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Ten anime films you should see before you die

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One of the most surprising, and gratifying, things that has happened since I started this site a year or so ago is the positive feedback I’ve had for the anime reviews – especially from people I know are far from being massive fanboys like myself. It’s gratifying because its part of the reason I started writing them; to try and introduce the medium to people who had never really indulged in it all, at least not past perhaps watching Spirited Away with their kids. The problem is, once you’ve had your first taste, where do you go next? Type ‘anime’ into Google and the results are bewildering, and without a little bit of guidance and a quality filter finding something to watch can be a daunting task. There’s a lot of shit out there, plus a lot of stuff that isn’t really meant for you…unless you’re a ADHD stricken 12 year old emo-ninja-obsessed boy that refuses to eat anything except Pocky and instant Ramen. So, as requested, I present my list of 10 ‘mature’ anime films you really should see. They are in no particular order, the term ‘mature’ is kind of loose, seeing as at least two are really kids’ films, and this is purely personal opinion. If you disagree, see you in the comments section.

(After you’ve read this, check out my list of ten anime series to see before you die.)

Akira (1988)

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For many of us in the west, this is the one that started it all. Up until we first saw Katsuhiro Otomo‘s Akira, our only exposure to Japanese animation had been kiddies’ Saturday morning shows like Speed Racer and Battle of the Planets, but I can still remember vividly sitting in a run-down arthouse cinema at the age of 17 with my jaw resting on the sticky floor as the opening scenes flashed in front of me. Two hours later I was a complete convert. Otomo heavily edited and re-wrote his own epic manga about rival motorbike gangs and genetically enhanced children to create this futuristic thriller, and it blew away critics and audiences in the west while breaking box office records back home in Japan. It also opened the floodgates for anime into the US and Europe, but unfortunately with a lot of what was opportunistically exported (distributors looking for visually similar/violent material instead of quality) simply not being up to the same standard many potential new fans were turned off as quickly as they’d been turned on. Essential viewing.

Ghost in the Shell (1995)

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One of the most influential anime films of all time, Mamoru Oshii’s Ghost in the Shell changed not only the look and feel of animated sci-fi but also had an impact on Hollywood; most notably in the distinct visual style of the Matrix movies. While some hardcore fans of Masamune Shirow’s orginal action-packed and often light hearted manga still complain about the adaption; Oshii’s decision to turn it into a dark, brooding, beautifully paced drama ensured it’s place as a science fiction classic. It is without doubt the definitive visual depiction of the cyberpunk movement, and the closest there is to date of a filmic version of William Gibson’s classic Sprawl Trilogy novels. Not just a huge worldwide hit, it also spawned a huge franchise including a sequel, a planned Hollywood remake, two 26 part TV series, various novels, toys and video games, as well as the recent controversial Ghost in the Shell 2.0 special edition.

My Neighbour Totoro (1988)

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I’ve talked at length elsewhere about how personally important My Neighbour Totoro is to me, so here I’ll try not to gush too much. There’s so many reasons as to why Hayao Miyazaki‘s masterpiece is such an enduring and perfect film; the way he captures the energy and personalities of it’s two child protagonists, and his never ending attention to detail combined with a beautifully simple score and Kazuo Oga’s immaculate and breath-taking background paintings make it a joy to watch over and over again. A fact I’ve been re-assured of by friends with young children that insist on watching it on a near daily basis. And that’s probably Totoro’s strongest point – the fact that it is family film that appeals to both children and adults alike without pandering to either with slapstick or ‘knowing’ humor. If you haven’t seen it yet then you must – it is quite possibly the greatest animated film ever made.

Porco Rosso (1992)

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I’ve already got one Miyazaki movie in this list, and it’s hard to limit it to just two. Picking a second one is even harder. My opinion changes on a near daily basis, or depending on the last one I happened to watch. But I’ll always have a soft spot for Porco Rosso; the tale of a WWI fighter ace turned bounty-hunter, cursed with the head of a pig and on the run for going AWOL from the Italian air force. In many ways it must have been one of Miyazaki’s most enjoyable projects to create, another fantastic family film that somehow manages to combine his obsession with aeronautic design and his personal politics. The elaborate, lived in aircraft designs remain one of my favourite cinematic images of all time, while we learn that the reason Rosso is fleeing the Italian authorities is his disdain for the fascism that’s steadily taking grip of Europe. Oh, and he also manages to take a gentle swipe at US bravado along the way. A perfect film.

Voices of a Distant Star (2002)

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Perhaps Voices of a Distant Star doesn’t really belong here. For a start its only 25 minutes long, and was first released on DVD, technically making it an OVA – which I said at the top of this post wouldn’t be included here. Well, rules are made to be broken, plus it earns its place on this list for truly being a film you must see before you die. Astonishing enough that it was single-handedly written, directed and animated by the now legendary Makoto Shinkai on his Mac at home, it is also one of the most touching, beautiful and exhilarating examples of animation produced in recent history. The story of a long distant, text message relationship between a teenage mecha-pilot and her boyfriend back on earth, it combines gentle, slow-paced scenes with snatches of frantic sci-fi action, and has become the thematic and stylistic basis for Shinkai’s subsequent large-budget productions. It’s probably available for stupidly cheap on DVD now, so you really have no excuse for not picking this mini-masterpiece up.

Royal Space Force: The Wings of Honneamise (1987)

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The feature film debut of the then still young – but now legendary – studio Gainax, Royal Space Force: The Wings of Honneamise is an unusual, compelling and skillfully crafted film. Both a coming of age story and detailed analysis of the role of the space race in the Cold War, RSF tells the story of an alternate reality Earth, where two rival superpowers are locked in a constant propaganda and military stalemate, while a small team of underfunded scientists, engineers and pilots attempt to launch the first man into space. While the film is beautifully animated with some fantastically detailed background art, it is also has substantial depth in terms of it’s philosophical themes and characterisation . As such it’s not one for the whole family, but an unmissable and enthralling watch for anyone with an interest in what animation can truly achieve.

Patlabor: The Movie 2 (1993)

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The history of the Patlabor franchise is a long and complex one, but put simply under the guidance of Mamoru Oshii it developed (in a way similar to how he remolded Ghost in The Shell) from a light hearted but realistic police-mecha drama to a bleak, deeply political and philosophical thriller by the time he directed Patlabor: The Movie 2. While the first movie is just as enthralling, thoughtful and arguably more accessible, the sequel just steals the crown due to its uncompromising approach to its political themes and it’s breathless, stark cinematic beauty. It deals with Oshii’s recurring theme of the hypocrisy of peace in the developed world, and in particular is a devastating attack on the foreign policy of a pacifist Japan that profits from the fates of distant waring nations. Although over 15 years old now, it’s portrayal of terrorism consists of some disturbingly prophetic imagery. Possibly the closest anime has come to producing something to rival the large canvas, cinematic styles of the likes of Stanley Kubrick or Ridley Scott, it is an unmissable, if challenging, work.

Perfect Blue (1997)

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The directorial debut of anime auteur Satoshi Kon, Perfect Blue’s story about a J-Pop idol turned actress being stalked by a obsessive fan was originally meant to be a live action drama, only scrapped due to the 1995 Kobe earthquake. At first it’s contemporary setting and often mundane situations are certainly reminiscent of a well-shot J-Horror movie, but in Kon’s skilled hands the script slowly changes into something that could only be depicted by animation. As a starting point for his re-occurring themes of disconnected realities and psychological fantasy it is subtler than his later works such as Paranoia Agent and Paprika, and as a result somehow creepier. Certainly it’s most famous scene – where we apparently see the central character being raped, only discovering she is just acting when the off camera director shouts ‘cut’ – is one thatpermanently sticks in the mind, as does the film’s shocking, final revelation.

