May 25 2011 12:05pm

Ten Anime Films You Should See Before You Die

One of the most surprising, and gratifying, things that has happened since I started my blog, Tim Maughan Books, a year or so ago is the positive feedback I’ve had for the anime reviews—especially from people I know are far from being massive fanboys like myself. It’s gratifying because its part of the reason I started writing them; to try and introduce the medium to people who had never really indulged in it all, at least not past perhaps watching Spirited Away with their kids. The problem is, once you’ve had your first taste, where do you go next? Type ‘anime’ into Google and the results are bewildering, and without a little bit of guidance and a quality filter finding something to watch can be a daunting task. There’s a lot of shit out there, plus a lot of stuff that isn’t really meant for you…unless you’re a ADHD stricken 12 year old emo-ninja-obsessed boy that refuses to eat anything except Pocky and instant Ramen. So, as requested, I present my list of 10 ‘mature’ anime films you really should see. They are in no particular order, the term ‘mature’ is kind of loose, seeing as at least two are really kids’ films, and this is purely personal opinion. If you disagree, see you in the comments section.

Akira (1988)

For many of us in the west, this is the one that started it all. Up until we first saw Katsuhiro Otomo’s Akira, our only exposure to Japanese animation had been kiddies’ Saturday morning shows like Speed Racer and Battle of the Planets, but I can still remember vividly sitting in a run-down arthouse cinema at the age of 17 with my jaw resting on the sticky floor as the opening scenes flashed in front of me. Two hours later I was a complete convert. Otomo heavily edited and re-wrote his own epic manga about rival motorbike gangs and genetically enhanced children to create this futuristic thriller, and it blew away critics and audiences in the west while breaking box office records back home in Japan. It also opened the floodgates for anime into the US and Europe, but unfortunately with a lot of what was opportunistically exported (distributors looking for visually similar/violent material instead of quality) simply not being up to the same standard many potential new fans were turned off as quickly as they’d been turned on. Essential viewing.

Ghost in the Shell (1995)

One of the most influential anime films of all time, Mamoru Oshii’s Ghost in the Shell changed not only the look and feel of animated sci-fi but also had an impact on Hollywood; most notably in the distinct visual style of the Matrix movies. While some hardcore fans of Masamune Shirow’s original action-packed and often light hearted manga still complain about the adaption; Oshii’s decision to turn it into a dark, brooding, beautifully paced drama ensured it’s place as a science fiction classic. It is without doubt the definitive visual depiction of the cyberpunk movement, and the closest there is to date of a filmic version of William Gibson’s classic Sprawl Trilogy novels. Not just a huge worldwide hit, it also spawned a huge franchise including a sequel, a planned Hollywood remake, two 26 part TV series, various novels, toys and video games, as well as the recent controversial Ghost in the Shell 2.0 special edition.

My Neighbor Totoro (1988)

I’ve talked at length elsewhere about how personally important My Neighbour Totoro is to me, so here I’ll try not to gush too much. There’s so many reasons as to why Hayao Miyazaki’s masterpiece is such an enduring and perfect film; the way he captures the energy and personalities of it’s two child protagonists, and his never ending attention to detail combined with a beautifully simple score and Kazuo Oga’s immaculate and breath-taking background paintings make it a joy to watch over and over again. A fact I’ve been re-assured of by friends with young children that insist on watching it on a near daily basis. And that’s probably Totoro’s strongest point—the fact that it is family film that appeals to both children and adults alike without pandering to either with slapstick or ‘knowing’ humor. If you haven’t seen it yet then you must—it is quite possibly the greatest animated film ever made.

Porco Rosso (1992)

I’ve already got one Miyazaki movie in this list, and it’s hard to limit it to just two. Picking a second one is even harder. My opinion changes on a near daily basis, or depending on the last one I happened to watch. But I’ll always have a soft spot for Porco Rosso; the tale of a WWI fighter ace turned bounty-hunter, cursed with the head of a pig and on the run for going AWOL from the Italian air force. In many ways it must have been one of Miyazaki’s most enjoyable projects to create, another fantastic family film that somehow manages to combine his obsession with aeronautic design and his personal politics. The elaborate, lived in aircraft designs remain one of my favourite cinematic images of all time, while we learn that the reason Rosso is fleeing the Italian authorities is his disdain for the fascism that’s steadily taking grip of Europe. Oh, and he also manages to take a gentle swipe at US bravado along the way. A perfect film.

Voices of a Distant Star (2002)

Perhaps Voices of a Distant Star doesn’t really belong here. For a start its only 25 minutes long, and was first released on DVD, technically making it an OVA—which I said at the top of this post wouldn’t be included here. Well, rules are made to be broken, plus it earns its place on this list for truly being a film you must see before you die. Astonishing enough that it was single-handedly written, directed and animated by the now legendary Makoto Shinkai on his Mac at home, it is also one of the most touching, beautiful and exhilarating examples of animation produced in recent history. The story of a long distant, text message relationship between a teenage mecha-pilot and her boyfriend back on earth, it combines gentle, slow-paced scenes with snatches of frantic sci-fi action, and has become the thematic and stylistic basis for Shinkai’s subsequent large-budget productions. It’s probably available for stupidly cheap on DVD now, so you really have no excuse for not picking this mini-masterpiece up.

Royal Space Force: The Wings Of Honneamise (1987)

The feature film debut of the then still young—but now legendary—studio Gainax, Royal Space Force: The Wings of Honneamise is an unusual, compelling and skillfully crafted film. Both a coming of age story and detailed analysis of the role of the space race in the Cold War, RSF tells the story of an alternate reality Earth, where two rival superpowers are locked in a constant propaganda and military stalemate, while a small team of underfunded scientists, engineers and pilots attempt to launch the first man into space. While the film is beautifully animated with some fantastically detailed background art, it is also has substantial depth in terms of it’s philosophical themes and characterisation. As such it’s not one for the whole family, but an unmissable and enthralling watch for anyone with an interest in what animation can truly achieve.

Patlabor: The Movie 2 (1993)

The history of the Patlabor franchise is a long and complex one, but put simply under the guidance of Mamoru Oshii it developed (in a way similar to how he remolded Ghost in The Shell) from a light hearted but realistic police-mecha drama to a bleak, deeply political and philosophical thriller by the time he directed Patlabor: The Movie 2. While the first movie is just as enthralling, thoughtful and arguably more accessible, the sequel just steals the crown due to its uncompromising approach to its political themes and it’s breathless, stark cinematic beauty. It deals with Oshii’s recurring theme of the hypocrisy of peace in the developed world, and in particular is a devastating attack on the foreign policy of a pacifist Japan that profits from the fates of distant waring nations. Although over 15 years old now, it’s portrayal of terrorism consists of some disturbingly prophetic imagery. Possibly the closest anime has come to producing something to rival the large canvas, cinematic styles of the likes of Stanley Kubrick or Ridley Scott, it is an unmissable, if challenging, work.

Perfect Blue (1997)

The directorial debut of anime auteur Satoshi Kon, Perfect Blue’s story about a J-Pop idol turned actress being stalked by a obsessive fan was originally meant to be a live action drama, only scrapped due to the 1995 Kobe earthquake. At first it’s contemporary setting and often mundane situations are certainly reminiscent of a well-shot J-Horror movie, but in Kon’s skilled hands the script slowly changes into something that could only be depicted by animation. As a starting point for his re-occurring themes of disconnected realities and psychological fantasy it is subtler than his later works such as Paranoia Agent and Paprika, and as a result somehow creepier. Certainly it’s most famous scene—where we apparently see the central character being raped, only discovering she is just acting when the off camera director shouts ‘cut’—is one that permanently sticks in the mind, as does the film’s shocking, final revelation.

