The 73 best ANIME MOVIES you need to watch before you DIE

by paschan-1 | created - 28 Mar 2012 | updated - 17 Aug 2013 | Public

All these titles MUST be watched in Japanese language!!!

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1. Mimi wo sumaseba (1995)

G | 111 min | Animation, Drama, Family

A love story between a girl who loves reading books, and a boy who has previously checked out all of the library books she chooses.

Director: Yoshifumi Kondô | Stars: Yoko Honna, Issey Takahashi, Takashi Tachibana, Shigeru Muroi

Votes: 38,077

Incredibly underrated. One of the best works on animation ever, in my opinion. Directed by deceased japanese master animator Yoshifumi Kondo, and with an excelent score by Yuji Noma.

2. Akira (1988)

R | 124 min | Animation, Action, Drama

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: 130,414 | Gross: $0.55M

With "Akira", Katsuhiro Otomo redefined the term "Animation" for ever.

3. Ghost in the Shell (1995)

Not Rated | 83 min | Animation, Action, Crime

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: 109,933 | Gross: $0.52M

The best work by master Mamoru Oshii. Along with "Whispers of the Heart" and "Akira", this film is one of the best crafted animated movies of all times.

4. Grave of the Fireflies (1988)

Not Rated | 89 min | Animation, Drama, War

A young boy and his little sister struggle to survive in Japan during World War II.

Director: Isao Takahata | Stars: Tsutomu Tatsumi, Ayano Shiraishi, Akemi Yamaguchi, Yoshiko Shinohara

Votes: 182,544

Isao Takahata's masterpiece

5. Wings of Honneamise (1987)

Unrated | 121 min | Animation, Drama, Sci-Fi

In an alternative Earth, a young astronaut participates in a controversial fledgling space program.

Director: Hiroyuki Yamaga | Stars: Leo Morimoto, David Thomas, Mitsuki Yayoi, Heidi Lenhart

Votes: 4,203 | Gross: $0.06M

A masterpiece by Hirokuki Yamaga. Unfortunately, this movie was way ahead of its time and didn't get the attention it truly deserved.

6. My Neighbor Totoro (1988)

G | 86 min | Animation, Family, Fantasy

86 Metascore

When two girls move to the country to be near their ailing mother, they have adventures with the wondrous forest spirits who live nearby.

Director: Hayao Miyazaki | Stars: Hitoshi Takagi, Noriko Hidaka, Chika Sakamoto, Shigesato Itoi

Votes: 223,771

Visually astonishing film by master Hayao Miyazaki. The music by Joe Hisaishi makes it an unforgettable beautiful experience.

7. Ninja Scroll (1993)

Not Rated | 94 min | Animation, Action, Adventure

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: 30,294

A shocking film. An incredible animated experience by Yoshiaki Kawajiri.

8. Princess Mononoke (1997)

PG-13 | 134 min | Animation, Adventure, Fantasy

76 Metascore

On a journey to find the cure for a Tatarigami's curse, Ashitaka finds himself in the middle of a war between the forest gods and Tatara, a mining colony. In this quest he also meets San, the Mononoke Hime.

Director: Hayao Miyazaki | Stars: Yôji Matsuda, Yuriko Ishida, Yûko Tanaka, Billy Crudup

Votes: 278,306 | Gross: $2.38M

Impossible to miss this epic tale by master Hayao Miyazaki.

9. Tokyo Godfathers (2003)

PG-13 | 92 min | Animation, Adventure, Comedy

73 Metascore

On Christmas Eve, three homeless people living on the streets of Tokyo find a newborn baby among the trash and set out to find its parents.

Directors: Satoshi Kon, Shôgo Furuya | Stars: Tôru Emori, Yoshiaki Umegaki, Aya Okamoto, Shôzô Îzuka

Votes: 24,533 | Gross: $0.13M

The definition of "drawing masterpiece"

10. Only Yesterday (1991)

PG | 118 min | Animation, Drama, Romance

90 Metascore

A twenty-seven-year-old office worker travels to the countryside while reminiscing about her childhood in Tokyo.

Director: Isao Takahata | Stars: Miki Imai, Toshirô Yanagiba, Yoko Honna, Mayumi Izuka

Votes: 18,291 | Gross: $0.45M

The second best film by Takahata after "Grave of the Fireflies" in my opinion.

11. Jin-Roh: The Wolf Brigade (1999)

R | 102 min | Animation, Drama, Fantasy

59 Metascore

A traumatized member of an elite para-military police force falls for the sister of a female terrorist courier who died in front of him on duty.

