Some advantages when you learn Japanese by anime movies:


  • Developing your Japanese Listening Skills 

  • Using Repetition as a way of practicing Pronunciation

  • Reading Words Out Loudly 

  • Mimicking the Informal Conversational Style of the Anime 

So, today TODAI Japanese wanna introduce the 10 best Japanese anime movies of all time for Japanese learners


Let’s go!


10. Howl’s Moving Castle (2004)

Howl’s Moving Castle (ハウルの動く城), one of the top-grossing anime movies in Japan, was released in 2004. It is based on the British novel Howl’s Moving Castle written by Diana Wynne Jones, which is adapted into an anime film by Studio Ghibli. The anime told about Sophia’s adventure who is a beauty hatter but transformed into a ninety-year-old woman by the witch’s curse and her lover - Howl. He is a handsome switch with the moving castle, a fire Demon - Calcifer... They are not the perfect characters but everything in this movie is kind of natural, it makes you smile and cry at the same time. You can learn a lot of new words after watching this.

Genre: Fantasy

Director: Hayao Miyazaki (宮崎駿)


9. In this Corner of the World (2016)

In this Corner of the World (この世界の片隅に), one of the most-grossing anime movies all over the world in 2016, is based on the manga serialized during 2007-2009. The theme of the anime movie is Hiroshima during WWII, and the main character Suzu survives the war experiencing the dropped atomic bomb. When you are watching this video, you can see the difference between before and after the war, the loss and severity of WWII. This movie gives you various new words about war and daily life. Enjoy it.

Genre: Drama

Director: Sunao Katabuchi (片渕須直)

8. Wolf Children (2012)

Wolf Children (おおかみこどもの雨と雪), known as one of the masterpieces of Mamoru Hosoda, was produced in 2012 by Studio Chizu which is the animation studio founded by the director. The main character Hana meets a man at the university in Tokyo, who can transform into a wolf. They fall in love. Then, they have two cute kids Yuki and Ame who can also change their forms into wolves and get back into humans. As they grow up, their inner conflicts are increasing: they should live as a human or a wolf.

Genre: Fantasy, Drama

Director: Mamoru Hosoda (細田守)

7. 5 Centimeters per Second (2007)

For fans of the new leader of the anime industry Mokoto Shinkai, 5 Centimeters per Second (秒速5センチメートル) is a must-watch anime film. It is looked on as the best anime in his early career, released in 2007. The anime work is divided into three short parts: Cherry Blossom, Cosmonaut and 5 Centimeters per Second.

The anime has 3 parts related to the main character Takaki’s first love with the heroine Akari from when he was in elementary school, to when he becomes mature. Three parts with three emotions, in the final part, the two grow up and the story marks the climax of the moving anime. There is neither supernatural power nor action battle scenes, but just the beautiful reality. You can learn a lot of new words about describing emotion and about love…

Genre: Romance, Drama

Director: Makoto Shinkai (新海誠)

6. Ponyo (2008)

Ponyo (崖の上のポニョ), which is a.k.a. Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea, was released in 2008. The fantasy movie is one of the most popular Studio Ghibli movies, written and directed by Hayao Miyazaki.

The main character is a goldfish named Ponyo that wishes to become a human and leaves the ocean. Another main character Sosuke, who is a 5-year-old boy, meets and saves Ponyo. Ponyo’s father tries to pull her back from the ground to the ocean influencing the human’s world with magic, but she runs away with Sosuke.

Genre: Fantasy

Director: Hayao Miyazaki (宮崎駿)

5. Princess Mononoke (1997)

Princess Mononoke (もののけ姫), released in 1997, was the number-one movie at the domestic box office at that time. It is also regarded worldwide as one of the top Japanese films. It is said that its director Hayao Miyazaki spent about two decades building the plot and making it into this anime movie.

The fantasy film focuses on the Muromachi Period (1336-1573) with the two main characters a tribe’s prince Ashitaka and a young woman San raised by wolves in the forest. The conflict between humans and nature is featured there, and Ashitaka seeks a way for both to coexist.