Memories (1995)

Produced by Katsuhiro Otomo, and based on some of his short manga stories, Memories is an anthology of three films. Although all science fiction they cover a wide range of styles, from the romantic, twisted reality of the Satoshi Kon scripted Magnetic Rose and the ludicrous bio-warfare black comedy Stink Bomb to the Orwellian, Brazil like dystopia of Cannon Fodder—the only one of the three directed by Otomo himself. It is arguably the most compelling of the three, with it’s Oshii-esque story of a war obsessed and controlled society and it’s unique, steampunkesque visuals. Despite the diverging themes and differing visual styles of the three chapters, there is an undeniably high standard of production throughout. It’s another film that can be easily and cheaply picked up on DVD at the moment, I can’t hesitate in recommending that you buy it on sight.

The Girl Who Leapt Through Time (2006)

Loosely based on a popular Japanese novel, Mamoru Hosoda’s The Girl Who Leapt Through Time tells the story of schoolgirl Makoto Konno, who discovers she has the ability to—literally—time leap; that is to jump back in time to change situations and remake important decisions. What starts as an enjoyable, funny and charming teenage drama slowly reveals itself to have a classic, well crafted science fiction story at it’s heart, offering another, stylish but gentle, take on the conundrums and paradoxes thrown up by the idea of time-travel. It’s partly in this list to represent the talent of more recent directors and studios, but mainly because it’s a warm, accessible, exciting and lovingly made film that will be held in high esteem for many, many years to come.

So what have I missed out? Where have I gone wrong? Well for a start I notice straight away that although there’s two Studio Ghibli films, there’s nothing by Isao TakahataNo Grave of the Fireflies or Only Yesterday—which can’t be right, surely? I guess it’s a good sign for anime’s heritage that compiling such a list and limiting it to just ten means so many great works are missing, but I’m sure some of you will be upset that I’ve left out your favourite personal masterpiece. If so, hit the comments below and let it all out.


That’s not all! Check out Ten Anime Series You Should See Before You Die

Tim Maughan lives in Bristol in the UK and has been writing about anime and manga for nearly four years, and consuming both for close to twenty. He also writes science fiction, and his debut book Paintwork is out this June. He also tweets way too much.

philip hodgson
1. hodgsopg
I watched Paprika hoping it was as good as Perfect Blue, but it did not work for me, partly because I has just watched Tekkonkinkreet, which absolutely blew me away.
Chris Hawks
2. SaltManZ
Man, I love Totoro. "The way he captures the energy and personalities of it’s two child protagonists, and his never ending attention to detail" is perfectly put. It's an enjoyable movie taken literally, but sometimes I like to think that it's actually a film about two little girls who deal with their mother's illness by imagining Totoro and the other creatures.
tatiana deCarillion
3. decarillion
Thanks for this. Understanding and appreciating anime is on my to-do list, for a long time now. This is as good a place for me to start, as any LOL

Now, to pick your brain: in the very late 60s, I recall seeing a series or film on TV. I saw it numerous times, which is why it may have been a series. The only things I remember are two Japanese sisters, in traditional garb--one tall and willowy, one young and short. The tall one could turn into a white snake; the younger one into a fish. I seem to remember the older one being sad, but that's all I can remember. It's been a long time but I haven't ever been able to identify just wtf I was watching back then. Any ideas?
JS Bangs
4. jaspax
You didn't include Haibane Renmei. YOU DIDN'T INCLUDE HAIBANE RENMEI. I'm not sure I can ever forgive you for this.

(Part of me also wants to chide you for leaving off Evangelion, but that series has arguably been over-exposed, and its flaws are almost as great as its genius, so I'll let it pass.)

Otherwise: kudos on including Totoro -- as a kids' film, a lot of people would have overlooked it. But I'm scratching my head over Porco Rosso, as it's my least favorite Miyazaki film by a large margin. And I think that Ghost in the Shell is overrated, aside from its excellent score.

Voices of a Distant Star is in my Netflix queue. I think that Patlabor will soon be joining it.

Edit: You did say "films", so I suppose on those grounds we can forgive you for leaving off Haibane Renmei (and NG:E). OTOH HR is only, what, six episodes long? You could just consider it a long film in six acts.
Thomas Jeffries
5. thomstel

Panda and the Magic Serpent?
tatiana deCarillion
6. decarillion
I just looked up a YouTube video of that and YESSSS that's it LOL
Thank you SO much.

I can't tell you how many times, over the years, I've asked about this, in anime stores or online in forums and could never get the answer.

I'm so tickled :) I need to see if it's for sale, now...
7. bifolio
Although not technically a movie, the two-part series Battle Angel is a must-see; from discarded robot to avenging bounty hounter, and exploitation of a population below to provide resources (including replacement organs) to a chosen society above, it is a perfect balance of over-the-top stylized violence and real, human feelings of connection.
And if a collection of shorts count, then I would also include Robot Carnival -- several different takes on "robot" from windup toys to frankenstein to a city coming alive, it's terrific.
Tim Maughan
8. TimMaughan
@SaltManZ - I think that's the beauty of Totoro - it can be read either way. Apart from that ear of corn at the end of course...

@decarillion - I have tasked the Twitter hivemind to get you an answer for that...

@jaspax - well, both of those are series so don't qualify for this list. I did do a list of series, which included Eva, but I think that needs an overhaul before it gets posted here. Much harder to compile than a list of movies...
Tim Maughan
9. TimMaughan
@decarillion yep - seems @thomstel was spot on according to my sources. Apparently it was the first color anime series with sound..

@bifolio - I also love Robot Carnival, just fantastic. But if I was going to include one Otomo connected compilation in the list I had to go with Memories, if only for its accesibility. Sadly its near impossible to get hold of Robot Carnival by legitimate means these days...
10. INCyr
Great list, but I have to ask - where is Grave of the Fireflies? It's a travesty that it's not on this list.
11. Shard
I would Add Spirited Away and Ponyo to that list. I think everyone who's been introduced to Anime should start at Akira. That way you know what Good Anime looks like.
12. Sunshine K
Agreed with INCyr as to omission of Grave of the Fireflies...and
to add to the list:

Kuroshitsuji ( The Black Butler)

Mouldy Squid
13. Mouldy_Squid
No Princess Mononoke? I know that you said that you would limit yourself to only two Miyazaki films, however, with the impact and commercial success of PM I find it disappointing that it isn't mentioned. It is certainly a much better film than Porco Rosso, in story, in theme and in animation. I can appreciate your obvious love of anime, but such a glaring omission of this important film leaves me wondering if personal preferences is clouding your judgement.
Chris Meadows
14. Robotech_Master
Aw, c'mon, no Lupin III: Castle of Cagliostro? Miyazaki's first feature-length film, and a brilliant entry in a franchise that's still going to this day?