Director: Hiroyuki Okiura | Stars: Michael Dobson, Yoshikazu Fujiki, Sumi Mutoh, Moneca Stori

Votes: 12,934 | Gross: $0.09M

Directed by Hiroyuki Okiura. The characters and environment are so realistic that you can actually feel true anger for this fascist society.

12. Perfect Blue (1997)

R | 81 min | Animation, Horror, Mystery

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: 39,491 | Gross: $0.43M

Satoshi Kon's masterpiece.

13. Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust (2000)

R | 103 min | Animation, Action, Adventure

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: 25,805 | Gross: $0.15M

An epic tale by director Yoshiaki Kawajiri. Incredible movie.

14. Super Space Fortress Macross (1984)

Not Rated | 114 min | Animation, Action, Adventure

In the next century, a reconfiguring ship (think "Transformer" with a pilot) called Macross carries fifty thousand refugees within its hold as it returns to Earth pursued by giant humanoid ... See full summary »

Directors: Noboru Ishiguro, Shôji Kawamori | Stars: Arihiro Hase, Mari Iijima, Mika Doi, Michio Hazama

Votes: 2,404

Forget about Robotech. Macross is where it all should have been stayed. this 1984 masterpiece is directed by deceased Noboru Ishiguro and Shoji Kawamori.

15. Howl's Moving Castle (2004)

PG | 119 min | Animation, Adventure, Family

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: 267,284 | Gross: $4.71M

Another masterpiece by Miyazaki. The score by Joe Hisaishi is one of the best music for cinema ever.

16. 5 Centimeters Per Second (2007)

TV-PG | 63 min | Animation, Drama, Romance

Told in three interconnected segments, we follow a young man named Takaki through his life as cruel winters, cold technology, and finally, adult obligations and responsibility converge to test the delicate petals of love.

Director: Makoto Shinkai | Stars: Kenji Mizuhashi, Yoshimi Kondou, Satomi Hanamura, Ayaka Onoue

Votes: 40,382

A beautiful movie that defined the style of master director Makoto Shinkai.

17. Tekkonkinkreet (2006)

R | 111 min | Animation, Action, Adventure

65 Metascore

In Treasure Town, life can be both peaceful and violent. This is never truer than for our heroes, Black and White - two street kids who claim to traverse the urban city as if it were their ... See full summary »

Director: Michael Arias | Stars: Kazunari Ninomiya, Yû Aoi, Yûsuke Iseya, Kankurô Kudô

Votes: 10,989

A lot of people got upset because this anime was directed by mexican director Miguel Arias. Don't let you be fooled by this "nonsenseless" an WATCH THIS MASTERPIECE NOW!

18. Kiki's Delivery Service (1989)

G | 103 min | Animation, Adventure, Drama

83 Metascore

A young witch, on her mandatory year of independent life, finds fitting into a new community difficult while she supports herself by running an air courier service.

Director: Hayao Miyazaki | Stars: Kirsten Dunst, Minami Takayama, Rei Sakuma, Kappei Yamaguchi

Votes: 93,662

Everytime a movie is directed by Hayao Miyazaki and the music composed by Joe Hisaishi, a masterpiece is born.

19. Metropolis (2001)

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

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: 18,552 | Gross: $0.64M

A fine piece of art by director Rintaro resurrecting the universe created by master artist Osamu Tezuka.

20. Memories (1995)

PG-13 | 113 min | Animation, Fantasy, Sci-Fi

"Memories" is made up of three separate science-fiction stories. In the first, "Magnetic Rose," four space travelers are drawn into an abandoned spaceship that contains a world created by ... See full summary »

Directors: Kôji Morimoto, Tensai Okamura, Katsuhiro Ôtomo | Stars: Shigeru Chiba, Hisao Egawa, Kayoko Fujii, Nobuaki Fukuda

Votes: 13,320

This movie by directors, Otomo, Morimoto and Okamura, is thrill-de-ride.

21. Porco Rosso (1992)

PG | 94 min | Animation, Adventure, Comedy

83 Metascore

In 1930s Italy, a veteran World War I pilot is cursed to look like an anthropomorphic pig.

Director: Hayao Miyazaki | Stars: Shûichirô Moriyama, Tokiko Katô, Bunshi Katsura Vi, Tsunehiko Kamijô

Votes: 58,253

Hayao Miyazaki the director and Joe Hisaishi the composer; there's nothing else to say.

