If you haven’t yet signed up for a Crunchyroll membership, the best anime movies on Netflix choices are still worth investigating if you haven’t yet signed up for a Crunchyroll membership. There are still plenty of mechas, transformations, and even Miyazaki (thank you, Lupin III!) to enjoy—and it’s even better because some of them are Netflix Originals. The company’s investment in its own movies has been, to put it mildly, hit-or-miss, but its move into anime has been mainly favourable. Some of the movies which I listed below are the best anime movies on Netflix but also my favourite too.
While Netflix shines best with its large collection of anime shows, there are still plenty of anime flicks to enjoy after watching JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure or Demon Slayer. We’ve rated the top ten best anime movies on Netflix, which include well-known series, anthologies, originals, and hard-to-find gems. The streamer’s library is constantly changing, with anime films seeing a lot of turnovers.
Top 15 Best Anime Movies on Netflix In 2022
Here are the top 15 best anime movies on Netflix right now:
Most, if not all, of Mamoru Hosoda’s original films made in the last decade, serve as autobiographical exercises in some way. The narrative of Summer War, aside from a plot that was mostly repeated from Hosoda’s directorial debut, Digimon Adventure: Our War Game! in 2000, was the narrative of Hosoda meeting his wife’s family for the first time. The death of Hosoda’s mother inspired Wolf Children in 2012, which was fueled in part by his concerns and hopes about his own upcoming fatherhood. The Boy and the Beast (2015) was created shortly after the birth of Hosoda’s first kid, the result of his personal thoughts about what role a father should play in his son’s life. Mirai, the director’s sixth film, is inspired not by Hosoda’s personal experiences, but by his first-born son, meeting his newborn brother for the first time. Mirai is a beautiful adventure fantasy drama told through the eyes of Kun, a toddler who feels displaced and insecure in the aftermath of his sister Mirai’s birth. It whisks the viewer through a dazzling odyssey across Kun’s entire family tree, culminating in a poignant conclusion that emphasises the beauty of what it means to love and be loved. Mirai is Hosoda’s most accomplished picture, the first Academy Award nominee for an anime film not created by Studio Ghibli, and an experience that is as enlightening as it is beautiful to see. —Egan, Toussaint
2. Mobile Suit Gundam: Char’s Counterattack
Char’s Counterattack is the first Gundam theatrical film and the concluding chapter in the original tale that began in 1979 with the “Universal Century Timeline” of the Mobile Suit Gundam TV series. It has the weight of three seasons of TV behind it. Yoshiyuki Tomino, the inventor of the Gundam series, directed and authored the film, which was based on his novel Hi-Streamer. Char’s Counterattack, often regarded as the best film in the Gundam genre, is most effective in concluding the 14-year conflict between the “hero” of the Earth Federation, Amuro Ray, and the leader of Neo-Zeon, Char Aznable. The plot revolves around a classic Gundam dilemma: Char’s Neo-Zeon army plans to launch an asteroid laden with nuclear bombs onto Earth, freeing the colonies from the yoke of servitude imposed by their enemies, the Earth Federation, but killing everyone on Earth in the process. As with many of the best Gundam stories, Tomino takes a hard sci-fi approach to the subject, thoroughly spelling out the theory behind things like huge mobile suits and “new types” (humans that have evolved to acquire psychic abilities). Tomino painstakingly sets out the reasons behind Char and Amuro’s passions and hatreds, preventing the audience from picking a clear side. The Gundam series has always been eager to engage in debates on the horrors of war and how humanity, despite its accomplishments, never appears to be able to separate itself from humanity’s baser tendencies. Char’s Counterattack tries to do the same thing, but it’s more focused on putting an end to the competition between Amuro and Char—and it succeeds spectacularly on that front. The film is unquestionably one of the high points of the Gundam Universe, with magnificent, dramatic action sequences set in space, fantastic music by Shigeaki Saegusa, and some of the most renowned Gundam designs in the franchise’s history. One disadvantage is that if you don’t have the time to watch hundreds of episodes of television with these people, the narrative might be complicated, and Char/finale Amuro’s may not be as powerful. Regardless, Char’s Counterattack is a pivotal moment in the Gundam world, and it’s still worth seeing over 30years later. Salute to Zeon! —J.D.
