Anime: 40 Highly Recommended Titles That You Should Watch

by maxbax007 | created - 31 Aug 2012 | updated - 24 Sep 2012 | Public
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1. Star Blazers (1979– )

22 min | Animation, Action, Adventure

8.4
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.4/10 X  

In the year 2199, a starship must make a dangerous voyage to the distant planet Iscandar and back to save Earth from an alien invasion.

Stars: Eddie Allen, Michael Bertolini, Amy Howard Wilson, Lydia Leeds

Votes: 951

A Classic "Space Opera" series. A desperate mission to save Earth from annihilation. Alien forces trying to destroy mankind. Battles. Heroes. Villains. This series has it all.

2. Cowboy Bebop (1998–2003)

TV-MA | 24 min | Animation, Action, Adventure

8.9
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.9/10 X  

The futuristic misadventures and tragedies of an easygoing bounty hunter and his partners.

Stars: Kôichi Yamadera, Unshô Ishizuka, Megumi Hayashibara, Steve Blum

Votes: 64,166

Sci-Fi punk meets crime meets cool Jazz. And Cowboy Bebop weaves it altogether into the perfect story. Jaded characters with a colorful and dangerous past; trying to scratch out a living as bounty hunters.

3. Cowboy Bebop: The Movie (2001)

R | 115 min | Animation, Action, Crime

7.9
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  
61 Metascore

A terrorist explosion releases a deadly virus on the masses, and it's up the bounty-hunting Bebop crew to catch the cold-blooded culprit.

Directors: Shinichirô Watanabe, Tensai Okamura, Hiroyuki Okiura, Yoshiyuki Takei | Stars: Beau Billingslea, Melissa Fahn, Nicholas Guest, Kôichi Yamadera

Votes: 35,780 | Gross: $1.00M

The movie timeline takes place during the time of the TV series. Very well done too.

4. Trigun (1998)

TV-14 | 24 min | Animation, Action, Comedy

8.4
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.4/10 X  

Vash the Stampede is the most infamous outlaw on the planet Gunsmoke and with a 60 billion double dollar price on his head the most sought after!

Stars: Masaya Onosaka, Hiromi Tsuru, Satsuki Yukino, Johnny Yong Bosch

Votes: 15,751

If you can get past all the contorted facial expressions (the characters make) that give Trigun it's comedic flavor, this is one of the best "Space Westerns" I've ever seen.

5. Trigun: Badlands Rumble (2010)

TV-14 | 90 min | Animation, Action, Sci-Fi

7.5
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20 years after meddling into the bank heist of a notorious robber named Gasback, Vash the Stampede is heading towards Macca City. Rumors say that the legendary thief might appear there ... See full summary »

Director: Satoshi Nishimura | Stars: Masaya Onosaka, Hiromi Tsuru, Satsuki Yukino, Shô Hayami

Votes: 3,864 | Gross: $0.06M

A film made set sometime during the Trigun series. Very good artwork and a really good story.

6. Trinity Blood (2005– )

TV-MA | 30 min | Animation, Action, Drama

7.3
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

In a futuristic world of an unsteady truce between humans and vampires a superhuman priest battles to secure a peaceful co-existence.

Stars: Hiroki Touchi, Russell Wait, Mamiko Noto, Takako Honda

Votes: 2,309

My 2nd favorite genre in anime: Gothic sci-fi horror mix. It's the distant future where super-powers square off against each other in a tout thriller that infuses political intrigue.

7. Death Note (2006)

Not Rated | 126 min | Crime, Drama, Fantasy

7.9
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  

A battle between the world's two greatest minds begins when Light Yagami finds the Death Note, a notebook with the power to kill, and decides to rid the world of criminals.

Director: Shûsuke Kaneko | Stars: Tatsuya Fujiwara, Ken'ichi Matsuyama, Asaka Seto, Shigeki Hosokawa

Votes: 25,354

This series is really, REALLY good. What if you had the power to kill anyone in the world by simply seeing their face and writing their name down in Death's notebook? (Hence, the title, "Death Note"). What would you do with that power? Change the world for the better? Become a megalomaniac? Would you be willing to risk losing a place in Heaven? This series challenges you with all of these moral dilemmas.

8. Ghost in the Shell (1995)

Not Rated | 83 min | Animation, Action, Crime

8.0
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  
76 Metascore

A cyborg policewoman and her partner hunt a mysterious and powerful hacker called the Puppet Master.

