This is my second time writing a post about my favorite anime films of all time. As for life as we know it, I, myself keep on watching anime films whenever I have time and I seriously discovered more precious gems out there. My biggest discovery this year isn’t really a big secret as it became a smash hit not only in Japan but also projected to take the world by storm. I am talking about Makoto Shinkai’s latest film “Your Name.” which breaks record in Japan’s movie history and currently standing as the highest-earning Japanese film of all time passing Studio Ghibli’s critically acclaimed films: Princess Mononoke, Ponyo, Howl’s Moving Castle, and Spirited Away.
My Top 20 Anime Films of All Time (Ranked)
Now, I am proud to present my Top 20 Anime Films of All Time, not really a big difference from my old list but Your Name., it simply mesmerize me and made its way to the top of my list as my favorite anime film. After all, I’ve been a big fan of Makoto Shinkai and I’m always looking forward to every project from him.
Makoto Shinkai’s smash hit broke film records in Japan and China. That girl and boy body-swap anime plot were seriously fun but above everything else, its vivid and fantastic animation together with amazing soundtracks are the biggest asset of this film. Although the romance story was very cliché, it will surely catch your attention in a heartbeat with all those feels and mesmerizing visuals.
Children Who Chase Lost Voices
Another vivid film from Makoto Shinkai, Children Who Chase Lost Voices which is also known as Journey to Agartha is an astonishing film that resembled those feels from a Studio Ghibli film. It is one of the anime films that really gave me too many feelings and made me cry an ocean of tears. It was a fun and exciting ride watching this film as the characters embark on a journey in order to bring those dead people that they value the most back to life. It was a story about the struggle of losing someone and how to cope with such loss.
The only film from Studio Ghibli that truly made a mark on my heart and will always be my favorite romance anime of all time as well as my favorite movie from Studio Ghibli. It was a cute coming-of-age film about falling in love for the first time and self-discovery. It’s not just your typical romance-comedy anime story; it has those funny twists and turns as well as inspiring factor teen drama of facing what the future may offer.
The Garden of Words
The Garden of Words was a mature story about self-discovery, falling in love, moving forward, and pursuing one’s dream. What could be more romantic and magical than a simple and interesting talk with strangers in a park on rainy days as if you two had been friends for a hundred of years? I supposed we can call that “soul mates.” I always watch this film whenever I got tired and feel f**ked up with my work and when I’m getting anxious about interacting with my workmates. In my own honest opinion, Garden of Words is my personal favorite of all the works of Makoto Shinkai.
From Up on Poppy Hill
A coming-of-age romance story set in the 60s and I would say this is one of Goro Miyazaki’s best works. A relaxing, funny, and romantic story of teenagers while dealing with their school lives and learning the secret that binds their past. Umi and Shun were among my favorite romantic pair from all the movies of Studio Ghibli.
5 Centimeters per Second
One of the earliest works of Makoto Shinkai, 5 cm/s is the anime film that made me a fan of his. This is a very realistic story about love, distance, and longing for someone that you truly treasure but lost along the path of this short life. It’s quite a heartbreaking film and seriously, it will make you cry an ocean but not in frustration but in the realistic approach it used which many people could relate to. “The speed at which cherry blossoms fall, it’s supposedly five centimeters per second.”
The Princess and the Pilot
We can say that this is not a happy ending film but it was seriously a precious gem with satisfying tales to tell. An adventure-romance film mixed with a political background, watching The Princess and the Pilot was really a breathtaking aerial adventure.
Howl’s Moving Castle
The most magical film from Studio Ghibli, Howl’s Moving Castle was equipped with funny punch lines, cheesy romance, and fantastic-magical storytelling. First of all, who wouldn’t fall in love with Howl? The power wizard who will make you fall and consume your heart, well, that’s what the story tells about him. But beyond those legends, he’s a prodigy and exceptionally handsome with lots of magic tricks and sensible bravado.
