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The Best Anime Movies of All Time [2021]

The Best Anime Movies of All Time [2021]

Every time someone thinks to themself, “Oh, I wish this awesome thing was true,” an anime is created. For instance, you want a diary that’s designed to kill everyone? You got it. A fruit that can give you superpowers? Why not!

Anime has created a world of fantasy that can make pretty much any desire come true — and we are thankful for it, for even if we don’t have the power to destroy planets, our favorite anime character certainly does. That’s good enough for us.

Of course, there’s so much more to anime than dark and grim plots. And please do not get sad, you hopeless romantics, as anime is not only about amazing action scenes and destroying things. There are several anime available, complete with a love story that competes with the best Hollywood rom-com movies out there. In these anime, the emotion there is so raw and real that you’ll unquestionably shed a tear or two by the time it ends.

This is where anime movies enter the scene. Although there are several anime programs with a fairly emotional plotline, anime movies are on a completely different level. That means that if you’re looking for a quick emotional ride, or are just looking to dive into the world of anime, movies are the way to go.

And like everything, there are a few mediocre anime movies, but many more anime movies out there worth your time. While it can be a hard decision to choose just one, worry not.

We’ve compiled a list of some of the best anime movies you can watch, and also included notes on why you should watch them. It’s the perfect opportunity too, with the pandemic making our lives harder and forcing us to stay home.

All you need to do is just sit back and dive into this crazy, beautiful world of anime… and forget about this uncertain world for a while.

Which are the Best Anime Movies Ever?

Please note that the list is not in any order (but that said, we will share our all-time favorite movie for your viewing pleasure at the end of this article). The best anime movies are:

  • Your Name
  • A Silent Voice
  • Spirited Away
  • Weathering With You
  • Demon Slayer: Mugen Train

While there are a number of incredible anime movies out there, these stand apart as what we would objectively call our favorites — and we hope they become your favorites, too!

What is Your Name?

This anime movie, released back in 2016 and written and directed by Makoto Shinkai, is a must-watch for all the hopeless romantics reading this article. Your Name (or Kimi No Nawa) is a beautiful and heartbreaking love story that blooms breaking the barrier of time and space.

This story is about a teenage boy named Taki and a teenage girl named Mitsuha, and something supernatural that changes their lives forever. Taki is your average boy living in Tokyo, unable to confess his feelings, shy amongst girls, the usual struggles of a boy his age. Mitsuha is a girl living in a rural area of Japan, in a beautiful village named Itomori.

One day Taki wakes up to the unexpected: he finds a pair of breasts on his body. While going through a change is fairly common for someone his age, this is not quite what he had in mind. He’s startled at first so then — naturally, understandably — he feels them to check if they are real.

Then, to his surprise, a small girl enters his room calling him “big sister.” So apparently on this strange day, he not only has a pair of breasts, but he also has a young sister, a completely different house, and the body of a girl.

On the other end, Mitsuha somehow ends up in a boy’s body, with a different house, different parents, and a different place. Yep, you guessed it: they swapped bodies with each other.

Taki and Mitsuha both going crazy, but they ultimately decide that it’s just a dream, and they try to spend their day somehow. The next day, when they are back in their own respective bodies, they realize it was not a dream after people point out that they were acting weird the day before. They sleep and they swap bodies again and, after a while, they start to get used to it and eventually start contacting each other.

Your Name Anime Movie

Being involved in each other’s lives, they start developing feelings, and just like every love story, things don’t go well for them after that. From having funny moments (like where they try to mess with the other when swapped), things take a turn to them missing each other.

They long to meet each other and the feeling just grows as the plot moves forward, but then something else happens. Without giving away spoilers, just know that swapping bodies is surprisingly not the most supernatural thing in this movie.

Your Name not only has a beautiful plot, but the animation, the music, and the direction are on a whole other level, too. You’ll fall in love with the breathtaking scenery in this movie, as everything from the Itomori village to the train station is animated perfectly. It has, hands down, some of the best animation and artwork in an anime movie.

Furthermore, the music is perfect for the mood, and we’re sure after watching Your Name, there will be some new additions to your song playlist.

In 2016, Your Name broke all the records, becoming the highest-grossing movie in Japan that year, and also breaking the record of Spirited Away (another recommendation on this list) to become the most grossed anime movie of all time. This impressive feat speaks for the quality of this movie.

Despite it being perfect for romantics, everyone should give it a shot if they want to experience a heartbreaking but also poignant and beautiful story — and to also understand the reason behind the title, Your Name. For those who are interested in seeing it for themselves, you can rent or buy Your Name from Amazon.

