30 Best Anime Movies of All Time

List of the greatest anime movies you must watch (Top 30)

Spirited Away

Anime is now one of the most popular genres of movie, and lots of new anime movies are released every year all over the world. Welcoming the 2020s, it is about time we concluded the best anime movie of all time though it should be being updated as time goes by.

It is common that an anime is broadcasted on TV these days, however, you can watch anime only on big screens at the theater at first. An anime movie in Japan originated with the early 1900s. Speaking of the famous Japanese anime films, the Studio Ghibli’s was found in 1985 and released Castle in the Sky (天空の城ラピュタ) in 1986.

In the United States, the first color full-length animation movie Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was released by the American film studio Walt Disney Productions (Walt Disney Animation Studios) in 1937. There are numerous fans of Walt Disney Studios and its subsidiary Pixar Animation Studios around the globe today.

Here, the best anime movie list focuses on Japanese anime movies excluding the anime series aired on TV (Check the best anime series here!). The movie adaptions from the TV series are intended, of course. Check the 30 best anime movies of all time covering the world-famous Studio Ghibli and Makoto Shinkai anime and the latest films popular especially among Japanese. Unlike the TV anime series with many episodes, an anime film is completed with a single story which takes only 2-3 hours at most to watch.

▽Check these anime film recommendations perfect for you, too!▽

Anime Movies for Beginners

Anime Movies 2023

Netflix Anime Movies

Studio Ghibli

Let’s enjoy  the countdown for the top anime movie of all time!

30. Bubble (2022)

Netflix, one of world’s biggest video streaming platforms, distributes more animated series and films exclusively on itself these days. Bubble (バブル) is a latest fantasy drama released in April, 2022 on Netflix, which showed at the theater in the following month. Produced by Wit Studio, it is directed by Tetsuro Araki, who is famous for other outstanding anime series Death Note and Attack on Titan. Bubble is set in a fictional Tokyo, which has had an abnormality of gravity since bubbles fell in the city. It tells the story of a talented parkour player Hibiki and a mysterious girl named Uta.

Genre: Fantasy, Drama, Romance
Director: Tetsuro Araki (荒木哲郎)

▶︎Check Bubble on Netflix right now!

29. Howl’s Moving Castle (2004)

Howl’s Moving Castle (ハウルの動く城), one of the top-grossing anime movies in Japan, was released in 2004. It is based on the British novel Howl’s Moving Castle written by Diana Wynne Jones, which is adapted into an anime film by Studio Ghibli. The heroine Sophie is transformed into a ninety-year-old woman by the witch’s curse. Her adventure proceeds with the main character Howl and the moving castle.

Genre: Fantasy
Director: Hayao Miyazaki (宮崎駿)

▶︎Check Howl’s Moving Castle on Amazon.com right now!

28. Cowboy Bebop: The Movie (2001)

Cowboy Bebop: The Movie (映画:カウボーイビバップ 天国の扉), released in 2001, is the movie adaption of the globally popular anime Cowboy Bebop, which was aired on TV in 1999. The setting of the movie is Mars on the days before Halloween in 2071, where the Bebop crews follow a terrorist incident that kills about 400 people.

Genre: Action, Science Fiction
Director: Shinichiro Watanabe (渡辺信一郎)

▶︎Check Cowboy Bebop: The Movie on Amazon.com right now!

27. The Anthem of the Heart (2015)

In 2015, The Anthem of the Heart (心が叫びたがってるんだ。) was produced by the staff who had worked on the popular anime series Anohana: The Flower We Saw That Day. With the shocking past (the experience of parental divorce), a young girl named Jun Naruse gets less able to speak but able to sing. For the school festival, she is designated as a heroine of the musical as her class’s performance.

Genre: Drama
Director: Tatsuyuki Nagai (長井龍雪)

▶︎Check The Anthem of the Heart on Amazon.com right now!