3. A Silent Voice
In a medium that, at times, feels constrained by the primacy of masculine aesthetic sensibilities and saturated with hyper-sexualized depictions of women coded as “fan service,” Naoko Yamada’s presence is a welcome breath of fresh air, to say nothing of the inimitable quality of her films themselves. Yamada is a director par excellence, capable of arresting attention and evoking melancholy and bittersweet catharsis through delicate compositions of deft sound, swift editing, ephemeral colour palettes, and characters with rich inner lives rife with knotty, relatable struggles, inspired by the likes of Yasujiro Ozu, Alejandro Jodorowsky, Sergei Parajanov, Sofia Coppola, and Lucile Hadzi A Silent Voice, based on Yoshitoki Oima’s manga of the same name, is an excellent example of all of these tastes at work. When Shoya Ishida meets Shoko Nishimiya, a deaf transfer student, in elementary school, he persistently insults her, much to the delight of his peers. When Shoya goes too far, causing Shoko to move again for her own safety, he is labelled a pariah by his classmates and falls into self-imposed solitude and self-hatred. Years later, Shoya sees Shoko again, this time as a teenager, and tries to make atonement for the hurt he caused her, all while struggling to comprehend his own reasons. A Silent Voice is a moving depiction of teenage abuse, healing, and forgiveness for the hurt done by others and ourselves. —Egan, Toussaint
4. The End of Evangelion
Among fans of the anime, the final two episodes of Neon Genesis Evangelion are infamous. The two-part finale, titled “Do you love me?” and “Take care of yourself,” famously sidelined the series’ climactic finale, instead opting to take place entirely away from the action within the subconscious of the show’s protagonist, Shinji Ikari, as he struggled to resolve the self-loathing and hatred that plagued him throughout the story’s duration. Because of the unorthodox and disappointing nature of this climax, irate fans threatened Anno’s life and damaged Gainax’s building with graffiti. In response, Anno began work on a different conclusion to the series, which would be made in two parts and broadcast in cinemas. End of Evangelion is not the movie for you if you’re seeking for a light, campy, and joyful ending. Instead, viewers were presented to one of the most fatalistic, avant-garde, and, curiously enough, life-affirming anime series endings ever made. In a nutshell, it combines the best and worst aspects of Evangelion to produce a film unlike any that has gone before it. Despite its continuous horror, End of Evangelion stays faithful to its subtitle’s ethos, which is that the pleasure of death lies in the process of rebirth. —Egan, Toussaint
5. Lupin III: The Castle of Cagliostro
The nature of Miyazaki’s output is such that it brims with an abundance of riches, each film in its own right inextricably linked to the anime canon. His films have received so much praise for their visual narrative and emotional virtuosity that even those few films that may be deemed his “worst” nevertheless rank leagues above those animators who simply aspire to his level. Lupin III: The Castle of Cagliostro is a prime example. Kazuhiko Miyazaki’s version of Kazuhiko Kato’s infamous master criminal is both a rousing heist thriller with heart and one of Miyazaki’s poorer works. As a result of Miyazaki’s inexperience as a filmmaker, Castle of Cagliostro suffers from a slow middle act and a disappointingly basic adversary while still managing to shine with its characteristic charm, shining through the baggage of the previous production. Fans of the books slammed the film for stripping Lupin of his anarchic tendencies and instead presenting him as a real gentleman thief, stealing only when his vague sense of honour allows it. In any event, Miyazaki’s proto-Ghibli masterpiece, The Castle of Cagliostro, remains a vital and necessary relic. Even if a Miyazaki picture has flaws, it is still an accomplishment. Jason DeMarco and Toussaint Egan,
Tsutomu Nihei is a visionary when it comes to gloomy industrial sci-fi. Nihei’s art is minimalist and labyrinthine, characterised by a unifying fascination with created environments. He was trained as an architect before pursuing a career as a manga creator. Byzantine factories with gothic accents span unimaginable chasms, inhabited by bow-legged synthoids and ghoulish predators with serrated bone-swords and throbbing gristle-guns. His earliest and most famous series, Blame!, is regarded as a seminal book in Nihei’s aesthetic heritage, inspiring everything from videogames to music to art and fashion. Attempts to convert the series into an anime have been undertaken in the past, but none have proved successful. Until now, that is. Hiroyuki Seshita of Polygon Pictures has completed the long-awaited Blame! a film with the help of Netflix. Set in a far-future Earth consumed by a massive, self-replicating superstructure known as The City, Blame! follows Killy, a quiet loner, as he wanders the layers of the