Memories (1995)

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Produced by Katsuhiro Otomo, and based on some of his short manga stories, Memories is a anthology of three films. Although all science fiction they cover a wide range of styles, from the romantic, twisted reality of the Satoshi Kon scripted Magnetic Rose and the ludicrous bio-warfare black comedy Stink Bomb to the Orwellian, Brazil like dystopia of Cannon Fodder – the only one of the three directed by Otomo himself. It is arguably the most compelling of the three, with it’s Oshii-esque story of a war obsessed and controlled society and it’s unique, steampunkesque visuals. Despite the diverging themes and differing visual styles of the three chapters, there is an undeniably high standard of production throughout. It’s another film that can be easily and cheaply picked up on DVD at the moment, I can’t hesitate in recommending that you buy it on sight.

The Girl Who Leapt Through Time (2006)

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Loosely based on a popular Japanese novel, Mamoru Hosoda’s The Girl Who Leapt Through Time tells the story of schoolgirl Makoto Konno, who discovers she has the ability to – literally – time leap; that is to jump back in time to change situations and remake important decisions. What starts as an enjoyable, funny and charming teenage drama slowly reveals itself to have a classic, well crafted science fiction story at it’s heart, offering another, stylish but gentle, take on the conundrums and paradoxes thrown up by the idea of time-travel. It’s partly in this list to represent the talent of more recent directors and studios, but mainly because it’s a warm,accessible, exciting and lovingly made film that will be held in high esteem for many, many years to come.

So what have I missed out? Where have i gone wrong? Well for a start I notice straight away that although there’s two Studio Ghibli films, there’s nothing by Isao Takahata – No Grave of the Fireflies or Only Yesterday – which can’t be right, surely? I guess it’s a good sign for anime’s heritage that compiling such a list and limiting it to just ten means so many great works are missing, but I’m sure some of you will be upset that I’ve left out your favourite personal masterpiece. If so, hit the comments below and let it all out.


212 thoughts on “Ten anime films you should see before you die”

  1. Well, Spirited Away and Princess Mononoke should be in the list.

    Having just watched The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, I must say that it’s a very charming movie.

  2. This is a list I have been waiting for someone to compile.
    First of all, I haven’t seen any of these films.. or any other independent anime films, with the exception of “Spirited Away”. I believe Spirited Away would be a candidate worth making into this list.

    I have, however, watched quite a few anime films which were spinoffs of manga or anime TV series. If these were to be included, I would definitely recommend the movie “Bleach – Memories of Nobody”.

  3. Oh, what a wonderful list! Though I admit that Perfect Blue kind of traumatized me when I saw it. Heh. There are at least a couple of movies here I haven’t seen, so I must remedy that ASAP!

  4. @Toyoyo
    These are not/not all indie films
    Do watch Akira and u will forget about Bleach all together.

  5. Great post Tim and wonderful choices. Memories is the only one I haven’t seen, and I’ve criminally had it on my shelf for the last 4 years! Will certainly get round to it now.

  6. GITS!! πŸ˜€ ..=good list!! ..well, it’s realy difficult to choose, there are just so many good ones out there πŸ™‚ ..Karas, Beyond the Clouds, Jin Roh – The Wolf Brigade, Plastic Little, The Dagger of Kamui… ..and so many I havn’t seen yet ^_^ (some on that list!) ..so thank you for the list!^^

  7. A pretty solid list of movies, and I don’t have any complaints about the movies on the list that I’ve already seen. Have yet to see Akira or Patlabor II.

  8. Hey,
    Though I personally really like Porco Rosso (I even got the Laserdisc to prove it) I do think that Grave of the fireflies is indeed a must see anime.
    You’ll only see it once (and it will be enough) but it is such a emotionally draining movie that proves that animation is a force to be reckon with.
    But since I love Porco Rosso, drop Memories πŸ˜‰

  9. Voices of Distant Star has no place on this list, it’s neither a movie or good.

    What about NausicΓ€a? or Night on the Galactic Railroad or lots of other MOVIES that are actually GOOD.

  10. Fantastic List.
    I would have to add a few more of Miyazaki’s –
    Laputa, Nausica, kiki’s delivery service, and the latest Ponyo.

    Oh and ‘Tokyo Godfathers’ by Satoshi Kon is worth a watch too. πŸ™‚

  11. Hi guys. Thanks to everyone who ha stopped by and left their comments. I’ll try and answer a few of them now. If you’re interested in even more discussion, there’s a huge thread rattling on over at Reddit Anime:

    http://www.reddit.com/r/anime/comments/8fale/ten_anime_films_you_should_see_before_you_die/

    @Parka – It was very tough not flooding the list with Ghibli/Miyazaki movies, Spirited Away only just missed the ten. Honestly, there isn’t a Miyazaki (snr) movie I wouldn’t recommend to anyone.

    @Alex – I used to be a big Macross fan asa kid, but I have to say I haven’t watched any of that stuff for years (with exception of the Watanabe directed Macross Zero), whereas the films on the list I keep coming back to year after year.

    @Jamaipanese – thanks for the feedback, gotta say we share two obsessions – Jamaica and Japan. Is 10 years since I visited your country, would love to get back there one day…

    @Tobias – agreed about Grave of the Fireflies…I really regret not having a Takahata movie in the list…

    @Wilson – wow, surprised you dislike Voices so much. Why exactly? It’s such a well crafted piece of film.

    @Danny – yeah, yeah, stop rubbing it in about how you’ve seen Ponyo already πŸ˜‰ And yeah, Tokyo Godfathers is fantastic.

  12. The Girl Who Leapt Through Time (2006) is one of my top movies.. That story was god (although i wanted a different ending) but the animation is what really sold me!!

  13. I would also really recommend ghost in the shell: solid state society.

    Good list! I was looking for new things to watch πŸ™‚

  14. No Paprika? It was confusing at times, but is just such a visually beautiful movie that I’d’ve been forced to include it were I the one penning this list.

  15. I was going to give you a hard time for omitting Grave of the Fireflies, but I see you’re rightfully repentant!

    I guess the more general issue is that this list is very heavy on the sci-fi. Maybe you should just give up and call it “10 Anime Sci-Fi Films …”, and then make other anime lists for other genres. πŸ™‚

  16. “End of Evangelion” was like a nuclear bomb going off in the anime industry: the entire “Giant Robot” genre was turned inside out and its mutilated, organs-on-the-outside corpse was capered and strutted about in a dance macabre.

    The series that defined “pushing the envelope”, all Giant Robot shows in the past 13 years have at least on some level been influenced by it; we never recovered.

    Why? Evangelion was a withering social commentary on post-World War II Japanese society in general, but the hopelessness caused by the bubble-burst recession economy of “Lost Decade” 1990’s Japan in particular. People reacted by self-medicating with fantasies about giant robots and anime girls and becoming complete shut-ins.

    “End of Evangelion” was the perfect storm: it was a “pulls no punches” TV series to begin with, and End of Eva WAS the intended ending, but fanboys just didn’t want to hear the series message: the “Giant Robot” genre was utterly cliche ridden and un-realistic, and you have to stop living in a world of fantasy.

