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10 BEST ANIME MOVIES OF ALL TIME
Anime has emerged as one of the most popular movie genres, with a multitude of new releases captivating audiences worldwide each year. As we embark on the 2020s, it becomes necessary to determine the greatest anime movie of all time, though this list should remain fluid and adapt to the changing times.
In the past, anime was primarily experienced on the grand screens of theaters, before eventually finding its way to television broadcasts. The roots of Japanese anime movies can be traced back to the early 1900s, and one pivotal moment in their history was the establishment of Studio Ghibli in 1985. Notably, Ghibli’s early works, such as “Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind” (1984) and “Castle in the Sky” (1986), captured the imagination of audiences both in Japan and globally.
Across the Pacific, Walt Disney Productions (now known as Walt Disney Animation Studios) released the first full-length color animation film, “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs,” in 1937. To this day, Walt Disney Studios and its subsidiary Pixar Animation Studios have amassed a devoted fanbase worldwide.
10. Princess Mononoke (1997)
In 1997, Princess Mononoke (もののけ姫) emerged as a domestic box office sensation, capturing the top spot during its release. This acclaimed Japanese film has also gained recognition on a global scale, earning its place among the finest works in the country’s cinematic history. Renowned director Hayao Miyazaki dedicated approximately two decades to meticulously crafting the storyline that would bring this anime movie to life.
Set against the backdrop of the Muromachi Period (1336-1573), Princess Mononoke immerses viewers in a fantastical world. The narrative revolves around two central characters: Ashitaka, a prince from a tribe, and San, a young woman who was raised by wolves in the forest. At the heart of the story lies the conflict between humanity and nature, as Ashitaka embarks on a quest to discover a path that allows for the coexistence of both. This captivating fantasy film delves into the complexities of this struggle, presenting audiences with profound themes and a mesmerizing tale.
9. Ghost in the Shell (1995)
In the year 2029, humanity has reached a remarkable stage of technological advancement, enhancing their bodies with cybernetics. Within this futuristic setting, a dedicated counter-cyber terrorist organization known as Public Security Sector 9 operates under the leadership of Major Motoko Kusanagi. Their mission is to thwart the nefarious actions of a notorious brain hacker known as the ‘Puppet Master,’ who manipulates unwitting pawns to carry out a series of crimes.
“Ghost in the Shell” stands as a foundational film within the cyberpunk genre, leaving an indelible mark on cinematic storytelling. Its influence extends even further, as evidenced by the profound impact it had on the creative endeavors of the Wachowski siblings, particularly their renowned work, “The Matrix.” This groundbreaking masterpiece delves into themes of identity, consciousness, and the blurred boundaries between humanity and technology, captivating audiences and paving the way for a new era of cyberpunk storytelling.
8. The Wind Rises (2013)
If you’re seeking a departure from the well-trodden path of beloved Ghibli classics, look no further than Miyazaki’s final film, The Wind Rises. This tender and mature drama encompasses all of the filmmaker’s signature obsessions: the allure of flight, the burdens of war, and the purity of dreams. The story follows Jiro Horikoshi, a young boy whose aspirations revolve around aircraft design. With his unwavering passion and exceptional intellect, Jiro rises to become a revered engineer. However, as the shadow of war approaches, he must confront the moral dilemma of creating a magnificent flying machine that will inevitably be employed for death and destruction—the Mitsubishi A5M ‘Zero’ fighter plane. The Wind Rises is a semi-factual biopic that serves as a thought-provoking work of art, tailored for a more mature audience than the typical Ghibli fare.
7. Howl’s Moving Castle (2004)
Released in 2004, Howl’s Moving Castle (ハウルの動く城) swiftly became one of the highest-grossing anime movies in Japan. This enchanting film is an adaptation of the renowned British novel, Howl’s Moving Castle, written by Diana Wynne Jones, beautifully brought to life by Studio Ghibli. The story revolves around the courageous heroine, Sophie, who finds herself transformed into a ninety-year-old woman due to a witch’s curse. Her extraordinary journey unfolds alongside the charismatic Howl and his enigmatic moving castle, leading to a captivating and whimsical adventure.
6. Weathering With You (2019)
In Weathering With You, Hodaka, a high school student, takes a daring step by leaving his island home behind to seek a new life in the bustling city of Tokyo. However, his financial situation quickly spirals downward, leaving him destitute. After enduring days of solitude, an opportunity arises when he is offered a position at a dubious occult magazine. Along this unpredictable path, Hodaka forms a bond with a girl possessing an extraordinary and enigmatic ability: the power to disperse the ceaseless rain that plagues Tokyo. Together, they embark on a journey to reshape their fated lives.
Weathering With You stands out for its breathtaking, lifelike animation and a captivating soundtrack that resonates deeply. It comes as no surprise that the film garnered accolades, including the prestigious titles of Animation of the Year and Outstanding Achievement in Music at the 43rd Japan Academy Prize. This cinematic masterpiece weaves a compelling tale of friendship, destiny, and the resilience of the human spirit.
