My top 10 Anime movies, the movies every anime fan or movie lover should own.

Nov 26, 2005 (Updated Mar 23, 2012)

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The Bottom Line My 10 favorite anime movies.  Some of these movies fine for adolescents and children, others are for adults because of anime sex and anime nudity.

This is my current top ten favorite anime movies. If a friend came over to my house and wanted to see an example of good anime, this is what I suggest. These are the movies that I think have the best story and are beautiful to boot. Keep in mind that this is a living, breathing review and will of course change over time as more movies are released. I have tried to provide some information about the movie's plot but not provide any major spoilers. I have provided links to reviews on most of these movies as well as if it is a movie I would let a child watch.

Keep in mind that these reviews are only of movies. Not Anime series. This doesn’t mean that I don’t like the anime series out there (which there are several outstanding one,) but I just wanted to focus on movies.

10) Castle in the Sky
Director: Hayao Miyazaki
Screenplay: Hayao Miyazaki
Music: Joe Hisaishi
Rating: NR but should be PG
Buy or rent? Buy, great children’s movie.
This is a fun children’s movie. But I can guarantee you that adults will love this movie. Both the music and the animation are very childlike and fun. This is the story of two children that are on a journey to find Laputa, the castle in the sky.

I recommend this for children of all ages. There is some violence but it is minimal in my opinion.

9) Ninja Scroll
Director: Yoshiaki Kawajiri
Writer: Yoshiaki Kawajiri
Music: Kaoru Wada
Languages: English, Japanese.
Subtitles: English.
Rating: NR but should be R
5.1?: Yes
Buy or rent? Buy only if you like animated violence
This is a very violent Samurai/Ninja story. I would consider this to be more like a mythology because of how it is told. The characters in this movie remind me a lot of greek/roman and Southeast Asia mythologies. A young hero is given a task to destroy an evil character and encounters people along the way that want him dead. I joked around with my friend that this was Samurai showdown in movie form because of the many similarities between the characters and fighting scenes of both the game and movie.

This is the most graphic of all the movies in my top ten. Not only in violence, but there is one scene in which the heroine is in a compromised position.  There is an implied Anime rape, an anime sex scene, Anime nudity.  And there is a lot of killing and a lot of blood in this movie.  A violent Anime movie. Only mature individuals should watch this.

This movie has rape, sexual intercourse, and nudity.

8) Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence.
Director: Mamoru Oshii
Writer: Mamoru Oshii
Languages: Japanese
Subtitles: English and french
Rating: PG-13
5.1?: Yes
Buy or rent? Buy if you are an anime fan, otherwise just rent it.
Just like in the television series and the first movie, this is another detective story. It is pretty and full of action. If you like the first one that this is a must buy, but keep in mind that it is a different style of writing with a different twist.
There are two problems I have with the DVD version though. The first is it is only in English subtitles. I know some people prefer it but I want the option to choose. The second problem is the story can be a little hard to follow. I only suggest this movie if you’re in a thinking mood.
But I recently bought the Blu-Ray version and it is awesome.  Plus the Blu-Ray version has English vocals that follow pretty closely to the English subtitles.

It is violent so I only recommend mature children (teens?) or adults watch it.

There is violence in the anime.

7) Princess Mononoke
Director: Hayao Miazaki
Writer: Hayao Miyazaki
Music: Joe Hisaishi
Languages: English, French, and Japanese.
Subtitles: English for the hearing impaired and literal translation English.
Rating: PG-13
5.1?: yes
Buy or rent? Buy
This movie takes place in the past where mankind and nature are in conflict with each other. So is the human race with itself. It is a ruthless story that is centered around a girl raised by wolves and a hero that just wants everyone to get along. One of the cool things I like about this movie is that there is no true good versus evil concept. Each group of characters has their own strengths and flaws. It is also well written with an engaging story to tell.

I suggest that parents watch this before letting their children view it. I don’t consider it graphic like in Ninja Scroll, but some head’s and limbs are removed in the fight scenes, which may disturb younger viewers.