planet in search of a human with the “net terminal gene,” an elusive trait thought to be the only way to stop the city’s perpetual hostile expansion. With a script written by Sadayuki Murai, best known for his work on Cowboy Bebop and Satoshi Kon’s Perfect Blue, and directed by Nihei himself, Seshita’s film cuts most of the manga’s early chapters and compresses the tale into a much more narrative and action-driven event. Hiroshi Takiguchi’s art direction expertly replicates Nihei’s distinct aesthetic, achieving in colour what was previously only monochromatic, while Yuki Moriyama capably improves on the original’s uniform character designs, endowing its casts with distinct, easily identifiable traits and silhouettes that greatly improve the story’s parsability. Blame! is as authentic an adaptation as it is possible to get, and it serves as a good introduction to the storey as the manga itself. Blame! makes a compelling argument for being not just one of the most philosophically fascinating anime films of recent years, but also one of, if not the, best original anime films to grace Netflix in a long time. —Egan, Toussaint
7. Lu Over the Wall
Lu Over the Wall is marketed as “family-friendly” by distributor GKids, which is, a harmless, oddball alternative to the traditional computer-animated films featured in current multiplexes. But there’s a difference between “whimsical” and “strange,” and before director Masaaki Yuasa gets through the opening titles, Lu Over the Wall has moved well beyond the former and into the latter. We seldom ever get close to reality: even its most human beats, those rare indications of relatable features that inspire our empathy, are extended, warped, and turned nearly unrecognisable by exaggeration. Lu Over the Wall isn’t a film that takes itself seriously, and for the ordinary moviegoer, that’s a good thing. The plot is both simple and complicated: Kai (voiced by Michael Sinterniklaas in the English dub), a recent transplant from Tokyo to the tranquil fishing hamlet of Hinashi, spends his days doing what most adolescent guys do: hunkering down in his room and shutting out the world. As Kai struggles with his self-imposed solitude, he encounters Lu (Christine Marie Cabanos), a small manic pixie dream mermaid. What is an alone emo guy to do in a physical and metaphorical fish-out-of-water scenario with xenophobic undertones? Lu Over the Wall combines fun with political allegory, brilliant colour palettes, storytelling magic, and far too many joyful musical interludes to count. Simply calling the picture “innovative” feels like an insult to its brilliant craziness. —Crump, Andy
8. Mary and the Witch’s Flower
There’s something terrible about a youngster who is eager to help around the house but ends up making more of a mess than they clean. That’s Mary, the protagonist of Hiromasa Yonebayashi’s latest film, Mary and the Witch’s Flower. She wants to help her great-aunt Charlotte (Lynda Baron) and Charlotte’s housekeeper, Miss Banks (Morwenna Banks), but she can’t get rid of an empty teacup without spilling it on the floor. The child is a walking calamity. It’s really sad. She’s a decent girl with nothing to do until she encounters a couple of outside cats who bring her to a clump of brilliant blue flowers that pique her interest at first sight. Mary brings the flowers back to Charlotte’s, not understanding what they are (hint: they’re witches’ flowers), and rapidly realises that the flowers give temporary magical skills to anyone who touches them. The plot of Mary and the Witch’s Flower—and, boy, is there a lot of plot—begins there: Mary is carried away by a flying sentient broom to a witches’ academy supervised by Madame Mumblechook (Kate Winslet) and Doctor Dee (Jim Broadbent), who put on a kind façade to conceal nasty intentions. As a storey, Mary and the Witch’s Flower is well-known as Harry Potter-lite meets Studio Ghibli-lite, with a dash of Yonebayashi’s previous thematic interests thrown in for good measure. The entire piece is vibrant, compassionate, and consistently delightful. We all search for magic in the world around us, and when we do, the world consistently disappoints us. Movies like these remind us that there is beauty and vitality in art, particularly animation. Crump, Andy
Anthologies of short films are among the most spectacular displays of boundary-pushing visual narrative in animation, much alone Japanese animation. A simple check of anime anthologies published in the previous 30 years is sufficient: From Masao Maruyama and Rintaro’s 1987 film Labyrinth Tales (known in the West as Neo Tokyo), to Katsuhiro Otomo’s 1995 film Memories, to the 2003 American-Japanese co-production Animatrix, anthologies have stood the test of time not only as landmarks of anime history but also as a vital venue for introducing new and exciting talent into the animation industry. With this in mind, director Hiromasa Yonebayashi, along with former Ghibli animators Yoshiyuki Momose (The Tale of Princess Kaguya) and Akihiko Yamashita (Howl’s Moving