The English dub of it can be viewed on YouTube legitimately, thanks to an upload from Manga Entertainment. And the fan commentary track I recorded is available as an MP3.
15. Edd
I've seen 8 of your 10 picks, and they are certainly a great group. I'd like to suggest a couple of additional possibilities. Urusei Yatsura: Beautiful Dreamer is the Groundhog Day of anime films, though far less accessible and far more interesting. It's also directed by Mamoru Oshii, a great director. Tekkonkinkreet is violent and stylized, but a solid story of brotherly love and vengeance.

Oh, and everyone should see Catnapped. It's not a great movie, but it's colorful, frenetic, solidly plotted, and my daughter had to watch it twenty thousand times when she was three years old so I don't know why I shouldn't inflict it on you.

Okay, three more and I'm outta here: Nights on the Galactic Railroad, Sky Crawlers (slow but affecting), Tokyo Godfathers. Also, absolutely agreed on Grave of the Fireflies.
16. James Davis Nicoll
I don't know why this always strikes me as hilarious but it does. From wikepedia:

both My Neighbor Totoro and Grave of the Fireflies were released on the same bill in 1988. The dual billing was considered "one of the most moving and remarkable double bills ever offered to a cinema audience".

Talk about mood whiplash...
17. JLayneNelson
If you have to pick 10 films that represent the best of what anime has to offer, I'd say this is pretty close to what I'd have chosen as well. I also like how you've included more recent directors like Hosoda. Well done.
Anastasia Burina
18. Radda
Cowboy Bebop: Knockin' on Heaven's Door was quite good. An exception to a general rule that anime-makersare good at tv-series and bad at movies based on these tv-series. Seriously, sometimes it seems to me that they don't know how to work with such format.
Anyway, short movies from Studio 4C - such as Comedy - are really worth to watch. And if OVAs are counted, then Rurouni Kenshin: Remembrance is an absolute must see.
David Thomson
19. ZetaStriker
He gave it a shout-out at the bottom, INCyr. It's right there in the last paragraph, where he tells you that it's a travesty that it's not on this list.

As for the films listed, I agree that they are for the most part good choices, with two exceptions. I'm with Jaspax in finding Porco Rosso the weakest of Miyazaki's films; I didn't even finish it, and I rarely walk out halfway through a film.

The other was Voices of a Distant Star, which had a great concept, but I tried far too hard at remaining melancholy and told a terrible story as a result. I really liked the sci-fi concept of the time lapsed messages, but in the end the movie felt like just that - a sci-fi concept. Not a story. It's brevity may have had much to do with this as well, and it would have been served much better with double the run time.

As for some personal choices . . . well, the Mobile Suit Gundam trilogy holds a place in my heart, but I'm not sure I'd forward it to a list like this. I'm also a fan of the Kara no Kyoukai films, but again, that largely comes down to personal taste as they seem to be rather polarizing. In the end, I think my hesitance to forward names come down to the fact that most anime films are hardly award winners, Miyazaki and Mamoru Oshii aside. If we open this up to series, however, I do have a few suggestions, as there are two series that immediately come to mind as standing leagues above the writhing mass of cliches that usually drive the genre.

The first is Baccano!, a tale set, in all places, 1930s America during the Prohibition. The series takes all the violence and conflict of era, the mobsters and thieves, and spices it up with the concept of "immortals"; men and women who have sipped from an alchemical elixer granting eternal life. The English track is a delight to listen to, capturing the slang and accents of the 1930s perfectly, and non-linear storytelling actually gives credit to your intelligence, a rarity in television of any sort. It easily stands as my favorite work of fiction to come to us from across the Pacific.

The second is a series by the name of Gungrave, which is really a beast of two parts. The first half of the series follow Brandon and Harry, orphans and street rats who rise from their humble beginnings and travel, side by side, into the ranks of the local mafia. This section just feels right, with personal growth and gradual character development of the sort that anime series so rarely dabble in. But you know it's going to go wrong, because from the very first episode it's all set up as a tragedy.

And when the betrayal comes, you're left with the second half. A sci-fi action revenge story, the second half of the series, taken on its own, would be little more than meaningless drivel. But with the themes and characters from the first half riding along like subconscious baggage, the fights and action carry a very heavy emotional impact. I freely admit that, when this arc came to a close, I bawled like a baby. Not a manly tear or two, I was literally sobbing.
20. EC Spurlock
Excellent list, and I agree with most of your choices. There are a couple I haven't seen and will definitely look into.

A more recent film I would recommend is Summer Wars, which I believe is also by Hosoda. Family drama crossed with Wargames, it involves a math genius software developer who is persuaded to accompany his boss to her grandmother's birthday party and pose as her boyfriend to placate her large and outspoken extended family. While there he discovers that he has accidentally unleashed a cyber-monster that is taking over the internet and wreaking increasing havoc on financial and military protocols worldwide. What starts out looking like just another light-hearted fake-boyfriend comedy grows increasingly dark and complex as the entire family is gradually drawn into the battle to stop the diabolical program from destroying civilization. That this larger battle is interspersed with intimate moments of family bonding and very personal tragedy makes it an even more poignant and moving film.
Chris Palmer
21. cmpalmer
Miyazaki films are a bit like Pixar films - there aren't any bad ones, but there are certainly some that are better than the others. Porco Rosso didn't do it for me, either. I liked the theme. I liked the machines. I liked the flying. But overall? Meh.

There are so many things wonderful about Totoro, though. It was the one movie that I didn't mind my kids watching over and over when they were young and it's the only one that they used to watch that we're looking forward to watching again soon, even though one of them is 20 and the other is 17. It's also remarkable that there are no villains, no bad guys, and no conflict. There is the realistic, internal fear over their mother's illness and the panic of a child getting lost. It also amazes me by how much it reminds me of my own childhood visiting my grandparent's old house and exploring the woods and creek behind it. The fact that it's set in Japan makes no difference and yet the Japanese setting is still important.

On general principles, I'd have to include Grave of the Fireflies as well.
Ryan MacDonald
22. Phishmanr
I don't really have any movies to add or criticism of the list, I just wanted to thank you (and all the people who've commented) on giving me some really good ideas of what I should start watching. I've really only seen Akira, Ghost in the Shell, and Princess Mononoke, and there's so much anime, it's really hard to figure out where to start. So thanks.
23. mirana
Heh, outside of Totoro, I dislike everything else I've seen that is on this list! My husband would probably say he likes the ones I hate, though. So really, as with any "top ten" I'd say it's highly, highly subjective to your tastes.
24. Kandjar
As much as I agree with some of your choices, either for historical reason (such as Akira) or for being truly masterpieces (like Totoro).

I must say: not having "grave of the firefly" in this list doesn't seems right.
By far one of the most realistic war movie I've ever seen in term of the psychological aspect of it.
One of these few anime you would never want to be remake in a live action film for the sake of the kids who would play in it.

Also, I did like the girl who leap through time... But I wouldn't put it in my top ten of all time...
25. Fenric25
Have yet to see the movies on the list, really should get around to it. Have to say, definitely agree that Spirited Away is a really good movie, the one that got me back into anime after years away from watching it. Castle in the Sky and Summer Wars are two excellent anime films as well, one from the 80's, the latter much more recent. As for series, glad to see that someone above mentioned Baccano!, one of my favorites, as well as Cowboy Bebop. Add Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood and Death Note to that list, too. :)
26. trench
@25 Fenric25

If you liked Spirited Away, do yourself a favor, and drop what your doing and go watch My Nieghbor Totoro right now. It blows Spirited Away out of the Water, and I really like Spirited Away. Totoro is Miyazaki's masterpiece.
Charles Gaston
27. parrothead
I've seen about half of these, and yeah, they are indeed masterpieces. Thank you so much for including Voices of a Distant Star; it is the most heartbreakingly beautiful half-hour you will ever spend. I would also second @15 Urusei Yatsura Movie 2: Beautiful Dreamer, even though doing so breaks one of my own little rules (I tend to put movies based on an established anime series in a different category from more stand-alone titles). Milennium Actress was also really good, and of course the first Vampire Hunter D movie (Bloodlust was okay, with obviously better production values, but the story was a bit scattershot).
28. James Davis Nicoll
24: One of these few anime you would never want to be remake in a live action film for the sake of the kids who would play in it.

