While animation aimed at adults is a relatively recent phenomenon in the USA and the western movie-making world, in Japan, there have been anime feature films for adults for decades.
Today, more people are looking for beautiful animations to watch at even older age, and some superbly made anime movies are perfect for this.
We have selected the top-ranked and best anime movies for young and old viewers, and long-time anime and manga fans and for newbies for this amazing genre.
Now, you can find some excellent anime movie options on DVD, Blu-Ray, or online, which you can enjoy watching at home with your family, friends, or alone.
Read on to find out more about these great Japanese animated movies.
Ninja Scroll was released back in 1995 and has since remained one of the greatest anime movies of all time.
Unlike many of the anime features, Ninja Scroll is more of a classic Japanese samurai tale with beautifully animated sword fights and scenery from the historical times of the Tokugawa Shogunate.
The story revolves around traveling ninja mercenary Jubei Kiagami, who meets and rescues a female ninja named Kagero, who has been captured by a stone monster Tessai, and whose skin has become lethal to touch due to a rare poison.
Together they continue on their journey to destroy the Eight Devils who are plotting to overthrow the Shogun and take over the power.
The story involves a romantic story of impossible love between the two ninjas, and there are numerous swordplay scenes and other actions and adventures which will keep you glued to the screen.
Overall, Ninja Scroll is a beautifully made movie, written by Yoshiaki Kawajiri and directed by him and Kevin Seymour.
It is 94 minutes long and is a must-see for fans of adult anime and Japanese samurai films.
This movie was directed and written by Makoto Shinkai in 2007 and became released on the internet directly, in order to be accessible to more anime fans around the world.
Since its release, it has become one of the most popular anime movies of all time.
5cm per Second is a trilogy and includes three short stories of the youth and life of Takaki Tono. It is a slow burn coming of age and romantic tale of Takaki Tono and his elementary school friend and sweetheart Akari, who get separated at an early age, but who continue loving each other.
The story depicts the power of true love and the hardships of long-distance relationships.
The film won Best Animated Feature Film and the Asia Pacific Screen Awards in 2007, and it still remains one of the top best anime movies of all time, 13 years later.
It is definitely worth watching if you are a fan of romantic drama anime, and of beautifully made and directed the animation.
Not to be mistaken with the 2017 movie starring Scarlett Johansson, Ghost in the Shell is a classic anime film from 1995.
Its storyline is set in the future and is about a girl who is a cyborg and more of a machine than a human.
The story is set in 2029, after two great world wars, as a result of which Japan and an Asian block dominates the world. The alliance has elite security forces that fight off terrorist hackers and other threats.
It is these experts who are capable of ghost hacking the cyborgs and downloading their consciousness.
Major Motoko Kusanagi is an amazing human and machine hybrid elite officer but her free will and what is remaining of her humanity is in constant threat of cyber-attacks and hackers. She is set on a mission to track down the dangerous Puppet Master, who is one of the most dangerous and powerful cybercriminals and terrorists.
The futuristic cyborg story of Ghost in the Shell is told in a gorgeous animated style with a lot of steampunk visuals, elements, and other impressive decors and creations.
Ghost in the Shell is a movie that you will enjoy watching and re-watching over time, so it is definitely one to add to your home movie library.
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Directed by Koshiaki Kawajiri, this futuristic vampire anime movie is based on the third novel in the vampire trilogy written by Hideyuki Kikuchi.
The film follows the adventures of a vampire-human warrior named Vampire Hunter D. Set in the distant future, when the world is ruled by vampires, Vampire Hunter D is on a mission to end this unfair and unruly situation.
The hybrid vampire and human warrior gets hired to save the kidnapped daughter of a rich and influential man, from the evil vampire Meier Link.
The movie was released in 2001 and is rated R for gore and violence.
As you can imagine, it contains numerous fast-paced action scenes, fight scenes, and some dark and gory depictions of vampires feeding on human blood.
It is one of the most famous vampire-themed anime movies and is witty, beautiful to watch, and an excellent choice for fans of adult anime, vampire themes, and endearing love stories.
My Neighbor Totoro may have been aimed for a child audience, but the beautiful tale will no doubt touch the hearts of adult viewers as well.
The classic anime film from 1988 tells the story of two sisters Satsuki and Mei, whose mother is bedridden in hospital, and the two try to stay close together and preserve their happy childhood days anyway.
The family moves to an old country home, which is inhabited by different dust spirits.
Together with the big but gentle purple creature from the woods Totoro, and other amazing magical creatures, the two sisters handle the everyday problems of having to take care of themselves as the adults around them deal with the consequences from WWII, with hardships and illnesses.
The classic anime movie was directed by Oscar-winning director Hayao Miyazaki and the Ghibli studios.