Director: Mamoru Oshii | Stars: Atsuko Tanaka, Iemasa Kayumi, Akio Ôtsuka, Kôichi Yamadera

Votes: 104,818 | Gross: $0.52M

My favorite genre in anime: Cyberpunk. "Ghost in the Shell" is a much better movie than "Akira" and it had all the feel of "Blade Runner". I highly recommend all three movies (including the remake of the original); as well as the 2 seasons of the TV series. I'm curious as to how DreamWorks is going to treat this great title when they turn GITS into a live action film.

9. Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence (I) (2004)

PG-13 | 100 min | Animation, Drama, Sci-Fi

7.6
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
66 Metascore

In the year 2032, Batô, a cyborg detective for the anti-terrorist unit Public Security Section 9, investigates the case of a female robot--one created solely for sexual pleasure--who slaughtered her owner.

Director: Mamoru Oshii | Stars: Akio Ôtsuka, Atsuko Tanaka, Tamio Ohki, Kôichi Yamadera

Votes: 31,562 | Gross: $1.04M

Better animation than the original. The story wasn't bad either.

10. Kôkaku kidôtai: Stand Alone Complex (2002–2005)

TV-MA | 24 min | Animation, Action, Crime

8.5
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.5/10 X  

The futuristic adventures of a female cyborg counter intelligence agent and her support team.

Stars: Shirô Saitô, Mary Elizabeth McGlynn, William Knight, Richard Epcar

Votes: 14,443

11. Kôkaku kidôtai: Stand Alone Complex Solid State Society (2006 TV Movie)

Not Rated | 108 min | Animation, Action, Adventure

8.0
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

A.D. 2034. It has been two years since Motoko Kusanagi left Section 9. Togusa is now the new leader of the team, that has considerably increased its appointed personnel. The expanded new ... See full summary »

Director: Kenji Kamiyama | Stars: Atsuko Tanaka, Osamu Saka, Akio Ôtsuka, Kôichi Yamadera

Votes: 5,351

The animation was not like GITS 2: Innocence". It was like the animation for the 2 TV series. The story was also rooted in the TV series as well. But worth watching nonetheless.

12. Ghost in the Shell: S.A.C. 2nd GIG - Individual Eleven (2006 Video)

Not Rated | 162 min | Animation, Action, Drama

8.5
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.5/10 X  

The year is 2030 and an influx of refuges have effortlessly transformed themselves into a terrorist organization known as the Individual Eleven. With a sadistic intent of mass destruction, ... See full summary »

Director: Kenji Kamiyama | Stars: Alison Matthews, Russell Roberts, David Kaye, Trevor Devall

Votes: 1,954

13. Appleseed (2004)

R | 101 min | Animation, Action, Drama

7.0
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  
40 Metascore

In a utopian society created at the end of the third world war, a female warrior who has been plucked from the badlands begins to see cracks in this new facade. And what does this community have planned for the rest of humankind?

Directors: Shinji Aramaki, Steven Foster | Stars: Ai Kobayashi, Jûrôta Kosugi, Yuki Matsuoka, Mami Koyama

Votes: 16,485 | Gross: $0.13M

In the same vain as Ghost in the Shell, Appleseed has a really good cyberpunk story to tell.

14. Appleseed Ex Machina (2007)

PG-13 | 105 min | Animation, Action, Drama

7.1
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

With Brialeos convalescing after a mission, Deunan is assigned a new and remarkably familiar partner as a strange wave of terrorist attacks plague Olympus.

Director: Shinji Aramaki | Stars: Ai Kobayashi, Kôichi Yamadera, Yûji Kishi, Kong Kuwata

Votes: 8,757

15. Bekushiru: 2077 Nihon sakoku (2007)

PG-13 | 109 min | Animation, Action, Sci-Fi

6.9
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

Japan, 2077: A female agent named Vexille is dispatched to Tokyo to investigate whether Japanese are developing robotic technology, which has been banned by the U.N. due to its potential threat to humankind.

Director: Fumihiko Sori | Stars: Meisa Kuroki, Shôsuke Tanihara, Yasuko Matsuyuki, Akio Ôtsuka

Votes: 7,005

The same people who made "Appleseed" also made this movie; and it's very good.