Nippon Television aired a live action version on November 1, 2005.
29. Treize
So refreshing to read this article. Hoping Tor gets you back for a '10 Anime Series You Should See' segment. As wonderfully mind-blowing as GitS was as a film, I found Stand Alone Complex not only more accessible but also more capable of plumbing the philosophical implications of the world posited in the film. Gundam Wing has offered me a panoply of thoughts and beliefs regarding war and peace that I've not yet found rivaled in modern entertainment, and Death Note is close to the most thrilling cat-and-mouse I've witnessed in any medium. All of which is to say thanks for this post! From one otaku to another.

30. Dop
Sky Crawlers, yep,
Summer Wars, yep

Nobody has mentioned Makoto Shinkai's "5 Centimetres per second" yet, and that's a hauntingly beautiful film.
Tim Maughan
31. TimMaughan
As I mentiomed at the end of the post Grave of the Fireflies is a fantastic movie. There are some critics that say it is over-sentimental on a subject that is horrific enough on its own that it doesn't need it - I'm not sure I agree with them, but I can see where they are coming from. Plus while it might not look as stunning, Barefoot Gen arguably deals with similar subject matter in a slightly more interesting way. But still yes, Fireflies is a wonderful film.

I'm surprised by the reaction to Porco Rosso, a film I love very dearly. In many ways it is the quintesential Miyazaki film, combining his greatest loves: WWI era aircraft, Italy and anti-fascist politics. It is also briliantly animated and a lot of fun, with some breathtaking dogfight sequences.
Brian R
32. Mayhem
With regards to Porco Rosso, I showed it along with several others to a fairly international group of friends a year or so ago, and it is the one film that they could all agree they really liked.
Possibly because of the european setting, it is very much grounded in a particular time and place, which means it doesn't date, and it has a wonderful charm about it.
Ponyo was seen by some as too much a childrens film, Spirited Away confused others from India and Pakistan, and Totoro was considered wistful and sweet, but they liked Porco Rosso more.

I think it probably comes down to cultural experiences and knowledge, some Japanese films require a bit of background explanation, but Studio Ghibli tends to make films that transcend that.
33. branewurms
I hate The Wings of Honeamise so much and I cannot figure out why so many fanboys love it. It's got great animation, but it's deeply problematic and just not very good.
Lisa Grabenstetter
34. magneticcrow
Hmm... I guess I'm sad that we're restricting this list to movies only. I'd say sit someone down to watch an episode (ANY episode, since they stand alone extremely well) of Mushi-Shi, which I'd describe as Borges meets the Harikikigaki.
Also, I have to side with the people who are skeptical about Porco Rosso being one of the anime films you show someone... It has too many weird anime idiosyncracies, in my opinion, and should probably be relegated to a slightly more immersed watcher. Totoro IS a good start, or Spirited Away, or Princess Mononoke.
Lisa Grabenstetter
35. magneticcrow
Forgot to mention how much of the rest of the list I heartily agree with, though! Especially happy to see Memories there, and I'm definitely seeking out The Girl Who Leapt Throught Time, as it sounds great! Thanks. :)
36. auto_mutton
Hey, the original novel of "The Girl Who Lept Through Time" was written in 1967 by Yasutaka Tsutsui. Mamoru Hosoda(born in 1967) is the animator of this film, but not the original writer.
37. Robin S
While I agree with several of your choices, I would have to list "Howl's Moving Castle" and "Castle of Cagliostro" to any list of anime must see movies.
38. rae
While I like the writing style of many anime movies, I just hate the style of animation. For me, they are a chore to watch.
Teresa Nielsen Hayden
39. tnh
Tim Maughan @31, I'm with you all the way on Porco Rosso: a brilliant film. Porco Rosso's story about his lost squadron would have been enough to warrant the mention all by itself, but there's so much more -- the lyrical flight sequences, the knowledgeable evocations of period technology, the use of "Le Temps des Cerises," even the "photo album" at the end -- it's a wonderful, historically intelligent movie.

BTW, are we sure that Porco Rosso is AWOL from the Italian air force? When the movie starts, he's living on an island off the Istrian/Dalmatian coast, which puts him either in the Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes, or in Yugoslavia, depending on whether it's 1929 yet. By general consensus of online sources, the city that's his home base is Fiume. If he was originally from there (which seems possible; the movie's flashbacks and still photos look like it, and Fiume was into technology and manufacturing before the Great War), then he was technically a citizen of Hungary before the war, and of the Free State of Fiume while it lasted. Ethnically, the city's always been partly Italian (as well as Croatian and Hungarian), but it wasn't part of Italy until its seizure and annexation in 1924. An anti-Fascist might well question the legitimacy of that takeover.

In any event, it's been years since the war ended, and Porco Rosso has had a very public career, so I don't think he's still being pursued as a deserter. I think he's a prominent aviator, and is avoiding being strong-armed into rejoining an air force commanded by a government he loathes, to fight a war he doesn't believe in.

I have to add one weird factoid: Fiume was the first (and is so far the only) geopolitical entity to be seized in the name of aviation -- and I'll bet you anything that Miyazaki knows it.

I can't wait to see his sequel in which Porco Rosso fights in the Spanish Civil War.
William Fettes
40. Wolfmage
Akira was probably one of my first experiences of a good anime film. In terms of production values alone, seeing that first neon street sign was a revelation compared to your average cartoon.

I actually watched this again recently, and I'm afriad the plot and the characters didn't really hold my interest, however. But I think it still deserves a place on this kind of list based on historical pedigree alone.

Ghost in the Shell - I really loved this movie when I first saw it, but I have to agree with Treize @ 29 and others that it fades into irrelevance compared to the superior GitS: SAC 2nd Gig tv series. The realisation of Gibsonian dystopian cyberpunk, the calibre of the characters, the humour, the action and hardware, and the metaphysics and politics - everything is just leaps and bounds ahead.

Re: Miyazaki

I've seen and loved Spirited Away, Howl's Moving Castle, Kiki's Delivery Service and Princess Mononoke. Not sure which was my favourite. I confess that I haven't actually seen Totoro - so I'll do that pronto. As for Porco Roso, I've attempted to watch that before, but don't remember that much about it except that I didn't make it all the way through. But I'll probably have to give it another try based on the high praise here. Sometimes you're just tired and aren't giving it a proper chance.
Nathaniel Gulick
41. PresN
Thank you so much for this list! And for the other suggestions in the comments. I gave up on anime years ago when I realized that I didn't have the time to sort out which "great" movies and shows were actually good vs. designed for 12-year-olds. I hope you sort out that list of serials as well!
42. mechazoidal
Excellent all-purpose list. I'd put "The Place Promised in our Early Days" instead of Voices of a Distant Star, but that's just a minor quibble. To me, Voices' main draw is seeing Shinkai's effort realized on the screen--his production values for being a one-man team haven't really been topped. At least until(if) Nagano finishes Gothicmade.