The magical anime film is a movie for the entire family to enjoy, and the dubbed version of My Neighbor Totoro features the voices of young Elle and Dakota Fanning, as well as Tim Daly and Lea Salonga.
Set in the medieval Muromachi period in Japan, Princess Mononoke is a classic historical fantasy about the young princess who gets caught in a battle of old forest spirits and the humans from a mining village that threatens their existence.
It is a record-breaking favorite Japanese anime film that broke box office records and set the path for an entire generation of environmentalists.
The popular anime movie is directed by Hayao Miyazaki and was released in 1997.
The beautiful anime film has some breathtaking natural visuals, intriguing mythic tales, and themes, and explores the environmental problems which humans cause to Mother Nature.
With this thoughtful, emotional, and visually stunning exploration of the relationship between humankind and nature, the authors of this film have created one of the greatest anime movies of all time.
It is 113 minutes long and is PG-13 rated for some gore and violent images, but it is a film that anyone interested in anime must watch.
Perfect Blue is another unique anime movie that, unlike the typical fantasy and warrior oriented anime films and shows, is a tense psychological thriller.
Written by Sadayuki Murai and directed by Satoshi Kon, Hisao Shirai, and Hideki Hamazummi, Perfect Blue was first released in theaters in 1999.
The film depicts the struggles of famous pop idol Mima, who gradually begins losing her own identity and herself due to the intense media and fan attention and coverage of her everyday life.
Over time, the successful singer falls out of grace, and in an attempt to revive her career, Mima lands a role in a soap opera.
As she gets more engrossed in her new role, Mima begins living through some scary and terrifying situations, including being haunted by her imaginary and much more successful twin, being stalked, her friends getting killed, and suffering from real-life and delusional dangers.
This film is different from most anime movies, which makes it a must-see for those who want to explore different and more serious subject matters than classic anime movies.
The 80-minute anime movie is rated R for violence, nudity, and language, and is a true psychological thriller which will keep you on the edge of your seat from start to beginning.
Tokyo Godfathers is an anime film from 2004 which tells the story of three homeless men who set on a dangerous mission to find the mother of an abandoned baby girl they found on Christmas Eve in a dumpster in Tokyo.
The movie was written and directed by Satoshi Kon, Keiko Nobumoto, and Koshaki Kawajiri and is a Christmas themed film exploring the hardships of these forgotten members of the modern Tokyo society.
The three men go through different adventures and meet an array of people in order to find out the mother of the baby girl and to unravel the mystery of her abandonment.
The 97-minute anime film is PG-13 rated and is another Japanese animated masterpiece with heartfelt moments, funny scenes and everything you can expect from a classic anime film.
The Grave of the Fireflies is an influential anime movie from 1998 written and directed by Isao Takahata is another World War II story, which is a true tearjerker.
It is a story about two young children Seita and Setsuko, who remain alone after their city is destroyed at the end of World War II after their parents die as a result of the bombings.
The escape of the two in these hungry and dangerous times is a tragic story to watch
The anime is gorgeously drawn, and the tale told is absolutely heart-wrenching.
If you like to watch dramatic and war-based anime, then the Grave of the Fireflies is among the most amazing movies anime you can choose.
Based on the novel of the same name by British author Dianne Wynne Jones, Howl’s Moving Castle is another beautifully written and animated anime movie that remains one of the top of all times.
Directed by Hayao Miyazaki, the film tells the tale of a young teenage girl who befriends a flamboyant wizard named Howl, who lives in a castle that can magically move under the power of his will. But their unlikely friendship is not of the liking of the evil witch of waste, who turns young Sophie into a 90-year old ugly woman.
Sophie moves into the moving castle, and there goes on a quest to reverse the spell of the witch with the help of Calcifer and Markl – two good-natured demons with magical powers.
This fantasy tale explores the theme of old age as something actually positive and was also aimed as a subtle protest to the Iraqi invasion and war in 2003, by director Hayao Miyazaki.
The beautiful film from 2005 is 119 minutes long, and PG-rated for brief mild language and some frightening images but is suitable for the whole family to enjoy.
It’s English dubbed version features the voices of famous actors like Emily Mortimer, Christian Bale, Jean Simmons, Billy Crystal, Lauren Becall and others.
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Akira is a film made over three decades ago. The now-classic anime film by Katsuhiro Otomo and Izo Hashimoto was released back in 1988. Since then, it has consistently ranked among the top anime movies of all time.
The tale is set in the year 2019 in Tokyo after a nuclear disaster apocalyptic event, which has left the city devastated and ruled by gangs and military intelligence.
Akira is a lowlife with telekinetic powers, and he, along with his friend, suddenly gets caught up in the middle of a world-threatening conflict that can destroy the world.
This classic anime film is regarded as one of the best cyberpunk anime adventure films of all time.
It is 124 minutes long and has everything a good anime film needs – adventure, action, drama, fantasy, science fiction, and suspense.