    So they sort of got “revenge on the fans” by going “oh, you wanted a big final battle! WE’LL GIVE YOU THE GIANT FINALE FIGHT TO END ALL GIANT FINALE FIGHTS!!!”

    The violence was raw, shocking, yet painfully realistic; they actually DON’T succeed and the entire cast dies in this kill’em all ending.

    The darndest part, is that it IS the real ending; it fit the character’s storyarcs; but whatever punches they pulled before, they weren’t now.

    A shotgun blast to the head, “End of Evangelion” really made us ask ourselves “just what IS this Giant Robot genre we like so much?” “is it really just a lot of violent wish-fulfillment”?

    And to top it all off, the actual climax in literally the final scene was an *emotional*, not an action climax.

    Everything that came after has been simply imitating it, it stands in the back of our memories at all times.

    We are all of us living in the shadow of End of Evangelion.

  17. There’s no denying the importance of Evangelion, but it’s not included here as it is primarily (not including the OVAs and recent film remakes) a TV series…

  18. Totoro still remains one of my favorite films ever made. Akira and Ghost in The Shell are definitely up there too. Voices of A Distant Star is still my favorite work from Shinkai, it captures the odd joys and griefs found in a long-distance relationship and expresses it as a fresh story. Admittedly, I don’t think the characters were drawn as well as the backgrounds but it’s definitely a strong contender.

    Picking 10 anime movies that are must-watch is a tough call. There’s bound to be disagreements. I’ve just watched a DVD of an anime film I’ve never heard of… and it was quite an experience. Maybe once I review that I’ll get back to you so you can consider watching it. I’ll also be following you on twitter! See you there.

  19. I’d like to add Fist of The Northstar to the list as the cinematics have seemed to influence many of the martial arts style video games.

  20. Spirited Away should definitely be on this list.
    But other than that it’s a pretty nice one.

  21. @ kubra: seen akira, still find bleach much more enjoyable. not really taking sides, just disagree with your statement.

    also, @ jeff: im glad someone beat me to it. ninja scroll is easily my favorite anime movie ive seen to date. highly recommended.

    and finally, tim, great list man. keep em coming.

  22. What, so Ranma 1/2: Enter Shampoo didn’t make the cut? You need to reassess your Anime priorities.

  23. GJ on the list, pretty good flicks most of em, suprised that princess mononoke didnt make it, but really glad i didnt see sprited away or kiki’s delivery service on there. gj over all

  24. Good list. Final Fantasy: The Spirits within may have been a box office bomb, but it was an awesome movie nonetheless. I recommend it to anyone looking for a good animated film. (Note: it is not about final fantasy, it’s just made by the same people)

  25. No one mentioned Rose of Versailles?! Not a movie, but hey like you said, rules are made to be broken. Rose of Versailles is the first anime I watched that really changed the way I thought about the genre.
    .
    It was the first commercially translated manga to be sold in North America. It also predates anything on your list by 8 years, so it definately paved the way.

  26. What, no love for Galaxy Express 999?
    It’s a great movie as long as it’s subtitled. (For those who’ve never seen it, stay FAR FAR FAR away from the Viz Video English dubbed version. Yuck.)

  27. What about Nausicaa, Kiki’s Delivery service and Princess Mononoke? Even Spirited away deserves a nod. I love Totoro, I’m glad it’s on the list!

  28. Personally I think ghost in the shell is one of the most over rated movies of all time. It was just kinds a dull excuse for cartoon nudity.

    Akira, on the other hand, is one of the greatest films ever. and the soundtrack blows my mind.

  29. I prefer the 1987 anthology Neo-Tokyo to Memories. It contains shorts by Kawajiri, Otomo, and Rintaro. It’s more humble, but has an incredible level personality. I’m a bit biased since Kawajiri’s ‘Runnign Man’ segment was my into to anime when it aired on mtv, before I even knew it was anime.

    I might throw in Mindgame as another must-see. It hit some emotional buttons no other movie ever has for me.

  30. Here is a more honest list, based on the ratings on anidb.net:

    – Your generic Ghibli-Movie (around 10 on the first page)

    – The Girl Who Leapt Through Time
    – The House of Small Cubes
    – 5cm Per Second
    – Sword of the Stranger
    – The Place Promised in Our Early Days
    – GHOST IN THE SHELL
    – Millennium Actress
    – Summer Days with Coo
    – Paprika
    – Tokyo Godfathers

    Note: I’ve ignored those who are related to some tv-series, like conan or GitS:SAC.

  31. Soc’d!

    Quite a few I haven’t seen here, so I’m going to watch and hold you responsible if they suck, mmmkay?

    I’d like to say “where is every ghibli movie ever made” like other commenter here, but I think it would be a pretty lame top 10 if 8 of them were ghibli, so I’m kind of glad you included a good mix. We all have our favourite ghiblies anyway…

  32. great list love the fact porco rosso is there my all time favourite movie but disagree with the lack of spirited away and princess mononoke or even howls moving castle!

  33. I haven’t seen most of these movies so I can’t pretend like I know what should and should not be on a top ten anime list but I will say that 5 Centimeters Per Second is absolutely beautiful in its simplicity and heartfelt(and heart breaking) it its honesty. Blew me away and I still feel its effects today.

  34. what about howl’s moving castle? kiki’s delivery service? spirited away? pretty much anything by hiyako miyazaki

  35. okay here goes
    Porco Rosso
    Akira
    Interstrella 5555
    Tokyo Gothfathers
    Millenium Actress
    5cm per second
    Tekkonkinkreet
    Toki wo kakeru shoujo
    Sero hiki no goshu
    Howls moving castle
    I guess makink a list like this can be quite difficult and vary a lot
    what’s important for me is the drawing style , maybe thats why i like ghibli so much.
    Anyway its fun reading top ten’s and finding new movies.
    So keep em coming.

  36. Hi everyone – thanks for all the comments, so sorry I’ve taken so long to respond, had a busy few days.

    @everyone that suggested different Ghibli films – you’re probably right. I could have easily filled the whole ten with them.

    @Chthonius I love Paprika – in fact, I love all Kon’s work. Perfect Blue however still seems his best to me; the subtlety and realism of it somehow makes it more disturbing.

    @jeff I havnt seen Ninja Scroll for a very long time, is probably due a re-watch. I just remember the sex and violence over everything else though, which is why it didn’t make the list. I like something with a little more depth – but it is a great film.

    @weigy – what’s this new film you’ve seen….?

    @heitz13 – again Fist of the Northstar is a film I havn’t seen for years, but have fond memories of. However, unlike the films on the list, its not one i’ve felt compelled to watch over and over, or found myself recomending to others.

    @corey – I have to admit, not a huge vampires fan πŸ™ But, I do love Blood – its a surprisingly nice take on the whole Buffy thing, especially as it was originally just a tech demo for Production IG’s CGI work.

    @zockyus – Love TK, see my review here: http://timmaughanbooks.com/2008/03/10/tekkon-kinkreet-2007-review/

    @MattD – you are kidding, right?

    @Courtney – the old hand-drawn, or the new CGI ones? I’m not a fan of any of them TBH – I feel they lack the commentary and ingenuity of Shirow’s original manga (which I adore).

