Top 25 Anime Movies

Everything about the absolute best anime movies

Life Is Too Short To Watch Bad Anime Movies, So Let’s Start With Our List

The Anime industry is a juggernaut in entertainment these days, providing a unique experience that is hard to match. It has long become a cultural phenomenon transcending country borders and age-groups. Anime movies can provide the same, if not better, engrossing experience as big block buster Hollywood movies, but with so many options available, where do you start? Fear not, fellow Anime fan. We are here to help and have the 25 best rated Anime movies for you. If you really don’t know where to start or what not to miss, this is for you. Sit back, grab some popcorn, welcome to the amazing world of the very best Anime films.

TL:DR – These Are The Top 25 Anime Movies Of All Time

1. Princess Mononoke | 2. Grave of the Fireflies | 3. Howl’s Moving Castle | 4. A Silent Voice | 5. My Neighbor Totoro | 6. Castle in the Sky | 7. Your Name | 8. Wolf Children | 9. Kiki’s Delivery Service | 10. Perfect Blue | 11. The Tale of Princess Kaguya | 12. The Girl Who Leapt Through Time | 13. Ghost in the Shell | 14. Akira | 15. Weathering With You | 16. Whisper of the Heart | 17. One Piece Film: Red | 18. Spirited Away | 19. I Want to Eat Your Pancreas | 20. When Marnie Was There | 21. The Boy and the Beast | 22. Arrietty | 23. Summer Wars | 24. The Garden of Words | 25. Ponyo

Related Articles:

1. Princess Mononoke

When Nature Strikes Back, Who Will Survive?

Animation Studio: Studio Ghibli

Princess MononokeImage credit: Studio Ghibli

Set in a mystical, medieval Japan Princess Mononoke captures the viewer with stunning, hand- drawn visuals and a deep and thought-provoking story about humanity’s relationship with nature. Ashitaka is the central character of this classic epic by Studio Ghibli. He be becomes cursed, after defending his village against a rampaging demon boar. Naturally he tries to find a cure for himself and on his journey he discovers the forests gods and the conflict between them and humans. He crosses paths with the fierce and unyielding, enigmatic Princess Mononoke. She is one of several impressive characters, who will stay in your mind for a long time. The themes explored in this masterpiece of an anime movie are those of compassion, determination, environmentalism and industrialization. If you haven’t seen this already, now is the best time to watch it. Because of it’s mature themes and violence, Princess Mononoke is best enjoyed by older teens and adults. It was the legendary Hayao Miyazaki, who blessed us with this captivating story, putting powerful ideas into breathtaking animation, making Princess Mononoke a timeless classic for the ages and an easy pick for our top spot. Go watch it now, seriously, thank us later.

Princess Mononoke Cover
Tags: Action, Anime, Adventure, Fantasy
Runtime: 2 hours and 14 minutes
Release Date: 1997-07-11 (Japan), 1999-10-28 (United States)
Rating: PG-13
Available at:
Prime Video

2. Grave of the Fireflies

An Unforgettable Portrait of Human Suffering

Animation Studio: Studio Ghibli

Grave of the FirefliesImage credit: Studio Ghibli

The second spot in our ranked best anime movies list is yet another smash hit by Studio Ghibli. This is not for the faint of heart, as it is realistically portrayed and set during World War II, Grave of the Fireflies follows the siblings Seita and Setsuko, who are struggling to survive during the horrific bombing in Kobe. Loss, hopelessness and desperation are the central themes in this visually beautifully crafted but haunting adventure. You will experience the emotional depth of the characters on a personal level, because the whole war-torn world of this anime movie is just masterfully crafted. It’s a sobering experience as a whole and as such not suited for younger audiences. The powerful storytelling and the lingering uneasiness go hand in hand with the thought-provoking, underlying message, which is the importance of peace and the devastating consequences of conflict. Just like Princess Mononoke, this is a timeless classic and an easy recommendation. This war epic is as relevant right now, as it was decades ago, at the time of it’s original release. Absolutely essential watch.