A Silent Voice is Heard

Another movie from 2016 that was a major hit is none other than A Silent Voice, or Koe no Katachi. Written by Reiko Yoshida and directed by Naoko Yamada, A Silent Voice is a calm movie, following the mental development of a child into a young adult.

A Silent Voice starts with a young girl named Shouko Nishimiya transferring to a new elementary school. Nishimiya is deaf and communicates with others by writing in her notebook or by sign language. Initially, other students try to make friends with her, but soon everyone gets tired of writing in a notebook to communicate and starts avoiding her.

Shoya Ishida is the class clown, and he and his friends soon start teasing Nishimiya. Every time Ishida does something to bother Nishimiya, his friends laugh, which encourages him to do more. Soon the teasing turns into bullying, and it eventually gets to the point where Nishimiya is physically hurt.

Silent Voice

After that incident, everyone starts looking at Ishida with disgust. The same friends who laughed alongside him now bully him. Everyone shuts him down, and he’s left alone, just like Nishimiya.

Ishida spends his childhood in loneliness and that changes his heart. As he grows older, he realizes how cruel he was to Nishimiya. Longing to apologize to her, he somehow finds her in high school and tries to apologize to her. He even learns sign language for that. After meeting up with Nishimiya, Ishida’s past catches up to him, and many things start to unravel as you continue with the movie.

Your heart will break every time you see Nishimiya smile, despite being treated poorly by her peers. A Silent Voice touches on a social aspect that is very much needed to talk about, as well: bullying. It shows how bullying affects not only the victim but the culprit, too. It shows that people can change and that people can also forgive.

While watching A Silent Voice some scenes will initially have you furious with Ishida, as the movie develops, you’ll also learn to forgive — and even love — him. This movie is a marvelous piece of art, and the atmosphere, the character development, and the harsh realities will just have you in awe. Yes, you will have tears streaming down your face throughout the movie, but by the time it ends, there will also be a big smile there, too.

This movie is highly recommended for all types of audiences. However, if we may offer a piece of advice before you being watching, we’d like to encourage you to watch it with your partner or teddy, because you will definitely need a hug and a shoulder to cry on. You can watch A Silent Voice on Netflix.

The Magic of Spirited Away

Without the name Spirited Away, this list would have been incomplete. This sensational movie was released nearly twenty years ago, back in 2001, and was written and directed by Hayao Miyazaki. However, even after two decades, it remains an all-time favorite to many, and rightly so.

This story is about a young girl named Chihiro. While going to look for a new house with her parents, Chihiro and her parents lose their way. At the end of their path is a tunnel and, after examining this tunnel, they find out that it leads to an amusement park that seems abandoned. They see a few shops open there, albeit without a sign of any humans.

After seeing some food stalls open, Chihiro’s parents try calling out to see if anyone is there. However, their hunger gets the better of them and they start eating anyway, without realizing that the food was meant for the spirits. Chihiro refuses to eat the food, and thank goodness that she did. This is because soon after eating quite a bit of the food, her parents turn into pigs.

Spirited Away

This is where the adventure — or should we say misfortune — of little Chihiro starts. Fortunately, she gets lucky and is saved by a little boy. Initially, it is scary for Chihiro, but soon she gets used to living among the spirits.

She is forced to work in Yubaba’s bathhouse, the same witch who turned Chihiro’s parents into pigs. Living among the spirits, Chihiro plans to escape the magical place with her parents… and to find out if she does, you’ll need to watch the movie.

Spirited Away is still the bar that many movies aim to reach. The animation in this movie is as detailed as it can get; you can rewatch it entirely just for the activities going on in the background. Even after 19 years after its release, Spirited Away remains a gem, in both terms of the fantastic storytelling and the realistic feeling this world emits (even though it’s a fantasy).

One of the reasons why Chihiro feels so realistic could be that this character is based on the daughter of Hayao Miyazaki’s friend, and Miyazaki stated that it was meant for young girls of age 10. It’s a story that is so pure — written not for a commercial audience, but some young girls — that help make sure it has an impact on every person, of every age group.

As many people have said, this movie touches not your heart, but your soul. Spirited Away is a perfect movie for these winter nights, with a hot cup of tea and a cozy blanket. So, if you are ever in a poetic mood, watch this beautiful piece of art to quench your thirst and get lost in a world of spirits. You can find Spirited Away on Amazon.

A Closer Look at Weathering With You

Written and directed by Makoto Shinkai and released in 2019, this movie is another romantic masterpiece. Weathering With You (or Tenki No Ko) broke the box office and became the highest-grossing Japanese movie of 2019. If you liked Your Name, you will thank us for recommending Weathering With You.

