List of the Best Anime Movies
The Best of Japanese Anime
This list will hopefully help you find some good anime movies to watch. Don't agree with the rankings? Feel free to leave a comment at the bottom of this page, and tell everyone what you think is the best anime film ever!
Just like with regular movies, not all of them are great. However, there are some truly breathtaking anime films translated to English that will leave you amazed and wanting more. If you've never watched one before you'll surely enjoy the complex plots, interesting characters, and the unique art style of Japanese animation.
Best Anime Movie List
1. Spirited Away
One of the best anime movies ever, Spirited Away tells the story of a 10 year old girl Chihiro who gets transported into a magical world of mythical Japanese gods, monsters and spirits. There she has to work to feed herself and survive, as well as try to save her parents who had been turned into pigs. This masterpiece by Hayao Miyazaki received Oscar and Academy awards.
2. Howl's Moving Castle
This is one of the best anime films by Hayao Miyazaki, telling the story of a powerful wizard named Howl, and a young girl Sophie who gets turned into an old woman by an evil witch, and seeks refuge in Howl's castle. The movie is based on a novel written by Diana Wynne Jones. Unlike most other Miyazaki's films, this one features adult protagonists.
3. Princess Mononoke
This is a great fantasy anime film set in a version of medieval Japan. It depicts a struggle of mythical forest spirits and humans who recklessly consume resources. A young man Ashitaka is injured and cursed in a battle with a giant boar demon. He sets out to find help far to the west, where the demon came from. Eventually he reaches Iron Town, where humans' reckless expansion and cruelty are driving forest spirits insane and turning them into demons.
4. 5 Centimeters Per Second
This drama / romance anime film is divided into 3 episodes and is centered around a relationship between Takaki Tono and Akari Shinohara. It shows them as kids, teenagers, and finally adults. Takagi is deeply in love with Akari, but her family moves away and they drift apart, despite still longing for each other. It's a very emotional, beautiful and sad movie.
5. Kiki's Delivery Service
Kiki is a young witch living in a small village with her family. As traditions dictate, she has to leave and live alone for a year when she reaches the age of 13. Kiki takes off and settles on a big city near the sea; she encounters many hardships, and decides to starts a delivery service to support herself.
6. My Neighbor Totoro
A great adventure / fantasy / comedy anime movie for children, My Neighbor Totoro follows two young daughters of a professor - Satsuki and Mei - and their adventures with wood spirits in peaceful rural Japan. The most powerful of them is Totoro, the keeper of the forest who befriends the kids.
7. Grave of the Fireflies
When talking about the top anime films, you can't forget Grave of the Fireflies. It's an emotional, depressing and deeply disturbing movie depicting the struggle of a teenage boy and his little sister to survive, having lost their mother in a Tokyo bombing during the World War II and no one to take care of them.
8. The Girl Who Leapt Through Time
This is a sci-fi / romance anime movie about a high school girl Makoto Konno who discovers her power to go back in time after unwittingly using it to avoid a fatal accident. Makoto decides to use her newfound powers to pass every test and fix any embarrassing situation that occurs in the past. However, she soon finds out that her time leaps can have unexpected and dire consequences to people around her.
9. Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind
This is yet another of the best anime films by Hayao Miyazaki. It tells the story of Nausica - a young, charismatic princess of the Valley of the Wind. The anime is set in a post-apocalyptic world, with human civilization and a large part of Earth's ecosystem destroyed in a cataclysm that happened 1,000 years before the events of the film. Nausica has to deal with the ambitions of nearby settlements and intelligent insects living in the Toxic Jungle.
10. Ghost in the Shell
This sci-fi anime movie takes place in the future, where the whole world is connected by a global electronic network. A cyborg police officer Motoko Kusanagi is trying to catch a mysterious hacker known as the Puppet Master, who is implanting fake memories into his victims' minds.28 points
Akira is a cult classic sci-fi anime movie released back in 1988. It is set in a futuristic city of Neo-Tokyo in year 2019. A young boy named Tetsuo is found to possess special mental powers capable of mass destruction. The government takes him in for questioning, but Tetsuo escapes and goes on a violent rampage. Soldiers and other Espers try to fight him using everything they got.
Initially titled in English as Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea, this is yet another Studio Ghibli work. It's a story about a goldfish named Ponyo who becomes friends with a 5 year old boy Sousuke and wants to become a human herself.
13. One Piece: Strong World
20 years after his escape from Impel Down, the legendary pirate Shiki "the Golden Lion" reappears, causing massive upheaval. During his long seclusion, he was able to come up with a scheme to bring the World Government to its knees. On his way to execute the plan, Shiki crosses paths with the Straw Hat Pirates and becomes so impressed with Nami's knowledge of meteorology that he abducts her for his crew...
This is an usual sci-fi anime film based on Yasutaka Tsutsui's novel. In the near future, a revolutionary technology allows people to view and even enter each other's dreams. The technology gets stolen, and events spiral out of control as even reality and dreams start to merge. It's up to doctor Atsuko Chiba and her red-haired dream alter-ego, Paprika, to save the day.
