Our Top 10 Favorite Japanese Animated Films

Japanese anime has always been a fascinating genre. Now, with its continued popularity that shows no sign of decline, more and more people are coming to appreciate this once foreign media. Unlike most animated films that are directed towards a younger audience, Japanese anime does not shy away from showing the grit of reality. The contrast between the beautifully drawn sceneries and unapologetic tackling of serious issues just adds up to its already dynamic dimensions.

To help you know more about it, we have compiled a list of our top 10 favorites (in no particular order because trust us, it would be very difficult) that you can definitely enjoy.

1. Spirited Away (2001)

Genre: Fantasy, Adventure, Family, Mystery

No list would ever be complete without this Studio Ghibli masterpiece from Japanese director, Hayao Miyazaki. It follows the story of ten-year-old Chihiro as she finds an abandoned amusement park on a trip with her parents. Her parents then turn into pigs and with the help of Haku, she takes on a journey to bring them back.

2. A Silent Voice (2016)

Genre: Drama, Romance

Shouko is a hearing-impaired student that transfers into Shoya’s grade school. A known prankster, Shoya started bullying Shouko which makes her grade school days miserable. Years later, Shoya is out to make amends as he discovers more about the past and his present self.

3. Grave of the Fireflies (1988)

Genre: Drama, War

Grave of the Fireflies is a Studio Ghibli film based on real-life events. Set in World War II, right after the bombing of Hiroshima, Seita and Setsuko experience the devastating effects of war. The film shows their journey of survival in a very harsh world, struggling to stay together despite everything else.

4. The Garden of Words (2013)

Genre: Drama, Romance

Meeting through their intertwining choices, Takao (a high school student) and Yukino (a 27-year-old woman) finds each other visiting Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden every time it rains. It is a story of how even strangers can find the most familiar connections. If you love scenic and well-composed anime scenes, you should definitely watch it.

5. Anthem of the Heart (2016)

Genre: Drama, Fantasy

Jun, a once lively girl, suddenly loses her words from a curse brought by a mysterious egg fairy. An unspeakable pain shoots through her body every time she tries to speak, making her choose to not speak to anyone as much as possible.

6. Hal (2013)

Genre: Science Fiction, Romance

Hal is an android made to resemble Hal, Kurumi’s boyfriend who died a tragic death. In the efforts to help Kurumi cope with her loss, Hal visits her and tries to draw her out of reclusion.

7. Into the Fireflies’ Light (2011)

Genre: Romance, Supernatural Fiction

A story of friendship that started in Hotaru’s summer visit to her grandfather’s home, Into the Fireflies’ Light follows Hotaru as she meets a mysterious masked man in the mountain forest she is forbidden to visit.

8. My Neighbor Totoro (1988)

Genre: Fantasy, Adventure, Family

Another masterpiece from Studio Ghibli and Hayao Miyazaki, the story begins when Satsuki and Mei move into an old country house with their father and take care of their mother in a nearby hospital. Excited by their new environment, their explorations lead them to meet playful spirits and creatures in their newfound home.

9. Your Name (2016)

Genre: Drama, Romance

Your Name is the highest-grossing film of all time worldwide, even surpassing Spirited Away. Its nonlinear story when a teenage boy finds himself waking up in the body of a teenage girl he does not know. Soon after, things unravel and become more complicated when they decide to meet each other.

10. The Girl Who Leapt Through Time (2006)

Genre: Science Fiction, Drama, Fantasy

You know what they say with time travel, never ever mess with the past. However, upon acquiring the power of the “time leap”, Makoto cannot help but use it without hesitation to fulfill her desires.

Do you have other favorite Japanese animated films?