26. Penguin Highway (2018)

The Japanese young animation studio Studio Colorido made Penguin Highway (ペンギン・ハイウェイ) in 2018, based on the sci-fi novel written by Tomihiko Morimi. The story focuses on the extraordinary daily life of a fourth-grade boy named Aoyama and a mysterious woman he calls “Lady”. One day, penguins emerge suddenly at their town.

Genre: Fantasy, Slice of life
Director: Hiroyasu Ishida (石田祐康)

▶︎Check Penguin Highway on Amazon.com right now!

25. Her Blue Sky (2019)

Her Blue Sky (空の青さを知る人よ), a modern animated film released in 2019, is directed by Tatsuyuki Nagai who is the same director of The Anthem of the Heart and Anohana: The Flower We Saw That Day. The setting is the same place as the two his previous movies: Chichibu City in Saitama City. Before the main character Aoi and her older sister Akane without parents, Akane’s ex-boyfriend Shinno shows up from 13 years ago.

Genre: Drama, Fantasy
Director: Tatsuyuki Nagai (長井龍雪)

▶︎Check Her Blue Sky on Amazon.com right now!

24. Puella Magi Madoka Magica: The Movie (2012-2013)

Puella Magi Madoka Magica: The Movie (劇場版 魔法少女まどか☆マギカ) is the movie adaption of the popular anime series produced by the great animation studio Shaft. The anime movie is divided into three parts: Beginnings and Eternal in 2012 and Rebellion in 2013. The first and second part consists of the episodes summarizing the TV anime series, and a new story is depicted in the final one. A middle school girl Madoka Shikame meets a cat or dog shaped creature named Kyubey. It gives her an offer to become a magical girl to save the world.

Genre: Dark Fantasy
Director: Akiyuki Shinbo (新房 昭之)

▽Check Puella Magi Madoka Magica: The Movie on Amazon.com right now!▽




23. Stand by Me Doraemon (2014)

Doraemon is one of the most famous and popular anime worldwide, and the first 3D computer anime of the series was released as Stand by Me Doraemon (STAND BY ME ドラえもん) in 2014. Only 7 episodes are picked for the anime movie, and the beginning and the end of Doraemon are presented. Both adults and children can enjoy the story laughing and crying.

Genre: Science Fiction, Drama
Director: Takashi Yamazaki (山崎貴)/Ryuichi Yagi (八木竜一)

22. Memories (1995)

Memories is a renowned anthology released in 1995 containing three short stories based on the manga written by Katsuhiro Otomo, who is also famous for Akira: Magnetic Rose (彼女の想いで) directed by Koji Morimoto, Stink Bomb (最臭兵器) by Tensai Okamura and Cannon Fodder (大砲の街) by Katsuhiro Otomo himself. The impressive works have critical themes of space development, chemical weapon and war.

In Magnetic Rose, several crews in the spaceship called Corona are guided to a large wrecked spaceship by a distress beacon, where the investigators are hallucinated by relics from the past related to the opera singer Eva about a century ago. Stink Bomb follows a 23-year-old research worker at a Japanese pharmaceutical firm, set in Yamanashi Prefecture. He takes an experimental pills under research by mistake, which makes him emit toxic gas and people around him pass out. Cannon Fodder is set in a town fully armed with cannons, telling the story of a family that consists of a kid who dreams to become a gunner; his father, who works as a gunner; his mother who works at a weapon factory.

Genre: Science Fiction
Director: Koji Morimoto (森本晃司)/Tensai Okamura (岡村天斎)/Katsuhiro Otomo (大友克洋)

▶︎Check Memories on Amazon.com right now!

21. In this Corner of the World (2016)

In this Corner of the World (この世界の片隅に), one of the most grossing anime movies all over the world in 2016, is based on the manga serialized during 2007-2009. The theme of the anime movie is Hiroshima during WWII, and the main character Suzu survives the war experiencing the dropped atomic bomb. Another version of the anime was released in 2019 with new scenes for another 40 mins added to the original one, titled as In This Corner (and Other Corners) of the World (この世界の(さらにいくつもの)片隅に).