16. Sword of the Stranger (2007)

Not Rated | 103 min | Animation, Action, Adventure

7.8
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

A swordsman from a strange land is caught in a struggle between morality, righteousness, and devotion as he reluctantly agrees to take a raggedy boy and his dog to a remote, Buddhist temple.

Director: Masahiro Andô | Stars: Tomoya Nagase, Yuri Chinen, Kôichi Yamadera, Akio Ôtsuka

Votes: 11,727

17. Ninja Scroll (1993)

Not Rated | 94 min | Animation, Action, Adventure

7.9
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  

A vagabond swordsman is aided by a beautiful ninja girl and a crafty spy in confronting a demonic clan of killers - with a ghost from his past as their leader - who are bent on overthrowing the Tokugawa Shogunate.

Director: Yoshiaki Kawajiri | Stars: Kôichi Yamadera, Emi Shinohara, Takeshi Aono, Osamu Saka

Votes: 29,338

And this is my 3rd favorite anime genre: Medieval Feudal Japan. And this is the best anime movie in that genre.

18. Highlander: The Search for Vengeance (2007 Video)

Unrated | 85 min | Animation, Action, Fantasy

6.9
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

An anime continuation of the HIGHLANDER saga, following immortal Colin MacLeod's quest for revenge in the future.

Directors: Yoshiaki Kawajiri, Takuji Endo, Hiroshi Hamazaki | Stars: Alistair Abell, Debi Mae West, Nolan North, Scott McNeil

Votes: 3,113

I was a big fan of The Highlander TV series. And when "Highlander: The Search for Vengeance" came out, I knew I had to see it. I'm glad I did. Good story and the same artists who made "Batman: Gotham Knight: Deadshot" made this movie as well.

19. Batman: Gotham Knight (2008 Video)

PG-13 | 75 min | Animation, Action, Crime

6.8
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

A collection of key events mark Bruce Wayne's life, as he journeys from beginner to Dark Knight.

Directors: Yasuhiro Aoki, Futoshi Higashide, Toshiyuki Kubooka, Hiroshi Morioka, Jong-Sik Nam, Shôjirô Nishimi, Yûichirô Hayashi | Stars: Kevin Conroy, Jason Marsden, Scott Menville, George Newbern

Votes: 22,833

My favorite DC Comics character given really good anime treatment.

20. The Chronicles of Riddick: Dark Fury (2004 Video)

Not Rated | 35 min | Action, Animation, Sci-Fi

6.6
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

This story opens with the new action hero and the two other survivors of Pitch Black already caught by a giant spaceship filled with dread. The sinewy leader has a unique--and creepy--jail ... See full summary »

Director: Peter Chung | Stars: Vin Diesel, Rhiana Griffith, Keith David, Roger Jackson

Votes: 9,654

A companion video to the Pitch Black movie sequel, "The Chronicles of Riddick". Wonderfully animated and a good sci-fi story.

21. Vampire Hunter D (1985)

Unrated | 80 min | Animation, Action, Fantasy

7.2
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

A young girl requests the help of a vampire hunter to kill the vampire who has bitten her, and thus prevent her from becoming a vampire herself.

Director: Toyoo Ashida | Stars: Kaneto Shiozawa, Michie Tomizawa, Seizô Katô, Satoko Kifuji

Votes: 10,941

Classic Sc-Fi Goth Horror story.

22. Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust (2000)

R | 103 min | Animation, Action, Adventure

7.7
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
62 Metascore

When a girl is abducted by a vampire, a legendary bounty hunter is hired to bring her back.

Director: Yoshiaki Kawajiri | Stars: Andrew Philpot, John Rafter Lee, Pamela Adlon, Wendee Lee

Votes: 24,931 | Gross: $0.03M

The sequel to "Vampire Hunter D" and is a MUCH better story and more richly animated. Done by the same people who made "Highlander: The Search for Vengeance".

23. Kite (1998– )

50 min | Animation, Action, Crime

6.8
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

She may be cute. She may be young. She may seem innocent and naive, but don't be fooled. She's a cold-blooded killer, and if you're on the wrong side of the law, you may be her next target.... See full summary »

Stars: Konami Yoshida, Kinryû Arimoto, Kôsuke Okano, Tatsuo Matoba

Votes: 3,239

24. Perfect Blue (1997)

R | 81 min | Animation, Horror, Mystery

7.9
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  

A retired pop singer turned actress' sense of reality is shaken when she is stalked by an obsessed fan and seemingly a ghost of her past.