15. Summer Wars
Summer Wars is a fun and light-hearted movie set in the modern day. A math nerd Kenji is offered an easy summer job by Natsuki - an older girl from his school. All he's supposed to do is accompany Natsuki to her grandmother's birthday party. But dealing with Natsuki's inquisitive relatives soon becomes the least of his worries when a rogue AI gains control of OZ - a social network that millions of businesses and people use - and starts wreaking havoc.
16. Cowboy Bebop - The Movie
Cowboy Bebop the Movie: Knockin' on Heaven's Door is a sci-fi anime film adapted from the TV series of the same name. It follows adventures of a bounty hunter crew of the spaceship Bebop in year 2071. Spike and his team are about to go on their biggest hunt ever: their target is Vincent Volaju, a man with no past responsible for releasing a deadly virus in Mars.
17. The Secret World of Arrietty
Alternatively known as "The Borrower Arrietty", or "Karigurashi no Arrietty" in Japanese, this anime film from Studio Ghibli and tells the story of tiny people who live under the floor of human households and call themselves "Borrowers". Based on fantasy novel "The Borrowers" by Mary Norton.16 points
18. The Cat Returns (Neko no Ongaeshi)
Haru, a quiet and shy high school girl, has an ability to talk to cats. One day, she saves an odd-eyed cat from being hit by a truck. The cat turns out to be Lune, Prince of the Cat Kingdom. As thanks, Haru is offered the Prince's hand in marriage, and her ambiguous reply is taken as a yes. Her only hope of freedom is discovering her true self.
19. Vampire Hunter D
Adapted from a series of novels, this stylish sci-fi / romance / action anime movie, Vampire Hunter D is set in a post-apocalyptic world in the year 12,090 A.D. where a vampires and werewolves terrorize human peasants.
20. Sword of the Stranger
A top rated 2007 Japanese anime feature film directed by Masahiro Ando and produced by Bones studio. It tells the story of a samurai with no name (Nanashi) who agrees to accompany a young orphan and his dog to a remote Buddhist temple. The orphan, Kotaro, is hunted by the Ming from China.
21. Perfect Blue
This top anime film is a psychological thriller about Mima Kirigoe, a member of a Japanese pop-idol group who decides to change her career and become an actress. However, not all of her fans are happy with that - a stalker calling himself Me-Mania least of them.
22. The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya
An anime movie based on the 4th Haruhi Suzumiya novel. On December 18, Kyon finds that several members SOS Brigade have disappeared from the world, and others do not recall ever meeting him. In addition, all of them have become regular people. Eventually, Kyon receives a message from Yuki's alien counterpart asking him to gather keys for a program that will return him to his own reality...
23. Bleach: Fade to Black, I Call Your Name
Based on the popular Bleach anime series. In Soul Society, Mayuri Kurotsuchi is attacked in his laboratory by a pair of mysterious siblings wielding a scythe that erases his memories. In a frightened panic, Kurotsuchi damages a machine which causes a massive reiatsu explosion, creating a giant river of rampaging serpents, killing and freezing many Soul Reapers. Ichigo comes to Rukia's aid, but no one in Soul Society seems to remember him...
24. My Last Day
Short animted story of a thief's last day on earth and first day as an immortal. Aka the Jesus anime film.
25. Laputa: Castle in the Sky
A sci-fi anime film by by Miyazaki, and the first film released by Studio Ghibli. Castle in the Sky follows the story of Sheeta and Pazu, a young boy and girl who search for the last floating city called Laputa. They are chased by pirates and government agents who want to acquire Laputa's treasuers.
26. Whisper of the Heart
A Hayao Miyazaki movie from 1995. A teenage girl named Shizuku notices that another boy named Seiji Amasawa has been checking out the books she wants before her. She soon meets the boy who seems very disrespectful at first, but comes to like him. They grow closer and become friends and a couple.
27. Millennium Actress
Charming story of an actress giving an interview, in which her films become intermingled with reality. Directed by Satoshi Kon and animated by Studio Madhouse.
28. Tokyo Godfathers
Heartwarming story of three misfit homeless people who find a baby during Christmas, and set out to find his parents.
29. Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann: Guren-hen & Lagann-hen
This crazy and full of wild action anime movie is adapted from the epic 26 episode series with a few slight changes and an extended ending. In the TTGL universe, humans live underground, oppressed by beastmen who roam the surface in their battle mechas called ganmen. That is, until a charismatic man named Kamina appears who starts a full-out human rebellion and starts fighting in a captured ganmen himself. Warning: most badass action anime film you'll ever watch!
30. Afro Samurai: Resurrection
Afro is trying to live an ordinary life and refuses any challenge for his #1 headband. One stormy night he gets attacked by Jinno and a mysterious woman named Sio. They defeat him and take his headband as well as his father's remains. Afro has no choice but to take up his sword again, and cut through the enemies. This epic samurai anime movie has won a Primetime Emmy award.
31. Sky Blue
Korean science fiction story about a world without blue sky, and the conflict between the privileged citizens of an enclosed city Ecoban, and the outcasts they exploit.
