What are some great anime films


In the meantime, most of you should have realized that animes are neither just kid stuff nor just sex and violence. No, fantastic masterpieces of film history are hidden here, which are unique due to their medium and narrative form. We tried to identify the 15 best anime movies of all time.


There are certain directors who have made so many masterpieces, or at least great films, that they alone can dominate this list. That's why I try to concentrate on the really outstanding works from the already masterful oeuvre in the films by Hayao Miyazaki, Isao Takahata, Satoshi Kon, Makoto Shinkai and Mamoru Hosoda.

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Tale of a White Snake (1958)

The first full-color full-color film in the anime tells of a famous Chinese legend about a tragic love between the young Xu Xian and a white snake who transforms into a young woman, but is said to be an evil spirit. Oh yes, and cute panda sidekicks also feature in it. Belongs on this list for historical reasons alone.

Belladonna of Sadness: The Tragedy of Belladonna (1973)

Surrealistic art house anime delirious in a psychedelic tour de force trip from traditional Japanese manga art to modern pop art, telling the story of a young couple who cannot afford the evil baron's exorbitant bride tax and a tragic one Comes to an end. Which of course means that a jealous man will murder a woman.

Wings of Honneamise (1987)

Impressive SF film about a royal space program on another planet, from Neon Genesis Evangelion-Director Hideaki Anno. But told very calmly, with a focus on character development and embedded in a complex story about impending wars and social upheavals. At the same time a fiery plea for the human urge to discover. Masterfully staged with beautiful pictures.

My Neighbor Totoro (1988)

The film was made possible by the success of Studio Ghibli Nausicaä from the Valley of the Winds, but he became famous through Totoro, that cuddly forest spirit, which from then on also served as the company coat of arms. No epic story is told here; We simply accompany two children as they move into a house on the edge of the forest with their father while the mother is cured of an illness in the hospital. The enchanted place this film is set in is not the forest, but childhood. The adventures, made possible by childlike imagination and unrestrained joy of discovery, are quite harmless and deal with the cuddly monster Totoro, cute dust ghosts and the equally famous cat bus.

The Last Fireflies (1988)

Isao Takahata's great masterpiece, beautiful, but also deadly sad, about two brothers who have to get by on their own after World War II. Together with Hayao Miyazaki he founded the legendary Studio Ghibli, but with his films he struck a completely different note and cultivated a very idiosyncratic style. In The last fireflies he processed his own experiences during World War II. A film that gets under your skin and leaves no one indifferent. And the best proof that anime is not just children's stuff, but a serious narrative medium and an art form that can portray tragic and socially relevant stories just as well as real films or novels.

Akira (1988)

The great classic of the anime not only made the art form known in Germany and other western countries, but also represented a technical milestone for the time. Katsuhiro Otomo realized his own multi-volume manga in a short film that captured the dystopian cyberpunk aesthetic at exactly the right time the 1980s, but tells a completely different story, which, like the first one Godzilla, warns of the consequences of nuclear power. The protagonist is the young Kaneda, who fights wild battles with other bikers with his friends on his fast motorcycle and gets caught in a secret military operation with apocalyptic consequences.

Ghost in the Shell (1995)

The second great anime classic of the 20th century, which as well as Akira (and some series à la Sailor Moon and Co.) ensured that Japanese cartoons became a phenomenon for us too. And Ghost in the Shell is not only cyberpunk in terms of aesthetics, but also in terms of content. Similar to William Gibsons Neuromancer it's about an artificial intelligence that develops a certain life of its own, while Major Motoko Kusanagi, transferred into an artificial body, tracks down a conspiracy and has to shoot through numerous human and mechanical opponents. There are now numerous film and series sequels, but the visually powerful poetry and the philosophical undertone of the original remain unmatched.

Princess Mononoke (1997)

For Hayao Miyazakis a relatively dark, but hopeful film, in which the young prince Ashitaka meets San, who lives with wolves, and is involved in her fight against Eboshi by the Tatar clan. A powerful and visually powerful allegory of the destruction of the environment by humans and its consequences for nature, dressed in a fantastic robe with a historical setting.

My Neighbors, the Yamadas (1999)

Isao Takahata's stylistic idiosyncrasy is evident here, which cannot be tamed even by genre conventions and supposed commercial necessities. The film tells of the everyday madness of the Yamada family: a father with a normal office job, a wife, two children and their grandmother who lives in the house. Basically an episode film with ludicrous everyday stories. Something completely different from the rest of the films on this list, but also proof of what anime can be.

Spirited Away (2001)

With this film, Hayao Miyazaki won the Oscar for best animated film in 2004 and finally established the anime as a serious form of film in the West. It tells the story of 10-year-old Chihiro, whose parents get lost with her during a move and end up in an amusement park, where they turn into pigs. In order to be able to transform her parents back, Chihiro has to take on the witch Yubaba and experiences all kinds of fantastic adventures with beings from Japanese mythology. A complex and beautiful film full of magic.

The Girl Who Leaped Through Time (2006)

The girl who jumped through time is a wonderful science fiction film by Mamoru Hosoda, full of poetry, very sensitive and told with a lot of ease, as is so often the case in animes from the perspective of a young student. The 17-year-old Makoto Konno finds that if she has mishaps or bad accidents, she can jump back a short distance in time.

Paprika (2006)

A film that takes full advantage of the technical possibilities of the anime and integrates it perfectly into the story, which is about the technological recording and manipulation of dreams - and the potential for abuse that this offers. A surreal psychological thriller and an aesthetic masterpiece that has received far too little attention. Satoshi Kon, who died in 2010, directed his films Millennium Actress and Tokyo Godfathers could also be on this list.

Summer Wars (2009)

A hacker science fiction film of a different kind. Instead of in neon-filled high-rise canyons and littered nerd apartments, this story takes place in the country and tells of family and solidarity and of how you can save the world with the computer. The main character is the eleven-year-old Kenji, who is sent to the country, but prefers to travel in the virtual world of OZ, where he gets into serious difficulties with very real consequences.

Aimee and Yuki - Wolf Children (2012)

Aimee and Yuki are, as the German title suggests, wolf children. Her father was able to turn into a wolf, which eventually became his undoing. And so they are raised by their human mother, who tries to master animal urges. Basically it is simply a wonderfully touchingly told film about a single mother with a son who is more drawn to nature and his wolf side.

Your Name (2016)

Makoto Shinkais Your name 2016 was not only a great success in Asia, but caused a sensation worldwide. What begins as a wonderful coming-of-age story between the high school student Mitsuha from the province and Taki from Tokyo, who occasionally awaken in the body of the other, soon takes on a tragic note due to an impending disaster. A film that is more complex than it looks at first glance, yet told in a multi-layered and touching way that only anime can actually manage. Even after Studio Ghibli hardly produces any new films, there is no need to worry about the future of such anime pearls.

Reading tip

The anime in film and series form is so versatile and houses so many different genres and masterpieces that a single list of 15 titles certainly does not do the genre justice. If you want to learn more about the history, development and the different genres of anime, you should take a look at our three-part article series Everything you need to know about anime throw.

Which animes do you think are missing from our list? What do you think it says wrongly? We are looking forward to your comments!

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