Director: Satoshi Kon | Stars: Junko Iwao, Rica Matsumoto, Shinpachi Tsuji, Masaaki Ôkura

Votes: 35,527 | Gross: $0.11M

If Alfred Hitchcock were alive today, and he wanted to make an anime film, this would be it.

25. Metropolis (2001)

PG-13 | 108 min | Animation, Adventure, Drama

7.3
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  
75 Metascore

Kenichi and his uncle Shunsaku Ban must find the mystery behind robot girl Tima.

Director: Rintaro | Stars: Toshio Furukawa, Scott Weinger, Yuka Imoto, Kei Kobayashi

Votes: 18,124 | Gross: $0.64M

This is a wonderful telling of the classic sci-fi movie.

26. Sky Blue (2003)

Unrated | 86 min | Action, Fantasy, Animation

6.8
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  
53 Metascore

Civilization has been destroyed by war and pollution, but the survivors have built the last city of Ecoban. As most natural resources have been exhausted, Ecoban is powered by pollution. ... See full summary »

Director: Moon-saeng Kim | Stars: Andrew Ableson, Cathy Cavadini, Joon-ho Chung, Mark Lindsay

Votes: 8,502 | Gross: $0.03M

This movie got little fanfare when it was released and that's a shame. It's a post-environmental apocalypse story. Think: Anime meets Logan's Run.

27. Bubblegum Crisis (1987– )

25 min | Animation, Action, Sci-Fi

7.5
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

A female mercenary team, armed with unique power armor suits, battle the forces of the corrupt mega-corporation, Genom in futuristic Tokyo.

Stars: Yoshiko Sakakibara, Kinuko Ômori, Michie Tomizawa, Akiko Hiramatsu

Votes: 960

The Classic (and in my mind, the ORIGINAL) cyberpunk story. Before Ghost in the Shell, there was Bubblegum Crisis.

28. AD Police Files (1990– )

Not Rated | 121 min | Animation, Crime, Sci-Fi

6.7
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

Three different, unique stories about an elite police force called the AD Police.

Stars: Toshio Furukawa, Adam Henderson, Brad Moranz, Youko Matsuoka

Votes: 405

The A.D. Police was a short series of 3 parts. This was a prequel to the 1987 series "Bubblegum Crisis".

29. The Professional: Golgo 13 (1983)

Not Rated | 91 min | Animation, Action, Crime

6.8
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

After killing the son of a powerful oil tycoon, an assassin-for-hire becomes the target of American soldiers and superhuman killers.

Director: Osamu Dezaki | Stars: Tetsurô Sagawa, Gorô Naya, Toshiko Fujita, Kôsei Tomita

Votes: 2,212

Golgo 13 was my first exposure to "adult-themed" anime. And I gotta say: He's STILL the man after all these years. Even the TV series is edgy and sharp.

30. Howl's Moving Castle (2004)

PG | 119 min | Animation, Adventure, Family

8.2
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  
80 Metascore

When an unconfident young woman is cursed with an old body by a spiteful witch, her only chance of breaking the spell lies with a self-indulgent yet insecure young wizard and his companions in his legged, walking castle.

Director: Hayao Miyazaki | Stars: Chieko Baishô, Takuya Kimura, Tatsuya Gashûin, Akihiro Miwa

Votes: 249,528 | Gross: $4.71M

31. Demon City Shinjuku (1988 Video)

TV-MA | 82 min | Animation, Fantasy, Horror

6.5
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  

A young warrior must finish what his father started by battling his way through a city of demons and defeat a diabolical psychic who has opened a portal to hell.

Director: Yoshiaki Kawajiri | Stars: Hideyuki Hori, Hiromi Tsuru, Kiyoshi Kobayashi, Kyôko Tongû

Votes: 1,651

32. Blue Submarine No. 6 (1998– )

Not Rated | 30 min | Animation, Action, Sci-Fi

7.0
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The once famous and well respected scientist Zorndyke has bred a new genre of living being, one that thrives on the oceans and lives to destroy humans. Zorndyke believes it is time that the... See full summary »

Stars: Hozumi Gôda, Kinryû Arimoto, Scott Bailey, Ali Bell

Votes: 949

33. Silent Service (1995 Video)

Animation, War

7.0
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The crew of Japan's first nuclear submarine mutinies and deliberately creates an international incident with the United States.