Seconding the confusion on why no love for Rosso. It's my favorite all-round Miyazaki film, and I've always loved his sentiment that he made it "with middle-aged salarymen in mind".

I'm also going to declare what a cryin' shame it is that it's taken so long to get a home release of Redline (to say nothing of its nonexistent theatrical run) in the States.
43. Fenric25
@26 trench

Yeah, my wife and I have been meaning to watch Totoro for ages. Everything I heard about it likewise suggests it's a great film. Same as Grave of the Fireflies there-know nothing about this Porco Rosso that keeps getting mentioned but shall have to add that to a long list of what to watch as well...
44. omission
I would definitely add Appleseed to this list. If you like Ghost in the Shell, you should like Appleseed.
45. Fenric25

Yeah, Ghost in the Shell and Appleseed's on my list, too. Trying to finish Gurren Lagann right now-cartoonish and over-the-top but still rather fun to watch-and, as someone on TV Tropes pointed out, has some eerily similar plot points to Brandon Sanderson's Mistborn series (which I love very, very much :) )
J Dalziel
46. BunnyM
I'll add my name to the list of folks that just can't understand the lack of love for Porco Rosso. To my mind it ranks up there as the second best Ghibli film, after Totoro, with Kiki's Delivery Service not far behind.

And I'll put my $0.02 in to agree with TNH's @39 take on the movie.

The GitS movie was pretty, but suffered from only having half a plot. The two Stand Alone Complex seasons were vastly superior.

I've had Perfect Blue and The Girl Who Leapt Through Time on my to-watch list for far too long, time to move them up the list. (After I re-watch the Patlabor movies, of course.)
47. Madeline
I also love Porco Rosso. It is my favorite Miyazaki film. Nowhere else does his love of sweeping sky vistas work better. It has the right mix of sadness and deepness and adventure and humor. Probably it just hit me right, since the Great War has always pulled my heartstrings, and this is very much a film where World War I shaped the characters. I care how they come to heal from it, and how they've lived their lives, and what kind of joy they might find before the storm of World War II hits them.

Plus how can you not love the opening blurb, typed across the screen in a dozen languages by little creatures, one of whom, with a particularly verbose language, has to scramble across an extra screen?
Paul Baughman
I'd like to suggest one that no one has mentioned yet. The Cat Returns. This is an engaging, coming of age tale with some really good characters.

Tim, I haven't seen most of the ones you've listed, but I will check out some of those and the other commenter's suggestions.

Thanks everyone!
Tim Maughan
49. TimMaughan
@39 tnh - wow, your Porco knowledge is strong - great to meet another devotee! Well I've always assumed it was the Italian airforce he was avoiding, it does appear to be Milan he takes his plane to be repaired in when they nearly catch up with him. Plus Miyazaki spent some time travelling around Italy when he was younger, so I'd always made that connection. There's a section of the DVD about the Ghibli Museuem that talks about his love for the country.

I'd love to see that sequel too, lets hope he makes it before he retires. He did draw a manga a couple of years back that was *sort of* a sequel for a magazine in Japan.
Chris Palmer
50. cmpalmer
OK, y'all have convinced me to at least re-watch Porco and see if my opinion has changed - it's been quite a while since I've seen it...
51. ejes
I'm surprised that Ranma 1/2 isn't on this list.
Birgit F
52. birgit
I'd like to suggest one that no one has mentioned yet. The Cat Returns. This is an engaging, coming of age tale with some really good characters.

Neko no ongaeshi (The Cat Returns) is a kind of sequel to Mimi o sumaseba (Whisper of the heart) which I like better.
I'm one of those who don't think Porco Rosso is among the best Ghibli movies. I especially like Mononoke hime, Tenkuu no shiro rapyuta (Castle in the Sky), Kaze no tani no Naushika, Pom Poko, Lupin III - Castle of Cagliostro.
53. rube
Man, what a bummer - I've watched all of these movies. Great list though! I concur. Gosh. Let me think of one that's not on the list. What was the condition again? Oh yes, before you die...
Cynthia Ahmar
54. tenkuu
You know, I've seen Akira, but at the time I was so disgusted by the flesh thing that it's pretty much all I remember about it. Totoro, and pretty much any Miyazaki movie except Mononoke Hime, is just too childish for me, both in themes and drawing style. Even Mononoke Hime's style is a bit too young for me, but the backgrounds were very nice. As for Ghost in the Shell, all I know (and care to know) of it is the Standalone Complex OAV. I liked it, but at times it felt overly complicated and a bit convoluted. Of the other series you mentioned, I've seen nothing, and only Patlabor seems interesting to me because a local anime club showed its first two episodes at one point, and also, it has shared a double-sided poster with my all-time #1 favorite anime series, Yoroiden Samurai Troopers. :)
55. chimp with pencil
Glad to see others listed Princess Mononoke and the Cowboy Bebop movie, although like GITS, the series was betters than the movies. Maybe I missed it in the comments, but did anyone list Valley of Wind? The manga were much better because they supplied the full story, but the movie had some exhilirating scenes of her flying and the giant creatures from the forest, and sword fights, and aerial battles, and... Anyway, it's cool, although a bit choppy because there simply isn't time to fill in the whole plot.
56. Sargonarhes
Can't agree with the list. Oh some are fine, but Akira isn't really as great of an anime movie as every one makes it out to be. I've seen it several times and understand it, but I'm not totally impressed with it.

Frankly Urusei Yatsura 2: Beautiful Dreamer should be on this list. Because it's missing tells me how much of an anime Noob you are.
57. Andrés Valenzuela
Great list! It's a shame that I allready have watched all of them (does this mean I'm ready for death? LOL).

I agree on Porco Rosso being on the list. It's a great mature film and it has the watermark of Miyazaki: he always leaves you with the sensation that there is SO much more there than waht he shows to you in the film. Just like Totoro or Kiki's, Porco taunts you with the idea that there are lots more of stories about the characters.

It will probably sound strange to many, since it's one of the "minnor" films, but I would have included Kiki's too... I just love hat film. It is probably the best audio-visual reflection I've seen on the dilemas of the "comming of age". At first sight it maybe appear as light and even a bit childish, but if you dig a little, there is a lot to be discovered.

I hope you get to make a list on series to be watched before death. If you do, please include Haibane Renmei and Kino no Tabi!
Mikey Bennett
58. EvilMonkey
From looking at this list, one of my all time favorites that got me into anime (and consequently one I wasn't supposed to be watching when I was exposed to it) doesn't belong. Ninja Scroll is the one I watched after one that you guys mentioned should be on the list, Princess Mononoke. Second whoever said that a top ten anime series of all time should be done as well. Nominating Gungrave, Bastard, Elfin Lied and Code Geass for that list.
59. BruceMcF

Frankly Urusei Yatsura 2: Beautiful Dreamer should be on this list. Because it's missing tells me how much of an anime Noob you are.

You know, when a logical argument reaches a conclusion such as "someone who's been following anime since Akira was first released in England is an anime Noob", that's more an indictment of the argument than anything else.
Here's a more likely thing it proves: these are subjective opinions and tastes will differ. Its a good list, but any argument heading in the direction of whether or not it is "the definitive" list is running, not strolling, straight into the middle of disputing over taste country.

