100 Best Anime Movies of All Time (2021 Update)

100 Best Anime Movies of All Time (2021 Update)

While one of the 21st century’s most pervasive cultural assets, anime is particularly difficult to describe, owing to the medium’s century of change and reinvention;  from Oten Shimokawa’s five-minute shorts in 1917 to the feature-length cartoons created during WWII, through Tezuka’s pioneering production cycles in the 1960s and the auteurist innovations of Miyazaki and others in the latter part of the last century. Anime has evolved through several stages, from amateur attempts to nationalist propaganda fodder to niche cultural export to final worldwide success, with each version adapting to the shape of the times.

During the 1960s, television broadened the medium, giving birth to many of the critical genres and subgenres we know today and laying the groundwork for the anime industry’s inextricable link with advertising and marketing from the 1970s onward. The introduction of home video pushed anime to its economic and artistic pinnacle, sweeping forth from the island country of Nippon to the distant coasts of North America and back, before being transformed once again by the unparalleled accessibility of the internet in the 1990s and early aughts.

Anime cinema owes much to the shifting methods of production and dissemination in the late twentieth century, with the breadth and boldness of the medium’s material expanding and contracting along with its running length to appeal to the emerging palettes of viewers, both new and old, at home and abroad. But where can one even begin to address the visual and historical legacy that anime cinema has left on pop culture and worldwide entertainment over the last century?

This list of the best anime movies attempts to accomplish exactly that: to provide a primer of one hundred of the most significant films made by Japanese animation, as well as a detailed aesthetic, technical, and historical explanation of why these films matter.

Table of Contents show

100. The Boy and the Beast (2015)

100 Best Anime Movies of All Time (2021 Update)

Mamoru Hosoda is widely regarded as one of the best anime directors working today. Despite this warm relationship, few of Hosoda’s works have achieved the same level of cinematic achievement and canonical enshrinement that characterizes Studio Ghibli luminary’s illustrious career.

99. Mobile Suit Gundam F-91 (1991)

Mobile Suit Gundam F-91, set 30 years after Char’s Counterattack, is a weird aberration in the Gundam world, but not an unwanted one. As a result, Mobile Suit Gundam F-91 is a sloppy but admirable addition to the Gundam canon.

98. On-Gaku: Our Sound (2021)

On-Gaku: Our Sound is storyteller Iwaisawa’s ode to the power of music as well as Hiroyuki Ohashi’s manga of the same name. As the film continues through its musical numbers, Iwaisawa explores form (such as dynamic rotoscoping) as different songs elicit varied feelings from his characters, whether a friendly folk ballad or a primitive-feeling rocker that reverberates in a listener’s chest.

97. Ah! My Goddess: The Movie (2000)

The film, a self-contained story centered on college student Morisato Keiichi and the Goddess Belldandy, discovers new methods to add drama and urgency into the original story’s generally cheerful romance. At the same time, the longer run time allows for more character development and deeper motivations for all of the prominent cast members.

96. Dallos (1983)

100 Best Anime Movies of All Time (2021 Update)

To put it simply, Dallos was the first anime to be advertised and sold as a multi-part home video production., ushering in a new format free of the constraints of traditional theatrical and broadcast animation and bringing anime to the western world. That may seem like trite praise in 2016, but without precedent set by Dallos’ publication, there would have been no way for anime to find an international audience in the 1980s.

95. When Marnie Was There (2014)

Anna Sasaki, twelve, is a melancholy introvert with a strong distrust of both others and herself. Anna’s foster parents send her to be with her adoptive aunt and uncle at their picturesque rural seaside house when she collapses in school due to an asthma attack, adjourning Kushiro to improve her condition. She meets Marnie, a strange young girl whose companionship helps Anna develop and open up and whose sad life may be intimately tied to Anna’s.

94. A Dog of Flanders (1997)

Yoshio Kuroda’s best work is arguably only second to Grave of the Fireflies in terms of one of the saddest anime ever created. Ultimately, the picture is a real class tragedy, but it is a captivating narrative that has lasted the test of time.

