The concept of anime has long been a topic of controversy among fans. In Japan, the term “anime” is literally Japanese for animation, regardless of media context or origin. But outside Japan, the word has come to be directly related to the animation created in Japan or by Japanese creators. Quick forward to today, and there are anime-specific streaming platforms like Crunchyroll and Funimation, the latter of which is a long-standing North American anime distribution company. But beyond that, streaming platforms that cater to a broader spectrum of audiences than just anime enthusiasts have started to incorporate anime into their rotation, realizing that the medium is becoming more and more prevalent in our culture. Right now there are anime movies on Netflix that run from old classics to new hits to works made exclusively for Netflix. Here are some of the greatest anime films to watch.
1. Godzilla: Planet of the Monsters
After more than 60 years and more than 30 films, Planet of the Monsters is the first animated film in the Godzilla franchise and the first film in a series about the future where humans are seeking to re-colonize Earth 20,000 years after Godzilla took over the planet. While the CGI animation may take some time to get used to, there are some gorgeous shots and beautiful action scenes that can also come up against the King of the Monsters’ big-budget live-action. This trilogy is also true of the initial movies in the franchise, in that it’s more of a creature thriller than a full-time action. Planet of the Monsters and its sequel also ask some fascinating questions about morality and religion by two alien beings in battle, while at the same time offering us a real science-fiction epic about a giant beast with an amazing soundtrack.
Many who are familiar with video games can recognize the title NiNoKuni, which includes a variety of fantasy role-playing games. The film, directed by Studio Ghibli animator Yoshiyuki Momose and featuring music by Hayao Miyazaki’s long-time collaborator Joe Hisaishi, as a stand-alone story separate from any of the game plots. In it, childhood friends Yu and Haru fly to a dream universe to rescue their dying friend Kotona, who has a counterpart in this world who is also in trouble. This alternate universe is packed with cute fairy characters, grave hazards, and a lot of sorcery. So again, even though Studio Ghibli videos are not available on Netflix, those who enjoy the look and sound of works like Howl’s Traveling Castle or the Castle in the Sky can find that NiNoKuni promises a similar exciting mystical adventure. It is useful to remember that audiences do not need to be familiar with the game series in order to appreciate this show.
3. Expelled from Paradise
In the future, after a global catastrophe has destroyed the World, much of mankind has abandoned their physical bodies and migrated in digital form to DEVA, an advanced space station orbiting the devastated planet. Free from the constraints of conventional life, such as death and starvation, the residents of this augmented reality live in relative peace until Frontier Setter, a professional programmer, infiltrates the system and broadcasts subversive messages to the population. Described as a danger to security by the police, Frontier Setter is being pursued by Angela Balzac, a committed member of DEVA’s law enforcement agency. When the hacker’s signal is traced to Earth, Angela takes on a physical form, transfers her consciousness to a clone body, and flies to the world below to deal with the threat. On Earth, she is aided by Dingo, a charismatic agent, and on her quest to uncover the secret behind Frontier Setter, she eventually learns some of humanity’s shocking truths regarding the wasteland.
4. Flavors of Youth
Relationships are at the center of the three stories in the Chinese-Japanese anthology film Youth Varieties. The film is divided into three vignettes: “The Rice Noodles,” “The Little Fashion Show,” and “Love in Shanghai.” All three are set in various parts of modern China, but they take plenty of time to look at each character’s history as well. In The Rice Noodles, Xiao Ming’s monologues about time spent with his grandma eating San Xian noodles, lamenting his failure to find the same taste after he’s grown up and moved out of his parents ‘ house. “A Little Fashion Show” examines the friendship between a famous model, Yu Lin, who is providing her younger sister, Lu Lu Lu, with a fashion design fantasy. Yu Lin is putting herself under additional pressure, afraid that her age would get in the way of her future. She starves herself while Lu Lu is trying to remind her to take care of herself.
5. Gantz: O
Gantz: O is a 2016 Japanese CGI Science Fiction Anime Action film, by Yasushi Kawamura, based on Hiroya Oku’s Gantz series of mangas. Masaru and Kei Kurono.Death doesn’t have to be the end; one can live again, but only by winning the game of the black ball called Gantz. On his way home to celebrate the birthday of his younger brother, a courageous and kind student named Masaru Katou is stabbed to death. He wakes up in a tiny room with a view of the cityscape in the center of Tokyo — and he’s not alone. To his dismay, it’s not the afterlife, just the waiting room for a high stakes game with their lives on the table. Until he has the opportunity to process the situation, Masaru is handed a pistol and teleported to the middle of Osaka to perform one specific task: to erase some alien from sight. Supported by the aged Yoshikazu Suzuki, the beautiful idol Reika Shimohira, and the cold but skilled Jouichirou Nishi, Masaru must overcome his fears to survive the game and return home to his waiting brother.
6. Inuyasha the Movie: Affections Touching Across Time
Aside from stand-alone movies, there are a number of movies that relate to beloved anime films, such as Inuyasha. Rumiko Takahashi’s acerbic dog demon fans are fortunate since Netflix currently has all four Inuyasha movies available for download. It is best to start at the beginning, though, with the first of these films: Affections Touching Over Time. In this film, a demon called Menomaru was released from prison to take revenge against Inuyasha, whose father had defeated Menomaru ‘s father 200 years ago. Under the enchantment of Menomaru’s lackeys, Kagome ends up pinning Inuyasha back to the tree where she found him at the beginning of the anime season. Her remorse and some exhilaration from Inuyasha’s former boyfriend, Kikyo, drives Kagome back to her own period, the modern age, where she discovers that she can still connect with Inuyasha over time, and finds the courage to return to the feudal era and help her friends fight the demon that threatens them all.
