Featured Articles

Top 20 Best Anime Movies to Kick-Start 2016

Tons of good anime movies have been made over the years. But why settle for good? We present to you a list of not 5, not 10, but 20 of some of the best anime movies in existence! Dig in and find some new and interesting Japanese animated movies to watch this year!

by samcook
Jan 11, 2016 7:59 PM | 268,926 views

If there’s one thing that will get anime fans in a heated and angry battle of words, it’s the debate on which anime movie is the best. To help alleviate the tension just a bit, we’ve explored a much wider range of anime movie options. Great anime movies abound. Some of them are so time-honored and widely known that even casual anime fans could name them. Others are a bit more obscure, pulsing on the tongues of only those anime fans with the most refined tastes. One thing, however, is almost always certain: few fans, whether casual or hardcore, have seen them all. What better way to spend the new year than in joyful rediscovery of some of your old favorites, and in anxious anticipation for some potential new favorite anime movies as well? We’ve got just the thing to whet your anime movie whistle. Here are 20 of the best anime movies available, just in time for the new year!



Akira

MAL Rated 8.14, Ranked #365 | Premiered Jul 16, 1988 | Produced by Tokyo Movie Shinsha


Shotaru Kaneda from Akira, one of the best anime movies ever, is riding his cool Motorcycle

Akira has always been a unique movie. Not only was it strange (in a good way), but it showed just how creative anime could be. The storyline was compelling, the action heart-pounding, and the animation a perfect match for the era. It was one of the first anime films to make it overseas from Japan, and undoubtedly set the spark of fandom in many young viewers.

A Movie Trailer from Akira which is one of the best anime movies ever


Byousoku 5 Centimeter (5 Centimeters per Second)

MAL Rated 8.17, Ranked #329 | Premiered Feb 11, 2007 | Produced by CoMix Wave Films


Byousoku 5 Centimeter - Takaki and Kanae Running Best Anime Movies to Kick-Start 2016

Many good anime movies shy away from action, blood and violence, instead opting to tell simple love stories. Byousoku 5 Centimeter is one of the most famous, telling the cliche tale of long-distance relationships. However, this isn't your average romantic film. Made up of several short stories, the different emotions that the two characters experience throughout the film - friendship, love, despair, anger, heartbreak - are portrayed in such a familiar way, they are truly painful to watch. This is absolutely one of the best anime movies available, a must watch for any true anime fan!

Byousoku 5 Centimeter - Movie Trailer Best Anime Movies to Kick-Start 2016


Ghost in the Shell

MAL Rated 8.34, Ranked #185 | Premiered Nov 18, 1995 | Produced by Production I.G. and Production Reed


Ghost in the Shell - Cyborg Creation Best Anime Movies to Kick-Start 2016

Ghost in the Shell has spawned many iterations and remakes. The original, however, was a 1995 film that helped many critics remember why Japanese anime movies are more than just creations of niche passion. Vivid storytelling, animation and imagination mark this sci-fi epic, helping to make it popular even among critics who are not usually anime fans.

Ghost in the Shell - Movie Trailer Best Anime Movies to Kick-Start 2016


Hotaru no Haka (Grave of Fireflies)

MAL Rated 8.59, Ranked #249 | Premiered Apr 15, 1988 | Produced by Studio Ghibli


Hotaru no Haka - Setsuko Yokokawa alone Best Anime Movies to Kick-Start 2016

Not only is Hotaru no Haka Studio Ghibli’s second work of art, it is also one of their most well-received. Even much-vaunted movie critic Roger Ebert placed it on his “Great Movies” list. Set in the aftermath of World War II, the anime takes viewers through an emotional story that highlights the consequences of war. However, the director, Isao Takahata, explains that the movie is not anti-war, but meant instead to draw sympathy for those in their teens and twenties who live failed lives due to isolation from society.