Director: Katsuhiro Otomo
Writer: Sadayuki Murai & Katsuhiro Otomo
Music: Steve Jablonsky
Rating: PG-13
Durations: 124 minutes
Buy or rent? Buy
A beautiful combination of story and animation. Definitely one of the best and it actually has some length to it too. But even though it’s long, it doesn’t drag. It really keeps your attention. This is a story of a family of male inventors that get involved in a political battle between rival groups. It tells the story from the viewpoint of the boy and his adventures.

Parents should preview this before letting a child watch it due to some graphic animated violence near the end.

5) Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within.
Director: Hironobu Sakaguchi
Story by: Hironobu Sakaguchi
Writer: Al Reinert & Jeff Vintar
Music: Elliott Goldenthal
Languages: English and French
Subtitles: English and French
Rating: PG-13
5.1?: Yes
Buy or rent? Buy (Get it on Blue-Ray)
I have the same type of attachment for this movie as I do for Ghost in the shell. It is a beautiful movie that must be seen on a HDTV. But this is not the search for ones soul but for the salvation of the Earth (or Gaia). In the process of saving the Earth a love story does develop. There is plenty of action.

It is not that graphic but lots of people do die as well as cussing, so I recommend that a parent preview it before allowing their children to.
4) Spirited Away
Director: Hayao Miyazaki
Writer: Hayao Miyazaki
Music: Joe Hisaishi
Languages: English, French, and Japanese
Subtitles: English for hearing impaired and a literal translation English version.
Rating: PG
5.1?: Yes
Buy or rent? Buy
I was blown away by this movie the first time I saw it. It threw me for several loops both in its story and animation. The story also flows very well and it doesn’t slow down. It is basically a story about a girl that gets trapped in the spirit world and she is trying to find a way to free herself from this world. So far it is my personal favorite of Miyazaki’s films.

There is a little violence but not much. I have no problem letting my children watch it.

3)The Girl Who Leapt Through Time
Director: Mamoru Hosoda
Writer: Satoko Okudera
Music: Kiyoshi Yoshida
Rating: NR, but I think it would be rated PG
Buy or rent?Buy, it is a wonderfully told story

Should children watch it? Absolutely, this is a great children's movie.

This is about a girl that developed the ability to travel through time. It is very well written and captivating. Not only that but it also explored morality and ethical issues surrounding time travel, or just how responsible should we be as individuals when harm/affecting the lives of others.

2) Akira
Director: Katsuhiro Otomo
Screenplay: Katsuhiro Otomo & Izo Hashimoto
Music: Shoji Yamashiro
Languages: English and Japanese
Subtitles: English
Rating: NR but I would consider it R.
5.1?: Yes
Buy or rent? Buy
This is considered by some to be the start of great anime. It is a great story with great visuals, and I feel it was original for its time. Out of all of these movies this is the one every Anime fan should own. It is basically the story of a government that is conducting evil experiments and how a boy gets in the middle of it. Saying anything more would spoil the surprise.

I do not recommend it for children because of a few violent scenes and brief nudity.

1) Ghost in the Shell.
Director: Mamoru Oshii
Writer: Kazunori Ito
Music: Kenji Kawai
Languages: English and Japanese.
Subtitles: English.
Rating: NR, but it should be R.
5.1?: Yes
Buy or rent? Buy
Ghost in the shell takes place in the future. It is basically a mystery and this mystery is being solved by a special internal organization called section 9. Section 9 is an elite team of computer hackers and para-military individuals. It is full of action and is also a beautiful movie that must be seen on a HDTV.
This is not just an action movie, there is a deep message to it. One person’s search for her own soul and meaning in life. If you like the matrix then you will like this movie.

I do not recommend it for children because of violence (like in the first scene you get to see a head being blown off as well as a naked female body.) For mature audiences only.

While the nude anime pictures are there, they really are not that big a deal.  It is there to show you how cloaking works in that world. 

Other top ten lists
My Favorite Anime 11-40. Updated
My 10 favorite comedies
My 10 favorite science fiction movies
My 10 favorite children's movies
My top 50 movies reviewed

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