93. Fullmetal Alchemist the Movie- The Conqueror of Shamballa (2005)

Fullmetal Alchemist by Hiromu Arakawa is one of the most highly acclaimed manga and anime series of the early 2000s. Fullmetal Alchemist, which debuted in 2001 and spawned two long-running television adaptations, chronicles the exploits of Edward and Alphonse Elric, two prodigiously gifted young men whose respective limbs and bodies are torn from them in a gruesome alchemical accident.

92. The Restaurant of Many Orders (1991)

100 Best Anime Movies of All Time (2021 Update)

The Restaurant of Many Orders is strikingly different from virtually every other film of its age that established the visual template of Japanese animation. Tadanari Okamoto, who established himself as one of Japan’s premier animators in the 1970s and 1980s, created the film in 1990 as a warm-up for his intended feature debut Hotarumomi.

91. Golgo 13 The Professional (1983)

Golgo 13: The Professional, directed by Osamu Dezaki, is both a wonderful time capsule of ’80s gritty crime fiction and a faithful adaptation of the manga upon which it is based.

90. Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust (2000)

Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust, the sequel to Toyoo Ashida’s 1985 blockbuster, is praised for its better production standards and finely drawn set pieces courtesy of Yuji Ikehata and Madhouse’s group of outstanding in-house background painters.

89. Short Peace (2013)

Short Peace is an excellent grab bag of four animated shorts and one videogame, each reflecting a distinct period in Japanese history. With Otomo at the lead, overseeing the project and supplying one of the shorts, this initiative drew in a slew of talent, all in the service of some stunning animated short films.

88. Momotaro: Umi No Shinpei (1945)

Momotaro: Umi No Shinpei, also known as Momotaro’s Divine Sea Warriors in the West, was Japan’s first feature-length animated film. Momotaro, thought to be lost for decades before being recovered in 1984, is an essential landmark in Japanese animation history, taking viewers back to a time when attitudes and sensibilities were strikingly different.

87. Venus Wars (1989)

100 Best Anime Movies of All Time (2021 Update)

Venus Wars, adapted from Yoshikazu Yasuhiko’s original manga series in 1989, is a stunning sci-fi action war picture with fantastic animation, surprising complexity, and a piece of deliciously hammy music by Joe Hisaishi.

86. The Cat Returns (2002)

The Cat Returns, a spiritual sequel to Yoshifumi Kondo’s Whisper of the Heart, is a lighthearted romp that mixes Studio Ghibli’s trademark style of magical realism with a fresh viewpoint courtesy of the director Hiroyuki Morita.

85. Giovanni’s Island (2014)

One of the most admirable aspects of Japanese animation is its willingness to explain and interpret its past as a country and as a people via a medium that is all too often dismissed as inherently corny and infantile. Consider Giovanni’s Island.

84. Sweat Punch (2007)

Sweat Punch is a strange beast that is difficult to locate but well worth the effort. Deep Imagination is a collection of five animated shorts that were initially published as part of Grasshoppa! DVD magazine issues before being combined into a single disc named Deep Imagination. Deep would be one word to characterize these shorts, which vary significantly in style and subject matter. Sweat Punch has to be seen to be believed, and “comprehending” it may be irrelevant. 

83. Cowboy Bebop- Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door (2001)

100 Best Anime Movies of All Time (2021 Update)

Cowboy Bebop’s debut in North America on Adult Swim in September 2001 was one of the significant defining events in anime’s cultural footing in the West.

82. Genius Party (2007)

You can’t go wrong with Genius Party if you’re searching for a compilation of some of the most quirky, colorful, and distinctive animated shorts from some of the most renowned anime filmmakers working today. Overall, Genius Party is a magnificent compilation of short films made by one of today’s most diverse production firms that should not be missed.