    @Middz – lol, man I LOVE Interstella 5555 – I have actually been a big Daft Punk fan since they first started recording. It’s a cool anime, but I don’t really think it can sit comfortably with the other films in the list. Especially when you can tell they had far less budget for the sequences that were not released as promos.

    @David – hands up; I’ll admit I’ve not seen that. will check it out.

    @radio Yeah, I enjoyed 5cm/sec, but it felt too much like Shinkai was treading over old ground again – ground that he had covered so well and precisely in Voices: http://timmaughanbooks.com/2009/02/27/global-shinkai-day-2009-5-centimeters-per-second-2007-review/

    @najork – Yeah, Neo-Tokyo is great. Especially the last Otomo short about the rogue robot city. Fantastic. I just feel Memories is better throughout, and more thought provoking.

    Thanks so much everyone – keep them coming!

  37. Hey ! Very nice list … but I think spirited away is missing … Anyway … keep with this good tips ! ^^

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  39. I have to say that Tekkonkinkrete should be on this list and is one of the most beautiful films I have ever seen.

  40. Very good list. I have seen most of these by now, and they are excellent films. I have yet to see Perfect Blue yet, however, and I might just have to go rent that!

    One of my favorite anime films is Street Fighter II: The Animated Movie, probably because it was the first anime i had ever seen. I can see why it is not on this list though πŸ˜›

    On a side note Tim, is that Asou Hiroyoshi in the header of your page?

  41. I definitely think Millennium Actress should have been on your list. The references to movie styles, the interplay between fantasy and reality…

    And yes, one always has to cut something to make sure something else is represented, so I will not add to the haranguing of you for omitting Spirited Away, my personal favorite anime of all time. Everyone has a favorite Miyazaki film, and heck, my top 10 would probably be like 6 Miyazaki films — who wants to read that?

    Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence should have been on the list — it’s such an incredible leap forward in production values over everything before it. And yeah, maybe Appleseed. And Metropolis (I like “highly stylized”).

    Oh, heck, just jump up the list to 20.

  42. Gonna have to see a couple of these ’round your house Tim, no Tekkon Kinkrete then, mmm fair enough, and no tentacle rapes either, c’mon man!!!!!!

    Ha ha ha, good list, you know what I feel about Akira!

  43. don’t forget about the excellent adaptation of metropolis and also the two recent karas films that were frankly stunning

  44. i was kinda wondering what your top ten anime series would be…

    i can’t help feel that there should be more miyazaki on the list but then you’d have to put almost all of it there…

  45. Hi Sam…any one that knows me in real life will tell you how hard it was for me to not include more Miyazaki/Ghibli films in the list…

    As for ten anime series…..stay tuned! A list should be hitting the site in the next couple of weeks. It’s a hard one to put together, and given my views on ‘mainstream’ anime its going to be quite controversial – I think I’m going to upset quite a few people with this one…

  46. It’s amusing that so many people get bent out of shape because you decided to pick 10 & stick it on your website – CHILL people – we all love Anime & that’s a good thing.

    It was very nice to see family friendly recommendations – I’d like to see a top 10 of ‘kid friendly’ stuff.

    And your right – there is a lot of anime to choose from, some of it is truly terrible.

    Thanks for posting the list…

    Paul

  47. I highly recommend Sennen Joyu (Millenium Actress) and any film from the Ghibli repertoire. I think your selection is the finest one I’ve ever seen on the net.

  48. I am glad that you have Voices of a Distant Star,
    many people ignore/forget about it but it is a beautiful story.

  49. Vocies of a distant star isn’t a movie! It’s a OVA, shouldn’t be on the list.
    I would rather include The Place Promised in Our Early Days, also a movie from Shinkai, and it’s better.

  50. All of the films on this list look great. I would like to add my own little film to it, Cat Soup. It’s like “The Wall” of anime.

    A little strange, a little funny, and really worth watching.

  51. @lolo πŸ™‚ lots of other Totoro stuff on the site, have a look around!

    @paul/laura – thanks so much!

    @mat/wat – technically, Voices shouldnt be here I guess – but bah, it’s my list πŸ™‚ plus its amazing, and a brilliant intro to quality anime that i would not hesitate recommending to anyone. I found Places a little stale in comparison, sadly.

    @Quasi – have to admit, I know Cat Soup but havnt got round to watching it yet. Will sort that out ASAP!

  52. Ponyo on the Cliff is good too, newer, but still wonderfully animated and made, it will stand up as a classic must see. I always loved Princess Mononoke too…

  53. No Robot Carnival? No Macross: DYRL? No Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust? No Saya: The Last Vampire? Disappointing.

  54. And By Saya, I meant Blood: The Last Vampire.

    Also, addd Arcadia of My Youth to the list.

  55. This list sucks. You don’t mention ‘Appleseed’ which is quite possibly the best anime of all time because of it’s stellar graphics (puts ‘ghost in the shell’ to shame) and it’s plot which is even better and I won’t give away here.

  56. And yeah, ‘Macross’ certainly deserves mention. Get that kids crap outta here.

  57. @Phil

    Appleseed better than GiTS? Really?

    I assume you are talking about the 2 CGI versions, as opposed to the 80s hand-drawn OVA? Hmmm, well I guess it *looks* OK, if you like Xbox 360 cutscenes. The mechs look great, but the character designs are way to plastic looking, and the human animation unconvincing.

    As for plot, it utterly fails to convey the themes and social commentary of Shirow’s classic manga, which i assume – as such a big fan – you’ve read. If not, you should do, to see what Appleseed is really about.

    You can see my full thoughts here: http://timmaughanbooks.com/2008/03/17/appleseed-ex-machina-2007-review/

    And the ‘kids crap’…well, if you’re referring to the Miyazaki films in the list I just pity you man. Really.

  58. i don’t really like anime, but I have to say that Paprika is probably the best movie to combine with weed ever. also haven’t seen porcco rosso yet, thought i’d seen all of miyazaki, must rectify.

  59. It’s really difficult to choose the ten best anime films, as there are so many great movies out there. I would definitely include Mind Game in such a list, which never got the attention it deserves outside of Japan. It’s a really groundbreaking movie, which shows the capabilities of animated storytelling and the medium itself. Mind Game is also one of the few anime movies, which is held in high regard by western animation critics, as it is by Japanese anime directors. The other works by Masaaki Yuasa (Kaiba and Kemonozune) are also worth a watch.

  60. I just finished The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, as well as My Neighbor Totoro, and they’re two of my favorite anime movies ever. (The Girl Who Leapt Through Time takes the top Spot).

    Good List.

  61. As for my list:

    1. The Girl Who Leapt Through Time
    2. Howl’s Moving Castle
    3. Akira
    4. Steamboy
    5. Princess Mononoke
    6. Spirited Away
    7. My Neighbor Totoro
    8. Kiki’s Delivery Service
    9. The Cat Returns
    10. Perfect Blue

    Sorry for the double post.

  62. wow great list, good comments too, i have taken about a dozen or so title that have made my to watch list from this page (23 to be exact) although i have to mention Tekkon Kinkreet

  63. i completely agree with your list! i’ve seen several of these types of top anime lists and within seconds can discern whether the person is worth listening to… normally by whether or not they include something like dragonball or cowboy bebop in the list.

    I was able to see Honneamise at it’s release in the sandiego comicon years ago, and was completely blown away. i’d have to say it’s actually in my list of top ten movies to see animated or not before one dies as it is a really important message that you should always take stock in your views and perceptions to see which side of the line between black and white you’re on, and how gray and fuzzy that middle line can be! excellent for us to reflect in the US on current international roles.

