Want some recommendations on what to watch? Check out these best Japanese cartoon movies you can watch!
Anime or Japanese cartoon movies are extremely popular all across the globe today. These movies have today reached a wide audience and worldwide fame.
Best Japanese Cartoon Movies: Quick Summary
|Best Japanese Cartoon Movies||Genre||Age Rating||Editor’s Rating|
|Spirited Away||Science Fiction and Fantasy||13+||8.6/10|
|Princess Mononoke||Science Fiction and Fantasy||13+||8.4/10|
|My Neighbour Totoro||Fantasy||All ages||8.2/10|
|Castle in the Sky||Fantasy||7+||8/10|
|Porco Rosso||Action, Adventure, Romance||13+||7.7/10|
|The Wind Rises||Drama||13+||7.8/10|
|The Tale of Princess Kaguya||Drama and Fantasy||13+||8/10|
|Howl’s Moving Castle||Fantasy||7+||8.2/10|
|5 Centimeters Per Second||Popular Romance||7+||7.6/10|
I am a huge fan of Japanese cartoon characters. I’ve watched all the popular anime, read all the amazing manga and also some great Japanese cartoons. The storyline and plot are so well-made, you cannot help but fall in love with them.
With so many Japanese shows and cartoons to choose from, I don’t think you’d ever run out of options. And there’s no chance these cartoon movies will bore you! You can definitely watch the best Japanese cartoon movies to learn Japanese if you’re really interested.
Are you a fan too? If not, I highly suggest that you check out the best Japanese cartoon movies that I have compiled below. I am sure you will fall in love with Japanese anime movies after you watch them.
Which is the best Japanese cartoon movie?
- Spirited Away
- Princess Mononoke
- My Neighbor Totoro
- Castle in the Sky
- Porco Rosso
- The Wind Rises
- The Tale of Princess Kaguya
- Howl’s Moving Castle
- 5 Centimeter per second
Top Japanese Cartoon Movies
Genre: Children and Family | Age Rating: 13+ | Editor’s rating: 8.6
Spirited Away is the only Japanese animation movie to win the Best Animated Feature Oscar. The anime movie is a true masterpiece that has gained fame all over the world for its excellent storyline.
The movie is also one of the highest-grossing Japanese anime movies of all time. It is a coming-of-age story that features the story of a young girl named Chihiro. The young girl accidentally finds herself in the spirit world after she takes a stop on the way to her new home.
When she reaches the spirit world, she starts working for a witch named Yubaba who has turned her parents into pigs. She hopes that by working for the witch she can free herself and her parents from the spirit world and return back to the human world. It is one of the best Japanese animated films.
Spirited Away is the most favourite anime of everyone. My personal favourite character is Chihiro and I was really inspired by her when I saw this movie for the first time.
- Only Japanese animation movie to win the Best Animated Feature Oscar
- True masterpiece
- Has gained worldwide fame
- One of the highest-grossing Japanese anime movies
- Coming-of-age story
- Features the story of a girl named Chihiro
Genre: Science Fiction and Fantasy | Age Rating: 13+ | Editors Rating: 8.4
Princess Mononoke was one of the most famous anime movies in Japan when it first released in 1997. It has not lost its charm ever since and is still a favorite amongst Japanese cartoon movie lovers.
The movie was created by director Hayao Miyazaki, and it is believed that it took Miyazaki almost two decades to build the plot and make this masterpiece. It is a fantasy movie with two central characters – Prince Ashitaka and a young woman named San.
San is a woman who has been raised by the wolves. In the movie, you can see the exciting conflict between nature and humans. The thrilling storyline and plot will surely keep you hooked. My favourite Ghibli movie so far!
- Released in 1997 and became an instant hit
- Created by director Hayao Miyazaki
- Took almost two decades to finalize the plot
- Fantasy movie
- Two central characters – Prince Ashitaka and a young woman, San
- Exciting conflict between nature and humans
- Thrilling storyline and plot
Related: Best Manga Recommendations
My Neighbor Totoro
Genre: Fantasy | Age Rating: All ages | Editors Rating: 8.2
My Neighbor Totoro is one of the loveliest Japanese cartoon movies you will ever watch. The movie is exceptionally popular and well-loved all across the planet.