Cover not available
Grave of the Fireflies
Tags: Anime, Drama, War
Runtime: 1 hour and 29 minutes
Release Date: 1988-04-15 (Japan), 2002-04-15 (United States)

3. Howl’s Moving Castle

Finding Your True Self in a World of Chaos

Animation Studio: Studio Ghibli

Howl’s Moving CastleImage credit: Studio Ghibli

As a surprise to absolutely no Anime fan worth his or her merit, it’s yet another Studio Ghibli Anime movie in the third spot of our top ranked Anime list. Just like Princess Mononoke, Howl’s Moving Castle is directed by Hayao Miyazaki and follows a young girl named Sophie, turned into an old woman by a curse, throughout a charming, magical adventure, to eventually break the spell. This magical world with it’s stunning landscapes is inhabited by many captivating characters, like the wizard Howl, who helps Sophie on her journey. As a destructive war threatens to destroy Sophie’s world, the stakes are rising and the movie beautifully explores themes of love, war and self-discovery. The animation style is hand-drawn, whimsical, intricate and immensely detailed. The central message is clear, it’s about the importance of standing up for what is right. Howl’s Moving Castle is yet another masterpiece, that can be enjoyed by a wide age range and delves deep into the relationship between humans and the destructive nature of conflict. Sophie’s magical story will resonate with younger and older Anime fans alike.

Cover not available
Howl’s Moving Castle
Tags: Anime, Fantasy, Romance
Runtime: 1 hour and 59 minutes
Release Date: 2004-11-19 (Japan), 2005-06-09 (United States)

4. A Silent Voice

From Bully To Ally: A Tale of Growth and Redemption

Animation Studio: Kyoto Animation

A Silent VoiceImage credit: Kyoto Animation

The former school bully Shoya seeks redemption and tries to make amends with a deaf girl named Shoko. He used to torment and bully her in elementary school at every occasion. A Silent Voice explores themes of forgiveness, regret, acceptance and the struggle to connect with others in a powerful and emotional journey. As the story unfolds you are exposed to serious topics like mental health, disability and even suicide, all of which are portrayed in a very realistic, relatable way. The characters are beautifully animated and the scenery is as breathtaking as is the musical score, which will deepen the impact of certain plot points and will linger for quite a while after watching. Due to it’s mature themes and some graphic imagery, A Silent Voice is a must-watch for a mature audience only, who enjoys heartfelt, poignant, thought-provoking stories about social issues and real human interactions. Especially teenagers and young adults will find it easy to emotionally connect with the struggle of both, the bullying victim and the perpetrator, as bullying is still very present in most people’s lives, in one way or another.

Cover not available
A Silent Voice
Tags: Anime, Drama, Romance, School, Shounen
Runtime: 2 hours and 10 minutes
Release Date: 2016-09-16 (Japan), 2017-10-19 (United States)

5. My Neighbor Totoro

The Beauty of Nature and Friendship

Animation Studio: Studio Ghibli

My Neighbor TotoroImage credit: Studio Ghibli

And another masterpiece by legendary Anime movie director Hayao Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli. Satsuki and Mei, two young sisters, move to the countryside together with their father, so they can be closer to their hospitalized mother. Struck with worries and fear, the duo embarks to explore the surroundings in their new environment. They discover friendly forest spirits, including lovable Totoro, who becomes a great friend and help to them. Just as you would expect from Studio Ghibli, the animations, charming character design and the overall visual style are stunning and brimming with detail. In My Neighbor Totoro the innocence of childhood and the wonders of the world, through children eyes, are perfectly captured. The story unfolds in a magical, relatable way, portraying the importance of family and the beauty of nature in a way, only Studio Ghibli can. My Neighbor Totoro is a must-watch for any audience, that continues to captivate and inspire audiences of all walks of life all over the world. Essential watch that will create Anime fans.