  64. Good list, but I would’ve put Spirited Away and Princess Mononoke.

  65. Thank you so much for making this list. There are a number of titles in here that I haven’t watched so I’m definitely going to look them up. I must say, I’m a bit afraid to watch Perfect Blue and Memories.

    To share, I love Miyazaki like everyone else but been gravitating lately towards anime about vampires (not the Blood series though) and some lighthearted titles.

  66. This is a great list.
    But holy hell, I can’t believe some of the inane suggestions in the comments. This list obviously took some time to not go the straight and simple path of “most popular” while still paying homage to classics.

    Keep your idiot and obvious suggestions to yourself. Its the least bit of respect you could pay to the creator of this list.

  67. I really dont like (read loath) anime that mess with my brain, the top three belonging to this category are: Ghost in the Shell, Monster (especially the closing theme, feel like killing somebody while listening to the calming music) and Akira. There are others like Gantz but lets leave them out.
    I dont know what should be done to enjoy these movies, do you guys smoke something while watching them. Considering the fact that they are so much popular, there’s no doubt that they are really good, but I need to find a way to enjoy them.

  68. Interesting list. I agree with a few of these picks, but I think Appleseed and Spirited Away should definitely be on here.

  69. The Cowboy Beebop movie definitely needs to be added if you’re talkin about well-done anime movies.

    Great list!

  70. I have to admit, “Ghost In A Shell” just annoys me and I pretty much abhor “Perfect Blue”.

    “Ghost In A Shell” is a great movie… until the end which is a total cop-out and just leaves a sour taste in my mouth.

    I figured out the entire plot of “Perfect Blue” about 15 minutes into the movie, so instead “thrilling” and “edgey” it was a weird combination of “staid” and “cheesy.”

  71. Great list, love the topic.

    I didn’t read all the posts but I did read a lot of Miyazaki movies, really all his movies is a top anime list! I also saw Grave of the Fireflies, deffinately a must see.

    Akira, Ghost in the Shell, and Patlabor 2 are amazing. I’d also consider Green Legend Ran, and Ninja Scroll.

    Princess Mononoke is one of my favorite movies of all time, and my favorite Miyazaki. Also Vampire Hunter D is astounding, and was originally created by Yoshitaka Amano!

  72. Grave of the Fireflies & 5 Centimeters per Second are not on this list?! How could you??

    Great list nonetheless. I’m rather disappointed that I’ve already seen 7 out of the 10 movies on this list :(. Was hoping to find a few new movies.

    Anyway, just to add on, here’re some of my favorites not on this list:
    Grave of the Fireflies
    5 Centimeters per Second
    End of Evangelion
    Jin-Roh
    Millennium Actress
    Mind Game (best climax ever!!!!!!!!!)
    Only Yesterday

  73. I agree with M-Kat, The Girl Who Leapt Through Time was a fantastic movie, but the ending.. FFFf the ending.

    I just finished watching it and I’ve been in a funk for the past few days, and the ending of the movie did nothing to uplift it…

    I know it’s trying to be a happy ending, but it didn’t work for me.

    Also, I was pretty “meh” on Voices. It was okay, but not fantastic.

  74. Tim Maughan sure don’t know a lot anime.

    – Mind Game
    – Only Yesterday
    – Kiki Delivery Service
    – Night on the Galactic Railroad
    – Lupin III, Caggliostro no Shiro
    – The Star of Cottonland
    etc

  75. – Tekkon Kinkreet
    – Legend of Sirius
    – Spring and Chaos
    – Grave of the Fireflies
    – Nasu – Andalusia no Natsu

  76. Glo the Legend, grats on making half that crap miyazaki shit.
    this list really isnt that good and should very much so be redone. it should be a list of legendary movies, not just stuff you saw with your buddies that you happened to like.

  77. grave of the fireflies
    metropolis
    spirited away
    Final fantasy VII advent children
    ghost in the shell2: innocence
    ninja scroll
    5 centimeters per second
    PRINCESS MONONOKE AND AKIRA OF COURSE!!!!!!
    these two films battle for the best anime movie ever
    and it’s not only I that say it

    and for the 10 you say

  78. u can’t let miyazaki’s movies out of this list because he has made quite some of these “legendary movies”

  79. I can’t believe it took all those comments before Kevin hit the nail on the head.

    Of course Akira is classic, but the rest of your list is pretty bland. And whats with people saying Howling Castle and Princess M.? Gawd, boring. Same goes for Ghost in the Shell (I never understood why it was so hyped), and Wings of H. (what a snooze fest).

    Vampire Hunter D 2 is a big miss for you. What about Laputia?

    So I think your list sucks. But what can you expect, my favorite anime is FOTNS and Berserk.

    Honestly, I know it has 25 eps so it can’t count as a film, but Berserk is better than anything on your list.

  80. (sorry but I ment to add…)

    And what about Barefoot Glen? Movies like that should be there for sure on a “anime to see before you die” list…

  81. While my suggestion isn’t a movie, it IS based on one and is VERY well crafted itself; Samurai 7. It’s based on The Seven Samurai by Kurosawa. It is a MUST watch. I made it through it in about a day and a half (had to go to work at some point).

  82. I hesitate to put too much emphasis on Miyazaki films. Yes he is undoubtedly one of the greats and I have not seen a film of his that I wouldn’t recommend. But don’t let his reputation for putting out solid movies overshadow some of the other truly amazing anime’s.

    I am particularly happy to see that Memories made it into this list. Although Otomo’s Cannon Fodder was brilliantly done (there are no cuts in the animation just well done movement transitions) I believe that Magnetic Rose was the best of the triptych simply for the twisted form of pity you end up having for most of the characters.

  83. I havent seen some of the movies you listed, but thank you for making this list because i sometimes have difficulty finding good anime movies. im happy to see my neighbor totoro, porco rosso and the girl who leapt through time there. πŸ™‚
    i do think that samurai x: trust and betrayel should be there too.

  84. well is a nice list but i belive there is some films who deserve to be there like Princess Mononoke, and Chihiro spirited away, also the great classic ninja scroll.
    Still im very happy to see Akira on your list

  85. Can’t everyone see that the best thing about these lists is that everyone adds more times (whether crankily or happily) and in the end, people have a great page to browse to look for new good anime movies they haven’t already seen. I don’t like the commitment factor of lengthy anime series, but I’ve probably watched just about every good anime movie there is… or so I thought.

    I already got 6-7 more movies to check out thanks to this page, and of course I have already seen all 10 in the top 10 list and most of the others in the replies.

    Here’s a few more to include:

    Windaria
    Megazone 23
    Venus Wars
    The Dagger of Kamui

    Let’s keep the list going!

  86. Anime Movies you are missing:
    Tekkonkinkreet
    Paprika
    Howl’s Moving Castle
    Nausicaa of the valley of the wind

    btw..SOO glad to see Girl Who Leapt Through Time on here..absolutely amazing movie. I’m forcing my friend to watch it >:)

  87. wow, I just finished watching the movie Memories…very interesting I must say.
    My favorite episode is 2 Stink Bomb. Very creative and at parts, funny πŸ˜€

  88. Right, I’m going to have to watch both the Patlabor movies again, I seem to remember 2 being quite dull compared to 1. Maybe I’ve got them mixed up, it was many years ago I watched them.
    Other than that, great list, I’ve seen most but will search out the ones I haven’t, thanks πŸ™‚

  89. If you liked Voices of a Distant star- then 5cm per second should have been on the list. Same basic story with beautiful character development and scenes. I love that movie because it always makes me think of all the friends I have had over the years and wonder where they are now.