The fantasy film is based in Saitama Prefecture. The story is of a family who moves to a rural village. The family consists of an elementary school goer, Satsuki, her younger sister Mei and their father, Tatsuo.
The fun begins when the kids meet a mythical creature, Totoro. If you have not watched this fun movie yet, you need to go watch it right now. It is one of the best japanese cartoon movies on netflix.
- One of the loveliest Japanese anime movies of all time
- Exceptionally popular
- Fantasy film
- Movie is based in Saitama Prefecture
- Story of a family who moves to a rural village
- Story of Satsuki, Mei, and their father
Castle in the Sky
Genre: Fantasy | Age Rating: 7+ | Editors Rating: 8
The story of Castle in the Sky is inspired by the famous Gulliver’s Travels. The name Laputa in the movie comes from this novel.
The movie follows the story of two kids, Princess Sheeta and Pazu. Pazu is a boy who is obsessed with aviation. The story shows how these two kids try to reach the last floating city in the sky.
The exciting adventure also consists of sky pirates who are after the treasure of the long-abandoned fortress. The movie has everything in it that is required to make it a must-watch movie for all.
No matter what your age is, this is one movie that should definitely be on your watch list. This is one of the most engaging movie to watch for kids! It’s pretty much like Gulliver’s Travels and I loved it.
- Inspired by Gulliver’s Travels
- Name of the main character is taken from the novel
- Follows the story of two kids, Princess Sheeta and Pazu
- Exciting adventure that consists of pirates who are after the treasure of the long-abandoned fortress
- Perfect for people of all ages
Genre: Action, Adventure, and Romance | Age Rating: 13+ | Editors Rating: 7.7
Porco Rosso is a Japanese cartoon movie that is based on a Manga. The storyline revolves around an Italian WWI ex-fighter ace. The main character in the movie is now working as a freelance bounty hunter.
However, you can expect a nice twist in this movie. The pilot has been transformed into a pig by an unusual curse.
This twist adds a whole new level of fun to the movie. The hunter’s name is Porco Rosso, which in Italian means Red Pig. The story depicts the fun and adventure he has in his plane.
- Based on a manga
- Revolves around an Italian WWI ex-fighter ace
- Transformed into a pig by an unusual curse
- Exciting and adventurous story
The Wind Rises
Genre: Drama | Age Rating: 13+ | Editors Rating: 7.8
The Wind Rises is one of the best movies of all time. The movie features a different kind of maturity that is hardly seen in other movies. The love story leaves a desire in you.
However, apart from love and romance, the story also touches upon themes of grief and guilt. With everything merged together beautifully in a well-worked upon storyline and plot,
The Wind Rises is one movie you will want to rewatch time and again. It is most definitely the best Japanese cartoon movies of all time for all the youngsters.
- Features a different kind of maturity
- Contains a love story that awakens a desire in you
- Contains themes of grief and guilt
- Everything is merged together into a wonderful plot
The Tale of Princess Kaguya
Genre: Drama and Fantasy | Age Rating: 13+ | Editors Rating: 8
The Tale of Princess Kaguya is based on a Japanese folktale, The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter. It is the story of a bamboo cutter who finds a girl in the shoot of bamboo.
The girl grows up quite fast and the bamboo cutter along with his wife decides to raise the girl as their own child. It’s one of my favourite Japanese cartoon movies that is very well picrturised. I literally had to hold back my tears because of the plot line. It has multiple interpretations wrapped in metaphors.
- Based on a Japanese folktale, The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter
- Story of a girl found in a shoot of bamboo
- Girl orders suitors to prove love by completing different tasks.
Howl’s Moving Castle
Genre: Fantasy | Age Rating: 7+ | Editors Rating: 8.2
The movie is one of the top-grossing anime movies in Japan that is appreciated by everyone across the planet. The movie is based on a British novel of the same name written by Diana Wynne Jones.