Cover not available
My Neighbor Totoro
Tags: Anime, Adventure, Fantasy
Runtime: 1 hour and 26 minutes
Release Date: 1988-04-15 (Japan), 1993-04-15 (United States)

6. Castle in the Sky

A Journey to the Skies: The Quest for a Lost Civilization

Animation Studio: Studio Ghibli

Castle in the SkyImage credit: Studio Ghibli

Studio Ghibli and Hayao Miyazaki, again. Yep, they are that good. The 1980s were a grand time for the pairing of the renowned studio and famed director and the staying power of these wonderful Anime movies are a testament to this. In the world of Castle in the Sky, two young orphans, Sheeta and Pazu, discover the secrets of a mythical floating castle. Malevolent forces, like government agents and greedy pirates, try to cut the thrilling journey of the two orphans short, as they navigate through airships and ancient ruins. The animation style and visual quality is breathtaking. Castle in the Sky features lush environments and landscapes and the floating castle itself is a sight to behold. The musical score by Joe Hisaishi is as epic and memorable as the adventure itself and is an absolute standout-feature. Castle in the Sky is a classic, masterful work of art, that is a must-see for all audiences, adults and children alike.

Cover not available
Castle in the Sky
Tags: Anime, Fantasy, Steampunk
Runtime: 2 hours and 4 minutes
Release Date: 1986-08-01 (United States), 2003-04-14 (United States)

7. Your Name

The Miracles of Destiny and the Bonds of Love

Animation Studio: CoMix Wave Films

Your NameImage credit: CoMix Wave Films

Imagine you are a teenager and you randomly switch bodies with someone else. Weird, but that is exactly what happens to the two teens Taki and Mitsuha in the anime movie Your Name. Navigating each other’s lives, they try to uncover the secret, that’s behind their connection, as strange as it is, that seems to transcend even time and space. As the movie moves along, they form a deep, emotional bond and Your Name seamlessly blends elements of drama, romance and science fiction together, to form a coherent and engrossing story, that will emotionally resonate and have a deep impact on you. Thanks to great character design and smooth animation, the lushly rendered landscapes are just as impressive as the nuanced personalities, that feel truly human and relatable. Your Name is a cinematic masterpiece touching upon the subjects of love, loss and the passage of time, that is a must-watch for every Anime fan. Your Name has often been called „one of the best Anime films ever“ and it’s not hard to see why.

Cover not available
Your Name
Tags: Anime, Fantasy, Drama, Romance
Runtime: 1 hour and 46 minutes
Release Date: 2016-08-25 (United States), 2017-04-06 (United States)

8. Wolf Children

Embracing the Wild Within: A Tale of Two Identities

Animation Studio: Studio Chizu

Wolf ChildrenImage credit: Studio Chizu

The woman Hana falls in love with a man who can transform into a wolf. From this bond two children are born, Yuki and Ame, who have inherited their father’s ability. Naturally, this makes for a very unusual experience. Time passes and their father dies, motivating their mother to raise her two children in another place on the countryside, where it is more peaceful. In Wolf Children Yuki and Ame must find a way to navigate the challenges of their dual nature and ultimately decide how to live, as wolves, or humans. Finding one’s place in the world is the central theme of this emotionally engrossing Anime film, that perfectly captures the lush and beautiful, natural countryside with a pretty visual style and smooth animations. Teenagers and young adults will easily relate. Wolf Children is a critically acclaimed, stunning blend of fantasy and drama, portraying very intricate characters. A easily recommended must-watch for any fan of the two genres.

Cover not available
Wolf Children
Tags: Anime, Fantasy, Drama
Runtime: 1 hour and 57 minutes
Release Date: 2012-07-20 (Japan), 2013-09-28 (United States)

9. Kiki’s Delivery Service

Discovering the Magic Within

Release Date: July 29, 1989 (Japan), February 1, 1998 (North America)

Kiki’s Delivery ServiceImage credit: Studio Ghibli

The heartwarming coming-of-age story of Kiki’s Delivery Service was directed by the legendary Anime filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki, so it comes as no surprise, that Kiki’s Delivery Service stuns with whimsical and charming visual style and beautiful hand-drawn animations, full of intricate details in each and every scene. Kiki is a young witch, who must go on a journey of self-discovery, leaving behind her home and family. Being a witch, only armed with her broomstick and the magic within her, Kiki makes the best from it, settling in a seaside town, opening a delivery service, using her flying abilities. The importance of community and valuable life lessons about independence are the central themes of this magical Anime. Kiki meets new friends along the way and all of them are relatable, entertaining and well developed. Kiki’s Delivery Service is not only pure fun, but inspiring too, helped by the beautiful soundtrack composed by Joe Hisaishi, truly giving the film that extra sprinkle of magic. Kiki’s Delivery Service is lighthearted, delightful and simply uplifting, making it a perfect fit and easy watch for a relaxing family-evening for all ages.