Castle), has collaborated to create a new entry in the storied lineage of prestige anime anthologies: Modest Heroes, the first volume in Studio Ponoc’s series of animated short films. “Kanini & Kanino,” directed by Hiromasa Yonebayashi, is the anthology’s first and most clearly “Ghibli-Esque” short. The short, which follows the narrative of a couple of anthropomorphic crab children living at the bottom of a riverbed, might be seen as a sequel to Yonebayashi’s directorial debut, the 2010 feature The Secret World of Arrietty, albeit this time developed and written entirely by himself. The anthology’s second short, directed by Yoshiyuki Momose, is the anthology’s most moving chapter and, possibly, the actual inspiration for the title Modest Heroes. “Life Ain’t Gonna Lose” depicts the storey of a young woman and her baby, Shun, a cheerful and generally unassuming little boy born with a crippling egg allergy. “Life Ain’t Gonna Lose” sets a high standard for the film’s subsequent shorts, but “Invisible,” the anthology’s closing short, manages to match and even exceed those expectations. Akihiko Yamashita recognised not only for his previous work on Howl’s Moving Castle but also as a character designer for Yasuhiro Imagawa’s Giant Robo: The Day the Earth Stood Still, directed the film. Still, “Invisible,” tells the storey of a man who suffers from a disorder that makes him appear absolutely unnoticed to everyone he meets. Modest Heroes is a pleasant sophomore effort from Studio Ponoc, a collection of films that together echo the attitude of that most joyful and daring of adages made famous by the likes of Rod Serling: “…there’s nothing mightier than the meek.” —Egan, Toussaint
There have been creepier things done in movies than changing into a cat to get closer to your sweetheart, but they are few and far between. It’s not quite like you’re standing outside a window with a boombox. But in Junichi Sato and Tomotaka Shibayama’s “A Whisker Away,” even the most bizarre concept offers beauty and heartbreaking romance. Mari Okada’s writing expertly guides the anime through emotional loops and crinkly toy tunnels, eventually landing its ridiculous premise—complete with a troupe of angry, melancholy middle schoolers—in emotional honesty. A sprinkle of Miyazaki canon (a corpulent face-dealing cat and a whole invisible cat-world) blends well with some honest digs into its protagonists’ mental health difficulties (not quite as deeply and darkly as Neon Genesis Evangelion, but with a similarly stylish flair). While the characters are a touch unpleasant when you first meet them (they are, after all, middle schoolers), the reality underlying the text shines through, all the while dazzling us with its realistic animal animation and breathtaking images of smaller-town Tokoname life. —Joseph Oller
Paprika, an anime film released in 2006, is based on Yasutaka Tsutsui’s 1993 book of the same name. It was a Japanese animation film that was popular not just in Japan but also in the United States at the time. The film’s icon is the newly created technology, DC Mini, which allows individuals to glimpse the dreams of others. Because of the machine, there will be psychological issues in the near future.
Steamboy is Katsuhiro Otomo’s second full-length anime film, following the world-renowned Akira. In Japan, the sci-fi anime film was released in 2004, while in the United States, it was released in 2005.
The storey takes place in the United Kingdom during the industrial revolution in the mid-nineteenth century. When Ray, a 13-year-old kid, obtains steam balls from his grandfather, Lloyd, he becomes embroiled in a terrible situation.
13. Children of the Sea
Netflix has a large selection of contemporary anime films that were released in theatres a few years ago. Children of the Sea (COTS) is a highly recommended modern anime film to watch on Netflix that was initially released in 2019. It was adapted from Ayumu Watanabe’s manga of the same name, which was published between 2006 and 2011.
Children of the Sea: Ruka, a middle school girl, is the protagonist of the novel. She encounters the strange Umi and Sora, who can swim like fish and speak with marine animals.
14. Patema Inverted
Patema Inverted () is a fantasy anime film available on Netflix that was released in 2013. It was directed by Yasuhiro Yoshiura, who previously helmed the popular sci-fi animation Time of Eve.
The universe of Patema Inverted is divided into two parts: Aiga’s normal world and the realm where gravity reverses. One day in Aiga, a little kid named Eiji encounters a teenage lady named Patema who hails from the underground realm.
15. Genocidal Organ
The Genocidal Organ, authored by Keikaku Ito in 2007, is one of the best-selling Japanese science fiction books of the 2000s. In 2017, it was converted into an anime film.
The plot begins with a nuclear bomb terror attack in Sarajevo, which escalates tensions and terrorism across the world. Governments in industrialised countries require people to be watched in order to avoid terrorist attacks.