81. Summer Wars (2009)

Summer Wars is essentially a replica of Hosoda’s previous work on the second Digimon film, Our War Game, released in 2000. Summer Wars is a compelling huge family story with heart, wrapped in a sugar-coated “Internet of Things” disaster scenario of devastating proportions.

80. A Wind Named Amnesia (1990)

The film’s animation shows its age in some ways, and when it comes to the thematic ambitions of its subject matter versus narrative execution, its reach frequently outstrips its grasp. Still, A Wind Named Amnesia remains a thought-provoking film and an understated gem in the rough of early ’80s animation.

79. Ponyo (2008)

Ponyo is perhaps the weirdest of Hayao Miyazaki’s diverse and highly acclaimed body of work. A contemporary retelling of Hans Christian Andersen’s 1837 novel The Little Mermaid. Ponyo isn’t Miyazaki’s most extraordinary, but it’s undoubtedly among the best in the genre.

78. Evangelion- 1.0 You Are (Not) Alone (2007)

100 Best Anime Movies of All Time (2021 Update)

If you’re an anime fan who hasn’t seen the original Neon Genesis Evangelion, you’re probably just three degrees away from someone who has an ardent, enthusiastic opinion on it. Evangelion- 1.0 You Are (Not) Alone is a beautiful introduction to one of the most renowned and contentious animes of the late 20th century, whether you saw it when it initially aired or are interested to discover what all the fuss is about.

77. Into the Forest of Fireflies Light (2011)

If you’re an anime fan who hasn’t seen the original Neon Genesis Evangelion, you’re probably just three degrees away from someone who has an ardent, enthusiastic opinion on it. Evangelion- 1.0 You Are (Not) Alone is a beautiful introduction to one of the most renowned and contentious animes of the late 20th century, whether you saw it when it initially aired or are interested to discover what all the fuss is about.

76. Sword of the Stranger (2007)

The minimalist yet impressive action sequences were choreographed by famous key animator Yutaka Nakamura, culminating in one of the most brilliantly animated sword battle showdowns between “No Name” and the European Ming commander Luo-Lang, set the picture apart from its contemporaries. Sword of the Stranger is a great samurai action picture featuring sword fights that are head and shoulders above the others.

75. Fist of the North Star (1986)

You’ll be hard pushed to find a more visceral animation than Fist of the North Star. An unapologetically entertaining action film that celebrates Schwarzenegger and Van Damme’s over-the-top bravado in their heyday.

74. Wicked City (1987)

100 Best Anime Movies of All Time (2021 Update)

Wicked City recounts the narrative of Renzaburo Taki, an agent of the covert “Black Guard” organization committed to ensuring peace and balance between the two realms in a modern world where humanity shares a secret pact with a hidden realm inhabited with demons. Kawajiri’s distinctive flair for Lovecraftian horror and stylish action is on the whole show here, aspects that would be expanded upon in Demon City Shinjuku and later refined in films such as Ninja Scroll and Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust.

73. Colorful (2010)

Colorful, Keiichi Hara’s 2010 film is a stark and gorgeous departure from the director’s prior work as a storyboard animator for series like Doraemon and Crayon Shin-Chan. Colorful is a visually and emotionally rewarding picture.

72. Angel’s Egg (1985)

Angel’s Egg is unlike anything Mamoru Oshii has ever done as a director, and it’s also unlike anything else in the anime medium, period. Angel’s Egg leaves plenty of space for interpretation and subtlety, but one thing is sure: It’s a must-see anime that no two people will watch or comprehend in the same manner.

71. A Letter to Momo (2011)

Hiroyuki Okiura’s sophomore album is a far cry from the aggressive fatalism of his debut, Jin-Roh: A Letter to Momo. It took Okiura seven years to complete, demonstrating his tenacity as a creative force and his outstanding abilities as an animator and filmmaker.