Cover not available
Kiki’s Delivery Service
Tags: Anime, Adventure, Fantasy, Coming of Age
Runtime: 1 hour and 43 minutes
Release Date: 1989-07-28 (Japan), 1998-01-31 (United States)

10. Perfect Blue

When Reality and Fantasy Collide

Animation Studio: Madhouse

Perfect BlueImage credit: Madhouse

For mature audiences, that enjoy psychological thrillers, Perfect Blue is one of the best Anime movies to watch. It’s suspenseful from start to finish, keeping the viewer on the edge of their seat, following Mima Kirigoe into her mental descent. She is a former pop idol, now pursuing an acting career. She starts to lose touch with reality, when she lands a role in a crime drama. Mima’s psyche becomes more and more unhinged as the Anime movie Perfect Blue tackles mature themes like identity, fame, mental health, sexuality and violence, making it a thought-provoking watch. The storytelling and the overall artistic approach to such dark material is well executed and easily enjoyed by fans of the genre, but younger Anime fans better find something else to watch. Perfect Blue goes to really dark places of sex and violence.

Cover not available
Perfect Blue
Tags: Anime, Drama, Thriller
Runtime: 1 hour and 21 minutes
Release Date: 1998-02-27 (Japan), 1999-08-10 (United States)

11. The Tale of Princess Kaguya

Freedom, Love and Loss

Animation Studio: Studio Ghibli

The Tale of Princess KaguyaImage credit: Studio Ghibli

Studio Ghibli adapts a classic Japanese folktale. The Tale of Princess Kaguya is about a tiny girl who is discovered inside a bamboo stalk. Eventually she grows into a beautiful woman, who longs for a simpler life in nature, despite being pursued by a series of suitors. This is to the dismay of her caring parents who, after finding her in the wild, want to mold her into a proper lady and introduce her to the luxuries of society. The aesthetics and visual style of The Tale of Princess Kaguya are something else. Calligraphy and traditional Japanese watercolor paintings give this epic Anime movie a unique, unforgettable look and make for a great watch. This Anime film is an easy recommendation for a wide audience, as the themes portrayed are those of struggle between tradition and individuality, search for purpose and finding one’s identity – all of them universally relatable. The Tale of Princess Kaguya is a true work of art, that is thought-provoking, moving and entertaining all the same.

Cover not available
The Tale of Princess Kaguya
Tags: Anime, Fantasy, Drama
Runtime: 2 hours and 17 minutes
Release Date: 2013-11-22 (Japan), 2014-10-16 (United States)

12. The Girl Who Leapt Through Time

The Butterfly Effect

Animation Studio: Madhouse

The Girl Who Leapt Through TimeImage credit: Madhouse

Makoto is your ordinary high school student, except, she can leap through time. She enjoys doing her temporal acrobatics to make the life of her friends and herself easier. What could possibly go wrong? She soon finds out, that everything she does, ripples through time and has, often complex, consequences. The time traveling thing isn’t even the worst part of it all, Makoto is also a typical teenager, struggling with growing pains and settling into life. That theme is something many of us can resonate with, regardless of our age. The animations and visual style are beautiful and bring the many interesting characters to life. At the core The Girl Who Leapt Through Time is a classic coming-of-age story, but with a unique twist and all the time traveling tropes you’d expect. The story unfolds in an engaging and meaningful way, so a wide audience can enjoy it. It is easy for us to recommend watching The Girl Who Leapt Through Time to fans of all ages (and times).