32. Porco Rosso
Porco Rosso is the sixth anime film directed by Hayao Miyazaki, produced by Studio Ghibli and released in 1992, of an Italian World War I fighter ace, now living as a freelance bounty hunter chasing "air pirates" in the Adriatic Sea. The man has been cursed and transformed into a pig. Once called Marco Pagot, he is now known to the world as "Porco Rosso", Italian for "Red Pig."
33. Ninja Scroll
A 1993 action anime film that follows Jubei Kibagami, a bounty hunter ninja, who battles demonic enemies in feudal Japan. This movie contains graphic violence and nudity, and is rated NC-17 in the US.
A 2001 anime movie about a futuristic city inhabited by humans and robots. Robots are hated and blamed for lack of jobs and poverty which is abundant in the city. The ruler of Metropolis constructs a massive skyscraper called Ziggurat in order to gain power over the entire planet, but his plans are disrupted by a robot.
It is the 22nd century, and the Earth is devastated by the Third World War. Deunan Knute is a skilled female soldier, and one of the last war survivors. During a battle she is rescued by a Second Generation Bioroid, Hitomi, and gets taken to a utopian city of Olympus which population is half-human and half-Bioroid (genetically engineered species).
A movie with fantastic animation, Redline is about the biggest and most deadly racing tournament in the universe. Only held once every five years, everyone wants to stake their claim to fame - including JP, a reckless dare-devil driver with his ultra-customized car. All the while, organized crime and militaristic governments want to leverage the race to their own ends.
37. Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works
Unlimited Blade Works is an anime movie adapted from the UBW route in the Fate/stay night visual novel game. It follows Shirou Emiya, an amateur magus who gets drawn into the war for obtaining the Holy Grail. 7 Masters and 7 Servants are participating, and Shirou becomes one of the Masters when he unwittingly summons his Servant, Saber.
38. Rebuild of Evangelion
A remake of the original cult-classic Neon Genesis Evangelion anime series. Consists of Evangelion: 1.0 You Are (Not) Alone, Evangelion: 2.0 You Can (Not) Advance, Evangelion: 3.0 You Can (Not) Redo, and Evangelion: Final.
39. Bungaku Shoujo (Book Girl)
Touko Amano is a Literature Girl: someone who literally eats fiction for snacks. This movie explores her relationship with a young author Konoha Inoue, who stopped writing after his manipulative childhood friend tried to commit suicide.
40. Pom Poko
A community of magical shapeshifting raccoons (tanuki) desperately struggle to prevent their forest home from being destroyed by urban development.
A retelling of the Vision of Escaflowne anime series, this fantasy movie follows a high school girl Hitomi Kanzaki who gets transported into a different world, Gaea. There she gets involved in the war between Zaibach Empire and other countries.
42. Kara no Kyoukai: The Garden of Sinners
A series of seven movies about the exploits of Shiki Ryougi, a young woman possessing "Mystic Eyes of Death Perception" (the movies can be considered stand-alone but you'll need to watch all of them to get the whole story). Notable for high animation quality and intriguing, if rather unnecessarily complicated, plot. The pretty soundtrack by Yuki Kajiura is icing on the cake.
43. Summer Days With Coo
A 2007 Japanese animated film about a Kappa named Coo, who gets stuck and dried out in a block of mud only to be revived hundreds of years later by a young boy named Koichi with whom Coo forms a deep friendship... Wackiness ensues.
44. Origin: Spirits of the Past
Genetical experimenting on plants goes awry as they gain a form of consciousness and obliterate the human civilization. The few remaining humans struggle to survive in this post-apocalyptic world under an uneasy peace with the Forest. One day, a boy named Agito stumbles upon a stasis pod and awakens a girl who had been sleeping there for the past 300 years.
45. Piano no Mori
Amamiya Shu is a young and talented piano player who transfers to a countryside school with high hopes. However, he is bullied by some of his classmates, who dare him to play a cursed piano in the forest.
46. Rurouni Kenshin: Trust and Betrayal
A prequel to the Rurouni Kenshin anime series, this movie follows titular character Kenshin Himura as he works as an assassin during the Meiji Restoration. Once Kenshin becomes involved in a tragic romance with a recently widowed woman he gradually becomes more empathetic. Eventually, we see Kenshin transform from the most formidable of the imperial assassin's into the man we know at the beginning of the anime series by the same name - a wandering samurai whose sworn to never kill again.0 points
47. Wolf Children
A beautiful and touching story of two siblings who are half-wolf and half-man, possessing both forms and able to switch between them.
48. Patema Inverted (Sakasama no Patema)
A wondrous anime film following the story of two young people, Eiji and Patema, who are from different worlds where even the gravity works in the opposite way. Eiji lives in an autocratic world where the laws of physics are like our own. Patema is from a free society living underground, because she and her people are repulsed by the gravity away from Earth and towards the sky.
About the Ranking
The list above contains some of the best anime movies submitted and voted on by the visitors of this page. The top ones received hundreds of votes. Regrettably, after the move to HubPages the voting functionality is no longer available, so what you see is only a static snapshot. However, it might still come in handy if you're looking for something good to watch.
Best Anime Movies on Amazon
A small selection of top anime films that are translated into English.