The Top 30 Greatest Movies To Come Out Of Anime

Thought I’d do a separate post for the anime movies (and one-off OVAs considering they’re basically movies in a much shorter time) I’ve seen. One thing I noticed when making this list is that in the movie world, anime just can’t really compare for the most part. If I were to ever do a ranking of my favorite movies in a given year, I doubt you’d see much in the way of Japanese animation there. Part of the reason for that is that anime movies are so niche that only a couple get released a season whilst that same amount gets released every week in theatres. With that said, the best anime movies are better than practically anything Hollywood can dish out, although I haven’t seen an anime movie I liked more than Blues Brothers, let alone an anime series I liked more than Daria. And I genuinely love everything on here, so let’s get on this.

Note: When it comes to franchise movies, I only limited myself to one movie per franchise. And regarding Ghibli (though not necessarily Miyazaki), I only restricted myself to a few personal favorites.

30: Robot Carnival

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Yeah, I include a series of shorts into this section if it’s considered a movie by most people. Robot Carnival is basically one of those anthology pieces where different animators make their own shorts and this one ties into a theme of having everyone of them be about robots. Not of all the shorts clicked with me, although to be fair I wasn’t in the right state of mind when I got to watching this. But they always kept my interest during the watch, I appreciated how most of the story is told through animation rather than dialogue, and the stuff that did work, were brilliantly awesome and hilarious. It’s a movie that just gets better every time I think of it.

29: Time of Eve

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Time of Eve is a pretty weird experimental indie piece that, like most of Studio Rikka’s anime, doesn’t fully answer the questions it presents regarding whether robots can actually coexist with humans and all. But goddamn is this thing brilliant when it comes to studying its characters and giving hints to an answer that may or may not exist. It doesn’t suffer the same problems that the studio’s previous works have (being too rushed) and instead takes its time in order to allow the viewer to get soaked into the beautifully shot atmosphere whilst developing its ideas more coherently. Hopefully the Patema Inverted movie coming out soon will be even better than this, because if it is…wow.

28: Ultimate Teacher

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Sort of like what would happen if Go Nagai met Urusei Yatsura, Ultimate Teacher represents one of my favorite kinds of comedies: take an absurd situation, combine it with even more absurdity, and just when you think it can’t stop, pile it on again and again for more laughs. Seriously, just when you think the anime can’t top itself, it manages to go one step further in a hilariously random, yet brilliant sort of way. Ultimately, this OVA lacks a little weight, which is why it’s ranked so low. But oh god is Ultimate Teacher one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen in my life.

27: Je T’Aime

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This is that ten-minute short about a dog who searches for human contact in a world where humanity is all but gone. He soon runs into a female robot and then some awesome craziness brought down by a shitty song occurs. Pity, because aside from the song, Je T’Aime is practically perfect in regards to atmospheric storytelling and visuals.

26: Vampire Hunter D Bloodlust

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Vampire Hunter D Bloodlust is pure gothic style at its finest and most refined. The tale is simple: a half-vampire is hired by some townsfolk to rescue a damsel from real vampires. Combine this simple story with Kawajiri’s stylish visuals and some of the best usage of atmosphere in any anime, and you’ve got yourself one damn cool movie. Yeah, it’s not really a complex roller coaster or anything, but trust me when I say that it’s worth watching at least once.

25: Tamala: A Punk Cat In Space

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Basically Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas or Fritz the Cat put into anime form. Tamala is basically one of those “let’s just walk around and be surreal as possible whilst tackling dark themes in some of the most subtly brilliant ways possible”. Personally, I don’t really know much about punk culture and every time I watch it, I always discover something new, only to think I’m missing something later. However, that doesn’t take away from the fact that in the end, Tamala is a fucking strike! It’s one of those movies that’s fun to watch, yet hard to describe.

24: Summer Wars

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Summer Wars was never deserving of the huge amounts of praise it got, but that didn’t stop me from enjoying the piss out of it. The main reason I love this movie is because it speaks to my Digimon fanboyism, taking the best part of the Digimon movie, and expanding it to epic proportions. I’m fully aware that its themes are kind of shallow and it has a few too many characters and plotlines and wish-fulfillment going on. But this isn’t an objective list or anything, so screw you guys. That koi-koi battle against the giant bunny was fucking brilliant.

23: Roujin Z

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Sort of forgotten by all but the most hardcore Katushiro Otomo fans, Roujin Z is a great and hilarious look at the senior citizen problem and how we have to fix it. More accessible than Akira (yes, it’s on this list too), the OVA does a brilliant job of mixing social satire with actual plot in a way that’s unmatched by most current anime. It’s been a while since I’ve seen it so I don’t remember too much about it, but I remember it being a massively underrated anime that deserves more attention. Don’t be surprised if it goes higher on the list once I get to rewatching it.