Cover not available
The Girl Who Leapt Through Time
Tags: Anime, Drama, Romance, Science Fiction
Runtime: 1 hour and 38 minutes
Release Date: 2006-07-14 (Japan), 2007-02-14 (United States)

13. Ghost in the Shell

Examining the Nature of Consciousness

Animation Studio: Production I.G

Ghost in the ShellImage credit: Production I.G

A dangerous hacker, known as the Puppet Master, infiltrates the minds of humans, who have long merged with machines. Major Motoko Kusanagi has to intervene, he is a cyborg counter-terrorism officer and part of a government agency maintaining order in a near-future, dystopian world. The central theme and question in Ghost in the Shell is what it means to be human. Similar to movies like Bladerunner, the story unfolds in a thought-provoking, philosophical way. The visuals are stunning, dark and gritty and will please every cyberpunk lover. For this Anime film a blend of hand drawn and computer generated imagery was used to great, immersive effect. Dealing with mature themes, Ghost in the Shell is the definitive classic cyberpunk epic worth watching over and over again. It is a landmark achievement for Japanese animation.

Ghost in the Shell was also adapted into a live action feature film featuring Scarlett Johansson as the lead character in 2017. The movie changes up the storyline and was in hot water for a while for casting Scarlett Johansson as an originally Japanese character.

Cover not available
Ghost in the Shell
Tags: Action, Anime, Science Fiction
Runtime: 1 hour and 23 minutes
Release Date: 1995-11-17 (Japan), 1996-05-28 (United States)

14. Akira

Power, Corruption, and the End of the World

Animation Studio: Tokyo Movie Shinsha (TMS Entertainment)

AkiraImage credit: TMS Entertainment

Akira, often mentioned as the best Anime movie ever created, is a landmark success for TMS Entertainment and no best of Anime movie list is ever complete without it. It had a massive impact on pop culture all over the world that is felt to this day. Akira is set in a futuristic, dystopian Tokyo in the year 2019, following a rebellious group of bikers. The gang of friends uncovers a massive government conspiracy about telekinesis and an enigmatic entity named Akira. The character designs, fluid and impressive action sequences and intricate cityscapes impress to this day, especially considering that this was all hand-drawn. Akira deals with mature themes like corruption, identity and existentialism. At it’s core Akira is a thrilling sc-fi action movie with a heavy dose of philosophy, that lends itself for long discussions in the early morning-hours after multiple viewings. If you haven’t seen it yet, you are really missing out. Not for the faint of heart, Akira will demand your attention, but will reward you with a wild mental ride like no other. Akira is weird, thought provoking and violent in all the best ways possible and easily considered essential watching.

Cover not available
Tags: Action, Anime, Science Fiction, Cyberpunk
Runtime: 2 hours and 4 minutes
Release Date: 1988-07-15 (United States)

15. Weathering With You

A Tale of Love and Sacrifice in a World of Unpredictable Weather

Animation Studio: CoMix Wave Films

Weathering With YouImage credit: CoMix Wave Films

Hodaka Morishima is a high school boy, who moves to Tokyo. It doesn’t take long and he experiences a series of supernatural weather events. Soon. he meats a girl that can manipulate and control the weather. Her name is Hina Amano and together they start selling weather on demand to people in need. But their actions have consequences, because of course they do. Weathering With You was directed by renowned Anime mastermind Makoto Shinkai and received critical acclaim for beautiful animations and professional storytelling. The music, a captivating soundtrack by Japanese band Radwimps, leaves a lasting, very positive impression. Cleverly combining romantic drama with a sprinkle of fantasy, Weather With You really is a suitable-for- anyone Anime movie, that is easy and enjoyable to watch.