70. Gyo: Tokyo Fish Attack (2012)

100 Best Anime Movies of All Time (2021 Update)

Junji Ito is one of the most well-known names in modern Japanese horror literature, ranking with Shintaro Kago and Kazuo Umezu. Finally, Gyo: Tokyo Fish Attack is a competent horror picture, albeit a dubious adaptation, with intriguing characters, odd twists, and chosen scenes that directly tribute to Ito’s unique aesthetic style.

69. Patlabor: The Movie (1989)

The first Patlabor picture, with its great combination of action, intrigue, and not-so-subtle post-WWII period criticism, is a vital entry in Oshii’s cinema and the canon of anime history.

68. The Tale of Princess Kaguya (2013)

Takahata’s unwavering devotion to excellence and the film’s arduous seven-year production paid off in the end, creating a picture of unrivaled aesthetic and thematic beauty.

67. Spriggan (1998)

A scientific expedition unearths a gigantic building that turns out to be the fabled Noah’s Ark, which turns out to be less a sacred vessel of redemption and more a paranormal warship of mass devastation during the conclusion of the Cold War. Spriggan is mandatory watching for everyone who believes they don’t create them like this anymore when it comes to late ’90s action anime.

66. Macross Plus (1995)

100 Best Anime Movies of All Time (2021 Update)

Macross Plus is the first Macross sequel to take place in the TV series’ original timeline. It was first made as a four-episode OVA, then re-released as a cut-down, theatrical version with 20 minutes of extra content.

65. Phoenix: 2772 (1980)

Osamu Tezuka, the author of iconic manga/anime such as Astro Boy, Kimba the White Lion, and Black Jack, is frequently referred to as the “Walt Disney of Japan,” and with reason. As an animated introduction to Tezuka’s finest work, Phoenix: 2272 exemplifies why his career was so much more than just Astro Boy.

64. Blood: The Last Vampire (2000)

You have an anime film with a surprising amount of artistic and historical relevance for its brief 48-minute run time.

63. Dragon Ball Z- Broly – The Legendary Super Saiyan (1993)

Dragon Ball Z- Broly – The Legendary Super Saiyan, the eighth and most incredible theatrical release of perhaps the most well-known anime franchise globally, has most likely been seen the most of any film on this list. Suppose you’re curious why the Dragon Ball franchise’s immense popularity, Broly is as excellent a spot as any to dip your feet into Toriyama’s best-known work.

62. Whisper of the Heart (1995)

Whisper of the Heart is a charming coming-of-age narrative filled with beautiful scenery and sweet teenage romance that is one of Studio Ghibli’s underappreciated jewels. Whisper of the Heart is a lovely film and a heartbreaking farewell to Yoshifumi Kondo, who died of heart problems at 47.

61. The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya (2010)

100 Best Anime Movies of All Time (2021 Update)

Trying to explain the Haruhi Suzumiya series to a newbie, let alone an anime novice, is anything but straightforward. The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya is a stunning film and a great conclusion to one of the previous decade’s most intellectually complex, genre-defying, and critically controversial anime series. T

60. Night on The Galactic Railroad (1985)

Anime owes a great deal to Kenji Miyazawa’s heritage. Check out Night on the Galactic Railroad if you’re searching for a children’s film with a more intellectual perspective on faith and religion.

59. Battle Angel (1993)

Battle Angel (or Gunnm, as it is called in Japan) is based on Yukito Kishiro’s long-running sci-fi manga series of the same name. And tells the story of Gally, an amnesiac cyborg who wakes up in a dystopian future after being rescued by a kind prosthetic scientist. He later embarks on a personal journey of self-discovery and adventure. If you’re searching for a classic cyberpunk narrative and a quick introduction to Kishiro’s work, you’d be remiss not to try this one.

58. Lupin III- The Castle of Cagliostro (1979)

The Castle of Cagliostro is a significant and necessary relic of Miyazaki’s proto-Ghibli oeuvre. Even if a Miyazaki film has problems, it is still a work of art.