  90. I haven’t seen a lot of these, so I’ve got a lot of work to do!! I must say, Porco Rosso and The Cat Returns are my two top Ghibli films, but I love all of them. : ) I also think that Bleach:Memories of Nobody is really worth watching; it talks a lot about how you should treat everyone like a person.

  91. I agree with the first Spirited Away is fantastic and Princess Monoke is classic too. I plan to watch all of these flicks cause I love movies (I’ve seen Akira if you watch anime you have to have seen it and GIS too). I would love for you to hit me up email with any good series or movies outside these. I watch just about everything so I’m flexible, mech anime are the ones I’m not the biggest/fondest of.

  92. I understand not including all of Miyazaki’s films. He could easily dominate the list. Perhaps it would be titled “ten anime films (not by Miyazaki) you should see before you die”. But I do have to say that Grave of the Fireflies really should be on there. It is probably the saddest and most moving film I’ve ever seen, and the first film I ever saw that made me cry. No one can see that movie and not hate war forever.

  93. This list is pretty much every movie I love. Never really liked the Patlabor series myself. but to even see a Makoto Shinkai film and the Wings of Honneamise in a list was pretty impressive. I’ve seen a lot of anime movie lists and these two are always excluded for some reason despite their plot lines and lets face it. Next level animation cells.

  94. Not sure if it’s been mentioned, but Whispers of the Heart was such a wonderful and charming film experience for me. It stuck with me for a long time; reconnecting me with the struggles and triumphs of self-discovery growing up (the times I took for granted as a hormonal teen, but can now recognize as an adventurous time when every every door of opportunity seemed ready for me to open up). Right up there with My Neighbor Totoro.

    Two or my earliest introductions to anime (which set in motion my enduring love for anime) were the OVAs for Iria: Zeiram the Animation and El Hazard: The Magnificent World. I know they’re not really films, seeing as how they’re not wrapped up in one go… but I’m bending the rules some!

    I would add films like Paprika and Millenium Actress as runners up. Both had engrossing stories and stunning visuals. Grave of the Fireflies was heartbreaking and beautiful, and would have been included in my top 10. Spirited Away is a film I can never tire of seeing, and one that my whole family enjoys as well (another top 10 must).

    And purely for the fan girl in me, I’d have to give an honorable mention to Howl’s Moving Castle. Amazing and worthy of mention if only for that gloriously animated castle. Miyazaki is a marvel.

  95. Oh, I just want to add– I almost always prefer the original Japanese dub (w/ English subs) to vice versa… but for Whispers of the Heart, I thought the English dubbing was incredible (akin to the masterful English dubbing of Cowboy Bebop). I would even go so far as to recommend that viewers watch the English dub first :o).

    Finally wrapping up, I just want to add my two bits of adoration for The Girl Who Leapt Through Time. Wow, how I LOVED that film. My initial reaction, after viewing it for the the first time a couple of years ago, was to tell everyone I knew how great and worthy of their time it was. In the process, I won many an anime convert :o).

  96. I am glad to see that you did give Grave of the Fireflies a blurb. Let me reiterate all the comments before me that mentioned it. Honestly, it’s one of my favorites, and it makes me bawl like a baby. It’s got a wonderful simplicity to it, but a simplicity that simply overwhelms you with its beauty. It is one of the few movies that gets inside you after you watch it so that you can’t leave it alone. Otherwise, FABULOUS list. πŸ™‚

  97. AWESOME list, truly, the best list online imo that really captures what should be on a list

    BUT…

    i agree with many when they said Princess Mono should be on here, replace it wilth Voice of a distant star. Star is good, princess is far superior

    FF7 advent children is an amazing film but its CGI so doesnt belong here, though its CGI is mind blowing, i watch it regularly cuz it looks insanely amazing on my new 52″ tv in blu-ray =P

    Ninja scrolls is an awesome film, one of my favs, but doesnt deserve to be on the list, i think its main appeal is the gore and the sex, an when compared to the rest of the list fails in other aspects

    looking forward to your series top 10!

  98. Another vote for Mindgame. Not sure if it’s avail in the US. I bought a bootlegged DVD off of eBay after seeing it in a film class.

    And while it’s a series and not a movie, I have to give a shout out to Gankutsuou as it’s probably the most visually striking thing I’ve ever seen.

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  100. I have got all of the anime in your top 10 and they are all amazing!
    Here are some more movies that are not on your list that I would like to recommend to everybody πŸ™‚

    Mindgame
    Grave of the fireflies
    Tekkonkinkreet
    Kite
    Mezzo
    A tree of palme
    Dead leaves
    Evangelion
    The place promised in our early days
    Appleseed
    Cat soup
    Jin-roh
    Paprika
    Metropolis
    Barefoot gen
    Laputa castle in the sky
    Nausicaa
    X
    Origin spirits of the sky
    Angle’s egg
    Sword of the stranger
    Marco
    New dominion tank police
    Pom poko
    Millennium actress
    Princess mononoke
    Spirit of wonder
    Only yesterday
    Tokyo godfathers
    Robot carnival

    There are just two many grate animes to try to cut it down to just ten of the best

    And if you get around to making a list of anime series can I recommend Now and then, here and there. It surly deserves to be high on your list πŸ™‚

  101. I would just like two add that my favrot anime’s are Perfect blue and Grave of the fireflies. If anyone outthere has not seen them yet then i reckomend that you get off of your computer and RUN to the shops!

  102. Great list and a incredibly tough job picking just ten. I would have to make room for two movies though. Miyazaki movies are all great in their own right, but if youve seen one like Totoro, you get a sense of his work so I would bump Porcco Rosso for –

    1. Grave of the Fireflies – Profoundly moving and a must see, but you already know this. This is the movie I tell the uninitiated to watch when they believe that all anime is simply the Japanese version of western kids cartoons, or limited to Pokemon.

    Ghost in the Shell is also an exceptional movie, but with just ten spots and Akira already rightly on the list, I would bump GITS or VOADS for –

    2. Ninja Scroll – In my opinion, probably still the best action anime movie ever made and representative of the genre. Its just special. Back when most in the US had little to zero familiarity with anime, this movie started making the rounds and caught on like wildfire in college dorms. It was the first anime I saw back then with true mass appeal. Male, female, young, old, across cultural/racial lines, everyone seemed engrossed. Even kids parents were watching and enjoying it when they took it back home. Its just ninja’s you say? I say so what. This movie amongst many I know, maybe the anime equivalent of a gateway drug. Its the first that many then uninterested or casual people saw that got them started in anime.

  103. Re-reading this list after seeing Waltz With Bashir for the first time yesterday.
    If you were to create a new updated list of anime films to see before you die, I hope that it would be on there.
    It is an incredible film.

    p.s. happy birthday for last week!

  104. Seen all except Memories, sadly. Great choices. Wish there were 20 more…

    If you didn’t watch it, I can recommend 12 cm per second (was that the title? I think it was), absolutely adorable too.