The movie depicts the story of a heroine named Sophie who is transformed into a 90-year-old woman by a witch’s curse. The adventurous plot shows the story of this woman, the main character Howl and the moving castle.
If you love some excellent and grippy Japanese cartoon movies, this is definitely the one that you should check out. It is one of the best Japanese cartoon movies. I loved the scene when Sophie and Howl are together.
- One of the top-grossing anime movies
- Based on a British novel by Diana Wynne Jones
- Depicts the story of a heroine named Sophie
- Heroine is transformed into a 90-year-old woman by a witch’s curse
- Adventurous plot
Genre: Animal | Age Rating: 7+ | Editors Rating: 7.7
Ponyo is a beautiful story that is perfect for people of all ages. No matter how young or how old you are, this movie will bring joy to your heart.
The story revolves around a little goldfish who falls in love with a human boy. After falling in love, she desires to turn into a human girl.
The fantasy movie has a charm of its own that will delight you for sure. You will be hooked to the movie right from the start until the movie ends. If you are looking for quick and fun entertainment, go watch Ponyo today!
- Perfect for people of all ages
- Revolves around a goldfish who falls in love with a human boy
- Desires to be turned into a human girl
- Fantasy movie
- Charming and wonderful storyline
5 Centimeters Per Second
Genre: Popular Romance | Age Rating: 7+ | Editors Rating: 7.6
This is a must-watch Japanese cartoon movie that has literally taken the world by storm. The movie is loved all across the globe by lovers of anime. The cartoon movie is divided into three short parts – Cherry Blossom, Cosmonaut, and 5 Centimeters per Second.
The central character of the movie is a boy named Takaki. The three parts divide the love story of Takaki. The first part depicts Takaki’s first love with a girl named Akari. He falls in love with her in elementary school.
In the second part, his life after that is focused on. The final part depicts the time when the two of them have grown up. Here is where you reach the climax of the story. The movie is a beautiful depiction of love and romance minus all things supernatural and battles. It is amongst the best Japanese cartoon movies for kids.
- Divided into three short parts
- Revolves around a boy named Takaki
- Depicts the love story of Takaki
- Beautiful depiction of love and romance
Akira is one of the oldest cartoon movies that’s a psychic movie and is an adaptation of Katsuhiro Otomo’s manga of the same name. It involves Biker Kaneda helps his friend Tetsuo who was involved in a secret government project. Tetsuo has super natural powers which takes a great twist at the end.
The movie is extremely captivating and the graphics are awesome. Akira kept me staring at the screen till the very end. There’s a scene where the character pits out blood. Although the scene is gory but the details are intense and apt. It’s a must watch.
Which is the best Japanese cartoon movie?
I’ve watched various different Japanese cartoon movies and I found Princess Mononoke to be the best Japanese cartoon movie for it’s plot, character development as well as graphics.
Princess Mononoke came out in 1997 and was created by director Hayao Miyazaki, and it is believed that it took Miyazaki almost two decades to build the plot and make this masterpiece. It is a fantasy movie with two central characters – Prince Ashitaka and a young woman named San. San is a woman who has been raised by the wolves. In the movie, you can see the exciting conflict between nature and humans.
Best Japanese Cartoon Movies: FAQ
Is Princess Mononoke worth watching?
Yes, Princess Mononoke is worth watching because of it’s plot line and character development. It’s a simple story about good and evil that also combines the coming together of forest, nature, animals and humans. It’s visually innovative and can be watched by kids as well as adults.
Is Spirited Away a good movie for kids?
Spirited Away can be watched by kids as well as adults but some children might want to avoid it due to horror scenes. Parental guidance is recommended when watching the movie.
Ready with your watchlist?
These were some of the best Japanese cartoon movies that you must definitely watch. Whether you are already into Japanese anime or are just beginning with this craze, these movies are perfect for you. So, have you added them all to your watchlist?