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Top 10 Anime Films That Are A Must Watch!

After Spirited Away won the Oscar awards in 2003, it was clear that the anime world had a lot of potentials to bring into the film industry. With the rapid development of the anime community in the past decade, it comes as no shock that people line up to watch anime movies, especially with the hype surrounding big-name directors and studios in the industry, like Makoto Shinkai, Hayao Miyazaki, and Studio Ghibli.

Over the years, many new anime movies have graced our screens. Some are made as a means to market a series or manga, while many are made as standalone films with heart-stirring plots of their own. In this list, we’ll be taking a look at the top 10 best anime films that you must see in your life.

10. Wolf Children

Exciting coming-of-age and slice-of-life movie you should watch, Wolf Children
Wolf Children
  • Duration: 1 hr. 57 mins.
  • Studios: Studio Chizu
  • Genres: Fantasy, Slice of Life
  • Aired: Jul 20, 2001.

This film is a tear-jerker and an absolute treat to watch. We watch the life of Hana, a college student change as she falls in love with a mysterious classmate, who turns out to be a werewolf. Even after learning his secret, she still loves him, and the two end up having children. However, this unique romance is just the beginning of Hana’s story, as she must soon deal with her husband’s sudden death.

Devastated and confused, we follow how Hana tackles various challenges in her life as a single mother of two not-so-normal children. If you’re looking for a slice-of-life movie that will make you bawl your eyes out but also leave you satisfied, Wolf Children is a must-see.

9. Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind

best anime film by Studio Ghibli,Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind
Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind
  • Duration: 1 hr. 57 min.
  • Studios: Topcraft
  • Genres: Adventure, Fantasy
  • Aired: Mar 11, 1984.

This fantastic flick was directed by Hayao Miyazaki and told the story of a post-apocalyptic world where nature has seemingly turned on humankind. After a nuclear war, the world is filled with forests made of the few plant and trees that could survive the newly created toxic conditions. As a result, these forests are dangerous and infertile grounds, which cannot be used for cultivation, and harbor giant and deadly mutated insects.

Nausicaä is a member of an untouched human settlement, living peacefully. However, she soon finds herself stuck in the middle of the war between two powerful military nations. This film was one of the first to divert away from the usual good/evil tropes and makes for a great watch even now. Just what you’d expect from Miyazaki!

8. Violet Evergarden Movie

Latest Netflix anime movie, Violet Evergarden Movie
Violet Evergarden Movie
  • Duration: 2 hr. 20 mins.
  • Studios: Kyoto Animation
  • Genres: Drama, Fantasy, Slice of Life
  • Aired: Sep 18, 2020.

Violet was created as an instrument in The Great War. However, after the war, she has lost all purpose of existence. She tries to integrate back into the society as an Auto Memory Doll- someone who writes letters for others. She is considered excellent at her job and begins to gain lots of fame and success at writing letters.

However, while she helps others figure out how to convert their emotions into words, she herself is trying to figure out the emotions that lay beneath the last words her Major in war told her- “I love you.” Is he still alive, and will Violet ever find out the true meaning behind these words?

Violet Evergarden is a tear-jerking and visually stunning movie from Kyoto Animations that will thoroughly tug at your heartstrings. It also has a 13-episode anime of the same name, and both the series and movie are adapted from the same manga by Kana Akatsuki and Akiko Takase.

7. I Want to Eat Your Pancreas

romantic comedy best anime film, I want to eat your pancreas
I want to eat your pancreas
  • Duration: 1 hr. 48 mins.
  • Studios: Studio VOLN
  • Genres: Drama, Romance, Slice of Life
  • Aired: Sep 1, 2018

If the title seems funny for you right now, it won’t seem so after the film has ended. This is another tear-jerker, but it is a film about romance, school life and has dramatic slice-of-life elements. We follow Haruki Shiga, a student who stays aloof from everyone around him. When he finds a handwritten book titled “Living with Dying,” he learns that the author, a bubbly and popular girl in his class, suffers from a pancreatic disease that only her family is aware of.

While this surprisingly doesn’t stir any sort of sympathy or pity in Haruki’s mind, his life begins to change rapidly. He finds himself around the girl, Sakura, a lot more. Her capricious and timid nature drives the two of them on many adventures together, creating a special bond between the two. But what is it that lies ahead for them?

6. Grave of the Fireflies

Best emotional anime movies, Grave of the Fireflies
Grave of the Fireflies
  • Duration: 1 hr. 28 mins.
  • Studios: Studio Ghibli
  • Genre: Drama
  • Aired: Apr 16, 1988

After their mother goes missing, the siblings Seita and Setsuko are left to lie on their own. Their father is drafted into the army, and the second world war is just reaching its conclusion. However, with rampant cases of bombing around the area, Seita must take care of his sister and fulfill her needs as well.

If you’re looking for a film that stirs you up to the core, then Grave of the Fireflies will be a fine film for you to check out. The makers might as well come and squeeze your tear ducts. It’s an anime that’s bound to make you cry. You have been warned.

