November 25, 2019
20 Best Anime Movies of All Time
It seems that anime is more popular than ever. Major conventions, cosplay, and general enthusiasm towards the medium are all indicators that the entire world is more than embracing anime culture.

That said, it’s good to remember how anime came into popularity in the first place. Anime films had a big part to play in that. Mecha films, Studio Ghibli films, and many others helped anime gain respect as a serious medium.

That’s why we’re paying homage to the classic form of anime: the film. Here are the best anime movies of all time

This list is random, the movies are not sorted from worst to best or whatnot. However, you can also vote for your favorite movie and we can all decide who wins the title of the best anime movie of all time.

1. Grave of the Fireflies

  • Year: 1988
  • Genre: Drama/War
  • Director: Isao Takahata

Starting off the list is a film that stands in sharp contrast to much of the mainstream anime today.
Grave of the Fireflies touches on the seriousness of war. It tells the tale of two siblings who have to rely on each other to survive. A truly moving film that has marked generations and can also be considered one of the saddest movies of all time.

2. The End of Evangelion

  • Year: 1997
  • Genre: Drama/Fantasy
  • Directors: Hideaki Anno, Kazuya Tsurumaki

Following the events of the Evangelion series, The End of Evangelion provides a more complete ending than the original anime. It has become a cult classic due to the profound finale it delivers. And it sure delivers.

3. A Silent Voice

  • Year: 2016
  • Genre: Drama/Romance
  • Director: Naoko Yamad

Another hard-hitting film, this time it takes place on the more familiar high school environment. It tells a deep story of guilt, isolation, and redemption.

4. Mind Game

  • Year: 2004
  • Genre: Fantasy/Adventure
  • Director: Asaaki Yuasa

If you’ve enjoyed the final scenes of 2001: A Space Odyssey, you’ll probably enjoy Mind Game. Just like with 2001, it’s hard to describe what makes it so special without having you watch it yourself. It’s just too artistical to be resumed in a couple of sentences. You need to live it. It’s an experience.

5. Metropolis

  • Year: 2001
  • Genre: Drama/Fantasy/Mecha
  • Director: Rintaro

Metropolis is a staple of the mecha genre. It takes viewers to a world in which humans and robots coexist, but not on equal footing. A futuristic movie for the lovers of high-tech.

6. Spirited Away

  • Year: 2001
  • Genre: Fantasy/Mystery
  • Director: Hayao Miyazaki

Of course, works by Studio Ghibli had to make it here. What would a good list be without them? One of the all-time best, the story of the young girl who wants to save her parents but ends up saving herself is as magical as always.

7. The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya

  • Year: 2010
  • Genre: Drama/Mystery
  • Directors: Yasuhiro Takemoto, Tatsuya Ishihara

Based on the light novel and series of the same name, the movie continues where the show left off and recounts the odd events surrounding Haruhi Suzumiya and the SOS Brigade. A bit of advice: the trailer is a bit too detailed so it’s better to go ahead and watch the movie before committing to seeing the trailer.

8. Wolf Children

  • Year: 2012
  • Genre: Fantasy/Drama
  • Director: Mamoru Hosoda

As the name entails, this story is about children who are part wolves! It tells the story of a mother attempting to raise her two wolf children after their father passed away. A moving story for people who feel they don’t fit the mold, the perfect analogy for how to live life as an outcast.

9. My Neighbor Totoro

  • Year: 1988
  • Genre: Fantasy/Adventure
  • Director: Hayao Miyazaki

As expected from another one of Miyazaki’s films, My Neighbor Totoro is as magical as it is heartwarming. Nature, friendly wood spirits, and beautiful animation make this one of the most acclaimed anime films of all time.

10. Perfect Blue

  • Year: 1997
  • Genre: Drama/Fantasy
  • Director: Satoshi Kon

Moving on from the light and hopeful mood of Studio Ghibli, Perfect Blue makes an entrance. This movie masterfully blurs the lines between fantasy and reality by looking at the life of an ex-pop idol. Perfect Blue is a psychological thriller that tackles the concept of privacy and the hidden dangers of celebrity.