Cover not available
Weathering With You
Tags: Anime, Fantasy, Drama, Romance
Runtime: 1 hour and 52 minutes
Release Date: 2019-07-18 (Japan), 2020-01-16 (United States)

16. Whisper of the Heart

The Power of Creativity

Animation Studio: Studio Ghibli

Whisper of the HeartImage credit: Studio Ghibli

Unsure of her future, adolescent Shizuku has struggles. Things are not easy, but she finds relief in her two favorite pastimes: writing and reading. One day she discovers, that all the books she has been checking out from the library, were previously borrowed by Seiji, a boy dreaming about becoming a violin maker. Produced by Studio Ghibli, the visual character design is as detailed and intricate as you’d expect. The soundtrack is a standout feature of the movie and was composed by Yuji Nomi. It complements the emotional depth of the charming coming-of-age story by Yoshifumi Kondo just perfectly. We all know the anxieties of growing up and Whisper of the Heart deals with this subject in a heartfelt way. It is easy to connect with the overarching theme and whimsy of this beautifully crafted Anime movie by arguably the greatest Anime studio ever. Easy, entertaining and inspiring to watch for every Anime fan.

Cover not available
Whisper of the Heart
Tags: Drama, Romance, Slice of Life
Runtime: 1 hour and 51 minutes
Release Date: 1995-07-14 (Japan), 2006-05-06 (United States)

17. One Piece Film: Red

Reunion at the Concert

Animation Studio: Toei Animation

One Piece Film: RedImage credit: Toei Animation

After the 1000’s episode of the One Piece anime series the first trailer for One Piece Film: Red dropped to great public attention. After the movie’s premiere on July 22, 2022 in Japan, long time series fans got to see the Straw Hat Pirates traveling the world and battling the Red Pirates. The story is well written and features the emotional moments and the humor fans came to expect. All the characters are well developed and stay true to their series counterparts, the animation is smooth, modern and top notch and the musical score impresses just the same. One Piece Film: Red is regarded as a well balanced Anime movie, that keeps the story moving and the experience fresh. It’s an easy watch for the whole family and especially the most invested of fans, as it features a lot of fan service and easter eggs. Overall One Piece Film: Red is a great continuation of the beloved One Piece Pirate universe many of us grew up with and still enjoy to this day. Easy recommendation.

Cover not available
One Piece Film: Red
Tags: Action, Anime, Adventure, Fantasy, Musical
Runtime: 1 hour and 55 minutes
Release Date: 2022-08-05 (Japan), 2022-11-03 (United States)

18. Spirited Away

A Journey Through Identity and Belonging

Animation Studio: Studio Ghibli

Spirited AwayImage credit: Studio Ghibli

Yet another critically acclaimed Anime movie making a best of list by famed director Hayao Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli. This actually is the anime movie Miyazaki won an Oscar for. The young girl Chihiro moves to a new town and promptly gets lost in a mystical forest. Not long and she ends up in a fantastical world inhabited by weird spirits and monsters. To make things worse, her parents have been turned into pigs and so she must work in a otherworldly bathhouse, for a witch named Yubaba, to free them. The world-building in Spirited Away is just… well, out of this world and then some. The characters, the locations and all the fantastical elements, it’s just a pure joy to watch. The movie highlights the importance of family, friendship and personal growth and does so in a very subtle, poignant way. Spirited Away is suitable and highly recommended for all ages, but especially children will easily fall in love with it’s charming world.

Cover not available
Spirited Away
Tags: Anime, Adventure, Fantasy
Runtime: 2 hours and 5 minutes
Release Date: 2001-07-19 (Japan), 2002-09-19 (United States)

19. I Want to Eat Your Pancreas

Cherishing the Present and Embracing the Inevitable

Animation Studio: Studio VOLN

I Want to Eat Your PancreasImage credit: Studio VOLN

Don’t let the weird title I Want to Eat Your Pancreas turn you away, because you would miss the touching story of two high school students and their unlikely friendship. Sakura is an introverted bookworm and Haruki an outgoing slacker. They have to navigate their differences and by doing so they eventually end up caring deeply for one another. Unfortunately, Sakura is terminally ill, so she decides to live her final days to the fullest. The story faces themes like love, self-discovery, mortality and loss through the detailed and realistically portrayed characters. The animation style is beautiful, with soft colors and intricate details. The whole movie possesses dreamlike qualities, which are further enhanced by the film’s emotional soundtrack, adding even more depth to each scene. I Want to Eat Your Pancreas is a bittersweet tribute to the joys and fragility of life. Highly recommended, but keep your tissues nearby.