Story-wise, this is one of the most amazing on my list. During those days when I am struggling with suicidal depression and anxiety, this film had been my friend. This anime was about re-experiencing life from a different perspective, redeeming oneself from downfall, making friends, and teaching other people to move forward and live life as they want it to be. It’s about making connections! “People are not just monochromatic, they all have so many colors to them; it’s fine to have many beautiful colors.”
Now this is a very heartwarming story about a young mother who struggles to raise her children, what’s more, complicated is that her children are ‘wolf children.’ The film tells the story of Hana and her conflict about raising her children, whether should she raise them in a human’s or in a wolf’s way. On the other hand, it also shows the self-discovery that her children must experience and their choices. So far, Wolf Children is my favorite film from Mamoru Hosoda.
A very romantic and somewhat tragic film with big plot twists in the end. I, myself had been caught off guard by that plot twist but I’m not the only one. Hal is a story about coping up with losing someone special and moving forward to face the future with big enthusiasm and a smile.
This is one of the rare gems in this list exploiting the nostalgic part of the past and opening your heart to the present possibilities of life. It’s about choosing what you’ve been wanting for so long. You just have to accept and embrace it once it finally shows in front of you. Just like in the story, when the right guy comes, you’d better grab him and talk about those things that make you happy. This is a very romantic and mature love story about two people meeting the love of their lives and settling down for the best.
Laputa Castle in the Sky
One of the earliest works of Studio Ghibli, Laputa: Castle in the Sky can be considered one of the classics in film history. An exciting, funny, and romantic adventure of two young hearts who embarks on a journey to find the mysterious floating island of Laputa (which we can compare to the legendary Atlantis).
The Girl Who Leapt Through Time
Another film from Mamoru Hosoda (who also directed Wolf Children), The Girl who Leapt through Time is a very fun and exciting anime film to watch. It was based on a novel with the same name and teaches us the value of time. Just because you are capable of returning back to the past to correct your mistakes, doesn’t mean it will always be a happy ending. The real treasure is the present and we should make the best of it right now, right here, with the right person.
Now this is a different one in this list. Unlike the majority of the anime in this list, this is not purely romance, instead, it tells an enticing adventure set in post-apocalyptic years in the future where the Earth’s gravity had been pretty messed up thus destroying the landscape of the world. The story is about acceptance of every people’s differences, fighting for what you believe is right, and defeating tyrant oppressors.
The Boy and the Beast
The Boy and the Beast is the most recent film from Mamoru Hosoda, it was released in 2015 and is one of the blockbuster anime hits of that year. It was filled with exciting stuff and funny scenes, not to mention that the romance in it was really cheesy. It’s a film that will relax your soul and give you satisfaction as the story concludes.
The Anthem of the Heart
This film story is about acceptance, making connections, and redeeming oneself from despair. It is a sweet coming-of-age story involving falling in love, making friends, opening your door to other people, moving forward, and accepting oneself. It is actually one of those films that made me cry while watching it, plus the soundtracks are really great.
Another amazing film from Mamoru Hosoda, as the title suggests, the story took place on hot summer days and a big adventure unfolds for the main characters in the story.
Hotarubi no Mori e
The Forest of Fireflies is a very special anime for me, it holds a special place in my heart as it resembles my favorite anime series of all time (Natsume Yuujinchou) and they actually had the same author. This film is a melodramatic romance and who wouldn’t cry at that part where everything turns into dust and shows the firefly lights that night? It is very simple and amazing, that made you don’t want to blink your eyes as every second really matters.
Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind
This film is a classic and seriously has lots of lessons to teach to today’s generation. Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind is the film that marks the creation of Studio Ghibli. Even though it was released prior to Studio Ghibli’s establishment, the main forces behind this film are the people that established the studio. The film was set in a dystopian world where humans are living in fear of this thing called the “Sea of Decay” which is in fact the accumulated pollution caused by humans. It is a film that needs to be seen by today’s generation due to its moral lessons that tell humans nowadays to take action.
While there are plenty of new anime movies coming out every once in a while, I will try my best to update this list as soon as I can. Nonetheless, I am proud to share my favorite anime movies of all time here and hope you’ll find some precious gems among them.
Last Updated on November 17, 2022 by Yu Alexius