Hotaru no Haka - Movie Trailer Best Anime Movies to Kick-Start 2016


Howl no Ugoku Shirom (Howl's Moving Castle)

MAL Rated 8.73, Ranked #35 | Premiered Nov 20, 2004 | Produced by Studio Ghibli


Howl no Ugoku Shiro - Heen, Markle and Turnip-Head Best Anime Movies to Kick-Start 2016

Howl no Ugoku Shiro is pure fantasy from start to finish. Both the story and the animation style were made to excite the imagination. Studio Ghibli spared no expense to make this film, even licensing it with Walt Disney Studios to ensure great exposure in the US and beyond. The tale shares many common elements with other fantasy films, with a feel similar to the famous whimsical tale, The Wizard of Oz.

Howl no Ugoku Shiro - Movie Trailer Best Anime Movies to Kick-Start 2016


Kaguya-hime no Monogatari (The Tale of the Princess Kaguya)

MAL Rated 8.42, Ranked #146 | Premiered Nov 23, 2013 | Produced by Studio Ghibli


Kaguya-hime no Monogatari - Okina discovering Kaguya-Hime Best Anime Movies to Kick-Start 2016

The biggest hallmark and draw of Kaguya-hime no Monogatari is its extremely unique animation style. Although it is not the most well known anime movie from Studio Ghibli, it is one of the most highly rated. The film mixes fantasy and romance to tell the story of a girl born from a bamboo shoot, based on a famous Japanese folk tale.

Kaguya-hime no Monogatari - Movie Trailer Best Anime Movies to Kick-Start 2016


Karigurashi no Arrietty (The Secret World of Arrietty)

MAL Rated 8.13, Ranked #378 | Premiered Jul 7, 2010 | Produced by Studio Ghibli


Karigurashi no Arriety - Arriety in her room Best Anime Movies to Kick-Start 2016

Karigurashi no Arrietty tells the story of very small people doing very big things. Those who have seen the film will note its familiarity with the American film and book, The Borrowers. The reason, of course, is because it is based directly on the story. Karigurashi no Arrietty is a creative remake of the tale, presented in a unique way that only Studio Ghibli could do.

Karigurashi no Arrietty - Movie Trailer Best Anime Movies to Kick-Start 2016


Kaze no Tani no Nausicaä (Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind)

MAL Rated 8.48, Ranked #110 | Premiered Mar 11, 1984 | Produced by Studio Ghibli and Studio Hibari


Kaze no Tani no Nausicaä - Nausicaä on her glider Best Anime Movies to Kick-Start 2016

Kaze no Tani no Nausicaä presented a story based around a strong female lead, long before strong female leads were “cool”. The film has some of the best elements anime fans look for: guns and swordplay. The animation style screams “Studio Ghibli” through and through, although the anime itself is not officially in the studio’s library. The main character’s name is taken directly from The Odyssey, in which Odysseus is taken in by Princess Nausicaä after he is shipwrecked on an island. Interestingly, the name means “burner of ships”. Fitting, huh?

Kaze no Tani no Nausicaä - Movie Trailer Best Anime Movies to Kick-Start 2016


Kurenai no Buta (Porco Rosso)

MAL Rated 8.03, Ranked #489 | Premiered Jul 18, 1992 | Produced by Studio Ghibli


Kurenai no Buta - Porco Rosso with babies Best Anime Movies to Kick-Start 2016

Kurenai no Buta is one of those anime films that is hard to describe to anyone who hasn’t seen it. Yes, the main character is a pig, and yes, it takes place in France. On the surface, the film’s oddity of characters and setting make it difficult to jump into. However, the story is mixed with adventure and humor, which is understandable when your main character is, literally, a flying pig.

Kurenai no Buta - Movie Trailer Best Anime Movies to Kick-Start 2016


Lupin III: Cagliostro no Shiro (The Castle of Cagliostro)

MAL Rated 8.21, Ranked #293 | Premiered Dec 15, 1979 | Produced by Tokyo Movie Shinsha


Lupin III Cagliostro no Shiro - Lupin and Jigen with a broken car Best Anime Movies to Kick-Start 2016

There’s something about castles that make them great fodder for anime movies. Lupin III: Cagliostro no Shiro is one among many Lupin tales, with our suave thief tracking down the source of counterfeit money (that he stole, of course).