Genre: Drama
Director: Sunao Katabuchi (片渕須直)

▶︎Check In this Corner of the World on Amazon.com right now!

20. A Silent Voice (2016)

A Silent Voice (聲の形) was produced by Kyoto Animation as the anime movie adaption of the 7-volume manga published in 2013-2014. The moving anime has sensitive social themes such as teens bullying, suicide, disabilities, parental divorce and so on. This anime movie focuses on two main characters: a deaf girl Shoko Nishimiya and Shoya Ishida who bullied her in elementary school.

Genre: Drama
Director: Naoko Yamada (山田尚子)

▶︎Check A Silent Voice on Amazon.com right now!

19. Belle (2021)

As the 6th full-length original anime film directed by Mamoru Hosoda, Belle (竜とそばかすの姫) was released in 2021 following his previous work Mirai in 2018. Being distributed all over the world, the fantasy latest anime movie earns a global reputation. Mamoru Hosoda completed Belle, partly inspired by the classic romance Beauty And the Beast.

Belle is set in a countryside in Kochi Prefecture, centering on a high school girl Suzu, who lives with her father. The story unfolds when she joins an enormous virtual world called U as an avatar named Belle and performs a self-produced song there. It depicts the fusion between the online and real world with several main unique characters.

Genre: Fantasy, Drama
Director: Mamoru Hosoda (細田守)

18. Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection ‘F’ (2015)

Dragon Ball Z is one of the most popular Japanese anime which has been loved by both children and adults around the world for a long time. There are also lots of anime movie titles. Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection ‘F’ (ドラゴンボールZ 復活の「F」), released in 2015, is a top-rated title of the Dragon Ball films. Its story is written by Akira Toriyama, which starts with the resurrection of Frieza. You can see the powerful battle scenes between the evolved Frieza and Goku and Vegeta with the Super Saiyan God Super Saiyan forms.

Genre: Action, Adventure
Director: Tadayoshi Yamamuro (山室直儀)

▶︎Check Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection ‘F’ on Amazon.com right now!

17. The Castle of Cagliostro (1979)

The Castle of Cagliostro (ルパン三世 カリオストロの城), hit the big screen as the 2nd Lupin the Third anime movie in 1979, is also known as the first anime movie directed by Hayao Miyazaki. The master thief Arsène Lupin III and his fellow Daisuke Jigen steal vast amounts of money for a casino but recognize that the money is counterfeit bills. Then, they head to the country named Cagliostro which seems to be the source of the counterfeit bills and see the heroine Clarisse.

Genre: Adventure, Fantasy, Comedy
Director: Hayao Miyazaki (宮崎駿)

▶︎Check The Castle of Cagliostro on Amazon.com right now!

16. Paprika (2006)

Many advanced anime fans have applauded a psychological thriller film Paprika (パプリカ), which was screened in 2006. Based on the same-titled science fiction novel written by the renowned author Yasutaka Tsutsui in 1993, Paprika was directed by Satoshi Kon, who is also known for the 2003’s adventure animated film Tokyo Godfathers.

It presents warfare between a dream terrorist who can make others have a nightmare and a dream detective called Paprika. The terrifying story features a newly-invented psychotherapy machine known as DC Mini, the scientific key that allows people to open the door to their dreams.

Genre: Thriller, Science Fiction
Director: Satoshi Kon (今敏)

▶︎Check Paprika on Amazon.com right now!

15. Summer Wars (2009)

Summer Wars (サマーウォーズ) is one of the Mamoru Hosoda anime movies that have the highest reputation, released in 2009. A high schooler Kenji and his Senpai named Natsuki who is a year ahead of him visit her family home. There is the clear contrast in Summer Wars. Japanese traditional culture and customs with rural rich nature are depicted there. At the same time, the story proceeds with problems in the virtual reality world named OZ.

Genre: Fantasy, Science Fiction
Director: Mamoru Hosoda (細田守)

▶︎Check Summer Wars on Amazon.com right now!

