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Top 10 Best Anime Movies of All-Time

Posted on 19 February 2010 by Tim

Like all film genres, there are some movies that tower over others for their innovation, amazing storyline, or strong characters. Anime is no exception. Based on my own opinion and some informal surveying on RhymeTorrents and Kumoricon I’ve come up with a great collection of the best anime films.

My goal with asking for others opinion was to try to find the cream of the crop and develop a definitive list. With most film genres, or just in general, there are classic movies that have broad appeal such as – The Godfather, Gone With The Wind, Citizen Kane, Casablanca and Titanic. These are considered among the best films ever made (Maybe add Avatar now too?). I was a little surprised at the lack of consensus among anime fans as to what would constitute the 10 best anime movies.

But I have to admit, it is difficult to pick 10 from among all the great films and series available. Anime has a plethora of quality stories, awe-inspiring graphics and stomach-cramping comedies. From the genre these films have been selected by myself as the greatest. These are the films I would recommend to a friend who is new to the genre.

Top 10 Best Anime Movies of All-Time

  1. Akira – Made in 1988, Akira is based on the ever popular manga series. The film is set in the futuristic, post-war city of Neo-Tokyo. Kaneda, the protagonist, is a bike gang leader. Tetsuo, one of Kaneda’s gang members crashes into a boy, who mysteriously remains unhurt and then simply vanishes. Tetsuo becomes part of a secret military project dealing with supernatural powers. Tetsuo unlocks his powers which leads to death and destruction.
  2. Spirited Away – Touching and sad. Hayao Miyazaki is the writer and director of this slightly depressing but ultimately very good film. Heading down the wrong path can lead to some weird stuff happening. That’s the fate of Chihiro in Spirited Away. The film draws parallels to post-WWII Japan.
  3. Ghost in the Shell – It is the year 2029, where cyber-augmented humans live in a virtual world. While it recalls themes from The Matrix, it’s quite different. The ultimate secret agent can travel the information highway without limit and has no phyisical presence. It is a future dominated by super computers and cybernetic technology. “A female cyborg cop and her partner hunt a mysterious and powerful hacker called the Puppet Master.” – via IMDB.com
  4. Neon Genesis Evangelion – Who wouldn’t want to be a robot-pilot as a teenager? Heck, I’d still want to be a robot-pilot! Unknown beings called Angels attack Earth in 2015 and only a handful of EVA pilots are capable of stopping them.
  5. Serial Experiments Lain – The virtual world is called “The Wired” and a little girl named Lain becomes involved in a series of strange events. Using an old computer, Lain is able to speak with her friend (recently deceased via suicide). But she’s not dead, she just didn’t need her body anymore!
  6. Rurouni Kenshin – Set in Mejii-era Japan, a wandering young swordsman comes across a struggling dojo and becomes friends with the instructor. A master of the deadly sword style – Hiten Mitsurugi Ryuu, Kenshin dedicates his life to protecting others as retribution for the lives he took during the revolution.
  7. Vampire Hunter D – A young woman named Doris is bitten by a vampire. Naturally in such cases, you hire a vampire hunter to remedy the situation. The hunter known as D, is the best there is. His mission is to hunt down and destroy Count Magnus Lee, who bit Doris. “Artistically, Vampire Hunter D is a beautiful movie.” – via AnimeNewsNetwork.com
  8. FLCL – A strange women named Haruko rides in on a Vespa, brandishing a large buzzsaw-equipped guitar. This soon brings a little bit of drama to 12-year old Naota who is otherwise a normal school kid. “Honestly when I first watched FLCL I really wondered what the hell I had gotten myself into. It was just so different to anything I had seen before…” says Sam from WilkoJunior.
  9. Astroboy – This is a great series for all ages. “Astro Boy is the classic anime story of a permanently youthful robot boy modeled after the son of a research scientist, Dr. Tenma.” – via Anime.com
  10. Oh My Goddess – This is a love story. Yes, a love story. The film is about the relationship between Morisato Keiichi, a normal college student, and a goddess name Belldandy. Keiichi makes a wish for a woman like her to stay with him forever since he has relationship issues. This unfortunately gets misinterpreted and Belldandy thinks he wants her to stay with him forever. She grants the wish and is committed to Keiichi forever! “Oh My Goddess! is one of the love comedy classics of anime, and deservedly so.” – via AnimeWorld.com

I would also like to highlight some comments made by Karl Olson, also known as Ultraklystron. He’s a huge anime fan (anime maven?) and he writes for ToonZone where he is “the head moderator at the Anime Forum here at TZ, and he’s a reporter for TZ as well. And he produces the podcast as well contributes to it.”

Here are some highlights from his post on RhymeTorrents:

On Akira: “The first push towards art-film aesthetics entering into anime. Opened the door for works like Perfect Blue, Angel’s Egg, Ghost in the Shell and pretty much any other intelligent, bizarre, fringe anime to be made.”
On Astroboy: “Launched the anime industry and even gave it legs internationally. The whole industry arguably owe it’s existence to this show, but it’s influence on content (or rather lack their of as of late,) is why it’s in second place.” (Second place on Karl’s list.)
On Evangelion: “Changed anime story structure and marketing as we know it. Not only do moe and tsundere series have roots in Eva, but most existentialist series do as well. Eva may itself owe a debt to Ideon, but Eva made the point stick. Shoot, Nadesico, which satirized a lot of the elements of Eva, inadvertently launched the lolicon trend via Ruri Hoshino. IE: Eva is so influential, it’s parodies have influence.”

  • K432
    hi iv recently been thinking about an anime or manga i saw when i was younger and was wondering if you could help me find it. it has a group of members and i distinctively remember a part from two films: one film had a white man who fought against an odd looking creature in the sewers that looked like it had been collecting bodies, and the other film had a black man with a huge mohawk and the part i remember is him fighting against a robot/machine in like a tall car park tower block. i know the information isnt brilliant sorry
  • dslinky
    The second movie is probably based on final fantasy 7 but i don't know what the first movie is.
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