While Japan is well known for its delicious food, beautiful cities, and samurais and ninjas, it is also the home of anime, the global animation sensation (that rhymed!). Through the years, anime has evolved into so many sub-genres, like fantasy, sci-fi, and so many others I’m not even aware of. But even though I’m completely clueless about the world of anime, there are many anime movies that are among the top of my favorite movies of all time, so here are the best tear-jerking, laugh-crying, moving, and inspiring anime movies I have ever seen.
- A Silent Voice (Koe no katachi) -The movie follows the lives of Shoya Ishida, the school bully, and Shoko Nishimiya, a young girl with a hearing disability. After bullying Shoko to the point at which she even transferred schools when they were in the sixth grade, depressed teenage Shoya decides to make amends in this moving and powerful film about bullying, depression, forgiveness, friendship, and reasons for living.
Greatness Meter: 9/10, for the beautiful animation, emotional and powerful scenes, and unique plot.
- The Girl Who Leapt Through Time (Toki wo Kakeru Shoujo) –Loosely based on a science fiction novel of the same name by Yasutaka Tsutsui, the movie is centered around Makoto, a young high school student who accidentally acquires time travelling powers. After using her limited “time leaps” to get better grades, avoid being late, and drag on a karaoke session for hours, a series of events cause her to realize that her actions are negatively affecting the people around her and that she should use her powers as a force of good to make things right and save lives.
Greatness Meter: 7/10, for the impressive graphics, compelling storyline, and relatable protagonist.
- Summer Wars (Sama Wozu) -When computer nerd and math genius Kenji Koiso is recruited for a summer job to pose as the fake boyfriend of his secret crush, Natsuki Jinnouchi, for her grandmother’s birthday celebration, he is welcomed into a massive and crazy family with an honorable samurai history. However, when Kenji gets involved in a global incident that breaches their whole world’s online system, it’s up to him and the whole Jinnouchi family to save the day against a powerful AI virus and bring their family together.
Greatness Meter: 9/10, for the hilarious Filipino-like family, extensive online universe, and touching moments between loved ones.
- From Up on Poppy Hill (Kokuriko-zaka Kara) -One of Studio Ghibli’s most underrated classics, the movie is set in 1963 and follows Umi Matsuzaki, a high school girl dealing with the loss of her father in the Korean War. When she meets Shun Kazama, the president of the school newspaper and active in trying to preserve their historical club house from demolition, they form a bond to save their beloved club house and discover a secret connection from their pasts.
Greatness Meter: 8.5/10, for the historical architecture and time setting, the consequences of life after war, the creative and bold newspaper club president, and the soft spoken but strong female protagonist.
- Your Name (Kimi no Nawa) –The highest-grossing anime and Japanese film of all time, Your Name is the emotional story of two high school students from different backgrounds, one from the rural areas of Japan, the other from the busy city of Tokyo, who swap bodies and form an unbreakable bond that transcends time.
Greatness Meter: 9/10, for the stunning animation and graphics, funny and tear-jerking storyline, and memorable and relatable characters