The latest from acclaimed anime director Hayao Miyazaki is Ponyo, which centers on an overeager goldfish that wants to be human after meeting a boy named Sosuke. In honor of his most recent addition to his archive of animated hits, we’ve put together a list of the Top 10 essential anime flicks that every anime fanatic should see. Here we go!
By Neil Yonzon
10. Howl's Moving Castle
You'll be hard-pressed to find another animated film as magically charming as this one. An adaptation of Diana Wynne Jones’ novel of the same name, this anime will take you for an adventure within the world of heroine Sophie Hatter and her journey to help cursed Howl, a handsome but cocky wizard.
2004 Buena Vista International
9. Blood: The Last Vampire
This is the anime version of the recently released horror flick of the same name. Any anime that turns into a live-action film must be awesome, right? Right! In this horror anime, vampire/heroine Saya investigates a high school and must find out which one of her classmates is a vampire before an attack occurs. If you want to see a good movie with some great scares, this anime's for you.
2000 Sony Pictures Entertainment
8. The Castle of Cagliostro
One of Hayao Miyazaki’s early films, Castle of Cagliostro is the most famous movie of the hit anime series "Lupin the Third" (a series also co-directed by Miyazaki). In this 1979 film, master thieves Arsène Lupin III and Daisuke Jigen must save the beautiful character Clarice from evil Count Cagliostro while also solving a forgotten treasure mystery.
1979 National CineMedia
7. The Grave of the Fireflies
Roger Ebert calls this one of the most powerful anti-war movies of all time. Isao Takahata’s tragic movie is about a young boy named Setsuko, his sister Seita and their struggle to survive in Japan during World War II. Unlike many anime movies where happiness tends to follow the characters, this movie will definitely bring out the tears, even if you’re a tough, tearless cookie.
1988 ADV Films
6. Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind
Sixth on our list is Miyazaki’s movie about a kind-hearted princess and her battle to keep her village and the forest that surrounds it alive. Unfortunately, Nausicaa must also stop a rampage of enormous insects from destroying everything in their path. We’re pretty sure you’ll never want to squash an insect ever again after watching this anime.
1984 New World Pictures
5. Ghost in the Shell
This futuristic anime packs action with hot smoking robots out to save the world from online hackers. Sound appealing?
1995 Manga Video
4. My Neighbor Totoro
If you’ve ever come across this overstuffed toy and asked yourself, “Who is this large furry monster?” you’re missing out on another essential anime. A children’s film by Miyazaki, it involves two sisters, Mei and Satsuki, who wander off in the woods to discover the large, enchanting Totoro. After their meeting, they have several incredible experiences from flying to riding on a catbus.
1988 Walt Disney Pictures
3. Princess Mononoke
This environmental-friendly Miyazaki film was the highest grossing movie in Japan 'til Titanic came along. It centers on the conflict between the inhabitants of the forest and the rapidly growing Iron Town. Main character Ashitaka finds himself caught in the middle, trying desperately to stop the two from destroying each other.
1997 Buena Vista International
2. Spirited Away
And the Oscar goes to... Spirited Away! Besides its original magical storyline, the movie stands out among the rest for its numerous awards. It became the first anime to win an Academy Award, beating Lilo & Stitch and Ice Age. In the film, Miyazaki creates another mystical world as Chihiro embarks on a magical journey to turn her parents--transformed into pigs--back into human beings.
2001 Walt Disney Pictures
Motorcycles, guns, telekinetic powers, and even gangster clowns?! Yes, Akira has it all, making it the number one essential anime movie. The film tells the futuristic tale of Kaneda and his bike gang in a post-war Japan. While Tokyo already experiences anti-government terrorism, more mayhem is unleashed when Kaneda’s friend Tetsuo discovers his abnormal, and deadly, powers of telekinesis. Boy, and we thought the gangster clowns were enough trouble!