The story follows a young man named Hodaka Morishima, who runs away from his village and ends up in Tokyo. There he meets a young orphan girl named Hina Amano, who lives with her younger brother and works part-time to help make ends meet.

After reaching Tokyo, Morishima finds it hard to feed himself and have a roof over his head. He starts working for a small-time publisher, who also lets Morishima stay with him. Amidst it, Morishima also meets Amano, who is kind to him. Amano works at a fast-food restaurant, and this is where Morishima and Amano first have contact, unaware of the story this one meeting would turn into.

While working at the publishing company, Morishima comes to know about a mysterious person who can apparently control the weather to her whim.

Weathering with you

As the story progresses, Morishima rescues Amano from her shady boss and learns that Amano is the girl who has the power to control the weather. Morishima suggests that Amano become “Sunshine Girl,” someone who will change the weather when someone needs it, for money.

Morishima and Amano’s relationship grows closer, and they start working together, secretly getting fond of each other. Things finally look good and they start earning good money, but — and yes there is always a catch — one thing leads to another, and their peaceful happy life takes a turn for the worst. However, before you get sad at the unfortunate twist of fate, we really need to encourage you to watch the movie to find out how they overcome it all.

Just as expected, Weathering With You had astounding animation. Everything in this movie looks so beautiful that you can’t help but want to take a screenshot of your computer or phone’s wallpaper. Along with its captivating scenes, it also draws us in with the soothing music.

This movie, about two lost teenagers finding their way in life — through all the hardships and bad times, these teenagers finding each other amidst all the chaos — is a romantic and inspiring tale for many out there. This is especially true for young people, who are looking for their paths in life and are hopeless romantics. For those of you, this movie will have you feeling that tingling sensation you are looking for.

Our advice? Take out your umbrellas and sit down for an incredible story, into the weather itself, with Weathering With You. You can rent it or buy it from Amazon.

The Adventure of Demon Slayer: Mugen Train

Those of you looking for some serious action, and some shonen fun, well guess what? We have got something for you, as well. Following the mind-blowing Season 1 of the anime Demon Slayer comes the movie Demon Slayer: Mugen Train.

This movie, directed by Haruo Sotozaki, broke many records when it was released in October last year. It not only became the highest-grossing movie in Japan in 2020, but it was also the highest-grossing movie in Japan of all time, the highest-grossing animated of the year 2020, and the highest-grossing anime movie of all time — leaving behind Your Name. This alone should already give you enough reasons to watch this movie.

Demon Slayer, as the name suggests, is an anime about people called Demon Slayers, who slay demons to protect humanity. Tanjiro, the protagonist of this shonen, loses almost all of his loved ones to a demon. His sister, Nezuko, is still alive; the only problem, however, is that she is now a demon, too. Despite this, she somehow manages to suppress the demon in her.

Demon Slayer Anime Movie

After this horrifying incident, Tanjiro goes on a journey to become a Demon Slayer and to find a cure for his sister at all costs. On his journey, he learns from a master who is proud of him, forms a few friendships, meets some trusted allies, and much more. It is a simple but heart-warming shonen story, where Tanjiro has a secret (and even he doesn’t know about it).

Demon Slayer was appreciated mostly because of the unbelievably amazing animation. The action scenes in this anime are some of the best of all time. With many characters having a unique fighting style, the animation just blooms. No matter how much we applaud the animation of this show, it won’t be enough to truly commend it.

The movie is a sequel to this first season of the anime and the story continues with Tanjiro pursuing one of the twelve Kizuki (a high-class demon). He is accompanied by the Flame Hashira (a high-class demon slayer) and, of course, his friends and sister Nezuko. They travel in a mysterious train, hence the name.

This movie is a full adrenaline rush with unparalleled action, and you won’t be able to pull away from your eyes from it even for a second. However, unless you watch the anime, you will not understand the movie at all. Therefore, it is highly recommended to watch the anime prior to watching this amazing movie.

Demon Slayer: Mugen Train was recently released in Japan in October 2020. For those who are looking forward to the global release, however, it’s worth the wait Just like the anime, the trailer for Demon Slayer: Mugen Train shows some very promising and thrilling action sequences, with amazing animation.

If you have ever watched a shonen and were looking for some more of that feeling of excitement, Demon Slayer: Mugen Train will have you fall in love. As a bonus, the soundtrack is also amazing.

Some Honorable Mentions

While these movies may not be one of our absolute favorites, they’re still incredible in their own right and deserve a mention. Perhaps you can find a new favorite in one of these anime movies?