It is a must-view by anyone interested in anime, who wants to see the best in the genre.
Cowboy Bebop: The Movie is based on the popular Cowboy Bebop anime series, and portrays the famous and fun bounty hunting intergalactic crew chasing an evil hacker on a tanker or Mars.
As they approach the tanker, Faye Valentine watches as it explodes due to a terrorist attack. As a result, hundreds are killed, and Faye is the only live witness who sees the face of the terrorist.
As a result, the Bebop crew set on a mission to find the terrorist and collect the large bounty placed by the government.
The three, including former cop Jet Black, Spike Spiegel, and genius hacker Edward start their adventure and quest for the terrorist identified as Vincent Volaju and stop him from performing even more devastating attacks.
The film from 2003 is directed by Shinichiro Watanabe and written by Keiko Nobumoto and Marc Handler.
It is 114 minutes long, R-rated, and is an absolute joy to watch, especially if you are a fan of the series.
There is a live-action remake of this anime classic in the making in Hollywood currently as well.
If you are an anime fan, and like time-travel stories, then The Girl Who Leapt Through Time is one of the top anime films to watch.
Released in 2007, by director Mamoru Hosoda and written by Satoko Okudera, this story is about schoolgirl Makoto who accidentally stumbles upon a time-traveling device.
Although this machine saves the young girl’s life, she soon starts to use the time travel for mundane things like sleeping late or getting higher grades in school and for preserving her friendships. But the more the young girl toggles with the past and future, the more serious the consequences for her and for others become.
The Girl Who Leapt Through Time is 98 minutes long and is suitable for the whole family watching. It is a beautifully drawn and heartwarming fantasy animated feature film by acclaimed director Mamoru Hosoda.
One of the most successful productions of Studio Ghibli, Spirited Away, is also one of the only anime movies which has been so widely recognized and acclaimed in Hollywood by people in the movie industry, critics and viewers alike.
Directed by one of the greatest animators director Hayao Miyazaki (Princess Mononoke), Spirited Away tells the story about a young girl named Chihiro who gets spirited away to the world of spirits while her parents are overindulging in a suspicious-looking eatery. She is tricked by a soul harvester but manages to find her way back to the real world.
She manages to do that with the help of a young boy named Haku, who teaches her the importance of hard work and also gives her a new moniker in case the spirit harvester makes her forget her real one.
The story is beautifully told, and even though it does have some scary scenes, it is suitable for young children too.
The film from 2002 by Studio Ghibli is 124 minutes long and is another one of the greatest anime feature films you can watch in 2021.
One of the worst tragedies in human history – the nuclear bombings of the towns of Hiroshima and Nagasaki- is the inspiration behind the writing and making of Barefoot Gen.
The story revolves around six-year-old Gen and his family who suffer the nuclear blast, and how a boy as young as that deals with the devastating results of such a horrific and unthinkable disaster.
The story written by Keiji Nakazawa is autobiographical and is a touching drama about the survival of a Japanese family after World War II and after the nuclear bombings.
This 110-minute anime film is beautiful, heart-wrenching, and touches on a real-life event that changed the lives of thousands of people in Japan.
It was released in 1983 and directed by Mori Masaki and Masayuki Mori.
It is suitable for family watching and is considered one of the top anime movies of all time.
Metropolis was released in theaters in Japan in 2002 and is based on a popular manga series from 1947 and a silent movie back from 1927.
The 108 minute animated movie was written by Katsuhiro Otomo and directed by Rintaro.
Metropolis is about the difficult co-existence of humans and robots in a time when a human supremacist group of terrorists is threatening to destroy humankind altogether.
The beautifully animated film has some breathtaking sci-fi and fantasy scenes.
With its meticulously hand-drawn characters and rendered backdrops, every minute of this anime film is a true pleasure to watch.
Thanks to the beautifully drawn characters and their relatable human stories, Metropolis will draw your attention and keep it from the first scene.
It is among the most beautifully made and sincere and thoughtful animes made in history.
The Neon Genesis Evangelion: The End of Evangelion is a sequel to the TV series by the same name. So, if you are a fan, then this movie is a must-watch.
The movie is a conclusion to the series and depicts how the Evangelion angels present the last hope for humankind in a world of robots and bioengineered creatures.
The complicated and dramatic examination of the meaning of life and of what it means to be human in a cyberpunk world with robots is a captivating story to watch.
The Neon Genesis Evangelion movie is directed by Hideaki Anno and Amanda Winn Lee and was released in theaters in 1997.
It tells the story of hope and peace in a world that has started losing its humanity and is threatened by being destroyed.
The movie is 87 minutes long and is unrated but still does contain some violence, gore, and profanities, so it is suitable for people aged 17 or older.