    Reading through the comments above: yes there are many nice mainstream films but if looking just a little bit to the side of the big stuff you can also find quite a few nice experiences – as is the case with the suggestions in the ten in main post =)

    /waves

  105. adding:

    summer wars
    Steam Boy

    BEST!!

    do anyone have ghibli movies which only shown at ghibli museum?
    very rare items..

  106. I agree Mononoke was and still is an amazing film i went as far as getting a tattoo of the cover shot put on my arm (along with other anime tattoos) and my dog witch is a northen inuet ( wolf look
    alike ) is named morrow after the charicter of the same name.

  107. its been a while since ive seen memories but i really cant say I enjoyed it THAT much, it was good though none the less.

    To be honest though, in this list, I would have certainly added Paprika. Some one else mentioned it here, it might be a tad bit confusing at times but I think Paprika is an excellent example of anime at its best. A very well made piece of art.

    As for someone here who said Ghost in the shell being overatted, i agree.

  108. Tim, These are some great picks for top 10. Some other Japanese animated movies not mentioned thus far which could be runner ups include:

    Genius Party (Baby Blue – excellent) and Genius Party Beyond.
    Nagagutsu wo Haita Neko (Toei Animation 1992) Classic

  109. I was thinking of what I honestly believe are the top 5 most important anime films to watch in my opinion and it took a lot of effort to not include some that I really really like.

    Princess Mononoke
    My Neighbor Totoro
    The Girl Who Leapt Through Time
    Akira
    Graveyard of Fireflies

    In no particular order, I mean my favorite is in this list (The Girl Who Leapt Through Time), but my second couldn’t make the cut for me (End of Evangelion).

    Akira, to me, is a the only must see anime movie that I only barely liked.

    Mononoke was Miyazaki’s best work imo and it covers more long lasting societal issues than any other (except maybe Akira).

    For a long time I was trying to found out if I liked Mononoke or End of Evangelion more, about the time I started thinking EoE I liked more I watched The Girl Who Leapt Through Time. It absolutely captivated me in its simplicity and is now definitely my favorite anime movie, if not movie.

    Graveyard of Fireflies: I don’t ever want to watch it again, but I think everyone should watch it at least once. Probably the most important film on the list. (Yes I cried… =[ )

    My Neighbor Totoro is just amazing. Out of Miyazaki’s works like this, this imo stands out the most and I think is one of the must see movies.

    So I guess out of my favorite films only two of them made it to the list that I consider must see… =[ (Mononoke and The Girl Who Leapt Through Time)

    I guess that’s my opinion of must see anime, even if you don’t like them these are the 5 that I think everyone SHOULD watch.

  110. Voices of a Distant Star? Are you serious? It’s a good “movie” if you consider it an school project, but compared to many other stuff it’s just crap.

    Where’s Mononoke Hime? (Best anime movie hands down), where’s Grave of the Fireflies?

    I only agree with GITS, Akira, Perfect Blue, Girl who leapt through time and Totoro.

  111. WHAT ABOUT SPIRITED AWAY?!??!?!?!?!??!?!!!!!!!?!?!??!?!?!?!??!!?!??!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!??!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!??!?!?!?!!??!?!?!?!!?!!??!?!!?!?!?!??!?!?!?!?!?!?!??!?!?!?!?!?! HUH!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?

  112. Yeah what about Spirited away, Vampire hunter D, ninja scroll, Ghost in the shell 2, Street fighter 2, Princess Mononoke, Grave of the fireflies?…

  113. Recommendation of 10 anime films sure is a very difficult proposition. Starting with Studio Ghibli is always a good idea. There are just so many to choose from! My two absolute favourites are Whisper of the Heart and Spirited Away. Both would be a worthy replacement for any film up there. Agree also that Grave of the Fireflies is also one of those everyone should watch at least once (and probably once only because it would be too sad to watch again). As far as must watch go, I would say that Lupin III: Castle of Cagliostro also should be in there someone. What a joyful and outrageously fun adventure!

    I also like how you really seem to spread the love equally for all the recognizable directors around:) 2 for Miyazaki, 1 Hosoda, 1 Shinkai, 1 Kon, 1 Oshii, 1 Otomo… (maybe replace Porco Rosso with Grave of the Fireflies so Takahata can also join the list!)

  114. right guys and gals your all very correct all the film/series and such you have put up are brilliant and there a few in there i haven seen but i will. but guys were all saying that this is better than that and thats crap or whatever but come on a bad wanabe anime is somthing like pokemon movies come on people lol

    i no its not technically a jap anime but guys what about SKY BLUE very good film
    AKIRA was the first anime that i watched when i was younger and is still one of the best ever

    but i do love GANTZ as a series and off corse all the .//hack (dothack) games were amazing so were the comics and the before and after anime series

    thanks peeps its good to see so many people into anime not many people round me are

  115. I would recomend that anyone IMDB studio Ghibli, or Hayao Miyazaki and just watch everything he did…Its all good…Everything πŸ˜€

  116. Not looking to give or receive criticism. This is just my own top 10 based on MY preferences.

    1. Akira
    2. Fist of the North Star
    3. Wizards
    4. Ghost in the Shell
    5. Venus Wars
    6. Spirited Away
    7. Golgo 13
    8. Space Battleship Yamato (the movie)
    9. F.A.K.K. 2
    10. Cowboy Bebop (the movie)

  117. Mos def, Venus wars w/o exception. Mind blowing epic, still watch that one alot, never gets old. Great list imo. Thanks.

  118. Good, thought provoking list.

    Although Voices falls a bit short as a movie (it’s an OVA, not much action, etc), there is no arguement with it as an accomplishment, and of its worthiness in a top ten list.
    I cannot reconcile visualizing the amount of work involved and thinking that it could be done by oneself.
    Shinkai created this virtually single handedly. He even voiced the male lead. If somebody had not given him a staff and a budget, he probably would have self-immolated by the time he was done with 5cm/sec.
    God bless all of the fools slaving away in attic dormers and cellars on MAC’s, trying to express their dreams in animated color–the innovators.

    I would be interested in seeing your list of the:

    a. Top Twenty Anime Films You Should See Before You Die.

    and

    b. Top Ten Anime Films You Should Die Before You See.

  119. Hmm the ones that I’ve seen on this list, I completely agree with. I know Hoshi no Koe is walking a fine line, but it was so beautiful I don’t see how anyone could have watched that and not felt stunned.

    Personally I’m not a fan of putting franchise movies up on these sorts of lists, because more often than not you need to watch the whole series. In my opinion, these movies should be able to stand alone. You can’t expect someone to watch an entire series to understand a single worthy movie. For that reason, I don’t think End of Evangelion should have made the list (and I know some people may shoot me for that).

    I also would have liked to see Grave of the Fireflies up there though. If I had to pick a Miyazaki to add, it would be Spirited Away.

  120. its good to see someone making the effort to find the best anime movies and not the obvious choices.

    i like that you have put two katsuhiro otomo movies in here too!

    also makoto shinkai released a feature length movie im not sure your aware, its called ‘the place promised in our early days’, its quite slow but is worth watching if you like the slow but colourful animation he makes!

    Tokyo godfathers should be in there somewhere i believe though..

    I studied animation last year at zokei university in japan for 4 months and the students there were really really skilled at making anime. There are alot of masterpieces out there from the past but im really looking forward to the animes these guys are going to make in the future, im sure it will blow your minds! You have to appreciate the hard work and the effort these guys will have to put in to get something made in an incredibly aggressive and low-payed industry.

    thanks for the enlightening list, I will make sure i watch the recommendations i have not yet caught.