Director: Ryôsuke Takahashi | Stars: Akio Ôtsuka, Masane Tsukayama, Kan Tokumaru, Osamu Saka

Votes: 80

I think Silent Service was paying homage to "The Hunt for Red October".

34. Armitage III (1995– )

Unrated | 140 min | Animation, Sci-Fi, Thriller

7.1
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

In the year 2046, a cop and his female android partner called Armitage, part of the latest android line known as "class III" models that look, act and feel human, investigate illegal manufacture of class III androids on colonized Mars.

Stars: Hiroko Kasahara, Yasunori Masutani, Ryûsei Nakao, Hirohiko Kakegawa

Votes: 901

35. Armitage III: Dual Matrix (2002 Video)

Not Rated | 90 min | Animation, Sci-Fi, Thriller

6.5
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  

Five years after the OAV series, Third series robot Naomi Armitage and her husband Ross Sylibus now live peacefully on Mars with their daughter, until a corporation wants to know the secrets of the third's ability to bear children.

Director: Katsuhito Akiyama | Stars: Ryôka Yuzuki, Hikaru Hanada, Yuka Imai, Kazuhiro Yamaji

Votes: 929

36. The Animatrix (2003 Video)

PG-13 | 100 min | Animation, Action, Adventure

7.4
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

The Animatrix is a collection of several animated short films, detailing the backstory of the "Matrix" universe, and the original war between man and machines which led to the creation of the Matrix.

Directors: Peter Chung, Andrew R. Jones, Yoshiaki Kawajiri, Takeshi Koike, Mahiro Maeda, Kôji Morimoto, Shinichirô Watanabe | Stars: Kevin Michael Richardson, Pamela Adlon, John DiMaggio, Tom Kenny

Votes: 65,125

This was a really good companion video to The Matrix movies.

37. Blood: The Last Vampire (2000)

Not Rated | 48 min | Animation, Action, Horror

6.7
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  
44 Metascore

In Japan, the vampire-hunter Saya, who is a powerful original, is sent by her liaison with the government, David, posed as a teenage student to the Yokota High School on the eve of ... See full summary »

Director: Hiroyuki Kitakubo | Stars: Yûki Kudô, Saemi Nakamura, Joe Romersa, Rebecca Forstadt

Votes: 10,801

38. Crying Freeman 1: Portrait of a Killer (1988– )

60 min | Animation, Action, Crime

7.1
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

Emu Hino, a 29-year-old virgin, witnesses a mob hit and fears that the killer will now find her and kill her. Indeed, he sets out to do so; he's Yo Hinomura, a talented potter and artist ... See full summary »

Stars: Toshio Furukawa, Steve Bulen, Chiharu Kataishi, Edie Mirman

Votes: 813

Really, the whole "Crying Freeman" series is worth watching. Not the remake. But the original series from 1989-1993.

39. Akira (1988)

R | 124 min | Animation, Action, Drama

8.1
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

A secret military project endangers Neo-Tokyo when it turns a biker gang member into a rampaging psychic psychopath that only two teenagers and a group of psychics can stop.

Director: Katsuhiro Ôtomo | Stars: Mitsuo Iwata, Nozomu Sasaki, Mami Koyama, Tesshô Genda

Votes: 121,924 | Gross: $0.55M

OK, call me crazy. But Akira leaves me like this: Visually stunning. Weak story. Yeah, I know it's on everybody's list as one of the very best anime movies ever made......but not mine. It just makes my Top 20.

40. Halo Legends (2010 Video)

PG-13 | 120 min | Animation, Action, Sci-Fi

6.7
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

The universe of the Halo video game series is expanded in seven short animated films from Japan's greatest anime directors and studios.

Directors: Frank O'Connor, Shinji Aramaki, Hideki Futamura, Toshiyuki Kan'no, Tomoki Kyôda, Kôichi Mashimo, Yasushi Muraki, Daisuke Nishio, Mamoru Oshii, Kôji Sawai, Hiroshi Yamazaki, Keiichi Sugiyama, Takahiro Tanaka | Stars: Luci Christian, Brittney Karbowski, Atsuko Tanaka, Greg Ayres

Votes: 4,397

I don't play the Halo games but I'm familiar with the storyline. And this series of short stories is excellent. My personal favorites are "The Babysitter" and "Be Human".