5. A Silent Voice

Must watch romantic anime movie A Silent Voice
A Silent Voice
  • Duration: 2 hrs 10 mins
  • Studios: Kyoto Animation
  • Genres: Drama, School, Shounen
  • Aired: Sep 17, 2016

As a boy in elementary school, Ishida found various ways to achieve a sense of thrill. He would jump into rivers from high spots and tease and make fun of his friends. When a deaf girl, Shouko, transfers into his class, he begins to bully her. As a result of his thoughtless actions, Shouko is left distressed. Soon, her mother complains this to the school. Soon, his classmates single out Ishida, and he is punished. While Shouko transfers out of the school, Ishida spends the rest of his school years being tormented and teased by his classmates.

Now in the third year of high school, Ishida is a silent and lonesome kid. He deeply regrets his actions and plans to end his own life. This is when he again crosses paths with Shouko. What changes will this fateful meeting bring into Ishida’s life? Will he fall for the girl that he used to bully once? 

4. Howl’s Moving Castle

Studio Ghibli anime that you should watch Howl's Moving Castle
Howl’s Moving Castle
  • Duration: 1 hrs 59 mins
  • Studios: Studio Ghibli
  • Genres: Adventure, Drama, Fantasy, Romance
  • Released: Nov 20, 2004

Another anime by Hayao Miyazaki makes this list! Sophie lives in a small town and is the daughter of a hatmaker. She works hard in her father’s shop and doesn’t expect much from the future. She often listens to tales of a wizard named Howl, who has powerful magical abilities and travels in a spectacular floating castle. 

Sophie’s life takes a drastic turn when she is caught up in a dangerous situation and saved by the mysterious wizard. Moreover, she comes against the vengeful Witch of the Waste, who curses Sophie, turning her into an older woman. In order to get back her body, Sophie must begin a journey along with the wizard, Howl, a dangerous adventure that will completely change the town girl’s life. Howl’s Moving Castle is a well-known Studio Ghibli anime that was even nominated for the Academy Awards.

3. Princess Mononoke

adventurous studio ghibli anime movie
Princess Mononoke
  • Duration: 2 hr. 13 min.
  • Studios: Studio Ghibli
  • Genres: Action, Adventure, Fantasy
  • Aired: Jul 12, 1997

Princess Mononoke tells us the story of the young Prince Ashitaka, who ended up getting a curse on his arm while protecting his village from a beast. The curse grants him potent demonic power but also chips off at his life. Upon instructions of the village elders, Ashitaka decides to go to the West for treatment.

He reaches Tatara, a place called the Iron Town but finds himself in the middle of a battle. Lady Eboshi of Tatara seeks deforestation and industrialization, while Princess San stands with the sacred spirits of the forest and is furious by the destruction brought about by human actions. Stuck in the middle of the battle between nature and humankind while struggling against his own latent demon, what will Ashitaka do now?

2. Your Name

Best anime film by Makoto Shinkai, Your name
Your name
  • Duration: 1 hr. 46 mins.
  • Studios: CoMix Wave Films
  • Genres: Drama, Romance, Supernatural
  • Aired: Aug 26, 2016

This massively famous film came out in 2016. Soon, it was the talk of the town. Your Name, directed by Makoto Shinkai, boasts a very scenic art style, and a heartwarming romance story with a very innovative twist.

Mitsuha, a village girl, dreams that she is a boy living in Tokyo, while Taki, a boy in Tokyo, dreams that he is a girl who lives in the village Itomori. They soon discover that they’re not just dreaming but actually swapping bodies and living each other’s lives. What sort of connection do they have, and how will they deal with this peculiar situation?

1. Spirited Away

Top 1 best anime film that won oscar, Spirited Away
Spirited Away
  • Duration: 2 hr. 4 mins.
  • Studios: Studio Ghibli
  • Genres: Adventure, Drama, Supernatural
  • Aired: Jul 20, 2001.

Ahh, yes, the famous film that won recognition even in the Oscars. Spirited Away tells the story of a ten-year-old girl named Chihiro, who finds herself in an adventure to free her parent, who are turned into pigs when they enter a seemingly abandoned amusement park. As Chihiro journeys along into the depths of the park, she learns about its various secrets and of ways to hopefully free her parents.

This classic childhood is the bridge for a bunch of fans into the anime world. Hayao Miyazaki is lauded for this and is perhaps one of his most well-recognized works. 

Now, many of these films might end up on top of your lists as well, while a few of them are hit-or-misses, depending upon what you’re looking for in an anime. If that’s the case, then make sure to let us know which film it is that you feel we should add to our list.

Honorable Mentions-

  • My Neighbour Totoro
  • The End of Evangelion
  • The Girl Who Leapt Through Time
  • Akira
  • 5 Centimeters Per Second
  • Weathering With You
  • Demon Slayer: Mugen Train
  • Ponyo
  • Doraemon: Stand By Me
  • The Secret World of Arrietty
  • Perfect Blue
  • Ghost in the Shell
  • Magnetic Rose
  • Millennium Actress
  • Redline
  • Kiki’s Delivery Service
Sanket Palwe
Sanket lives in Pune, India. He knows his non-mainstream anime just as well as he does the popular ones. He is a true-blooded otaku and has a deep interest for everything psychology and Japan.
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