Lupin III: Cagliostro no Shiro - Movie Trailer Best Anime Movies to Kick-Start 2016


Majo No Takkyuubin (Kiki's Delivery Service)

MAL Rated 8.26, Ranked #244 | Premiered Jul 1989 | Produced by Studio Ghibli and Studio Hibari


Majo no Takkyuubin - Kiki with cats Best Anime Movies to Kick-Start 2016

Majo No Takkyuubin is one of the most well known, popular and earliest films from Studio Ghibli. Based on a 1986 novel of the same name, this anime movie focuses on a young girl who originally dreams of becoming a witch. This desire fundamentally changes when, instead, she starts a delivery business.

https://youtu.be/4bG17OYs-GA


Mimi wo Sumaseba (Whisper of the Heart)

MAL Rated 8.34, Ranked #186 | Premiered Jul 15, 1995 | Produced by Studio Ghibli


Mimi wo Sumaseba - Shizuku and Shiro eating Best Anime Movies to Kick-Start 2016

Mimi wo Sumaseba shares a lot of traits with Kiki’s Delivery Service. A young, female lead. A cat. Flying. But that’s about where the similarities end. Mimi wo Sumaseba takes viewers into a fantastic world created by the main character using her penchant for the literary craft.

Mimi wo Sumaseba - Movie Trailer Best Anime Movies to Kick-Start 2016


Mononoke Hime (Princess Mononoke)

MAL Rated 8.81, Ranked #24 | Premiered Jul 12, 1997 | Produced by Studio Ghibli


Mononoke Hime - San and Moro Best Anime Movies to Kick-Start 2016

Perhaps one of the most unique anime movies created, Mononoke Hime continues Studio Ghibli’s famous pattern of films with strong female lead characters saving the day. This anime movie is set in the Muromachi Period of Japan, with a heavy emphasis on fantasy and legends. It is filled with a diverse cast of memorable characters, as well as supernatural creatures.

Mononoke Hime - Movie Trailer Best Anime Movies to Kick-Start 2016


Ookami Kodomo no Ame to Yuki (Wolf Children)

MAL Rated 8.86, Ranked #18 | Premiered Jul 21, 2012 | Produced by Madhouse and Studio Chizu


Ookami Kodomo no Ame to Yuki - Hana, Ame and Yuki gardening Best Anime Movies to Kick-Start 2016

Slice-of-life anime movies are not typically the most popular. However, Ookami Kodomo no Ame to Yuki finds its way onto many lists of good anime movies because of the uniqueness of the tale, the fine writing and the wonderful animation style. The story focuses on a woman who must raise two half-wolf children, while trying to keep them a secret.

Ookami Kodomo no Ame to Yuki - Movie Trailer Best Anime Movies to Kick-Start 2016



Sennen Joyuu (Millennium Actress)

MAL Rated 8.35, Ranked #182 | Premiered Sep 14, 2001 | Produced by Madhouse


Sennen Joyuu - Young Chiyoko with a blade Best Anime Movies to Kick-Start 2016

Sennen Joyuu finds its popularity in the fact that it has a little bit of everything. Action, adventure, romance, drama - all of these traits are hallmarks of this animated film about the unique life experiences of an elderly actress. Sennen Joyuu is a great anime movie with a lot of heart!

Sennen Joyuu - Movie Trailer Best Anime Movies to Kick-Start 2016



Sen to Chihiro no Kamikakushi (Spirited Away)

MAL Rated 8.93, Ranked #13 | Premiered Jul 20, 2001 | Produced by Studio Ghibli and Studio Hibari


Sen to Chihiro no Kamikakushi - Chihiro and No-Face on a train Best Anime Movies to Kick-Start 2016

Sen to Chihiro no Kamikakushi is a typical Studio Ghibli film in almost every way imaginable. Helping the studio recover from the relative failure of their previous film (My Neighbors the Yamadas), Sen to Chihiro no Kamikakushi focuses on another young girl immersed in a world not her own. In this anime movie's case, the main character is truly lost (and not there of her own choosing), forced to work in a bathhouse until she can find her way home.

https://youtu.be/ByXuk9QqQkk



Stranger: Mukou Hadan (Sword of the Stranger)

MAL Rated 8.44, Ranked #130 | Premiered Sep 29, 2001 | Produced by Bones


Stranger: Mukou Hadan - Nanashi in battle Best Anime Movies to Kick-Start 2016

Not many historically-based anime movies are considered to be that great. Stranger: Mukou Hadan is one exception. Based in the Sengoku era, this anime movie follows the epic tale of a young boy who is being pursued by Chinese Ming Dynasty warriors.