Cover not available
I Want to Eat Your Pancreas
Tags: Anime, Drama, Romance
Runtime: 1 hour and 48 minutes
Release Date: 2018-08-31 (Japan), 2019-02-06 (United States)

20. When Marnie Was There

A Haunting Tale of Love, Loss, and Discovery

Animation Studio: Studio Ghibli

When Marnie Was ThereImage credit: Studio Ghibli

When Marnie Was There is something else, but will wow you with all the well-developed and stunning animation style you come to expect from Studio Ghibli. This beautiful and emotional Anime movie is about Anna, who suffers from Asthma. To recover and make things easier for her, she is sent to the countryside. Anna is shy and introverted, so she strolls around alone a lot. She eventually discovers an abandoned mansion. She imagines Marnie, a girl who lived there long ago, and develops a friendship to her. As time passes, Anna uncovers the mysteries of Marnie, the Mansion and also learns a lot about herself. When Marnie Was There touches themes of friendship, family, acceptance and the importance of memories. The hauntingly beautiful score captures the mood of the intricate landscapes perfectly. When Marnie Was There is a safe recommendation. Anyone who ever felt lost in their live will easily relate.

Cover not available
When Marnie Was There
Tags: Anime, Fantasy, Drama, Mystery
Runtime: 1 hour and 43 minutes
Release Date: 2014-07-18 (Japan), 2015-05-21 (United States)

21. The Boy and the Beast

Embracing Your Inner Beast

Animation Studio: Studio Chizu

The Boy and the BeastImage credit: Studio Chizu

When Ren, a young boy, runs away from home, he finds himself in a parallel world. This is a world, where animals reign supreme and transform into human-like creatures. A beast warrior, named Kumatetsu, trains him in the art of combat and becomes his mentor. After a while both grow fond of each other and as the bond becomes even stronger, they see each other like father and son. They help overcome each other’s weaknesses and as a result each of them grows as an individual. The animation is great and the action sequences are especially well choreographed. The Boy and the Beast is an emotional, thrilling story about self-discovery, loving oneself, overcoming personal struggles and finding family in unexpected places. Any Anime enthusiast must see this critically acclaimed piece of art.

Cover not available
The Boy and the Beast
Tags: Action, Anime, Adventure, Fantasy
Runtime: 1 hour and 59 minutes
Release Date: 2015-07-14 (Japan), 2016-03-03 (United States)

22. The Secret World Of Arrietty

The Hidden World Beneath Our Feet

Animation Studio: Studio Ghibli

ArriettyImage credit: Studio Ghibli

No top best of Anime movie list is worth it’s salt, if it isn’t naturally dominated by Studio Ghibli movies. At least in our book. Arrietty is yet another grandiose Anime by the famed studio, adapting the classic children novel The Borrowers by Mary Norton. One of the borrowers is a tiny fourteen-year-old-girl named Arrietty Clock. Together with her family she lives under the floorboards of an old house. Things like sugar cubes and tissue paper are frequently „borrowed“ from the humans living in the house above them. As the human boy named Sho discovers Arrietty, they eventually become friends. But of course things become complicated, as soon as Arriettys family is discovered by the other humans of the house. The miniature world of Arrietty is captured in intricate detail and it’s just a pure joy to watch. Arrietty is a whimsical adventure, focusing on the touching relationships between the characters. It appeals to children and adults alike. This is another of those best Anime movies that make for great family-watching.

Cover not available
Tags: Anime, Adventure, Fantasy
Runtime: 1 hour and 34 minutes
Release Date: 2010-07-16 (Japan), 2012-02-16 (United States)

23. Summer Wars

From Chaos to Harmony

Animation Studio: Madhouse

Summer WarsImage credit: Madhouse

Directed by Mamoru Hosoda, Summer Wars is about a math genius named Kenji, who gets a summer job at his crush’s family. A rogue AI program then launches a massive cyber attack that threatens to destroy the world. Kenji needs to team up with his crush and her family, using his math skills to fight the evil AI program and eventually save the world. Exploring themes like love and family, Summer Wars also clearly shows the dangers of technology and unregulated progress, while seamlessly combining virtual reality and real-world action in the many thrilling moments of the movie. The animation style is a mix of hand-drawn and computer-animated, the colors are vibrant and lively, so watching Summer Wars is a feast for the eyes. Summer Wars, while thought- provoking, is also funny and has a strong cast of quirky, lovable characters, making it appeal to children and adults alike.