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

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

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: 32,581 | Gross: $1.04M

Visually astonishing sequel also by Mamoru Oshii.

23. Paprika (2006)

R | 90 min | Animation, Adventure, Crime

81 Metascore

When a machine that allows therapists to enter their patients' dreams is stolen, all Hell breaks loose. Only a young female therapist, Paprika, can stop it.

Director: Satoshi Kon | Stars: Megumi Hayashibara, Tôru Emori, Katsunosuke Hori, Tôru Furuya

Votes: 57,227 | Gross: $0.88M

The last masterpiece by the great Satoshi Kon.

24. Castle in the Sky (1986)

PG | 125 min | Animation, Adventure, Family

78 Metascore

A young boy and a girl with a magic crystal must race against pirates and foreign agents in a search for a legendary floating castle.

Director: Hayao Miyazaki | Stars: Anna Paquin, James Van Der Beek, Cloris Leachman, Mark Hamill

Votes: 120,454

Directed by Hayao Miyazaki, this film is one of the first japanese animations that can actually compete with the best live action cinema worldwide.

25. Suchîmubôi (2004)

PG-13 | 126 min | Animation, Action, Adventure

66 Metascore

In 1860s Britain, a boy inventor finds himself caught in the middle of a deadly conflict over a revolutionary advance in steam power.

Director: Katsuhiro Ôtomo | Stars: Anna Paquin, Patrick Stewart, Alfred Molina, Anne Suzuki

Votes: 15,200 | Gross: $0.41M

Another virtuoso filmmaking by Otomo.

26. Spirited Away (2001)

PG | 125 min | Animation, Adventure, Family

96 Metascore

During her family's move to the suburbs, a sullen 10-year-old girl wanders into a world ruled by gods, witches, and spirits, and where humans are changed into beasts.

Directors: Hayao Miyazaki, Kirk Wise | Stars: Daveigh Chase, Suzanne Pleshette, Miyu Irino, Rumi Hiiragi

Votes: 524,026 | Gross: $10.06M

An Oscar winnig treasure by Hayao Miyazaki.

27. Kidô keisatsu patorebâ: The Movie 2 (1993)

Unrated | 113 min | Animation, Action, Drama

When a terrorist attack is blamed on the Air Force, Special Vehicle Unit 2 gets caught in the middle of a growing political conflict.

Director: Mamoru Oshii | Stars: Mîna Tominaga, Briony Glassco, Julie Ann Taylor, Toshio Furukawa

Votes: 3,172

Watching this Mamoru Oshii movie feels like entering an art gallery.

28. Hadashi no Gen (1983)

83 min | Animation, Biography, Drama

A powerful statement against war, Barefoot Gen is a disturbing story about the effect of the atomic bomb on a boy's life and the lives of the Japanese people.

Director: Mori Masaki | Stars: Issei Miyazaki, Catherine Battistone, Yoshie Shimamura, Iona Morris

Votes: 6,125

29. Ocean Waves (1993 TV Movie)

PG-13 | 76 min | Animation, Drama, Romance

73 Metascore

As a young man returns home after his first year away at college he recalls his senior year of high school and the iron-willed, big city girl that turned his world upside down.

Director: Tomomi Mochizuki | Stars: Nobuo Tobita, Toshihiko Seki, Yoko Sakamoto, Yuri Amano

Votes: 7,076

Tomomi Mochizuki is the director of maybe the best drama ever on animation.

30. Toki o kakeru shôjo (2006)

Not Rated | 98 min | Animation, Adventure, Comedy

A high-school girl named Makoto acquires the power to travel back in time, and decides to use it for her own personal benefits. Little does she know that she is affecting the lives of others just as much as she is her own.

Director: Mamoru Hosoda | Stars: Riisa Naka, Takuya Ishida, Mitsutaka Itakura, Ayami Kakiuchi

Votes: 48,653

A touching movie by master Hosoda.

31. Kumo no mukô, yakusoku no basho (2004)

TV-PG | 91 min | Animation, Drama, Romance

In an alternate postwar timeline, Japan is divided into the Union-controlled North and the US-controlled South.

Directors: Makoto Shinkai, Yoshio Suzuki | Stars: Hidetaka Yoshioka, Masato Hagiwara, Yuka Nanri, Unshô Ishizuka

Votes: 10,864

A brillant film by Makoto Shinkai.