This is a beautiful and fun historical sci-fi anime movie set in Victorian England. It is the story of Ray Steam, who comes into possession of a metal ball that contains enough of the purest mineral water, which has the capability to produce steam enough to save London and its people from destruction.
Steamboy is directed by Katsuhiro Otomo, who is one of the leaders in anime and is one of the most detailed and elaborately drawn top anime movies on this list.
In fact, it took over ten years for this meticulous animation to be made, and it cost about 22 million dollars, making it the most expensive anime film of all time.
The story of Steamboy is enjoyable to watch by old and new anime fans, and you can now get and watch the Director’s Cut which is an additional treat for all fans of this classic anime movie.
Paprika is a one of a kind anime movie, which will dazzle you with its kaleidoscopic images and scenes and with the mind-twisting subjects and scenes.
It is directed by Satoshi Kon and written by Kon and by Seishi Minakami.
The story of the film is about a medical researcher forced to turn into a detective and nighttime hero in order to protect a special device made for reading and recording dreams and thus help children with psychiatric disorders.
You can imagine with a premise like that, the types of imagery and twists and turns you can expect from this unique manga film.
Released in 2006, Paprika is still considered one of the greatest anime feature films of all time.
The thought-provoking movie directed by the now late animation genius director Satoshi Kon is R-rated and is 91 minutes long. It may not be a film which is easy to handle if you are new to anime or of this type of dream-inception theme, but it is definitely a movie which will blow you away and which will truly stay with you for long.
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Redline is a joint production between director Takeshi Koike and New Zealand’s Madhouse film production studio.
It is a fast-paced anime action film that is about the most dangerous racing tournament in the world. The drivers drive ultra-customized cars at unbelievably high speeds in this deadly tournament.
During the races, driver JP falls for Shonoshee, another high-speed driver. At the same time, the tournament and drivers are threatened by criminal and military organizations that want to use them for their own benefits.
The action and adventure top anime movie is an excellent choice if you like anime and you like the highest-grossing films like The Fast and the Furious.
It was released in 2011 and is an utterly enjoyable action-adventure, racing, and romantic anime movie best.
Your Name. is one of the newest films on our list of the best anime movies all time.
It was released in 2016 and directed and written by Makoto Shinkai.
Your name. is a tale of two high school students – Mitsuha and Taki, who suddenly start swapping their physical bodies on a random basis.
This fun premise turns into one of the most beautiful told love stories in anime, and made the film the fourth highest-grossing movie of all time in Japan.
It is a fun and thoughtful anime love story and drama which is rated for smoking, suggestive content, and language and is must-see if you are into romantic anime or romantic high school movies as a whole.
This action sci-fi anime movie from 1998 is all-action with thrilling fight scenes and an intriguing plot.
The story is about 5 young pilots who have managed to bring peace between the earth and the alien colonies, and who are being threatened of being thrown off to the sun.
Meanwhile, the daughter of the leader of the colony who is fighting for restoring the peace on the planet gets kidnapped.
The Gundam pilots go on a quest to save her and help her succeed in achieving lasting peace.
The movie is directed by Yasunao Aoki and written by Yoshiyuki Tomino.
If you like battle scenes and epic adventures, then Gundam Wing: Endless Waltz is one of the perfect anime movies for you.
ROD Read or Die directed by Amanda Winn Lee, and Kouji Masunari is an anime film that fans of sci-fi and fantasy anime will love. It is also a movie which fans of the Doctor Who series will enjoy as well.
The story revolves around young teacher Yomiko Readman, who spends all of her money on books, and all of her free time on reading.
One day, a rare book from her collection is about to be stolen by a strange insect-like creature.
The film is set in a steampunk city, and as the young teacher successfully manages to scare off the strange creature using paper as a weapon, she captures the attention of a special Library Special Engineering Force which hires her to retrieve operation manuscripts and books which are being stolen by mutant clones of crazy scientists.
The 90-minute sci-fi cyberpunk anime movie is rated as suitable for audiences aged 14 or over, and is a fun-filled and well-directed and drawn animated film.
The 2013 historical anime drama is another award-winning animated film, appreciated in Japan and in the western world alike.
It tells the tale of a near-sighted child named Jiro, who dreams of becoming a pilot, but due to his vision is forced to design his own planes instead.
The story is set before World War II, and he is forced to struggle with the horrors associated with his successful plane designs during the devastating war.
Still, Jiro manages to become one of the most accomplished designers and plane engineers in the late 1920’s and 1930’s.
This movie is directed and written by Hayao Miyazaki and is a beautiful and engulfing historical war story and drama which you can enjoy along with kids aged 13 or more.
It is 126 minutes long and will keep you craving for more thanks to its stunning visuals and its dramatic twist and turns. It is considered the greatest anime movie of all time by thousands of anime fans around the world.
Have you watched all of these anime movies? If so, check out our list of the greatest anime series ever.
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