7 of the best animated films of all time

Princess Mononoke | Toho

Animation allows for the kind of limitless creativity that most live-action directors can only dream of. But while American animators today mostly embrace the trend of family-oriented computer-animated films, another influential genre of hand-drawn animation continues to thrive in Japan. Japanese anime styles are popular around the world for good reason, and these seven films represent hand-drawn action and anime humor at its most creative and best.

1. Princess Mononoke


Almost any film by Hayao Miyazaki, one of the founders of Japanese animation titan Studio Ghibli, often compared to Walt Disney in terms of national influence, deserves a place on this list, but I’m all for the powerful mythological tale environmentalist Princess Mononoke. Seen through the eyes of the young warrior Ashitaka, it is the story of the struggle between the vengeful gods of an ancient forest and the feudal society that angers them by consuming their resources to feed and clothe their people. The allegorical story is filled with beautifully rendered creatures and characters that draw the line between evil and good, making for a film as rich in theme as it is in stunning imagery.

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