  121. How refreshing to find someone who shares my sensibilities about anime! I agree that The Place Promised in our Earlier Days is a better film than Voices of a Distant Star (which I love dearly also!!) and so should be on the list instead. If you generalized the list to include anime series, I would vote for Cowboy Beebop and FLCL (FoolyCooly). Not sure about Evangelion though…

  122. I like the list I must say. However, I gotta say I love 5 Centimeters Per Second. I think it should really be on there. Of course if it were up to me all of Shinkai’s work would be, I am a huge fan of his work.

    I wish they would get around to re-releasing so I dont have to rent it anymore.

  123. I keep wondering whether there’s something wrong with me for not having liked Totoro. It felt so artificial — less the characters than the setting, really. I kept waiting for Satsuki to discover she and Mei were in a lotus eater machine, or for the whole thing to be revealed as a delusion brought on by…I dunno, her mother dying or something, even though I KNEW this wasn’t that kind of movie. (And I’m NOT talking about the supernatural elements.) Everything about it screamed “rose-colored glasses.”

  124. Love loads of the movies mentioned, ‘Akira’ got me hooked when I was in my early teens, ‘5cm per second’ is gorgeous, all Miyazaki stuff, sen to chihiro, tonari no totoro, goes without saying. Other films id add (not top ten) but worth seeing if youre looking ——-

    pom poko — funny for adults and kids
    innocence — stunning panoramas
    paprika — great music, funky idea
    crayon shinchan — sorry but funny as f**k – try – ‘adult empire strikes back’, ‘Storm in the Jungle’ and ‘Sengoku Battle’. good ones if you speak some Japanese or can find elusive subs.

  125. Top list! Glad to say i’ve seen (and loved) everything on it. If i had to pick 2 Ghibli movies they’d probably be the ones i’d pick too. πŸ™‚

    I saw Jin Roh and Perfect Blue at very similar times, and hold them about equal in their affect on me. Which is to say, quite disturbing. πŸ™‚

    I think 5cm per second should go in place of Voices, firstly being a full-length movie, and also one that strikes at the very core of the emotions of human interaction – longing, hope, loss, regret. It seemed like the fullest and most mature treatment of those themes from Shinkai. (Of course, i did just watch 5cm and watched Voices a few years ago…)

  126. ahhhhh hahahaha i thought it was so funny when you said watching spirited away with their kids because that was like one of the first anime movies i ever watched hahahaha is that just like a big movie or something i really thought i was like one of the only ones who ever watched it because i was weird haha oh well i guess not

  127. wow! thanks for suggesting THE GIRL WHO LEAPT THROUGH TIME. it was a really good anime but i wish that it had been extended a but more. like showing that they somehow meet each other in the end. you know? eh…idk lol im just giving my opinion on it. but i really liked it. really sweet movie =)

  128. havent seen to many of these but i have heard alot of great things about graves of fireflies,and that usually on lists,so i really wanna check it out!all i can say is that i havent been into anime for long(just manga),but i know that when i personally saw metropolis i friggin loved the awesome and extremly detailed backgrounds.the wonderful story line and everything.out of the about dozen anime movies i have seen,thats the best.i will definetly check some of these out at the library.thanks.

  129. Because of this list i went away and watched Akira, the girl who leapt through time and Ghost in the shell and i have to say…well…god damnt they were good πŸ™‚

    I recommend Makoto Shinkais ‘5cm per second’, Hayao Miyazakis ‘Princess Mononoke’ and ‘Howls Moving Castle’, and OF COURSE Isao Takahata’s ‘Grave of the fireflies’, if you havent seen them already πŸ˜‰

  130. Thank you Tim for posting a very well reviewed and good list of anime films. While I didn’t watch all of them, a good portion of them you recommended where very good. Are there more lists of anime reviews you post here too — I like your critique on them because you keep it short but concise….kudos!

  131. This is a well done list and I really loved The girl who leapt through time. I know you put here some “mature” movies but u should try putting also “Spirited away” and “Howl’s moving castle”
    They can show the love and friendship that we need nowadays
    thanks again and Fat te mbare!

  132. Love the list. The ones I have seen (most of them) are my fav of the genre, my two kids adore Totoro. Excited to watch the ones I haven’t seen.

  133. Thank you so much for introducing me to porco rosso. I had seen I think 3 of the movies on this list previous to seeing it, and I consumed it voraciously.

    Porco rosso is (and this is mighty high praise coming from me) of such incredible quality that it stands toe to toe, in my mind, with some of the greatest film to come out of hollywood. There’s lots of good anime, and everything miyazaki does is brilliant. Porco rosso, however, stands alone in my mind. Far and away the best piece of film to come out of japan for my money. Second only to iron chef for visual media ;).

  134. 5 Centimeters per Second is one of the best things I’ve ever seen, and IMO better than Voices of a Distant Star.

    It’s wicked depressing though…

  135. I always loved “Battle Angel”. It was one of my first animes, and its depiction of the young boy’s dream (of living in a better place) was so powerful to me. Clearly drawn lines between classes (haves and have nots) are a clear message here, and a heart-breaking one.

  136. Great List. I remember knowing about “The Girl who Leapt through Time” and “Wings…”when reading this post the 1st time a few years ago. Now, I live in Japan and have watched tons of series and movies. I just got Summer Wars, Tekkonkinkreet and 5 cms per Second and will watch them over the weekend. As for the list, I would choose Millenium Actress over Perfect Blue, since I feel is the best of the reality/fantasy Kon’s movies. Also, I adore Porco and Totoro but Spirited Away had to be up there as well. Keep up the great work Tim.

  137. GREAT LIST…!! I’ve been crazy about anime since I was 13-14 when I saw some popular animes on TV. Then they aired Ghost In The Shell…and I was hooked into animes forever. Just saw The Girl Who Leapt Through Time…and I was mesmerised, So beautiful. I feel so strange after watching it….Just bliss.

  138. I enjoyed the list of 10 anime, also read everyone’s comment. I love all Miyazaki’s movie. But I would also like to add a little less known artist: Leiji Matsumoto(Galaxy Express 999, Captain Harlock, Cockpit) and also Buichi Terazawa(Cobra, Kabuto, Goku) made some interesting stuff, and before you die I would highly recommend reading the book series “Phoenix” by Tezuka Osamu they are old manga/animation masters.

  139. Read through the comments and am very surprised that noone even gave a mention to miyazaki’s Lupin 3: The Castle of Cagliostro.

    I’m not sure if it’s because I have bad taste -_-; but that’s one movie I’ve watched over and over.

  140. I know these are older and perhaps less known movies, but you should watch the anime movies Swan Lake and Mermaid Princess. Definitely better than the Disney sugar-coated versions.

  141. Every single show you’ve listed is pure gold. I’ve been using this site for months now, and it never fails. Thank you so much for posting this!

  142. Akira isn’t all that, it miss lots of heart, the history doesn’t really take u anywhere….. Evangelion in the other hand is the most Incendiary movie I ever seen… But anyway lots of movies I’ve never seen. Thanks for the tips. Love the age of sharing..

  143. Loved your list – found by my husband on the Tor.com site – but I do have one tiny quibble. There are some “fangirls” of anime out here too! πŸ™‚

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