11. Ghost in the Shell

  • Year: 1995
  • Genre: Drama/Fantasy
  • Director: Mamoru Oshii

Yet another cult classic, it is also revered as one of the best cyberpunk stories to date. As any good cyberpunk story, it is set on an action-packed, high-tech future. A worthy addition to the best anime movies of all-time list. The 1995 anime movie actually sparked a Hollywood remake starring Scarlett Johansen but fans usually don’t talk about the movie. It’s like with Avatar fans that deny the existence of a movie.

12. Cowboy Bebop: The Movie

  • Year: 2001
  • Genre: Thriller/Crime
  • Director: Shinichirō Watanabe

Cowboy Bebop is another one of the most beloved anime works ever to exist. The story of the bounty hunters and their adventures are encapsulated in this movie. Perhaps not as good as the original series, it still delivers the Bebop experience.

13. Lupin III: The Castle of Cagliostro

  • Year: 1979
  • Genre: Fantasy/Comedy/Crime
  • Director: Hayao Miyazaki

Miyazaki must be a hell of a director to have multiple entries on our list of best anime movies of all time. While films such as My Neighbor Totoro and Spirited Away are magical, the Lupin III films bring the much-needed comedy this list was lacking.

14. Fullmetal Alchemist the Movie: The Conqueror of Shamballa

  • Year: 2005
  • Genre: Fantasy/Drama/Crime
  • Director: Seiji Mizushima

A sequel to the first FullMetal Alchemist series, it transports Edward Elric to an alternate reality in which World War II is occurring. After this, Ed must work hard to reunite with his brother and return to his world.

15. Your Name

  • Year: 2016
  • Genre: Fantasy/Drama
  • Director: Makoto Shinkai

There is a reason why this movie quickly became the highest-grossing anime film ever. It’s one of the most emotional and moving stories of its kind. What starts off as a funny story of teenagers who accidentally swap bodies ends up being one of the most touching and best anime movies of all time. It’s a lesson on how, sometimes, we must dare take chances. You never know where and when true love awaits.

16. Paprika

  • Year: 2006
  • Genre: Fantasy/Crime
  • Director: Satoshi Kon

Similar to Perfect Blue, Paprika also plays with the line between reality and fantasy. This time as a person living a double life, our protagonist takes us through an interesting story that leaves more than one perplexed.
Remember the really cool movie starring Leo himself where he tries to incept people’s dreams? Well, Paprika is something like that. Only, dare we say, better. And it came out first.

17. Berserk: The Golden Age Arc

  • Year: 2012
  • Genre: Adventure/Dark Fantasy
  • Director: Toshiyuki Kubooka, Michael Sinterniklaas

Berserk: The Golden Arc is a three-film adaptation of the Golden Arc from Berserk. The dark and fantastic events of these films make justice to the original series (although the animation could use a little work).

P.S.: Please ignore the narrator in the trailer. It just ruins the whole experience and the movie’s essence.

18. Neo-Tokyo

  • Year: 1987
  • Genre: Fantasy/Action
  • Directors: Katsuhiro Otomo, Yoshiaki Kawajiri, Rintaro

This sci-fi anime is similar to others of its type in that it warns about man’s dependence on technology. Split into three different segments, they all explore curious and enthralling stories. We can’t actually tell you more without spoiling it, but we can tell you that it’s a masterpiece.

19. Akira

  • Year: 1988
  • Genre: Drama/Thriller
  • Director: Katsuhiro Otomo

Widely believed to be the movie that brought Japanese animation to the Western mainstream, Akira had to make it to this list. Seen through the eyes of a member of a bike gang who manages to acquire amazing powers, Akira is a ground-breaking and enthralling film.

20. Princess Mononoke

  • Year: 1997
  • Genre: Drama/Fantasy
  • Director: Hayao Miyazaki

Ending this list with another Ghibli film is just right. The themes of protecting and respecting nature are something which most Ghibli films have in common, but this one especially hones in on that.


Of course, there are many more great films that could have made it into this list. Being an amazing medium with amazing creators, there are many other anime films that will continue to bring us excitement and pique our interest.

Did we miss any notable anime movie that definitely should have been on this list? Let us know in the comment section below.

PS: Don’t forget to vote your favorite anime movie of all time!

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