Top 10 Anime Movies

This top 10 anime movies list was put together by Patrick Keating. He’s a superb writer and knows more about anime than any other individual in the Western world. enjoy


1. Spirited Away

Frankly, I could just type ‘any 10 Studio Ghibli’ movies and be done with the list. While that could have come across as laziness on my part, it would have actually have been honest. Well, maybe just a little lazy. The work of Hayao Miyazaki (sometimes called the Japanese Walt Disney) and his studio is nigh unparalleled in terms of stunning visuals and masterful story telling. For the sake of variety, I’ve limited the number of Ghibli entrants but the top of the list would have been incomplete without this Oscar winning masterpiece. The story concerns a young girl called Chihiro (Sen) who must work in the bathhouse of the gods in order to save her parents after they are turned into pigs by the evil witch Yubaba. Exhilarating, hilarious and heart-warming this is a perfect tale for all ages.


2. Akira


One of the most famous anime movies of all time, and one of the first to popularise the genre in mainstream Western pop-culture.  For the aesthetes among us, the entire movie is a feast for the eyes. The soaring, neon soaked cityscapes of NeoTokyo were all painstakingly hand painted, frame by frame. The obsessive attention to detail of the director, Katsuhiro Otomo, was such that entire backgrounds were painted for mere seconds of film. For the rest of us this action-packed, cyberpunk adventure has everything you could want: teenage biker gangs, shady military agencies, corrupt politicians, freaky looking children, psychic powers, space lasers and a giant scrotum monster. That’s right. Scrotum monster.


3. Cowboy bebop

I’m including a few series in this list and first up is 1998’s Cowboy Bebop. One of the most accessible shows for newcomers wishing to dip their toes in the occasionally murky waters of anime, this Sci-fi/Western mash-up follows the exploits of a crew of bounty hunters as they traverse the solar system in the eponymous ship, the Bebop. The series has an impressive range, featuring everything from extravagant action (Pierrot Le Fou) and madcap comedy (Mushroom Samba) to sensitive drama (Ganymede Elegy) and moments of true pathos (The Real Folk Blues). Regardless of your inclinations there’s bound to be at least one episode you’ll love. If nothing else it would be worth checking out for the fantastic blues soundtrack alone. The 2001 film also comes highly recommended.



4. Samurai Champloo

Another series from the creators of Bebop, this samurai epic set in Feudal Japan has a hip-hop pace and aesthetic that is decidedly modern. The show follows Mugen, a capricious and incorrigible rogue, and Jin, a taciturn samurai with a hidden past, as they accompany a young girl Fuu in search of the mysterious Sunflower Samurai. This action packed show features wonderfully choreographed sword fights that Kurosawa would be proud of, with Jin’s highly refined and precise Kendo contrasting nicely with Mugen’s erratic mix of sword fighting and breakdance. A fantastic adventure for those wishing to satisfy their appetite for Samurai action.



5. My Neighbour Totoro


The second Studio Ghibli film to appear on the list, this whimsical fairy tale tells the story of two young sisters who move to the country side, so as to be near their convalescing mother. While exploring the nearby woods they meet a benevolent forest spirit called Totoro whereupon… not much happens really. They wait for the bus. It rains. But within the simplicity of the story lies the true beauty of Totoro, as there is always pleasure to be had in a story well told, no matter how uncomplicated it may be. Some people will tell you that it’s all actually an allegory for Hell and the afterlife, but I don’t feel such people should be encouraged. Charming, endearing and so beautiful you’ll curse having to live in base and banal reality.


6. Ghost in the shell

I debated adding this movie to the list as frankly I can’t stand it. However, I ultimately included it as no foray in the world of anime would be complete without viewing this oh-so popular piece. Undoubtedly influential, most notably on The Matrix trilogy, for some this is a fascinating exploration on what it means to be human in a society fast approaching the technological singularity. For others the interminable philosophising never rises above the level of sophomoric navel gazing. Regardless, there are some decent action set pieces and a fair amount of gratuitous T&A. Animated, of course, but I take what I can get.


7. Nausicaa of the valley of the wind

Another entry for Miyazaki, this film is of historical interest as without its box office success Studio Ghibli may never have been founded. Anyway, I’ve already gushed over two Miyazki films already and to continue doing so would be redundant and unseemly. It’s more brilliance from a studio that you wouldn’t expect anything less from. Watch it.


8. Full metal Alchemist Brotherhood

I wouldn’t have felt the list complete with an entry from the Shōnen category.  Shōnen anime typically feature young male protagonists saving the world, ridiculous super powers, juvenile humour and bombastic and over the top action. They’re also fantastic fun. While popular titles such as Dragon Ball Z (one of the best known in the West), Bleach and Naruto are all fine series the fact that their episode lists run into the hundreds of episodes each could be a little intimidating for newcomers. Full Metal Alchemist Brotherhood comes in at a more reasonable length of 64 episodes and is more sensible and mature than typical examples of the genre (relatively speaking). For the kid in all of us, thrills and pleasures don’t get cheaper and guiltier than this. N.B. There is a previous series, simply called  Full Metal Alchemist. Brotherhood closely follows the source material (the original comic books) whereas the former series deviates around the midway point. I consider Brotherhood  to be superior, as its plot is more consistent throughout the show, but both are worth checking out.