Genre: Fantasy

Director: Hayao Miyazaki (宮崎駿)

4. Grave of the Fireflies (1988)

Grave of the Fireflies (火垂るの墓) was released in 1988 when My Neighbor Totoro was released at the same time. The historical film was adapted from the original novel by Studio Ghibli. The novel was written by Akiyuki Nosaka in 1967 with the theme of the author’s real experience during World War II. Its anime movie adaption was one of the masterpieces of the renowned Studio Ghibli director Isao Takahata.

The story is set in Kobe, Hyogo Prefecture, in September 1945 just after World War II. Grave of the Fireflies mainly follows a 14-year-old boy Seita and his 4-year-old sister Setsuko who lose their family and suffer from starvation and malnutrition. It focuses on realism by Isao Takahata while many Ghibli movies are categorized as a fantasy genre.

Genre: Drama, war

Director: Takahata Isao

3. Your Name (2016)

Your Name (君の名は。), the greatest anime directed by Makoto Shinkai in 2016, has won recognition domestically and internationally. The popular anime movie was aired on the big screen in over 120 countries and regions between 2016 and 2018, and it made the most at the foreign box office in Japanese anime movies.

The story proceeds with two main characters: Taki Tachibana living in the metropolitan Tokyo and Mitsuha Miyamizu living in the countryside. One day, they notice that their bodies are switched with each other, and that is intermittently repeated. Taki and Mitsuha are getting more and more about each other while being puzzled under the strange condition.

Your Name is mainly based on the two real life places Tokyo and Takayama in Central Japan. Makoto Shinkai beautifully represents the real world, which encourages the fans to travel to the spots pictured in the movie.

Genre: Fantasy, romance, drama

Director: Makoto Shinkai (新海誠)

2. The Girl Who Leapt Through Time (2006)

In 2006, one of the Japanese animation leaders Mamoru Hosoda released his masterpiece titled The Girl Who Leapt Through Time (時をかける少女). The fantasy anime film was based on the novel written by the best-selling sci-fi Japanese author Yasutaka Tsutsui in 1967, but it tells a different story from the novel’s one.

The setting of the anime is 20 years after the world in the novel. Three main characters are high schoolers in The Girl Who Leapt Through Time: Makoto, Kosuke and Chiaki. They live in ordinary high school life, where there are general adolescent interests such as love, study and career choice in this anime. However, Makoto notices she becomes able to transport herself to the past.

Time travel is a popular plot of anime these days, but it was new and unique when the anime was released, which is partly because it is top-rated by anime fans.

Genre: Fantasy, Romance

Director: Mamoru Hosoda (細田守)

1. Spirited Away (2001)

What is best of the best anime movie of all time? Spirited Away (千と千尋の神隠し), the masterpiece of Hayao Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli released in 2001, deserves it. It has gained the highest recognition all over the world including Best Animated Feature in the 75th Academy Awards and has been the highest-grossing movie ever made in Japan and about two decades passed since it was released.

A 10-year-old girl Chihiro wanders into a weird and strange world with her parents, and her parents are transformed into pigs due to the witchy curse. She decides to work hard in the bathhouse under the rule of the witch named Yubaba to help them, losing her real name and changed to Sen.

There are various unique characters such as a key person Haku, twin witches Yubaba and Zeniba and a mystic creature Kaonashi (No-Face) in addition to Chihiro (Sen). What is attractive in Spirited Away is that you can watch it from a variety of perspectives depending on how you view it.

Genre: Fantasy, Drama

Director: Hayao Miyazaki (宮崎駿)

Those are the 10 best Japanese anime movies that can help you improve your Japanese Listening skills, your Japanese vocabulary and your Japanese pronunciation. But if you don’t have much free time, you can download the application TODAI Japanese here. This application has a lot of bilingual subtitles, you can practice Japanese listening and improve your Japanese vocabulary at the same time.