I'd like to see a "ten SF anime series you should see before you die", "ten fantasy anime series you should see before you die", and "ten SF or fantasy series you should watch RIGHT NOW!" (ie, presently available by free stream) from Tim Maughn (not to be confused with Team Mahjong), even though I believe I probably will not agree with every selection on any of the lists.
Teresa Nielsen Hayden
60. tnh
Tim @49, I agree that it's the Italian air force he's dodging. My argument is that they may not have any legitimate claim on him.

Sargonarhes @56, Bruce has a point. If the culmination of your argument is that the other guy is a noob, and the other guy is not a noob, you're not in it for the hunting.
61. sg
thanks for having this great list i also enjoy reading the comments and it gives me a wide variety of anime films to watch. I have seen a few of those in your list. Princess Mononoke is one of my favorite.
The Girl Who Leapt Through Time is also a great movie.
Shaun Duke
62. Arconna
The only thing that does not belong on here is Porco Rosso. That is one of the worst films Miyazaki has done. You'd be better off with Spirited Away or Princess Mononoke. My Neighbor Totoro is good too, but Porco? I'd rather watch Batman & Robin again...

You might also consider The Place Promised in Our Early Days (by the same guy as Voices). I've seen half of these, so I'll have to dig in and see the others. A good list overall, though!
Joseph Blaidd
63. SteelBlaidd
I would include Macross Plus just for the opourtunity to hear the breadth of Yokko Kano's composing ability.
64. Rina
Grave of the Fireflies should definately be on here!
gwern branwen
Good overview; mad props for covering _Honneamise_ and _Memories_.

But this article could use some copyediting; you seem to have a consistent problem with its/it's.
66. Amber M
Great list! Personally I think Nausicaa: Valley of the Wind and Millenium Actress should be on there somewhere. Nausicaa is one of my favorite movies period.

Tekkonkinkreet also. Now that's a winner.
67. jordanjasien
voices from a distant star was one of the most beautifull but i think all the studio ghibly films should be on here
68. DikWittington
Does Metropolis not deserve to be mentioned here? The destruction scene with Ray Charles playing over the top is one of the most moving things I've ever seen in an animation. Couldn't tell you why though...
69. M.F.
Thanks for this list, great!

I'd choose Spirited Away instead of Porco Rosso, but - yes - it's very difficult to choose between Miyazakis films :)
But "My Neighbour Totoro" is IMHO of course the right choice, one of the nicest animation films I've ever seen, don't miss Roger Ebert's review:
70. kateleask
Nausicaa, Kiki, Howl, Mononoke- all have strong young women in- Chihiro especially. Pom poko- 'tempura!' My kids have to sit through rubbish like 'Kung Fu Panda' as a treat at school- the teachers never choose what my kids bring in, Disney/Pixar trash is ruining othe kids!
71. Chloedex
I hit across this from stumble and the only one that spoke to me was "The girl who leapt through time" and i decided to check it out -- AWESOME!!!!! It was just so refreshing and exiting, and just the break i needed from my boredom induced writer's block =)
Now i'm off to check "My neighbour Totoro" and "Perfect Blue" Hope they blow me away just as much as this one did.
Thanks for the post!
72. Sabz
Spirited Away, Howl's Moving Castle, Princess Mononoke
I'm a sucker for Miyazaki films.
73. Fuelbytea
I'd definitely put End of Evangelion on here. It truly is quite an experience to watch. Even if they haven't seen the show, they could watch the Death & Rebirth movie to get caught up, follow it up with End of Evangelion.
74. steffie1872
What a nice list.But as a mega fan ,I would say that Porco Rosso is the least interesting of any of the Miyazaki films. Princess Mononoke is epic and loved by all even non anime fans.Nausicaa is the most magical and Spirited Away is pure genius.Afro Samurai has its good and interesting bits and the music and story obviously for Interstellar 555 (Daft Punk) is good as well .But Thanks for the list I must see some I have missed .
75. miles york
Fist of the North Star. I think you stuck to a certain type more than a variety of styles, but then, its your list. I would add this one because of how different it is from the ten you listed, and I have a soft spot for Ninja films. I don't know many other movies, exactly, but recurring shows and long manga, are my specialty. Akira didn't make its way to my attention until 2004, which at that point seemed too hyped(my own fault). The most important thing I see from this list is your ability to get people interested in watching.
76. thenonymous
This list is missing "Golden Boy" :\
77. animelover806
no Howl's Moving Castle or Spirted Away?
78. Breifne
Were is spirited away? You Ma'am have broken my heart.
79. DANKyle
Everyone HAS to see Akira before they die. One of the first animes films where I was like 'wow, theres so much attention to detail' haha. This is the only one saw on the list and look forward to watching all that are on the list... faded :D. Definitely going to watch The Girl Who Leaped Through Time
80. EnvyLove
I would have to point out Origins: Spirits of the Past it's about a post-apocyliptic world where mother nature has been abused and taken back her planet in retalliation, and humans have to fight her to survive. It's really very interesting, I enjoyed it and would recommend it to anyone who likes those types of movies. It's not the best surely, but is in fact a pretty good 94 minutes of one's life.
81. wasteland
while i do agree that my neighbor totoro is an amazing movie and the way they fixed it up is ok for kids but knowing the real story it makes me cry when i watch it
82. Dexetith
i have to say only 1 thing :( ~{Berserk}~...
83. Polarbear
I'd add "Saiyu-ki" (released in the US as "Alakazam the Great"). It first came out in 1960 and was one of the very first anime films I remember seeing. My parents took me to see it when I was about 9 or so and I remember it having an impact on me. I never looked at Western Saturday-morning-type "cartoons" the same way again. I think it's on Amazon in the dub version that was casted using well-known performers of the day (Frankie Avalon, Jonathan Winters, Arnold Stang, etc.). I'd love to find the original Japanese version, but I have a feeling that might be a bit of a trick these days.
84. john star
good list. what got me into alot of the films you actually listed was Neo-Tokyo or Mani Mani. I saw it on cable TV one day randomly at a friends house and loved it. I think it was actually on liquid television.I don't know if any body remembers that on MTV of not. That might shows my age a bit.
85. SlothSin
One small problem: Voices of a distant star was good, but if you were going to put one of his films up it should've been "the place promised in our early days"
87. casparvan
I really do like youre list, not all are my personal favorites, but it captures most of the styles. I was gonna comment on missing Nausicaa and Alakazaam but comments of Amber M and Polar Bear preceeded mine.
What is the nicest thing though, is that the films/series mentioned in the comments set me on a new quest.
I thought I'd seen it all, but noo, there is more to enjoy!!

just let me mention Ponyo, which I thought it was a magical movie
Chris Hawks
88. SaltManZ
I thought Ponyo ("HAM!") was fantastic, until it started to get really weird at the end. But the animation was positively gorgeous, and Miyazaki's children are always an absolute delight. And the kids (5 and 3.5 when we saw it in the theater) adored it.
90. Lace
This is great! I really agree with what you said of the films listed that i've seen, and that makes me trust your recomendations with the ones i haven't.

I feel like a lot of people shy away from japanese anime because they have only seen the silly or grotesque or they don't understand the gentle side of the Japanese psyche and their mastery of subtle beauty.