57. A Thousand and One Nights (1969)

100 Best Anime Movies of All Time (2021 Update)

It’s the number one film in what became known as the Animerama series, a trilogy of thematically connected experimental sexual movies aimed at adults. Mushi Productions created it, the studio behind such classics as Astroboy, Kimba the White Lion, and Dororo, and produced by anime patriarch Osamu Tezuka.

56. The Animatrix (2003)

Without question, The Animatrix is the most pleasing thing to come out of the Matrix franchise since the first film. The Animatrix descended right into the core of film’s collective mythology and reinvented it with every single drop of latent brilliance the series could summon at the time.

55. Gundam Wing: Endless Waltz (2000)

Endless Waltz was initially meant to be a three-part OVA that wrapped up the Gundam Wing TV series’ story, outside of the usual continuity of the Gundam “Universal Century” era. This is a dance worth taking if you want a brief illustration of what Gundam accomplishes so effectively compared to other forms of big robot anime.

54. 5 Centimeters Per Second (2007)

5 Centimeters Per Second, filled with Shinkai’s essential emotive elements of loneliness, existential sadness, and romantic malaise, is arguably the ultimate introduction to Shinkai’s work for connoisseurs and beginners alike.

53. My Neighbors the Yamadas (1999)

My Neighbors the Yamadas is a film that only Ghibli could produce, and only Takahata could turn into such a moving tribute to the compassion of ordinary families. Takahata is, indeed, essential.

52. Cat Soup (2001)

100 Best Anime Movies of All Time (2021 Update)

Cat Soup is a perplexing head trip, a pastel-colored fever dream, and, above all, a wonderfully inventive short film that is as aesthetically appealing as intellectually unsettling.

51. Howl’s Moving Castle (2004)

Howl’s Moving Castle is a charming, though occasionally insipid, adventure about a timid young woman cursed by a jealous witch with the body of an old crone and saved by a charismatic wizard who lives in massive walking home. The eponymous castle in the film is one of Miyazaki’s best inventions, resembling a bow-legged fish equipped with stumpy wings and turrets limping across the landscape and pushing trash to and fro.

50. Dead Leaves (2004)

Dead Leaves is shamelessly short on plot and densely packed with aesthetic, but when this combination plays so well to the director’s talents, the excess is precisely what you want from a picture like this.

49. Ghost in the Shell 2- Innocence (2004)

Ghost in the Shell 2- Innocence is a stark departure, both aesthetically and thematically, from Oshii’s 1995 masterpiece.

48. Voices of a Distant Star (2002)

Voices of a Distant Star, almost entirely produced by Shinkai himself, with music composed and performed by long-time friend and collaborator Tenmo, focuses on the issues of time, place, and distance and how they affect the fragility of human connections in ways that few other works can, cementing Shinkai’s position as one of anime’s premier auteur directors.

47. Jin-Roh: The Wolf Brigade (1999)

100 Best Anime Movies of All Time (2021 Update)

The picture is as psychologically complex as it is visually stunning, with wonderfully realistic animation, loud firefights, and a suffocating melancholy mood, thanks in part to Hajime Mizoguchi’s soundtrack.

46. The End of Evangelion (1997)

Despite its continuous melancholy, End of Evangelion adheres to the ethos of its subtitle, which is that the joy of death is found in the process of regeneration.

45. Galaxy Express 999 (1979)

Leiji Matsumoto, along with Go Nagai, was one of Japan’s leading manga and animation creators of the 1970s. He is most known for his Yamato series. Still, his ultimate artistic achievement may be the shared world represented by the manga and anime series Galaxy Express 999, Captain Harlock, and Queen Emeraldas.

44. Steamboy (2004)

Steamboy is still regarded as a visually stunning technical feat in modern animation. It’s a low point in a filmography of excellent work, yet it still manages to outperform most of the films it was released with.

43. Porco Rosso (1992)

Although it is one of his most complicated and sad, Porco Rosso is sometimes a “lesser Miyazaki” picture. On the other hand, Porco Rosso achieves heights that will leave any anime lover in awe—and does so in flair.