9. Grave of the Fireflies

One final shout out to studio Ghibli. However Grave Of The Fireflies was directed by Isao Takahata and not Miyazaki so I can claim a bit variety there.  Departing from the fantastical settings of the other Ghibli films in this list, this harrowing tale concerns two orphans as they strive for survival in war time Japan. Beautiful, poignant and ultimately heart breaking, if this film doesn’t reduce you to a quivering mess of tears then you have no heart. (Just to pre-empt anyone crying spoilers by me calling movie heart breaking, the opening scene is of one of the protagonist dying from starvation in a subway station. You quickly learn that this is not going to be a happy movie).


10. Puella Magi Madoka Magica

On the surface, this series from 2011 appears to be a happy little adventure. A magical creature called the Kyubey grants the wishes of young girls. In exchange, these girls are given fantastic magical powers (and fabulous new outfits) and compelled to protect humanity from the scourge of evil witches. At first you may think I’ve been taking the piss and have tricked you into watching the new Sailor Moon, but I urge you to give it at least three episodes. You’ll find the cheery exterior has been tricking you all along when it suddenly, and violently, becomes something far more interesting and far darker than it originally appeared. Trust me, it’s worth your time (and those outfits truly are fabulous).

30 thoughts on “Top 10 Anime Movies

  1. Why no Hunter x Hunter 2011 and 1999 and Full-metal Alchemist Brotherhood is a show.
    and if we are talking about movies there should be sword of the stranger and princess mononoke!

  2. Good List! But top 10 movies only would not do the genre the credit it really deserves and leave room for lots of debate. In addition if we talking of anime movies, Samurai Shamploo and FmAB should not be included surely!??

    1. So are you saying Cowboy Bebop is not among the top 10? Your anime taste sucks sir.
      But if that was a ‘Bravo to the space cowboys’ then i’m mistaken, apologies.

      1. I think he was saying it isn’t a movie so wouldn’t belong on a top 10 movie list. Top 10 anime of course, not movies.

  3. wtf watch garden of words now the animation is far greater than the listed above it is more amazing than the 5 centimeter per second

  4. i agree this /is/ a top 10 list of anime *movies* not series, so series should still be left out no matter how much you wanna leave them in. make another list for animes then.
    i always get a little upset when people rank the ghibli movies differently than i do (im terrible) but i really do prefer princess mononoke and howls moving castle over my neighbour totoro.

    totoro is enchanting and has amazing visuals but the story in all its simplicity is a young girl looking for her very loud very annoying little sister. at least thats what i got out of it, mind you its the ghibli movie ive seen the fewest times, which says it all really. i cant say its a bad movie but its simply not as good as mononoke, howl, or (yes) spirited away.

  5. Hey. So….some of these titles are for series. Perhaps you should have titled this list my personal favorite anime titles. The title of this list is misleading. This is not going to help anyone decide which anime MOVIE to watch because half of the list is television shows.

  6. fyi look up ghost in the shell/cowboy bebop the movie on google .. & fma brotherhood has the sacred star of milos

    1. FMA Brotherhood does NOT have any movies – Sacred Star of Milos belongs to its predecessor aka. Full Metal Alchemist (not brotherhood) that the author mentioned deviated from the original manga story

  7. Studio Ghibli did do wonders. In my opinion

    this list can have at least princess mononoke and wolf children.

    and up from the poppy hill is also a very good movie to watch.

    1. I agree, Wolf children was great and in my opinion it would be odd to mention Studio Ghibli anime without including Princess Mononoke

  8. This list is a sham. No matter how good a reason you can fabricate to include series into a list titled “Top 10 anime movies” they are still not movies.
    For shame. For shame.

  9. Any list of top anime movies is incomplete without Ninja Scroll, and it should be near the top spot. Cowboy Bebop The Movie and Ghost in the Shell were amazing movies too. Since this is a list of MOVIES, I don’t agree with Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood and Samurai Champloo being on this list. Personally, I would’ve added Sword of the Stranger, Perfect Blue, Blood: The Last Vampire or The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, but each to his own I guess.

  10. Just want to say a thank you, big fan of Full Metal Alchemist, watched Brotherhood the series, but without you putting it on this list, I wouldn’t have realised FMA had ‘The Sacred Star of Milos movie.’

    Mononoke was my first introduction when I was a kid and Ghibli (Miyazaki Dir.) is in a class of its own in terms of both visual and story telling, albeit, perhaps sometimes predictable in it’s protagonists and internal conflicts that drive the story lines.

    Just pulled all the recommendations from the other commentors, so thank you for all the additions.

    Perhaps you (mr. author) could have asked at the end of your post for any further recommendations from other fans to try and add to your movie list… especially as you’re getting bollocked for including a couple of series titles in here… that if researched, each have their own movies.

    Cheers for the list again and to the other commentors for their recommendations.

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