5. A Silent Voice (2016)
A Silent Voice (聲の形) is an emotionally resonant anime film produced by Kyoto Animation, serving as the cinematic adaptation of a seven-volume manga series published between 2013 and 2014. This poignant film delves into sensitive social themes, including teenage bullying, suicide, disabilities, and parental divorce. At its heart, A Silent Voice centers around two primary characters: Shoko Nishimiya, a deaf girl, and Shoya Ishida, who was responsible for bullying her during their elementary school days.
The narrative explores the complex dynamics between these characters, delving into the repercussions of past actions and the potential for redemption. A Silent Voice sensitively portrays the struggles and growth of its protagonists, delving into the emotional depths of their experiences. Through its compassionate storytelling, the film prompts reflection on important societal issues while highlighting the transformative power of empathy and understanding.
4. Suzume no Tojimari (2022)
Suzume no Tojimari revolves around the story of Suzume, a seventeen-year-old girl who experiences a fateful encounter with a mysterious young man on a quest to find a door. Intrigued by his search, she decides to follow him, ultimately stumbling upon a decrepit door hidden deep within the mountains amidst ruins.
Driven by her instincts, Suzume reaches out to open the door, setting off a chain reaction where similar doors start appearing in random locations, unleashing chaos across the country. With Japan teetering on the brink of calamity, Suzume embarks on a journey to explore urban areas she has never ventured into before. Her mission is to locate and lock these doors before irreparable damage is done.
Having premiered domestically on November 11, 2022, Suzume no Tojimari continues to captivate audiences in cinemas across Japan. International release is scheduled for April 12, 2023, starting with screenings in France and Malta. Be sure to catch this thrilling film that takes viewers on a captivating adventure filled with mystery and peril.
3. Your Name (2016)
Released in 2016, Your Name (君の名は。) stands as the magnum opus of director Makoto Shinkai, garnering widespread acclaim both domestically and internationally. This immensely popular anime film graced the big screens in over 120 countries and regions between 2016 and 2018, making it one of the most widely distributed Japanese anime movies worldwide. It also achieved remarkable success at the foreign box office.
The story revolves around two central characters: Taki Tachibana, a resident of metropolitan Tokyo, and Mitsuha Miyamizu, a young woman residing in the countryside. Their lives take an extraordinary turn when they discover that their bodies intermittently switch with each other. As this mysterious phenomenon unfolds, Taki and Mitsuha find themselves growing increasingly intrigued by each other’s lives while navigating the perplexing circumstances they find themselves in.
Your Name showcases the juxtaposition of two real-life locations: Tokyo and Takayama in Central Japan. Makoto Shinkai skillfully portrays these settings, bringing the real world to life with remarkable beauty and detail. The film’s depiction of these places has captivated audiences and inspired fans to embark on journeys to visit the actual locations featured in the movie. Your Name not only tells a captivating story but also serves as an invitation for viewers to explore the tangible connection between the fictional world and reality.
2. The Girl Who Leapt Through Time (2006)
The Girl Who Leapt Through Time is not only visually stunning but also serves as a poignant exploration of free will and the beauty of embracing life’s spontaneity. The story revolves around Makoto Konno, a seventeen-year-old girl who discovers her ability to travel through time. Like any typical teenager, Makoto initially uses this power to correct her grades, fix embarrassing situations, and essentially create a perfect life for herself. However, as she realizes that her time leaps have unintended consequences and negatively impact the lives of those around her, Makoto undergoes a profound change in perspective. Determined to make amends, she redirects her efforts, utilizing her limited remaining leaps for the greater good.
The Girl Who Leapt Through Time is a testament to the transformative nature of self-discovery and the moral responsibility that comes with extraordinary abilities. It delves into themes of personal growth, empathy, and the ripple effects of our actions on others. Through its captivating narrative, the film encourages viewers to appreciate the unpredictable nature of life and cherish the moments that define our existence. Ultimately, The Girl Who Leapt Through Time celebrates the power of choice and the profound impact our decisions can have on ourselves and those around us.
1. Spirited Away (2001)
The title of the best of the best anime movie of all time belongs to Spirited Away (千と千尋の神隠し), the unparalleled masterpiece created by Hayao Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli, which was released in 2001. This exceptional film has received global acclaim, including the prestigious honor of Best Animated Feature at the 75th Academy Awards. Furthermore, it remains the highest-grossing movie ever made in Japan, even after two decades since its initial release.
Spirited Away tells the story of Chihiro, a 10-year-old girl who stumbles into a bizarre and extraordinary world with her parents. Unfortunately, her parents fall victim to a witch’s curse and are transformed into pigs. Determined to rescue them, Chihiro chooses to work diligently in a bathhouse ruled by the formidable witch Yubaba. In the process, she loses her own name and is reborn as Sen.
The film presents a captivating array of unique characters, including the key figure Haku, the twin witches Yubaba and Zeniba, and the enigmatic creature Kaonashi (No-Face), alongside the protagonist Chihiro (Sen). Spirited Away’s appeal lies in its ability to be viewed from a multitude of perspectives, allowing viewers to discover new layers of meaning depending on their interpretation.
Spirited Away’s enduring allure is attributed to its exquisite storytelling, stunning animation, and profound themes. It transcends cultural boundaries, captivating audiences of all ages and backgrounds. It is a testament to the extraordinary talent of Hayao Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli, solidifying Spirited Away’s place as the pinnacle of anime filmmaking.
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