That said, i would like to suggest "Five Centimeteres a Second" to anyone who has the patience to watch a slow, subtle, beautiful and I guess kinda sad story. While not as extreme as the war drama, Grave of Fireflies, I kinda paired them as movies i'd only watch once because they were so sad, yet so beautiful i could die.

Thanks again for this post!
Mikey Bennett
91. EvilMonkey
A Liquid Television reference??? Awesome! Aeon Flux was definitely one of those shows I absolutely fell in love with while in high school.
93. Johnyonemove
Anyone else think this list was pretty much garbage? Should have called it "the list 5 year olds should watch before they turn 6."
94. amirfaiz
@ 5
hello a commendable effort listing all these movies...i am not a die hard fan but i do enjoy a good anime once in a while...
i was reading the poosts and couldnt help notice that u helped decarillion with one o his query and i have a similar predicament...i alos watched one on cable tele and too young to realise what they were...
the anime i am lookin for is about a group o warriors who have go their separate ways to train under a teacher and there once their training was completed they would get cool armours....this one character gets the power to manipulate ice and armour has a swarn crown...and this chap had to go train up in the freezing mountains to train hence the poower over ice....also there was this other character who has a green armour and dragon would appear now and then to help iin his fights and ii remember him gettin blind in one of his fights...
the search for this particular anime has been really frustrating since i dont really kno where to even start....and here is me hoping u could help
95. bambam62g
how about blue submarine number 6? i thoroughly enjoyed that movie.
There are a few series that I think people shoul definitely check out, although they are not all quite the same sort of anime you outlined.
I think black butler, the first season, was absolutely amazing. the second season seemed like it was made for the fans just to have a sequel, and it completely ruined my opinion of the series, however, if you just watch the first season, its beautiful.

Another id like to see people check out is Desert Punk, it is absolutely hilarious,, with adult humour, and it managed to hold my attention very well.

im not going to go into those two very much, but id recommend you hop on netflix and look them up, or look for a stream on the net, hulu has bb s1 for free. These arent your usual anime.
96. this dude you dont know
i've heard a lot about kira. its suppose to be really good. i would watch if i could find it. and no i'm not gonna watch it online. if i'm gonna watch it wanna own it. or at least rent it. i'm not wait 6 hours for it to load and wind up not liking it.

i've also herd great things about ghost in the shell.

and perfect blue sounds like it would be pretty cool. the late 90s were a golden age in anime in my opinion.
97. gk
I would also add summer wars to this list....
98. better late than never
Great list (aside from Akira, but I've given up on trying to convince people it is over-rated:). I've seen most of them, but I see a few I will need to check out. I might also throw in Galaxy Express 999 and They Were Eleven, as I have fond memories of them, but I haven't seen either one in ages so not sure how rose-tinted my memories might be.
99. Irving Kropotnik
I do think there are other Miyazaki films you could add in place of Porco Rosso; Spirited Away remains a family favourite.
Please, PLEASE learn the difference between "it's" and "its"--you should know that "it's" ALWAYS means "it is"! It's painful to read a well-reasoned list like this (even if I, personally, don't think Akira is that great) and be poked in the eye with constant bad spelling.
100. Complicated Shadow
COWBOY BEBOP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!???????????????????
James Kehr
101. Jammrock
Instead of multiple Miyazaki movies you should just put "Everything by Hayao Miyazaki".

Jin Roh: The Wolf Brigade is my favorite that's not on this list. Love that flick.
102. noonasha
i think personally ponyo, grace of fireflies, laputa castle in the sky, howls moving castle and spirited away should be on here as i haven't been able to stop watching them since i have been introduced to anime
103. warestoth
Redline ! The drawings blew me off, just amazing to watch. The plot is quite obvious but man the universe, th drawings, the animation are just over the top.
104. steven 1
I watched an anime long ago that i cant remmber...all i remmebr is a man who meets another man and shows hima watch his father gave him then later on the man finds the watch and dbecomes very saddened to find it knowing that the man who showed it too him has possibly died...i wish i could find this. i know its vague...but maybe someone has an idea?
105. Karlos
All of these flicks need to be on Netflix!
106. Rubi-kun
Honneamise? Yeah, it's a must watch for anime history nerds, but the attempted rape in the middle is just so out-of-character and unrelated to the rest of the film that it stops the movie flat in my opinion. Ebert liked the movie enough to give it 3 stars but tried to explain the scene away by saying "this kind of sexual violence is common to the anime style", not exactly a good way to fight off tentacle rape stereotypes; the scene was cut from British release and barely anyone even noticed, it was so inessential. I'd easily push it off the list to make room for Grave of the Fireflies (and just my personal preference, but as good as Girl Who Leapt Through Time is, Summer Wars is even better).
107. Iva
110. koir
111. ishii00
great list. found some i haven't checked and now looking through it. I would like to share my own:)
Grave of the fireflies. is one of the most emotional anime I've ever seen. Never thought I would feel the sadness when I first watched it. Had my girlfriend watched it and it made her cry and wouldn't like to watch it again not because it wasn't good it was because it had affected her too much ( btw, she doesn't like watching anime ).
Akira, probably the first anime movie I've watched. Great action and the theme. Great visual too considering it was done on the 90's but still at par at some of the anime they've been developing today.
Tokyo Godfathers, man this anime is cool. Found it very nice and had fun watching it.
Spirited away, done really in good taste. Had fun watching this one, the animation the fluidity is executed with good taste.
Others are, The Girls who lept through time, FMA:Conquerror of Shambala, 5cm per Second, Whisper Heart and Metropolis. I may have left some but damn, there are animes out there that really is worth watching than the movies/films being released today.
David Schaich
112. daschaich
Thanks, Tim, for this list, which I randomly stumbled across today. Thanks also to other commenters for additional suggestions.

I've only seen three of the films on the list, starting with Akira, which essentially turned me off the whole genre. (I should watch it again now that I know what to expect.) Fortunately, a couple of years later I got to watch Princess Mononoke and Patlabor 2 for Japanese history classes, and started watching almost everything I could find by Miyazaki and Takahata. (I respect Oshii, but I feel like I need Cliff's Notes to follow the political and philosophical themes in his films.)

Let me add a film and a resource that I don't see mentioned anywhere above: Gauche the Cellist (Sero Hiki no Goshu) is a beautiful little film by Takahata, which I watched on the recommendation of Daniel Thomas MacInnes's "Ghibli Blog",
114. Ruku
Ninja Scroll... that is all
115. gijsio
you forgot steamboy and yin roh brigade. fantastic anime movies. by the way i am dutch and i have noticed that there are not many dutch subtitles. i have translated many animes in dutch. so if anyone is interested?
116. hig
118. ezwelchman
Really well put-together list...i've seen almost every movie on this list and i'd be totally inclined to agree with all of it......