Yeah, Blame! The 2017 Japanese CGI anime science fiction action film directed by Hiroyuki Seshita, based on a manga series. Civilization has reached its final Net-based form in the far technological future. An “infection” in the past has led automatic structures to spin out of control, resulting in a multi-level city layout that is infinitely repeated in all directions. Humanity has now lost access to city controls and is being tracked down and purged by the security mechanism known as the Safeguard. In a tiny corner of the city, a small ghetto known as the Electro-Fishers is facing imminent extinction, caught between the threat of the Safeguard and the diminishing supply of food. A girl named Zuru goes on a quest to find food for her village, only to unintentionally cause her doom when the observation tower detects her and summons a Safeguard pack to remove the threat. With her friends dead and all escape routes closed, the only thing that can save her now is a surprise appearance.
8. Berserk: The Golden Age Arc
Netflix is certainly short on anime features relative to some of the other streaming services out there — though it does have a fairly good anime series list — this one should make for a nice start. It’s a dark fantasy tale influenced by medieval Europe, featuring bloody wars, over-the-top heroes and antagonists, and wider mythology than you’ll find in other contemporary animation films. There is also quite a turning, reversing the evolution of political machinations and personal desires that goes through it all. Those viewers can’t skip the three films that match the manga’s “Golden Age” arc, all of which are available on Netflix. The first chapter of this series of films, The Egg of the King, follows the series protagonist Guts, who finds himself compelled to join the company of Griffith, leader of the Hawk Band. The two men come across a demon called Nosferatu Zodd, who warns Guts of Griffith. There’s lots of suspense and aggression, when a botched assassination attempt pushes Guts to do something that, even though he’s a seasoned mercenary, fills him with remorse and regret. The Egg of the King sets the tone for the fraught relationship between Guts and Griffith, so fans may want to follow this episode with The War of Doldrey and The Advent, thereby completing the arc.
10. Miss Hokusai
In the West, as most people think of cartoons, they think of children’s shows, colorful adventures, or even thrilling action, but they don’t really think of biopics. Although the assets bought by Netflix don’t get as much coverage as their original content, this one is worth your time. Miss Hokusai was awarded the Audience Prize at the Fantasia Film Festival and the Jury Award at the Annecy Film Festival. Miss Hokusai follows the life of Oei Katsushika, whom you might not know because she lived under the shadow of her father, Katsushika Hokusai, one of the most prominent Asian painters in the West (you may remember her for the painting “The Great Wave off Kanagawa”). The film is described as a collection of strip-of-life vignettes that follow Oei’s life and career, with diverse topics such as art, faith, sexuality, and even the supernatural. The 2D animation of Production I.G (Ghost in the Shell) makes this a beautiful film, bringing the viewer in the middle of the Edo era without any need for something.
11. Castle Of Cagliostro
Castle Of Cagliostro is the first feature film written and directed by Princess Mononoke creator Hayao Miyazaki, one of the few films “Walt Disney of Japan” focused on the work of another creator. The characters come directly from the famous Lupin III manga and anime series created by the pseudonymous artist Monkey Punch. By the time Miyazaki was given a shot at the franchise, Super Thief Lupin, his laconic partner Jigen, their competitor/collaborator Fujiko, and their obsessed pursuer Detective Zenigata were already celebrities in Japan, with a successful comic-book movie, two TV series, and two theatre films — one of them live-acting — already in production. Miyazaki, who wrote and directed a couple of TV series, remained faithful to Lupin’s past and frantic modus operandi, but he made him a young romantic who doesn’t hesitate to abandon anything to help a pretty girl in distress.
12. Mary and the Witch’s Flower
Mary And The Witch’s Flower is all but indistinguishable from the films that her director, Hiromasa Yonebayashi, made in Ghibli: The Secret World Of Arrietty and When Marnie Was There. In other words, it’s a kind of Ghibli Lite — not as transporting as the finest work of Miyazaki or his co-founder, Isao Takahata, but a gently refreshing break from the hectic plasticity that now dominates Hollywood computer animation, and even most other animes. Yonebayashi obviously enjoys children’s books written by English women who have provided the source material for all three of his features to date. Adapted from Mary Stewart’s 1971 novel The Little Broomstick, Mary And The Witch’s Flower takes place in some unidentified rural location on the outskirts of the forest, where Mary (spoken by Ruby Barnhill in English dubbed version) and her great-aunt Charlotte (Lynda Baron) are waiting for school to begin and her parents to return. Mary’s journey starts as she leads a neighbor’s cat through the forest and discovers a small broom hiding in the trees along with some oddly colorful flowers. The flowers turn out to be sorcery, the broom comes to life (in a less frightening manner than Mickey Mouse had to deal with), and Mary quickly finds herself at the Endor School for Witches and Warlocks, where the headmaster (Kate Winslet) and the insane scientist (Jim Broadbent) confuse her for their newest student.