14. Wolf Children (2012)

Wolf Children (おおかみこどもの雨と雪), known as one of the masterpieces of Mamoru Hosoda, was produced in 2012 by Studio Chizu which is the animation studio founded by the director. The main character Hana meets a man in the university in Tokyo, who can transform into a wolf. Then, they have two kids Yuki and Ame who can also change their forms into wolf and get back into human. As they grow up, their inner conflicts are increasing: they should live as a human or a wolf.

Genre: Fantasy, Drama
Director: Mamoru Hosoda (細田守)

▶︎Check Wolf Children on Amazon.com right now!

13. Suzume no Tojimari (2022)

Suzume no Tojimari (すずめの戸締まり) is the eighth theatrical anime film directed by Makoto Shinkai in 2022 after the previous title Weathering with You in 2019. It has been already highly-rated by fans and experts since the release in November.

The road movie, categorized as fantasy, has the theme of great earthquakes and tsunami Japan has gone through such as the Great East Japan Earthquake in 2011. The story begins when a high schooler Suzume Iwato opens a weird door remaining a devastated building. She starts on a journey around Japan to close that kind of doors to prevent disasters.

Genre: Fantasy, Adventure
Director: Makoto Shinkai (新海誠)

12. Ghost in the Shell (1995)

Ghost in the Shell is a classic anime franchise, based on the manga written by Masamune Shiro. The popular anime series started with the first anime film Ghost in the Shell (GHOST IN THE SHELL / 攻殻機動隊) in 1995.

It was directed by one of the most famous Japanese anime directors Mamoru Oshii. The setting of this anime film is around 2030 when the science technology is highly developed. Public Security Section 9 including the main member Major Motoko Kusanagi works to prevent crimes.

Genre: Science Fiction, Cyberpunk
Director: Mamoru Oshii (押井守)

▶︎Check Ghost in the Shell on Amazon.com right now!

11. Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba the Movie: Mugen Train (2020)

Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba the Movie: Mugen Train (鬼滅の刃 無限列車編) is the first anime movie adaption of the Demon Slayer series, released in October, 2020. The original manga of Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba was just completed on Weekly Shonen Jump in May, 2020. The latest anime movie title is the sequel of the 26-episode first season.

It centers on the main characters Tanjiro, his sister Nezuko, Zenitsu, Inosuke and Kyojuro Rengoku, who is the Flame Hashira of the Demon Slayer Corps. They fight against the strong demons including the Twelve Kizuki to save passengers in the train.

Genre: Drama, Action, Adventure, Dark Fantasy
Director: Haruo Sotozaki (外崎春雄)

▶︎Check Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba the Movie: Mugen Train on Amazon.com right now!

10. Rebuild of Evangelion (2007-2021)

One of the most famous anime series worldwide is Neon Genesis Evangelion, and its remake anime has been made into a movie since 2007, which is named Rebuild of Evangelion (ヱヴァンゲリヲン新劇場版). The new anime movie series consist of 4 parts: Evangelion: 1.0 You Are (Not) Alone (ヱヴァンゲリヲン新劇場版:序) in 2007, Evangelion: 2.0 You Can (Not) Advance (ヱヴァンゲリヲン新劇場版:破) in 2009, Evangelion: 3.0 You Can (Not) Redo (ヱヴァンゲリヲン新劇場版:Q) in 2012 and Evangelion: 3.0+1.0 (シン・エヴァンゲリオン劇場版:||) in 2021. Human dramas and battle scenes between the bio-machine mecha Evangelion are highlights of this anime.

Genre: Mecha, Action, Fantasy, Drama
Director: Hideaki Anno (庵野秀明)

▽Check Rebuild of Evangelion on Amazon.com right now!▽

1.0 You Are (Not) Alone

2.0 You Can (Not) Advance

3.0 You Can (Not) Redo

3.0+1.01 Thrice Upon A Time

9. Nausicaä: Valley of the Wind (1984)

When you talk about Hayao Miyazaki, you should not miss Nausicaä: Valley of the Wind (風の谷のナウシカ), which is his 2nd full-length anime movie. Nausicaä: Valley of the Wind was originally published as manga from 1982, and it was made into an anime movie in 1984 with the stories of 2 volumes of the manga. The anime is known as the early film by Studio Ghibli. Precisely, it was produced by its predecessor animation studio Topcraft.