Cover not available
Summer Wars
Tags: Action, Anime, Science Fiction, Comedy
Runtime: 1 hour and 54 minutes
Release Date: 2009-06-30 (Japan), 2010-12-02 (United States)

24. The Garden of Words

The Transcendent Power of Connection Through Words

Animation Studio: CoMix Wave Films

The Garden of WordsImage credit: CoMix Wave Films

Renowned director Makoto Shinkai is responsible for this emotionally resonant Anime film which has its rightful place on any good Anime movies list. The Garden of Words meditates on loneliness, longing and how much we need human connection. The story is thoughtful and deeply moving, following Takao, a young shoemaker and Yukino, an enigmatic woman. They meet in a garden on rainy mornings and despite their huge age difference, they form a strong bond. They both enjoy rain and gardens, so they decide to meet regularly, facing their own fears, complicated emotions and struggles. Despite the comparatively short runtime of just 46 minutes, this Anime movie manages to get it’s point across easily, and then some. The visual presentation of The Garden of Words is an absolut highlight in Japanese animation, depicting rainy Tokyo in stunning detail. While The Garden of Words is aimed at young adults, the artistry and deep emotional subject matters will appeal to a very wide audience. Perfect to watch on a rainy Sunday morning.

Cover not available
The Garden of Words
Tags: Anime, Drama, Romance
Runtime: 46 minutes
Release Date: 2013-05-30 (Japan), 2014-03-10 (United States)

25. Ponyo

The Magic of Childhood Unleashed

Animation Studio: Studio Ghibli

PonyoImage credit: Studio Ghibli

It is only fair, if you start a best of Anime film list with a Studio Ghibli movie, you end the list with one as well. Again it was legendary director Hayao Miyazaki, who directed this heartwarming and magical Anime film. Main character Sosuke lives in a small coastal town in Japan. A goldfish trapped in a bottle, named Ponyo, dreams of becoming a human and after Sosuke finds him, they grow fond of each other. As Ponyos powers grow, she ultimately must decide, if she wants to stay with Sosuke, or return to the sea. Ponyo explores love, friendship and the beauty of nature in a whimsical, playful way and all the character designs perfectly reflect this. The central theme of Ponyo is the innocence and wonder of childhood, making Ponyo a great choice for families, who want to escape into a magical world together.

Cover not available
Tags: Anime, Adventure, Fantasy
Runtime: 1 hour and 41 minutes
Release Date: 2008-07-18 (Japan), 2009-08-13 (United States)

Honorable Mentions

These didn’t quite make the cut, but are still worth checking out.

Cowboy Bebop: The Movie

The movie is a standalone story that takes place between episodes 22 and 23 of the Cowboy Bebop anime series. The crew needs to stop a deadly virus.

Cover not available
Cowboy Bebop

The Wind Rises

A historical drama directed by Hayao Miyazaki, telling the story of a renowned aircraft designer responsible for the famous WW II fighter plane A6M Zero by Mitsubishi.

Cover not available
The Wind Rises

Ninja Scroll

Jubei battles against a group of demons to save a village from destruction. Ninja scroll is packed full of mature themes, wild action scenes and stunning animation.

Cover not available
Ninja Scroll

How We Choose And Rank

We base our ranking on four criteria. User rank, critics rank, nerd rank and personal rank. User ranks and critics ranks are derived from websites like and and are exactly what they sound like. The nerd rank is collected from reddit forums and anime-enthusiast- ranking websites, as a deep dive into Anime fandom. The personal rank is just our opinion and how we like the Anime movie. All of these ranks are expertly mashed together into a score behind the scenes, which is then put into a ranked list for you to enjoy.