Anime Movies, the Japanese creation usually about children but never really for children, are the genre that has been one of the most influential on the science fiction and fantasy movies we’ve already featured on Movies to Watch Lists.
The Anime movies on this list are the best of all time, and they’ve been voted for by anime movies fans and featured if they score highly on our top movie review websites. You can be sure that these are the best Anime movies to watch.
Anime Movies | The 8 Best Anime Movies of all Time
Director: Satoshi Kon
Review: A team of scientists develops an interface device called the “DC Mini” that facilitates the transference of dreams from one person to another. This dream machine is designed primarily for use by psychotherapists. It allows them to experience a patient’s dreams and take a closer look. In the wrong hands, however, this could potentially become a very dangerous tool.
Paprika is simply the most compelling work of anime and science fiction you will see in a long time. It may not be easily understood but it’s so amazingly animated and imaginative it can easily be described as one of the best-animated movies as well as a compelling work of Sci-Fi.
Director: Katsuhiro Ôtomo
Review: Akira condenses a lot of material into two hours; not surprising, since writer/director Katsuhiro Otomo’s long-running manga series was still being written after its 1988 release. This epic, violent, mind-melting slice of animated history is chock full of terrific visuals, an amazing soundtrack, and, of course, the sci-fi-tinged story.
Those new to the anime movies will find it an exhausting experience, but don’t give up: the eye candy will suck you in, but there’s a real heart and soul to the story that has made countless fans worldwide return to Akira again and again. It’s practically the grandfather of modern anime movies.
3. Ghost in the Shell
Director: Mamoru Oshii
Review: Compared to most other anime movies out there, Ghost in the Shell may seem a little dull, but if you’re the kind who likes to think when watching an anime, then you’ll like this. The movie is much more complex than it appears, and has a fascinating plot surrounding the destination of the human soul in the future, although the more memorable images are of rampant gunfire. The animation is excellent and the character designs are very original – and very worthwhile.
4. Grave of the Fireflies
Director: Isao Takahata
Review: In the last months of World War II an American fire bomb raid destroys the port city of Kobe, where almost all of the buildings are made of wood. Seita is a 14-year old boy who survives along with his 4-year old sister Setsuko. They were separated from their mother during the raid, which spares them from her fate. Their father is a navy officer serving in the Imperial Navy at sea, and the two kids go off to live with an aunt.
Grave of the Fireflies is one of the most powerful anti-war movies you will ever see, which means that it has no competition when it comes to emotional impact in terms of animated movies. The death of Bambi’s mother was a traumatic shock, but nothing like the sense of despair and grief that overwhelms you by the end of this movie.
The movie begins with the spirit of a young boy showing us his death in a train station, after which we follow the fireflies into the past to see his story. This is an unforgettable movie, one which will make most viewers cry if not outright sobbing. Watching it is a painful experience, but then a movie depicting the horrors of war and showing what happens to young children is supposed to have that effect.
5. My Neighbor Totoro
Director: Hayao Miyazaki
Review: The plot involves Satsuki, a girl on the cusp of womanhood, moving into the country with her father and younger sister Mei, where she discovers a child’s realm of wonder and make-believe running in parallel to the adults’ mundane everyday existence. The family’s rickety cottage is filled with easily frightened dust bunnies, and deep within the tangle of roots and branches, in a safe hiding place, only a child can access, Totoro, a benign forest creature, makes its lair.
The story is a real jewel, simply, elegantly told. The art is of extremely high quality, excellently detailed, bright, and clean. The characters are especially well-depicted, complete with expressive body language, and realistically animated. In part because of the excellent dub, they are all sympathetic and deeply human, instantly recognizable as real people around us.
6. Princess Mononoke
Director: Hayao Miyazaki
Review: Princess Mononoke is a movie for everyone. It is not just for fans of anime movies, but it’s also for those intelligent enough to appreciate such a great story. Represents everything great about anime movies. It leaves out the senseless sex and violence that plagues many anime movies and gives anime a bad reputation.
Princess Mononoke does have its fair share of violence but it’s rather tame in comparison to some other anime. True, it does include some decapitating scenes but they aren’t without reason. This is a masterwork of a master. This is the movie you would throw at people who despise Japanese animation and make them speechless.
7. Jin-Roh: The Wolf Brigade
Director: Hiroyuki Okiura
Review: Jin-Roh has got to be one of the darkest anime movies on this list. Make no mistake, this movie has no fairy tale ending and is black as the night. But it is a morbid masterpiece. The film is intricately woven with such epic complexity and depth that it might have collapsed under the weight of its own story under lesser filmmakers.
8. Spirited Away
Director: Hayao Miyazaki
Review: Chihiro, a typical slightly spoiled ten-year-old girl, wanders off the beaten path with her parents, and is thrust into a bewildering another world. Her parents have soon fallen under a malign enchantment, and suddenly it falls to her, with the aid of a mysteriously familiar boy named Haku, to rescue them. She has to decide where to place her trust, as it becomes apparent that Haku is in the service of the villainous tyrant grandmother Yabubu, who rules over this other world.
It is Chihiro’s spirit that steers her through these uncharted waters. We watch her discover in herself and exhibit, tentatively at first but with growing confidence, all of the virtues a fairy-tale hero must learn: resourcefulness, compassion, and courage. Because we’ve witnessed her ordinary beginnings, we identify with and believe in all her emerging qualities. It’s all done with a deft matter-of-fact touch that never cloys and never preaches.
The animation is quietly dazzling. The plot is dense and full of surprises.
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