After the disastrous war, industrial civilization is destroyed, which lead to the formation of the enormous Toxic Jungle where large mutant insects live. The protagonist Nausicaä, the princess of the Valley of the Wind, seeks a way for both people and nature to co-exist harmoniously.

Genre: Fantasy, Drama
Director: Hayao Miyazaki (宮崎駿)

▶︎Check Nausicaä: Valley of the Wind on Amazon.com right now!

8. Weathering with You (2019)

Weathering with You (天気の子) is the latest anime movie directed by Makoto Shinkai and one of the most viewed films in 2019. It is distributed to theaters in about 140 countries and regions by 2020. Two young characters are featured in the anime movie.

A high school boy Hodaka gets away from home in a remote island to Tokyo. A young girl Hina survives without parents in the busy city. They meet each other and come to help many people who hope good weather for their important days such as wedding and festivals, using her supernatural ability to change the weather. Weathering with You includes a lot of themes you need to consider such as unusual meteorological phenomena, child rearing, poverty and so on.

Genre: Fantasy, Slice of life
Director: Makoto Shinkai (新海誠)

▶︎Check Weathering with You on Amazon.com right now!

7. 5 Centimeters per Second (2007)

For fans of the new leader of the anime industry Mokoto Shinkai, 5 Centimeters per Second (秒速5センチメートル) is a must-watch anime film. It is looked on as the best anime in his early career, released in 2007. The anime work is divided into three short parts: Cherry Blossom, Cosmonaut and 5 Centimeters per Second.

The main character Takaki’s first love with the heroine Akari in elementary school is depicted at first, and his life after that is focused on. In the final part, the two grow up and the story mark the climax of the moving anime. There is neither supernatural power nor action battle scenes, but just the beautiful reality.

Genre: Romance, Drama
Director: Makoto Shinkai (新海誠)

▶︎Check 5 Centimeters per Second on Amazon.com right now!

6. My Neighbor Totoro (1988)

My Neighbor Totoro (となりのトトロ) is one of the most popular Studio Ghibli movies among families around the globe. The fantasy anime, directed by Hayao Miyazaki was released at the theater in 1988 as a part of the double feature with Grave of the Fireflies (火垂るの墓), directed by another Studio Ghibli’s leader Isao Takahata.

The setting of My Neighbor Totoro is Tokorozawa in Saitama Prefecture in 1950s. A family moves to a rural village, consisting of an elementary schooler Satsuki, her young sister Mei and their father Tatsuo. Her mother stays in the hospital located near the village. One day, the kids meet mystic creatures names Totoro. If you have not watched any Studio Ghibli films, it’s recommended to start with this.

Genre: Fantasy
Director: Hayao Miyazaki (宮崎駿)

▶︎Check My Neighbor Totoro on Amazon.com right now!

5. Princess Mononoke (1997)

Princess Mononoke (もののけ姫), released in 1997, was the number one movie at the domestic box office at that time. It is also regarded worldwide as one of top Japanese films. It is said that its director Hayao Miyazaki spent about two decades building the plot and making it into this anime movie.

The fantasy film focuses on the Muromachi Period (1336-1573) with the two main characters a tribe’s prince Ashitaka and a young woman San raised by wolves in the forest. The conflict between humans and nature is featured there, and Ashitaka seeks a way for both to coexist.

Genre: Fantasy
Director: Hayao Miyazaki (宮崎駿)

▶︎Check Princess Mononoke on Amazon.com right now!

4. Akira (1988)

The worldly renowned Akira (アキラ) was originally made as a manga written by Katsuhiro Otomo and its anime movie adaption was released in 1988. The manga series had not completed yet at that time, so the anime movie was based on the 3 volumes that had been published by 1988 with the climax story exactly different from that of the manga.