42. The Place Promised in Our Early Days (2004)

100 Best Anime Movies of All Time (2021 Update)

Determining Makoto Shinkai’s “greatest” film is a tough assignment. The Place Promised in Our Early Days honed the director’s abilities to perfection, providing an incredible emotional high in its last climactic moments.

41. The Girl Who Leapt Through Time (2006)

Though The Girl Who Leapt Through Time was not Mamoru Hosoda’s debut picture as a filmmaker, it was the film that first brought his name on the world stage and slung the albatross label of “the next Miyazaki” around his neck.

40. A Silent Voice (2016)

A Silent Voice is a moving depiction of adolescent abuse, healing, and forgiveness for the suffering we have caused others and ourselves.

39. Interstella 5555 (2003)

It’s a one-of-a-kind combination that seems like it came from some impossible, alternative dimension, and it should be viewed by both dance music enthusiasts and anime fans.

38. Vampire Hunter D (1985)

Vampire Hunter D was a vintage, almost lovely example of a period when this type of semi-adult cartoon content was considered “dangerous” to developing young anime viewers in the United States. Vampire Hunter D, along with a few other significant titles like Wicked City and Ninja Scroll, sparked the interest of many older anime lovers. For that alone, it deserves to be recognized.

37. Castle in the Sky (1986)

100 Best Anime Movies of All Time (2021 Update)

Though not as well-known as Princess Mononoke or Spirited Away, Castle in the Sky is a significant entry in Studio Ghibli’s classic cinema.

36. Appleseed (2004)

Appleseed is a significant milestone in the history of early-aughts animation and, on top of that, an entertaining movie. It has fantastic graphics, decent action, catchy techno music courtesy of Japanese electronic duo Boom Boom Satellites, and a competent though clichéd storyline.

35. Panda! Go, Panda! (1972)

Panda! Go, Panda! is not meant to be taken seriously. It’s a charming, adorable children’s picture with a catchy theme tune that delights in its simplicity while also serving as a fascinating forerunner to what Studio Ghibli would go on to master in their later work.

34. Robot Carnival (1987)

Even if Robot Carnival were not a fantastic collection—which it is—it is a beautiful time capsule of when a constellation of bright young directors gets together to produce a production formed entirely out of a passion for the medium.

33. Mobile Suit Gundam: Char’s Counterattack (1988)

Char’s Counterattack, often considered as the most spectacular Gundam film, is most successful in bringing the 14-year struggle between the “hero” of the Earth Federation, Amuro Ray, and the commander of Neo-Zeon, Char Aznable, to a close.

32. Mirai (2018)

100 Best Anime Movies of All Time (2021 Update)

Mirai is Hosoda’s most accomplished picture, the first Academy Award nominee for an anime film not created by Studio Ghibli, and an experience that is as enlightening as it is beautiful to see.

31. Kiki’s Delivery Service (1989)

The film is a narrative of independence, optimism, is the source of inner power that propels every young person to venture out into the world and choose their own path.

30. Tokyo Godfathers (2003)

Tokyo Godfathers is compassionate and hopeful without ever cheapening itself with cloying romanticism. It connects with a genuine and honest appeal to heart comparable to Frank Capra’s It’s a Wonderful Life. If you’re getting tired of Christmas music, but this one is on throughout the holidays. You will not be sorry.

29. Your Name (2016)

Shinkai’s most critically and financially successful effort to date is Your Name., winning over a dozen accolades and becoming the highest-grossing anime picture of its time. It is a magnificent film that rates among the very best the genre has to offer.

28. Urusei Yatsura 2: Beautiful Dreamer (1984)

100 Best Anime Movies of All Time (2021 Update)

Beautiful Dreamer comes highly recommended if you’re seeking a fascinating romantic drama that also serves as an essential milestone in the history of one of anime’s most prominent filmmakers.

27. Roujin-Z (1991)

The film looks more like an OVA than a feature film, but the designs are memorable and based on rigorous science (remember, this is Otomo), and the characters are bright and funny enough to lighten the mood.