Howl’s Moving Castle

Howl’s Moving Castle

This is another amazing movie by the director Hayao Miyazaki (who also directed Spirited Away). Howl’s Moving Castle tells the tale of a young woman named Sophie, who is transformed into an old lady by the curse of a very evil witch. And how her life gets entangled with Howl and his companions in resistance against the king.

Howl’s Moving Castle contains a strong anti-war message and also focuses on many other social messages. Hayao Miyazaki even stated that this was his best creation, and he was ultimately successful in spreading the message that “life is worth living.” You can watch Howl’s Moving Castle on Amazon.

Princess Mononoke

Released back in 1997, Princess Mononoke is another movie written and directed by Hayao Miyazaki. It still remains, even to this day, one of the best anime movies ever created. The story develops as Prince Ashitaka wanders off to find a cure for his curse, and gets caught up in a war between the gods of a forest and humans. Together, with a young woman (San), Ashitaka fights to save the gods from the evil humans.

Princess Mononoke

Princess Mononoke was the highest-grossing anime movie before Spirited Away (another movie from the same director) took that crown in 2001. That should speak for the quality of this movie. If you are interested (and we hope you are!), you can watch Princess Mononoke on Netflix.

Wolf Children

Hana falls in love with a mysterious man, who turns out to be a werewolf. Despite that, they start a family together and have two children, a girl, and a boy. Both wind up receiving the dubious gift of their father. Not long after, Hana is left alone to take care of the children after her husband dies.

Wolf Children

Wolf Children is a story about a young single mother, who struggles to raise her two wild children (literally!). It is a heartwarming and a slice of life story. You can rent or buy Wolf Children from Amazon.

What is Our All-Time Favorite Anime Movie?

With every movie on this list being the very best in the genre, it was hard to choose just one movie for us, but choose we must. Now, this is subjective to everyone, and only you can decide which movie is your favorite. However, for us, A Silent Voice (or Koe no Katachi) wins this honor.

No, it did not break any records or had a groundbreaking animation, but the story and direction of this movie touch our hearts as nothing else could. The calm and peaceful atmosphere that this movie creates is phenomenal.

The psychological side of bullying, the effects of it on both the culprit and the victim, the way Ishida realizes his mistakes and actually atones for them, the character development of a bully to a responsible young man, and the transition from hatred to love, plus that ravishing smile of Nishimiya… what is there to not like about this movie?

If you are looking for that sad-happy feeling and a sense of hope and satisfaction — and of course, some heartfelt awws — then we cannot recommend a movie better than Koe no Katachi.

Frequently Asked Questions

Question: Where can I watch these anime movies?

Answer: A small collection of anime movies are available on Netflix, but you will not find every anime there. To watch a larger collection of anime movies, we recommend you to take a subscription to Crunchyroll or Funimation. These platforms have the largest collection of anime movies (and anime) currently.

Question: Where can I watch the movies specifically mentioned in this article?

Answer: Most of the movies mentioned here are available on Netflix. For the ones not available, however, you can either rent or buy them on Amazon. We have mentioned where to watch each movie at the end of every description, as well, so you can find them at a glance. For those of you who have a Crunchyroll or Funimation subscription, most of the movies should be present there.

Question: Can I watch anime for free?

Answer: We do not recommend watching any anime for free, as it is not only unethical, but it also affects the studio that created the anime. It is very hard for animators to earn money, and if you try to watch anime from some unconventional means, the creators and animators don’t get enough funding to continue the anime. If you want to see your favorite anime get another season, please support the creators and watch anime on a legit platform, which helps the anime to continue.

Question: How do I know what anime to watch next?

Answer: There’s only one answer to that question — keep visiting our site! We post awesome anime stuff like this and more. We’ll tell you about which anime is the best, or which anime to watch after completing an amazing series or a movie. So, keep following us to up your anime knowledge and know about all the best anime out there. (Spoiler Alert: there are plenty!)

Final Thoughts

The world of anime is wonderful and separate from all things bad, and everyone should get to experience this feeling of power, adrenaline, and emotions. It has a place for all, be it a hardcore power junkie, a young man lost in love, or someone who wishes magic to come true.

Not everyone has time to dive in though, but worry not, because you can get a quick dose of this beautiful world created by some of the most creative people in the form of anime movies. Just sit back on your sofa, relax, and start any of the mentioned movies in this article, and we promise — you will not be disappointed.

If you wanted our advice, then we strongly suggest that you should just watch them all. We sincerely hope you find something good in this piece, and also get to experience something magical, when you do see them!

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