32. Summer Wars (2009)

PG | 114 min | Animation, Action, Comedy

63 Metascore

A student tries to fix a problem he accidentally caused in OZ, a digital world, while pretending to be the fiancé of his friend at her grandmother's 90th birthday.

Director: Mamoru Hosoda | Stars: Ryûnosuke Kamiki, Nanami Sakuraba, Mitsuki Tanimura, Takahiro Yokokawa

Votes: 21,240 | Gross: $0.08M

A film by Mamoru Hosoda. this is a must see for any animation or visual art fan.

33. Karafuru (2010)

TV-14 | 126 min | Animation, Drama, Fantasy

A sinful spirit is granted the opportunity to prove worthy for rebirth, inhabiting the body of a student who killed himself.

Director: Keiichi Hara | Stars: Kumiko Asô, Greg Ayres, Luci Christian, Keiji Fujiwara

Votes: 3,911

Fantastic piece of work by Keiichi Hara

34. Ookami kodomo no Ame to Yuki (2012)

PG | 117 min | Animation, Drama, Family

71 Metascore

After her werewolf lover unexpectedly dies in an accident while hunting for food for their children, a young woman must find ways to raise the werewolf son and daughter that she had with him while keeping their trait hidden from society.

Director: Mamoru Hosoda | Stars: Aoi Miyazaki, Takao Ohsawa, Haru Kuroki, Yukito Nishii

Votes: 28,477

35. Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (1984)

PG | 117 min | Animation, Adventure, Fantasy

86 Metascore

Warrior/pacifist Princess Nausicaä desperately struggles to prevent two warring nations from destroying themselves and their dying planet.

Director: Hayao Miyazaki | Stars: Sumi Shimamoto, Mahito Tsujimura, Hisako Kyôda, Gorô Naya

Votes: 121,769

With this was that it all started for master director Hayao Miyazaki and master composer Joe hisaishi.

36. Ponyo (2008)

G | 101 min | Animation, Adventure, Comedy

86 Metascore

A five-year-old boy develops a relationship with Ponyo, a young goldfish princess who longs to become a human after falling in love with him.

Director: Hayao Miyazaki | Stars: Cate Blanchett, Matt Damon, Liam Neeson, Tomoko Yamaguchi

Votes: 102,102 | Gross: $15.09M

the proof that if you mix Hayao Miyazaki and Joe Hisaishi, the result is ALWAYS GREAT.

37. Macross Plus (1994– )

Not Rated | 115 min | Animation, Sci-Fi

Two old friends/rivals find themselves rival test pilots in competing projects while a mutual old flame returns to them with her own secrets.

Stars: Beau Billingslea, Bryan Cranston, Richard Epcar, Rica Fukami

Votes: 3,167

Directed by Kawamori and Watanabe. This is one of the first movies to use CGI. With music composed by Yoko Kanno, this is one of the best works of art of all times.

38. Wicked City (1987)

Unrated | 82 min | Animation, Fantasy, Horror

Two agents - a lady-killer human and a voluptuous demon - attempt to protect a signatory to a peace ceremony between the human world and the "Black World" from radicalized demons.

Director: Yoshiaki Kawajiri | Stars: Yûsaku Yara, Toshiko Fujita, Ichirô Nagai, Takeshi Aono

Votes: 4,815

The second best film by Kawajiri after Ninja Scroll in my opinion.

39. Spriggan (1998)

R | 90 min | Animation, Action, Adventure

48 Metascore

An elite superhuman agent must stop a foreign military unit from seizing control of an ancient artifact that holds the key to ultimate power.

Director: Hirotsugu Kawasaki | Stars: Shotaro Morikubo, Ryuji Aigase, Takehito Koyasu, Katsumi Suzuki

Votes: 3,257 | Gross: $0.01M

One of the best animated action movies. The best work by Hirotsugu Kawasaki in my opinion.

40. Neko no ongaeshi (2002)

G | 75 min | Animation, Adventure, Comedy

After helping a cat, a 17-year-old girl finds herself involuntarily engaged to a cat prince in a magical world where her only hope of freedom lies with a dapper cat statuette come to life.

Director: Hiroyuki Morita | Stars: Chizuru Ikewaki, Yoshihiko Hakamada, Aki Maeda, Takayuki Yamada

Votes: 37,330

Directed by Hiroyuki Morita, this film is the sequel of the masterpiece "Mimiwo Sumaseba" (Whispers of the Heart). The music is also from master Yuji Noma.

