another gem of animation .

Winning an Academy award, this film was directed by Hayao Miyazaki, the one aforementioned written and directed "Princess Mononoke".

This tale is about a young girl named Chihiro thrown into another world of sorts on an quest to find her parents before it's too late. The film came out in 2001, and went on to claim many awards.

5. Grave of the Fireflies Anime Movie

Released in 1988, Grave of the Fireflies unravels a story with a world war backdrop, the characters are well thought, and is indicative of anime detail.

It was written and directed by the clever Isao Takahata. The movie is based on two orphans, Setsuko and her older brother Seita.

Stricken down as post war orphans, a heartfelt story on the many struggles of the people due to warfare is told with much depth. Grave of the Fireflies, while in my opinion is not visually stunning, it is definitely something I can watch more than once. There is much reality to appreciate about the film.

Vampire Hunter D anime movie
Vampire Hunter D anime movie | Source

6. Vampire Hunter D Anime Movie

Vampire Hunter D was a critically acclaimed hit with the west that released in 1985 based on the novel series, written by Hideyuki Kikuchi. It delves into a world of darkness and despair in the form of vampires and humans, where humans strive to survive in a vampire dominated world. Set in 12,000 A.D. time period.

Vampire Hunter D is definitely not for the squeamish, it is quite the violent anime. Loads of decapitations and the like. I, personally actually prefer these kinds of titles to the tamer ones. But to each their own. Might not be suitable for young children.

7. Perfect Blue Movie

Released in 2000, Perfect Blue weaves a complex story involving a famous pop superstar named Mima Kirigoe whom aspires to become an actress. To her bewilderment, she discovers her autobiography on a a site called Miam's room. She has suspicions of her mentor, Rumi. Things quickly turn grim, with the addition of a killer.

The animation throughout the movie is quite beautiful, including the character attention to detail. It was based on a novel by Yoshikazu Takeuchi, the film is an amazing piece of anime. A must for psychological thriller junkies. Also, I must note the voice-overs in this film, a well deserved honorable mention. May not be suitable for young children.

Ghost in the shell anime
Ghost in the shell anime | Source

8. Ghost in the Shell Anime Movie

Directed by Mamoru Oshii and released in 1995, Ghost in the Shell falls under the genre of science fiction and mystery. The film takes place in the future, not much different in the world we are embracing today. A digital and technological future where governments employ cybernetic-enhanced humans for clandestine missions.

The main protagonist of the movie is Major Motoko Kusanagi, whom herself is enhanced , finds herself in the midst of espionage and mistrust. Her goal is to track down a super hacker known as "Puppet Master". There's a lot of very realistic feel action, gun battles, vivid explosions, mind blowing detail in the anime itself.

Jin-Roh: The Wolf Brigade anime movie
Jin-Roh: The Wolf Brigade anime movie | Source

9. Jin-Roh: The Wolf Brigade

This film is an emotional roller coaster, released in 2002 and directed by Hiroyuki Okiura. Jin-Roh was derived from a series that eventually developed into feature film. The story revolves around a romance in which voicing mutual respect is hindered by pride and stubbornness.

There's a murky darkness about the film and one the most morbid anime I've ever watched. But definitely, a beautifully drawn animation masterpiece from start to finish. One of the last great hand drawn piece that took over three years to create. There's an intelligence to it, rich in depth not many other anime titles can compare. Additionally, one of the best soundtracks I've ever heard, simply outstanding.

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10. Cowboy Bebop the Movie

Directed by Shinichiro Watanabe, Cowboy Bebop is an action titles with loads of humor and drama. It's derived from the acclaimed TV series, which is known for it's intense action sequences and moments of comedic relief.

The story revolves around a few rag tag bounty hunters. Some may disagree with me, but the action always kept me on the edge and is quite involving. It has much replay value and would make a strong addition to anyone's anime library.

Thank you for making it through my top ten best Japanese anime movies list. If you're a fan of anime and you have any suggestions for this list, please do not hesitate to voice your opinion, I'd love to hear your input.

Feel free to visit my article on the top 10 Japanese anime series of all time! Also, my top 5 Japanese action anime of all time!

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