From a PERSONAL stand-point i prefer spirited away/princess mononoke to porco rosso, but that's just my opinion. I also think that if anyone is going to watch any of Shinkai's movies it's gotta be "5 Centimeters Per Second" (even though I think that's technically an OVA as well). The only thing that would change my mind is the fact that he directed/animated/wrote all of "Voices" by himself on his mac at home. I never knew that until I read this, and that's quite astounding giving the quality of it.
119. cang
akira is a must-watch. you should add spirited away in this list. i also recomment paprika, ponyo, origin: spirits of the past and blood: the last vampire.

i've started watching princess mononoke, but i now couldn't find the time to finish it. and i've been planning to watch steamboy for sometime :( busy busy busy
120. piddy007
You could try some more of makoto shinkai's movies like 5cm pers econd or the place promised in our early days and even spirited away is good.. so you can check it and one more called jin-roh ...cheers !!
121. IamNadj
Although my options may seem childish i was dissapointed to see that Ponyo and Summer Wars weren't listed however i do love to watch Totoro :)
122. Viktoria Emma
"a ADHD stricken 12 year old emo-ninja-obsessed boy that refuses to eat anything except Pocky and instant Ramen."
What do you mean by this?
123. tipton saint clair
ok well you are forgetting about ninja scroll, fist of the north star, and
samurai x
124. kanna
@ 94 amirfaiz

I beleive the anime you're talking about is Saint Seiya: Knights of the Zodiac. There are a lot of different versions of the Saint Seiya franchise, but if you're talking about the swan armour that's definitely it.

Cheers ^^
125. Fireplasm
Summer Wars
126. Takumi
Nice List! But it could have been better if you include "Grave of the fireflies". It's one of the best anti-war anime that ever existed. Even soldiers cry after watching this
127. DDS
'Spirited Away' is surely my favourite anime film of the ones I've watched.
128. Iota Soul
Great blog Tim. I'd love for you to take a look at our homegrown series project. We're using anime and manga to help raise awareness about orphans and hopefully get people plugged into the problem.
129. khairul
Ghost in the shell was THE Anime that changed me into an anime fans all those years...amazingly it's still enjoyable to watch it now as it was then.
130. Chips
I thought your list was fantastic. Remeber kids its just a list of ten that this one states are its favorites. Indeed it would be difficult to complile such a list. I really liked it because theres acutally some animes i havent seen! so thank you and thank you to all who commented as some of the films n series etc u listed i am now acquiring and looking forward to watching them. much love. chips
131. Hemal
Nice list...

But how about this???
132. rednut
More Ghibli!!!! Spirited Away & Howls Moving Castle in particular are my ABSOLUTE favourites!!! So good!!! I was glad you included The Girl Who Leapt Through Time though, overall a great list though :)
133. JimmyZ
You forgot so many, I know that is your must see list, but a top 20-30 list is truly more realistic, Here are some that are new , and some older and thier counterpart remakes as well.
And ghost in the shell 1-3 are absolute masterpieces, 2 bieng the absolute best of the 3!
Patlabor 1 2 and 3 - 1 is by far superior storywise to the others(except animation wise)
Ninja scroll - need I say more?
Wings of honneamese
naausica : valley of the wind- my verry first anime when i was little.
Armitage the III dual matrix and poly matrix
Appleseed and its 3d remake- awesome
Maddox 01 - although it was only a 25 min OVA it was what started my anime kick in the late 80's along with naausicaa and
IRIA: Zieram tha animation
Dominion tank Police
riding bean - just soo, cool!
The Secret world of Arrietty - awesome! and for family.
Vampire Hunter D 1 and Vampire D 2000
Fist of the North Star -Bloody good fun!
Spirited away
The Venus Wars
Princess Mononoke
an Isaac Asimov anime (Light years) old and forgotten Ithink?)- was real cool for the early 80's!
Paprika- so top notch - a must watch.
Cowboy bebop , and the series
FOR anyone interested in some old western animation here is a few
a few american ones,- old but still cool to see
Rock & rule (old american movie) - but still ok
Transformers the motion picture from 1984? -Orson Wells and Leonard Nimoy(american japanese effort)
Heavy metal & HM 2000- not as good as one
Fire & ice - good old flick
The Hobbitt
Lord of the rings saga
Fritz the cat - classic old drug movie(be warned)

Well,... I know theres alot more, I cant think of ATM - Im gettin old I guess? But props on adding akira GITS and Patlabor - plus all Ghibli films are beutiful too
As far as fairly serious Series stories that are great : not little kid stuff like DBZ , yugiouh and stories such as them.

Bubblegum crisis(80'2) and itts new counterpart : (tokyo 2040) (2005) which BTW is fantastic! ( like evengelion but suits)
Also FLCL- knocks it out of the park
Deadman wonderland -very disturbing and great too!
Elfen lied different and very cool!
Recordof lodoss war! must watch
ruin explorers
Gyver just old school cool!
Macross- 0 - Plus , 7, and frontier
Tenchi moyo a bit kiddish, but it was pretty good for sci fi way back when.
Well that is my top o the head list. anyone wh wants to add to must watch..., go for it. I placed these here for anyone looking for different stuff that I believe they should see. - PEACE
134. anon1234
Please learn the difference between "it's" and "its".
135. raiko_star
I seen alot of the anime on this list and look forward to seeing the ones I have not. I am going to Avoid the Miyazaki becase I don't like anything he dose. not to say it's bad just rubs me the wrong way. Great list
136. Emraldr
After seeing all the comments from people that loved studio Ghibli films, i was surprised that Nausicaa of the valley of the Wind got so little attention. I love all the almost all of the Ghibli films ive watched - kiki, castle in the sky and totoro are some of the memorable and lovable movies ive ever seen - but i have to say that Nausicaa is my favorite miyazaki film, hands down. Its just an amazing anime movie that really highlights Miyazaki's strengths in animation, plot and character. I really recommend this to anybody who has ever seen a Ghibli film and enjoyed it.
137. donavan
how is ninja scroll not on this list? yeah i know its realatively simple action but it did EVERYTHING a ass kicking anime is supposed to do. people are quick to dissmiss balls to the wall action flicks (animated or otherwise) but they are very easy to do wrong (expendables springs to mind), and when one gets it soo right to not see it on a list of must see anime that is supposed to be "approachable" to non anime fans... it just seems a glaring omision.
138. Anime Two
right...WHERE IS Spirited Away?!
139. surly
hasn't anyone seen "children who chase voices from deep below" yet? I'm shocked to not see it brought up anywhere.

I agree with the rest, porco rosso is only on here as a personal preference, you'd have to have interest in the whole war scenario to like it, I didn't get through the whole thing. I would have put princess mononoke in it's place. but hey, most of this list isn't my taste. so whatevs.

anyway, I'm looking up a couple of these now. Thanks for the leads!
140. JustinRowan
I have plenty of opinions, thoughts, and suggestions. Many have already been shared, and I feel no need to provide my affirmations. With that stated, for the new veiwer, I have these words to offer.

Every person I have ever encountered that has told me they do not like anime, I have had them watch "Castle in the Sky." Not my favorite nor my first choice, but the only one that has consistantly changed minds.

If you haven't watched "Tales from Earthsea," then do so.

A series suggestion I have yet to see would be, one of my favorites, "Outlaw Star."
141. Jobo
Even though it's not my favourite, I always say that Akira is the anime film I'd recommend for first watch. The imagery draws you into the world of anime with relative ease and you'll never look back.

as far as enjoyment goes, I loved Howls Moving Castle and Nausicaa. Graveyard of the fireflies is highly recommended too but more for the story as opposed to the animation.

ghost in the shell has an amazing soundtrack too.
143. Volkan Aytan
how could not you add mononoke-hime, what a sad!!!
144. Jayms
I know you're listing films (aside from that one), but I would like to add Fooly Cooly (sp?) - also named "FLCL". It is mind-bending and fascinating (and obliquely erotic) coming-of-age tale.

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