41. Meikyû monogatari (1987)

50 min | Animation, Adventure, Fantasy

A trilogy of separate stories. In "Labyrinth labyrinthos", a girl and her cat enter a strange world. In "Running Man", a racer takes on the ultimate opponent. In "Construction Cancellation Order", a man must shut down worker robots.

Directors: Yoshiaki Kawajiri, Rintaro, Katsuhiro Ôtomo | Stars: Hideko Yoshida, Masane Tsukayama, Yû Mizushima, Iemasa Kayumi

Votes: 2,215

Kawajiri and Otomo make a great directing team working together.

42. Children Who Chase Lost Voices (2011)

TV-14 | 116 min | Animation, Adventure, Drama

A coming of age story involving young love and a mysterious music, coming from a crystal radio left as a memento by an absent father, that leads a young heroine deep into a hidden world.

Director: Makoto Shinkai | Stars: Hilary Haag, Corey Hartzog, Leraldo Anzaldua, David Matranga

Votes: 10,670

If a movie is directed by Makoto Shinkai, don't worry, it's not gonna be good, it's gonna be great.

43. Project A-Ko (1986)

Unrated | 86 min | Animation, Action, Adventure

Project A-ko is the typical love triangle of three school girls and their confrontations with aliens, giant robots, and women who look like burly men.

Director: Katsuhiko Nishijima | Stars: Miki Itô, Stacey Gregg, Emi Shinohara, Denica Fairman

Votes: 1,004

Great animation, great action, great fight sequences. A great experience for anyone looking for an animated thrill-de-ride. Directed by Katsuhiko Nishijima.

44. Hoshi no koe (2002)

Unrated | 25 min | Animation, Short, Drama

The love of Japanese high school students Mikako Nagamine and Noboru Tera is tested when Mikako is sent to fight aliens in a distant universe and voice mails to and from Earth become months to years in transmission.

Director: Makoto Shinkai | Stars: Mika Shinohara, Makoto Shinkai, Sumi Mutoh, Chihiro Suzuki

Votes: 7,368

4 words describe this Shinkai movie; poignant, beautiful, amazing and short.

45. Patlabor: The Movie (1989)

Unrated | 100 min | Animation, Action, Crime

The screwball cops of Special Vehicles Section 2 Division 2 must investigate and stop a spree of rampaging construction robots.

Director: Mamoru Oshii | Stars: Toshio Furukawa, David Jarvis, Doug Erholtz, Mîna Tominaga

Votes: 3,856

46. The Secret World of Arrietty (2010)

G | 94 min | Animation, Adventure, Family

80 Metascore

The Clock family are four-inch-tall people who live anonymously in another family's residence, borrowing simple items to make their home. Life changes for the Clocks when their teenage daughter, Arrietty, is discovered.

Director: Hiromasa Yonebayashi | Stars: Bridgit Mendler, Amy Poehler, Will Arnett, Moises Arias

Votes: 64,861 | Gross: $19.20M

Underrated jewel by director Hiromasa Yonebayashi.

47. Blood: The Last Vampire (2000)

Not Rated | 48 min | Animation, Action, Horror

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: 11,070

A short movie but with outstanding graphic technics. Directed by Hiroyuki Kitakubo.

48. Robot Carnival (1987 Video)

90 min | Animation, Comedy, Drama

A collection of short stories, made by different animators with "robot" as the working title.

Directors: Atsuko Fukushima, Hiroyuki Kitakubo, Hiroyuki Kitazume, Kôji Morimoto, Takashi Nakamura, Yasuomi Umetsu, Manabu Ôhashi, Hidetoshi Ômori, Katsuhiro Ôtomo | Stars: Kôji Moritsugu, Yayoi Maki, Keiko Hanagata, Kumiko Takizawa

Votes: 1,488

Excelente team work from various great directors.

49. Cowboy Bebop: The Movie (2001)

R | 115 min | Animation, Action, Crime

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: Shin'ichirô Watanabe, Tensai Okamura, Hiroyuki Okiura, Yoshiyuki Takei | Stars: Beau Billingslea, Melissa Fahn, Nicholas Guest, Kôichi Yamadera

Votes: 37,335 | Gross: $1.00M

Directed by Chinchiro Watanabe, this is a great movie for the series, also directed by Watanabe. A must see!!!

50. Urotsukidoji: Legend of the Overfiend (1989 Video)

Unrated | 108 min | Animation, Adult, Fantasy