The setting is Neo Tokyo in 2019, where Tokyo is destroyed due to the outbreak of WWIII. There are two main characters in Akira: a leader of the Bosozoku group (Japanese biker gang) named Shotaro Kaneda and his childhood friend Tetsuo Shima. The story unfolds first when Tetsuo gains a supernatural power after a motorcycle accident.

This anime film became a hot topic again in 2019 since it had predicted Tokyo’s hosting the 2020 Olympics.

Genre: Cyberpunk, Science Fiction
Director: Katsuhiro Otomo (大友克洋)

▶︎Check Akira on Amazon.com right now!

3. Your Name (2016)

Your Name (君の名は。), the greatest anime directed by Makoto Shinkai in 2016, has won recognition domestically and internationally. The popular anime movie was aired on the big screen in over 120 countries and regions between 2016 and 2018, and it made the most at the foreign box office in Japanese anime movies.

The story proceeds with two main characters: Taki Tachibana living in the metropolitan Tokyo and Mitsuha Miyamizu living in the countryside. One day, they notice that their bodies are switched with each other, and that is intermittently repeated. Taki and Mitsuha are getting more and more about each other while being puzzled under the strange condition.

Your Name is mainly based on the two real life places Tokyo and Takayama in Central Japan. Makoto Shinkai beautifully represents the real world, which encourages the fans to travel the spots pictured in the movie.

Genre: Fantasy
Director: Makoto Shinkai (新海誠)

▶︎Check Your Name on Amazon.com right now!

2. The Girl Who Leapt Through Time (2006)

In 2006, one of the Japanese animation leaders Mamoru Hosoda released his masterpiece titled The Girl Who Leapt Through Time (時をかける少女). The fantasy anime film was based on the novel written by the best-selling sci-fi Japanese author Yasutaka Tsutsui in 1967, but it tells the different story from the novel’s one.

The setting of the anime is 20 years after the world in the novel. There are three main characters who are high schoolers in The Girl Who Leapt Through Time: Makoto, Kosuke and Chiaki. They live in the ordinary high school life, where there are general adolescent interests such as love, study and career choice in this anime. However, Makoto notices she becomes able to transport herself to the past.

Time travel is a popular plot of anime these days, but it was new and unique when the anime was released, which is partly because it is top rated by anime fans.

Genre: Fantasy, Romance
Director: Mamoru Hosoda (細田守)

▶︎Check The Girl Who Leapt Through Time on Amazon.com right now!

1. Spirited Away (2001)

What is best of the best anime movie of all time? Spirited Away (千と千尋の神隠し), the masterpiece of Hayao Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli released in 2001, deserves it. It has gained the highest recognition all over the world including Best Animated Feature in the 75th Academy Awards and has been the highest grossing movie ever made in Japan while about two decades passed since it was released.

A 10-year-old girl Chihiro wanders into a weird and strange world with her parents, and her parents are transformed into pigs due to the witchy curse. She decides to work hard in the bathhouse under the rule of the witch named Yubaba to help them, losing her real name and changed to Sen.

There are various unique characters such as a key person Haku, twin witches Yubaba and Zeniba and a mystic creature Kaonashi (No-Face) in addition to Chihiro (Sen). What is attractive in Spirited Away is that you can watch it from a variety of perspectives depending on how you view it.

Genre: Fantasy, Drama
Director: Hayao Miyazaki (宮崎駿)

▶︎Check Spirited Away on Amazon.com right now!

Japanese anime has been developed in a unique way with its long history and its sense of presence has been increased in the entertainment industry all over the world. A new wonderful anime movie will be made and released in the future and this list will be updated. Not only anime fans but beginners should try those best anime movies above!

▽If you would like to know the recent best anime movies, check the lists below!▽

▶︎Best Anime Movies 2023

▶︎Best Anime Movies 2022

▶︎Best Anime Movies 2021

▶︎Best Anime Movies 2020

▶︎Best Anime Movies 2019

▽For anime fans, here is the greatest anime series lineup!▽

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