8 Anime Movies You’ll Want To Watch Over And Over

Anime is great, but sometimes it can just drag on a long time, and is too big a time commitment to fully enjoy. However, anime movies are your quick and easy solution. They are fun, self-contained, entertaining for a few hours, and have high replay value. Once you are finished you can even add the audio to your immersion ipod, allowing the study benefits to continue on endlessly. Turn tonight into a movie night while getting your Japanese study in at the same time.

Here are 8 anime movies spanning the past 3 decades that you will enjoy multiple viewings.

8) Summer Wars   サマーウォーズ (2009)

Japanese Level:☆☆☆
: adventure, comedy, drama, science fiction
Themes: family, technology, internet, social networking
Plot: Kenji Koiso is a high school student gifted in mathematics and computers.  He serves as a part time moderator for a massive virtual world called OZ.  Kenji ends up being invited to his friend Natsuki’s grandmother’s house for her 90th birthday.  Natsuki introduces Kenji as her fiance suddenly and that is just the beginning.  Kenji accidentally causes a problem in OZ and must work together with his friends to solve the problem before the system implodes.

7) Lupin the Third: The Castle of Cagliostro  ルパン三世: カリオストロの城  (1979)

lupin the third
Japanese Level:
: comedy, adventure
Themes: crime, theft
Plot: Lupin the III is a master gentleman thief. The film opens with Lupin and his gunslinger colleague, Jigen, making an escape from a casino loaded down with cash.  Only later to discover that the money is counterfeit from the Duchy of Caglistro.  They go to investigate and soon come across girl being chased by thugs; battle ensues and the girl ends up captured, but Lupin is left with her ring.

A group of assassins comes to retrieve the ring and it takes off from there. Lupin and Jigen get pulled into fast moving events whether they want to be or not.  Can they save the girl? Will they get their pay off?  Will they find any more allies?

6) The Girl Who Leaped Through Time  時をかける少女 (2006)

girl lept
Japanese Level:
: comedy, drama, romance
Themes: school life, time travel
Plot: High school student Makoto Konno lives in Tokyo and loves baseball.  One day she gains a mysterious power to “time leap” or go back into the past.  Makoto uses her power without thought and often quite frivolously.  Every time she uses the power however, she begins to notice that a tattooed number on her arm goes down.  What will happen when more serious events come to pass and the need to “time leap” becomes necessity rather than luxury? Will she regret having discovered it at all?

5) Saiyuki: Requiem OVA   幻想魔伝 最遊記 Requiem 選ばれざる者への鎮魂歌 (2001)

Japanese Level:
:  action, supernatural
Themes: dark pasts
Plot:  Genjo Sanzo (chain smoking, sarcastic Buddhist monk), Sha Gojyo (half water demon who can’t swim), Cho Hakkai (human turned demon), and Son Goku (Monkey King) continue their journey to India to stop the possible resurrection of the Ox-Demon-King, Gyumaoh. On their way, they come across a girl in need and come to her rescue. They end up staying at the estate where she lives, but not all is what it seems and soon their dark pasts come back to find them.

4) Only Yesterday おもひでぽろぽろ (1991) 

only yesterday
Japanese Level:
: slice of life, romance
Themes: coming of age
Plot: Taeko is 27, single and works at a Tokyo Company.  She decides to take a trip to visit her family in the countryside to help with the safflower harvest. On the train, she begins to recall memories from childhood in the 1960s.  After arriving, Taeko must wrestle with both her past and present selves reliving many memories of what it was like to grow up and looking at where her life is in the present.  There is a big decision to make–just what direction will Taeko’s life take at the end of this trip?

3) Royal Space Force: The Wings of Honnêamise  王立宇宙軍 オネアミスの翼 (1987) 

Royal Space Force
Japanese Level:
: drama, science fiction
Themes: military
War is brewing between 2 bordering nations: the kingdom of Honneamise and The Republic.  Shirotsugh Lhadatt is a young man who drifts into a controversial fledgling space program.  War will change him.  Is peace ever possible—what is the fall out of war—can we remain ourselves in the midst of brutality—what can one person do to change the future?

2) Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust バンパイアハンターD (2000)

vampire hunter D
Japanese Level:
: horror, super natural, adventure, drama
Themes: vampire, post-apocalyptic
Plot: Charlotte, the daughter of a nobleman, is taken by Baron Meir Link, a vampire nobleman.  D, a half-vampire and legendary bounty hunter, is hired by Charlotte’s father to bring her back or kill her if she is turned.  D is not the only one hired and must compete with the Marcus Brothers and a woman named Leila, who works with them.  Leila has a personal vendetta against vampires.  It is a race against time to catch up to the Baron before his plan can come to pass.  Not all is as clear cut as it seems.  What will D decide to do?

1) Paprika パプリカ (2006)

Japanese Level:☆☆
Mystery, psychological, thriller, science fiction
In the not so distant future, technology has given us a device called the DC Mini.  With this machine, the user can view another person’s dreams.  Dr. Atsuko Chiba starts to use the device to help her psychiatric patients, even though it’s illegal.  She assumes the persona of “Paprika” inside the dream world.  The DC Mini has no safe guards build in and actually poses a great danger.  Dreams and reality start to slide together and one hell of a roller coaster ride ensues from there.

What anime movies do you love to watch again and again?

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A writer for Japanese Level up and a 4th Year JET. Has the ability to consume anime and J-dramas at an alarming pace and may be too in love with kanji.


8 Anime Movies You’ll Want To Watch Over And Over — 13 Comments

  1. Can we please get more articles like this? I really love level based media guide. I base a lot of what I view on knowing it’s an appropriate level. It helps me stay motivated to not view things that are completely beyond me. There are like 50 dramas (which is awesome), but not much for other categories. I would love all types of media to have such extensive lists.

    By the way, this list is sweet. Thanks heaps for putting it together, I will make great use of it :)

    • +1 for sweet list and more like this! I’ve only seen one of them but are now eager to check the rest out.

  2. It’s worth noting that Summer Wars and Girl Who Leapt Through Time have the same director. Additionally, Summer Wars is actually a sort of remake of one of the director’s previous movies that some people might already be familiar with: Digimon: Our War Game, released in the west as part of Digmon: The Movie.

  3. I’m very surprised to see Saiyuki on here! I would recommend Brave Story on here as well, I remember watching it during my stay in Japan and loved it to pieces! …and admittedly, I loved Crayon Shin-chan as well. >w< It seems you're a fan of Hosoda Mamoru–have you see Wolf Children?

    • Ah, you beat me to it! I was absolutely going to suggest this one.

      An absolutely incredible 時代劇 film…beautifully animated and beautifully choreographed. Just this gorgeous film about loss and damaged people forming bonds and being the most bad ass swordfighter around. I remember a review saying that the movie doesn’t do anything new, but does amazing things with familiar tropes.

      My only hesitation with adding it to my immersement iPod is the copious amounts of Chinese that I don’t feel like stripping out.

    • This does look pretty amazing. I am a huge fan of Samurai flicks. I will have to give it a watch. Sometimes a media does not have to do something new, if its flawlessly reproduces classic points.

  4. I’ve seen a few of these and liked all the ones I saw, but I especially want to second the recommendation for “Summer Wars.” I can’t say it does anything profoundly new, but it does everything so well that that doesn’t matter. While the difficulty may be ☆☆☆ it’s well-suited to watching once subbed and subsequent times raw. And if anyone wants to play KoiKoi after watching it here is a very nice online version (although my favorite version is, sadly, iPhone-only).

    I didn’t know the name Satoshi Kon when I saw “Paprika,” but within the first five minutes I could tell it was by the same director behind the anime series “Paranoia Agent.” Anyone who liked either will probably like the other as well.

    • Thank you for making a good point Octonion. Just because something has a star rating above where you are atm, does not mean you should not watch it.

      I did exactly as you suggested when I first saw “Summer Wars”. It was above my level but after I saw it once with subtitles—I have gone back periodically to watch raw. I have found it rewarding each time.

  5. If you want epic action, gorgeous visuals, and amazing sound then I would also recommend Karas (2005-2007). It’s a dark action show about a warrior known as Karas who protects the fragile balance between our world and the youkai realm from evil that threatens to shatter it.

    Karas is a 6 part OVA series but it is also sold as two movies called Karas: The Prophecy(1st) and Karas: The Revelation(2nd) which is just the OVA without any new footage and with nothing cut out.

    Just check out the opening of the show for yourself below. Yes, this is the very first scene of the 1st movie and it is one of my favorite action scenes ever.

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