22: Nausicaa: Valley of the Wind

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Let’s start the Ghibli love with this one. Nausicaa is not as refined in its themes as Princess Mononoke is, but in terms of weirdness and my oldfag tastes, I probably prefer this one. It’s just a damn great environmental movie with some damn great characters and conflicts where nobody is in the right and everybody has so much to lose. Yeah, Nausicaa comes off as too perfect for my liking and it probably doesn’t compare to the actual manga, which I only read a few chapters of, but I love it all the same. That ending act is still a climax that haunts me before making me happy, probably due to the use of music during said act.

21: Kiki’s Delivery Service

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The Ghibli movie that all kids from the 90s grew up with and started a witch craze like no other back in the day, Kiki is just fun coming-of-age stuff. It has none of the environmental themes or preachiness that the studio is known for and is instead focused on childhood adolescence and how everyone needs to grow up eventually in some of the most subtle and (light-hearted) heartbreaking ways possible. It also has one of the most upbeat opening songs ever and Kirsten Dunst is just perfect in the dub as Kiki (Phil Hartman though…yeah). Come along and join Kiki in her high-flying adventures, guys.

17 responses to “The Top 30 Greatest Movies To Come Out Of Anime

  1. As I scrolled down, I wondered if any Evangelion movies would make your list. I’m glad to see End of Evangelion, a movie I really want to rewatch – I don’t think I appreciated it when I first saw it long ago.

    Also, I approve of Whisper of the Heart at number one, hehe. It wouldn’t have made that on my list, but it would have placed pretty close.

    Also, YES, watch Sky Crawlers! It might be a little “not as good as it thinks it is” for you, but I loved it more than most.

    • Whisper of the Heart is everything I love about slice-of-life, romance, and more. Contrary to what most people think, I prefer the happy love story endings to the bittersweet stuff.

      Cautious on Sky Crawlers since aside from Urusei Yatsura (and excluding the first movie), Mamoru Oshii has been iffy for me. But I’ll see for myself.

  2. I like the Cowboy Bebop movie, but it didn’t feel as much like an extended episode as an extended episode minus the individual style that sets it apart from other episodes. The homages to other things and parallels drawn to the idea of entertainment in general were a big part of what made the series so good for me, and the movie didn’t have those as much.

    I’m enough of a Digimon fanboy that I probably would have stuck Our War Game itself on a list like this, so I can’t complain about Summer Wars. But it just seems so made for Digimon fanboys that it’s sometimes hard for me to understand what about it is so appealing to people who aren’t.

    • Bebop movie traded some parts of what makes the show work for other parts IMO. I liked those other parts fine.

      I’ve seen people who like Summer Wars yet never watched a single part of Digimon. If you find them, you might want to ask.

  3. Great list – Perfect Blue and Beautiful Dreamer are in my top 5 as well. Just out of curiosity, have you seen Angel’s Egg by Oshii? I’d also consider Wings of Honneamise and Night on the Galactic Railroad as essential viewing for any anime fan.

      • It’s definitely a film that’ll split viewers either way. Personally, I enjoy it and UY2:BD a lot more than Oshii’s later, talkier stuff.

        Night on the Galactic Railroad came out the same year, and has a similar dark, quiet atmosphere, but a much more discernible story, based on a book by a famous Japanese writer and poet.

  4. gotta agree with Xhaun Ogerman. Ghost in the shell should be on here somewhere. Second anime movie i ever saw after akira.

  5. Ooh, Millennium Actress isn’t on this list. That’s odd, since its oft-considered Kon’s most “complete” film, and is just so damn cohesively written that it puts the majority of other films(anime or otherwise) to shame. Curious as to why that is the case.

    • I like the aesthetics and tribute to movies, but the love story did nothing for me. That sort of “lost love to a total stranger” just doesn’t get me excited the way it does for other people. Still a good movie though.

      • It does ring a bit hollow, yes, and sounds quite over idealised, but (a) Chiyoko kinda says at the end that she just wanted to chase the guy regardless of whether she landed him, and (b) the movie was told from the perspective of the journalist guy; was it even necessary to feel for the romance as long as we could feel the journalist’s anguish at never landing his girl and everyone else’s jealousy for how driven she was?
        This could also be a general question: does a love story really need to be about the two people in love?

        I say this, though I actually am one of the people who got excited over the “lost love to a total stranger” bit.

    • Mushishi is told from the perspective of Ginko and yet I really dug the individual stories there, even when they didn’t have much to do with him. Same with Kino’s Journey. I don’t need to “feel” the love story. I just needed to find it interesting.