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10 Best Anime Movies For Someone Looking To Get Into Anime – CBR – Comic Book Resources

While anime series are more popular, anime movies might be the perfect introduction to the genre.
There is so much creative content to experience in anime, but it’s easy for generalizations to be made about the form of animation and its shortcomings. There are stereotypes that exist in anime and some series are happy to lift from popular predecessors rather than forging original paths. This can make anime seem shallow and prohibit beginners from giving the medium a fair shot.
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There are substantially more anime series than feature films, but it’s these cinematic endeavors that are often the best introduction points for those that have kept anime at a distance. Many anime movies demystify the genre and make it feel  approachable, even to outsiders.
It’s not hard to argue the artistic merits of many anime feature films, especially those that pride themselves on pushing visual boundaries, but Mind Game is a glorious artistic expression that’s impossible to ignore. The visually extravagant anthology-style movie presents an esoteric story that unpacks life, death, and everything in between, with staggering visuals that play by their own rules. Any fans of experimental storytelling, anthologies, and the limitless nature of animation owe it to themselves to check out Mind Game.
Makoto Shinkai has built an enviable reputation for himself in the anime industry and all of his cinematic contributions are elegant exercises in human connection. Shinkai’s greatest obstacle is topping his previous film. Your Name might be the crowning achievement in his career so far. Your Name is an excellent mix of slice of life character drama with subdued supernatural elements that only deepen the human connection between its central characters. The delicate narrative is so emotional and genuine that it transcends anime and is just an excellent piece of storytelling that everyone should experience.
Lupin III is one of the most prolific anime series to come out of Japan with more than half a century’s worth of content between its various anime series, feature films, and televised specials. The recent Lupin III The First functions as both a satisfying installment of the series as well as the perfect entry point for newcomers.
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Lupin III The First’s story focuses on a fulfilling heist that never slows down in action. There’s a growing issue with anime leaning too hard into CGI when it’s not necessary, but Lupin III The First is proof that the aesthetic choice can still look gorgeous.
Satoshi Kon is another anime auteur who frequently gets singled out for his more psychologically draining stories, like Perfect Blue, Paprika, or Paranoia Agent. All of these are exceptional texts to explore, but they’re intense stories that aren’t for everyone. Tokyo Godfathers is one of Kon’s more grounded and optimistic movies. The Christmas-set film focuses on a trio of homeless individuals who come across an abandoned baby and set out to return the infant to his rightful parents. Tokyo Godfathers celebrates the beauty in everyone’s differences and that role models come in many shapes and sizes.
Any of Hayao Miyazaki’s Studio Ghibli content would make for a satisfying introduction to anime feature films. Some of Miyazaki’s efforts are too cute or tackle surprisingly adult subject matter that may alienate younger audiences. Spirited Away achieves the perfect balance between these extremes, with a supernatural story that’s deep enough to entertain children and adults alike, but also sufficiently showcases Ghibli’s visual flourishes through a phenomenal range of fantastical entities. Spirited Away made such waves at the Academy Awards due to its ability to connect with the mainstream, those that aren’t interested in animation, and Miyazaki’s devout fans.
Studio TRIGGER has grown into one of the industry’s most renowned animation studios. TRIGGER’s products can often be a case of style over substance, but that style is so intense and heightened that it’s hard to not be taken over by it. Promare marks Studio TRIGGER’s first feature film, which succeeds as both a love letter to the medium as well as a relatively simplistic and accessible narrative.
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Promare is set in a world where pyrokinetic powers reign supreme, which has led to a very unconventional policing system. Promare can easily lure in anime newcomers with its archetypal story and its mindblowing action sequences.
An anime movie doesn’t need to have an overly complex plot to connect with audiences and sometimes it’s an advantage to tell a very direct story that understands its aims and limitations. Fast-paced races are a thrilling staple that dominate every form of entertainment, whether it’s television, video games, or feature films. Redline is a movie that’s entirely focused on a high stakes galactic race that features some highly unconventional participants. Redline doesn’t get lost in story and instead pushes its animation to the limit and creates unbelievable visuals in the process.
Much like Hayao Miyazaki, Makoto Shinkai, and Masaaki Yuasa, Mamoru Hosoda is another deeply influential voice in the anime industry. Most of Hosoda’s movies look at humble characters who long for freedom and limitless worlds to explore. These stories can sometimes skew younger, but Mirai explores relatable subject matter about loneliness, maturity, and the power of perspective that will make anyone a believer. Mirai combines supernatural elements with heavy emotions, which come together to present a story that feels important and conducive to change rather than some irreverent anime fantasy adventure.
My Hero Academia is one of the decade’s most popular shonen anime series and its popularity has led to several feature films growing out of the franchise. My Hero Academia: World Heroes’ Mission is the third and most recent of the My Hero Academia movies, but it’s also an oddly strong introduction to anime movies for newcomers. Each of the My Hero Academia movies can function as standalone stories, but World Heroes’ Mission is a little more successful in this regard and presents a more mature story that puts some genuine thought into the blurred lines that exist between heroes and villains.
Akira is one of the most popular anime movies of all time, but it’s a totemic feature that deserves this praise as an evergreen classic. Akira is a title that’s frequently pushed on audiences, but it stands as an impressive example of the heights that a self-contained anime movie can reach. Akira is over 30 years old, but it still looks amazing and the disturbing ideas that it presents about a corrupt government and military are only more relevant today. Akira highlights the mature storytelling that’s possible in anime movies, as well as the impressive animation that brings it to life.
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Daniel Kurland is a freelance writer, comedian, and critic, who lives in the cultural mosaic that is Brooklyn, New York. Daniel’s work can be read on ScreenRant, Splitsider, Bloody Disgusting, Den of Geek, and across the Internet. Daniel recently completed work on a noir anthology graphic novel titled, “Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Noir: A Rag of Bizarre Noir and Hard Boiled Tales” and he’s currently toiling away on his first novel. Daniel’s extra musings can be found @DanielKurlansky on Twitter.
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