15 essential animated films to watch if you want to get started with the genre


People love their anime, but unless you’re familiar with the genre, it can seem a little intimidating to dive into it. Once you’re there, you’ll never want to get out. Breathtaking animation, intricate storylines, and heart-felt storytelling is something that really needs to be experienced. If you’re trying to get started with anime, here are some of the best movies you could get started with.

1. Akira

First of all – it is not a children’s film. It’s a staple of the anime genre, and also a total pile of gore and violence. The story takes place in a post-apocalyptic cyberpunk future and involves a super cool bike. There’s a bunch of fights, bike chases, and some really terrifying mutation scenes.

Source: Polygon

2. Tomb of the fireflies

This devastating war film is based after a particularly violent bombardment on a Japanese village separates 2 children from their parents. Seita, a teenager, takes care of her younger sister, Setsuko, as they travel the country in a desperate attempt to stay alive. Prepare your tear ducts.

The Grave of the Fireflies
Source: Belcourt

3. Howl’s Moving Castle

This 2004 fantasy film, directed by acclaimed Hayao Miyazaki and hosted by the inimitable Studio Ghibli, is a must-see. It is about a young girl transformed into an old witch by a malicious witch, her only hope of rescue being the idiosyncratic but sympathetic wizard Howl.

Howls the moving castle
Source: No Use

4. Flown

Another animated masterpiece from Miyazaki, this film tells the story of a 10-year-old girl who must work to free her parents from a cursed amusement park. Actually, the story is a lot more nuanced, but I don’t want to spoil the movie for you. Just know that this was the first Japanese animated film to win the Oscar for best animated feature.

Abducted as if by magic
Source: Mental Floss

5. Ghost in the shell

Please don’t watch the 2017 American remake starring Scarlett Johansson. Go watch the original like an adult. This dystopian film is about a cyborg-human policewoman on the hunt for an evil hacker known as the Puppet Master. He spoke about themes surrounding gender and gender identity, and even influenced The matrix trilogy.

Source: Cnet

6. My neighbor Totoro

One of Miyazaki’s most iconic characters comes from this movie. It is a film about 2 young girls who go on a series of adventures with their great bunny friend Totoro in a magical forest. In the process, they also learn about the complex nature of life from their mother, who is in the hospital.

Source: The edge

7. Cowboy Bebop: the movie

Yes, there is also a series that hits the charts, but the movie is also awesome. It’s a neo-noir space opera about a lawless period in space travel where rival bounty hunters vie for the top. It’s one of the coolest shows ever done in the most basic sense of the word, let alone the soundtrack that’s out of this world (pun intended).

Source: Youtube

8. Princess Mononoke

Another offering from acclaimed Studio Ghibli, this film is about a forest princess struggling to keep her natural habitat alive and a mining town ravaging the environment. Caught between all of this, a prince seeks a cure for his curse and his interaction with this being of the forest.

Source: Digital stunned

9. Paprika

This animated film apparently inspired Nolan’s Creation! This is a therapist who creates a device to enter the dreams of psychiatric patients in order to help them recover. However, the device can also destroy people’s minds, and when it is stolen, they must do everything to get it back.

Source: Geeks and gamers

10. Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind

It was the film that sparked the craze for Studio Ghibli, directed by Miyazaki. It is set in a post-apocalyptic future and is about a young girl who can communicate with the strange creatures that live in this difficult world, trying to bring peace to the planet.

Source: Daily link

11. Vampire Hunter D

Yes, it’s another post-apocalyptic story set in a future ravaged land, but this time there’s the living dead too! The plot might seem a bit far-fetched, about vampires declining in numbers due to vampire hunters in the future, but the story behind this has a lot to tell.

Source: Austin Chronicle

12. Steamboy

When this movie came out, steampunk was still in its infancy, mostly a base for jokes. As interest in genre and style has grown, so has the status of this film, which is about a young inventor who must protect a powerful device that has been offered to him from the forces of evil. It’s a really fun and adventurous ride.

Source: Character design references

13. Your name

While this is a newer version, it doesn’t dilute the quality of this list in any way (98% on Rotten Tomatoes). Based on the novel of the same name, this is a gorgeous film about 2 high school kids who end up swapping their bodies after a strange incident and then having to find a way to make things work. Given its small budget, your name really did a wonderful job on both the animation and the storytelling.

Source: The bottom line

14. Barefoot Generation

If you start to feel a pattern in the anime’s focus on the ravages of war, maybe it’s because much of their material was inspired by the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Gen Barefoot, which was released in 1983, follows 6-year-old protagonist Gen as he attempts to make sense of life after the atomic bombing in a torn world.

Source: Alchetron

15. Ninja Scroll

If you enjoy breathtaking action and storytelling, this movie is for you. This is a ninja ace who has been tricked into killing members of his clan. Now he roams the lands with 2 companions in an effort to defeat a demonic ninja organization that is determined to take control of the Japanese government.

Ninja scroll
Source: Youtube

Your initiation is now complete. Go out and hadouken it’s rising !


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