Stranger: Mukou Hadan - Movie Trailer Best Anime Movies to Kick-Start 2016



Tenkuu no Shiro Laputa (Castle in the Sky)

MAL Rated 8.39, Ranked #163 | Premiered Aug 2, 1986 | Produced by Studio Ghibli


Tenkuu no Shiro Laputa - Sheeta and Pazu lying on the grass Best Anime Movies to Kick-Start 2016

Studio Ghibli really does love its castles. In this case, it’s a castle in the sky. Tenkuu no Shiro Laputa mixes fantasy, science fiction and romance. The two main characters, Pazu and Sheeta, have one, shared goal: finding and exploring the flying castle, Laputa. Among good anime movies, this one is a classic.

Tenkuu no Shiro Laputa - Movie Trailer Best Anime Movies to Kick-Start 2016



Tokyo Godfathers

MAL 8.34, Ranked #187 | Premiered Aug 30, 2003 | Produced by Madhouse


Tokyo Godfathers - Mayuki, Hana and Gin discovering Kiyoko Best Anime Movies to Kick-Start 2016

In 2003, Studio Madhouse gave birth to an excellent "dramedy" (drama/comedy) titled Tokyo Godfathers. This anime movie places the spotlight on an unlikely trio: a runaway girl, a transvestite and an alcoholic. Together, this unique group of characters must search for the parents of an abandoned baby.

Tokyo Godfathers - Movie Trailer Best Anime Movies to Kick-Start 2016



Tonari no Totoro (My Neighbor Totoro)

MAL 8.50, Ranked #124 | Premiered Apr 16, 1988 | Produced by Studio Ghibli


Tonari no Totoro - Satsuki and Totoro in long grass Best Anime Movies to Kick-Start 2016

Tonari no Totoro is undeniably one of the most world-renowned and beloved anime movies of all time. Following stylistic themes, unique to Studio Ghibli, this anime movie uses a comedic edge to tell the story of a young girl and her forest spirit friend, Totoro. Since its production, the character Totoro has surpassed the walls of anime to become a cultural icon in Japan and overseas.

Tonari no Totoro - Movie Trailer Best Anime Movies to Kick-Start 2016

Related Articles

Top 20 Series With The Most Beautiful Anime Art

Top 20 Series With The Most Beautiful Anime Art

It is easy to say that the most beautiful anime are those produced by Studio Ghibli. For sure, Ghibli’s films set the bar for what is anime art. However, although five of their films populate this list of the 20 most beautiful anime, other examples from the past four decades are just as impressive.
Top 27 Best Hayao Miyazaki Anime Movies [Updated]

Top 27 Best Hayao Miyazaki Anime Movies [Updated]

Hayao Miyazaki, one of the most famous directors in the world, has produced many extraordinary works such as Spirited Away and Howl's Moving Castle. Take a look at our countdown of Studio Ghibli films directed by Hayao Miyazaki based on MAL user ratings!
Gateway Anime: How to Get Your Anime-Hating Friends Hooked on Anime

Gateway Anime: How to Get Your Anime-Hating Friends Hooked on Anime

How do you get your friends into anime? By presenting them with the perfect gateway anime, of course. Here are some gateway anime to get anyone into it.
Top 15 Action Romance Anime

Top 15 Action Romance Anime

We all get in the mood for some fun, excitement and a good love story. And we all love to watch anime with our significant others...so that we can witness what our favorite characters are doing with their significant others. It's time to check out some top-notch action romance anime!
Top 20 Best Anime of 2016

Top 20 Best Anime of 2016

2016 was weird, but it was a great year for our favorite medium! We were spoiled with a variety of excellent series. Now let’s take a look at the top 20 best anime of 2016!

All Tags Trending Tags