26. Tekkonkinkreet (2006)

Tekkonkinkreet is a complex and engaging narrative of love and friendship set in a continuously collapsing and changing universe, and it seems inextricably linked to the communities who inspired it.

25. Royal Space Force- The Wings of Honnêamise (1987)

Some may describe this movie as an ultimate disaster, however, if it is considered a glorious disaster, it’s the kind of flop that many aspiring filmmakers would love to have on their CV.

24. Only Yesterday (1991)

100 Best Anime Movies of All Time (2021 Update)

Only Yesterday is still something remarkable almost thirty years later: an earnest and moving narrative about a woman who continues to develop and learn long after reaching adulthood.

23. Memories (1995)

After completing Akira in 1988, Katsuhiro Otomo returned in 1995 to direct Memories, his third anthology collection of short films. Memories are not to be missed as an anime filmgoer, no matter what your tastes are.

22. Ninja Scroll (1993)

In the mid-’90s, the film was at the forefront of the debate that anime “wasn’t only for kids,” and it still counts as a must-see movie for any severe anime lover. Without a doubt, Yoshiaki Kawajiri’s Ninja Scroll is the ultimate anime chanbara action flick.

21. Panda and the Magic Serpent (1958)

Panda and the Magic Serpent, based on the Chinese folktale The Legend of the White Snake, is notable for being the first full-color anime film and the first licensed anime film to be broadcast in America.

20. Mind Game (2004)

Mind Game is like seeing a feature-length film version of a seven-hour Ayahuasca experience. Mind Game is an impressionistic, avant-garde, and, most all, one-of-a-kind sensory overload that is nearly difficult to forget.

19. Redline (2009)

100 Best Anime Movies of All Time (2021 Update)

The plot is thin, to be sure. Still, as a picture that gloriously pays off its lengthy gestation time with the result that is this shamelessly unique and just extraordinary, Redline falls solidly into the elite group of anime films that one simply must watch before they die.

18. Belladonna of Sadness (1973)

The story is horrible, yet the way it is presented is so beautiful that we can’t take our eyes off it.

17. Millennium Actress (2001)

Millennium Actress is a tribute to Kon’s enduring love of cinema, combining allusions to Buster Keaton’s physical comedy, Akira Kurosawa’s Throne of Blood, and Hiroshi Inagaki’s Rickshaw Man. It should be viewed, analyzed, and treasured for many years to come.

16. Super Dimension Fortress Macross- Do You Remember Love? (1984)

The original film was a big smash in Japan, with lines wrapping around the block the weekend it was released, and it is regarded as a classic. It’s challenging to get in the United States. Still, it’s definitely worth the effort for anyone searching for a decent space opera and pop music good enough to destroy an alien species.

15. Metropolis (2001)

Metropolis may not have made as much money at the box office as Ghost in the Shell or Ninja Scroll. It may not have the same cult-classic status as films like Ghost in the Shell or Ninja Scroll. Still, it remains an enormous achievement by two of the greatest anime directors alive who sought to both honors and surpassed the work of one of the most influential anime pioneers of all time.

14. Barefoot Gen (1983)

100 Best Anime Movies of All Time (2021 Update)

Overall, the film is a human narrative of perseverance and tenacious optimism in the face of devastation. It is hoped that it will be remembered as a sobering reminder of the consequences of unrelenting conflict and what we all stand to lose if we forget the past lessons.

13. Pom Poko (1994)

If you’ve always wanted to see a Studio Ghibli picture in which a troop of anthropomorphic raccoons uses their massive testicles as bludgeoning weapons in a final stand against police officers, your wishes have been answered.

12. Princess Mononoke (1997)

The film’s brutality is a striking contrast to Miyazaki’s comparatively gory body of work, with limbs being cut with callous abandon and wild boar gods crying blood as they trek through the forest on a death march. It’s an exciting, sad, and massive picture whose last moment will leave spectators transformed. Simply said, it is all that one would expect from Hayao Miyazaki’s lineage.

11. Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind (1984)

Simply said, Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind is the film that gave birth to Studio Ghibli. If you’ve not seen this picture yet, you should do so as soon as possible. And if you’ve previously done it, it just gets better with time.

10. Neo-Tokyo (1987)

100 Best Anime Movies of All Time (2021 Update)

Though it lacks any meaningful thematic connection, for the most part, Neo-Tokyo is a concise and compelling illustration of the stratospheric heights of technical skill and artistic ambition that anime can attain when placed in the hands of the medium’s most distinctive artists.

9. My Neighbor Totoro (1988)

Not only is My Neighbor Totoro Miyazaki’s most renowned picture to date, but it’s also a near-perfect family film that manages to condense the spirit of childlike whimsy down to its purest condition. It’s a film born fully formed from a great animator’s mind, a movie about the everyday enchantment of being a child and the simple power of embracing the world with an open heart.

8. Patlabor 2 (1993)

Mamoru Oshii’s most productive work is Patlabor 2, an atmospheric political thriller that established the framework for the aesthetic and atmosphere that would later become his hallmark and define the tone and content of his most famous work, Ghost in the Shell.

7. Perfect Blue (1997)

Perfect Blue is a rare find in the genre-saturated world of modern anime: a genuine psychological horror thriller filled with malice, dread, and cinematic mastery.

6. The Wind Rises (2013)

100 Best Anime Movies of All Time (2021 Update)

The depiction of flying is one of Miyazaki’s most recurring tropes and themes, with none more firmly interwoven across the body of work. So it’s no wonder that his final major film, The Wind Rises, is based on the life of Japanese aircraft engineer Jiro Horikoshi. And the complicated legacy his creations have on not only the pacifist cultural identity of contemporary Japan but also, on a personal level.

5. Paprika (2006)

Paprika is perhaps Kon’s best achievement in a lifetime of perfect flicks. Adapted from Yasutaka Tsutsui’s 1993 novel (whose another noteworthy novel, The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, would serve as the foundation for Mamoru Hosoda’s 2006 film of the same name), Kon couldn’t have asked for more acceptable source material to fit his thematic idiosyncracies as a filmmaker. Looking back on his life’s work, one thing stands out: Satoshi Kon was and continues to be one of the finest anime directors of his generation. He’ll be much missed.

4. Ghost in the Shell (1995)

It’s challenging to overestimate Ghost in the Shell’s impact on the cultural and artistic growth of Japanese animation and the shape of science-fiction film in the twenty-first century. Ghost in the Shell is more than just a staple of cyberpunk literature. It is more relevant today than twenty years ago. It is a narrative on what it means to create oneself in the digital age when the concept of truth is as brief as the internet’s vastness and infinity.

3. Grave of the Fireflies (1988)

Grave of the Fireflies by Isao Takahata is the heartbreaking narrative of two youngsters whose lives are shattered by the 1945 firebombing of Kobe. Adapted from Akiyuki Nosaka’s autobiographical narrative, the film follows Seita and a young Japanese boy forced to care for his younger sister Setsuko after a devastating Allied strike that destroys his community. Tragic in the purest sense, Grave of the Fireflies is not only one of the best pictures the studio has ever made but also unquestionably one of the best anime films of all time.

2. Spirited Away (2001)

What about Hayao Miyazaki’s Spirited Away that makes it one of his best, if not the best, films? Perhaps this is due to the film’s most outstanding depiction of his most defining ideas and thoughts to date.

1. Akira (1988)

The precedent of Katsuhiro Otomo’s Akira defines anime filmmaking from the early 1990s to the current day. Akira was the most costly animated picture of its time and a cinematic standard that sent shockwaves throughout the industry, adapted from the early chapters of Otomo’s iconic manga series. Every anime fan must confront Akira’s status as the most significant anime film ever created at some time. Akira will live forever!

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