15 Best Classic Anime Movies

No matter how many new anime movies I watch, there is something special about classic anime movies 2000s. The further back we go, the better classics we get, like watching those classic anime movies 90s or 80s anime movies. So in today’s list, I am going to recommend 15 of the best classic anime movies that you must watch at least once.

These movies played a major role in bringing anime into the mainstream. They all deserve to be viewed by you at least once, especially if you are an avid anime watcher. Let’s dive into the list and pick those that fall under your favorite genre or themes. 

15 Unforgettable Classic Anime Movies You Need to Watch 


  • Most of the timeless classics are those 90s and 80s anime movies. 
  • There are a bunch of great movies that came out recently, but none of them touched on the 90s anime aesthetic. 
  • Most of the hits in the classic anime movies 2000s collections are Hayao Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli’s works.

15. Kiki’s Delivery Service

Kiki’s Delivery Service- Classic anime movies on Netflix
Source: Kiki’s Delivery Service movie

Have you ever thought about what you would do if you had magical powers? Of course, gaining wealth and fame, fighting evil people, healing poor people, etc. But our main character, Kiki, has something else in mind. She decides to open a delivery service for real.

The movie follows the story of Kiki, a young witch who just moved to a new town with her talking cat. Like all witches, she needs to spend a year alone and learn magical spells on her own. So, Kiki begins delivering things to others using her flying broom.

Her new life is filled with more responsibilities and challenges. So, watch this one of the best classic anime movies on Netflix and witness her magical delivery service.

14. Redline

Source: redline movie

Are you a fan of racing and want to discover classic movies about racing? If yes, then you are in luck today. Redline is one of the best classic Japanese anime movies to watch in the racing genre. The movie is set in a universe where a highly prestigious yet dangerous race event takes place every five years.

The race is going to be organized at Roboworld, and our main character, JP, is taking part in it. There is no rule to follow in the race, and everyone is allowed to do as they wish to win. In order to win the race, a participant just needs to cross the finish line first. So, watch this classic movie and enjoy its thrilling race

13. Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust

vampire hunter d bloodlust- Classic anime movies 2000s
Source: vampire hunter d bloodlust movie

You have already watched a bunch of popular vampire anime, but have you watched any good vampire anime movies? If not, then don’t worry, try this one from the best classic anime movies 2000s. The movie is set in a world where humans hire vampire hunters to hunt down vampires.

One day, a vampire abducts a human girl named Charlotte, leaving her father with no choice but to hire a vampire hunter. So, her father hires D, a half-human, half-vampire, and the Marcus brothers to bring his daughter back.

However, it’s not as simple as these vampire hunters think, because Charlotte is in love with that vampire. Now, it’s very interesting to see what these vampire hunters are going to do, especially our main character, D.

12. My Neighbor Totoro

My Neighbour Totoro- one of the best 80s anime movies
Source: My Neighbour Totoro movie

Now, my next recommendation is very special for kids and comes from my ultimate collection of 80s anime movies. My Neighbor Totoro is definitely one of the best anime movies for kids to watch, produced by Studio Ghibli. It has everything to offer kids: a lighthearted story, lovable magical creatures, and young main characters.

The movie follows the adventures of two young girls who move to the countryside with their father. In this new home, they befriend Totoro and other magical spirits, whom they find quite hilarious.

Along with doing fun activities and enjoying a good time, they all also engage in finding a cure for the girls’ mother. So if you have kids or younger siblings, you must watch this movie and enjoy it with them.

11. Whisper of the Heart 

whisper of the Heart- best 90s anime aesthetics
Source: whisper of the Heart movie

If you want to see 90s anime aesthetics with some valuable life lessons, then you must watch Whisper of the Heart. It is one of the best anime movies with deep meaning that will motivate you towards your dreams.

The movie follows the story of two teenagers, Shizuku, a girl who loves writing, and Seiji, a boy who loves playing the violin. After seeing Seiji’s immense passion for the violin, Shizuku feels very motivated and decides to be serious about her dream of becoming a lyricist as well.

As they spend time together, they teach each other how to master their skills and become the best. So, if you lack motivation in your career, then watching this Studio Ghibli’s movie is a great option for you.

10. Perfect Blue 

perfect blue
Source: perfect blue movie

In the world of psychology, Perfect Blue is truly the best and one of the must-watch classic anime movies 90s. The movie perfectly showcases the beautiful and ugliest sides of the entertainment industry. It follows Mima, a pop singer with many fans who adore and appreciate her.

However, she takes a major risk in her career by switching from being a singer to an actress. As she begins her acting career, she starts being stalked by one of her fans, who is not happy with her career switch. Mima then engages in a series of mysterious events and gradually loses her grip on reality.

Satoshi Kon, the movie’s creator, leaves no stone unturned in confusing viewers with the thin line between reality and imagination

9. Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind 

nausicaa of the valley of the wind
Source: nausicaa of the valley of the wind movie

Now, moving on to Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind, one of the best classic anime movies on Netflix. Because of its humanistic main character and strong environmental theme, the movie received huge appreciation from fans. The movie is set in a valley surrounded by a toxic jungle and has no connection with the outside world.

When an aircraft mistakenly drops humanity’s powerful weapon in the valley, the outside world begins invading to retrieve that weapon. Now, Nausicaa, a young girl, tries her best to prevent the weapons from being handed over to them. To do that, she uses her special ability to communicate with the insects and animals living in the toxic jungle.

8. Lupin III: The Castle of Cagliostro

LUPIN lll the castle of cagliostro
Source: LUPIN lll the castle of cagliostro movie

Have you ever imagined how great or classic a 70s movie could be? If not, then watch Lupin III: The Castle of Cagliostro. It was the directorial debut of Hayao Miyazaki, and that’s why this film is referred to as one of the best classic Japanese anime movies.

The movie depicts the adventure of Lupin, a gentleman thief who usually engages in stealing. After learning about the counterfeit money, he takes an interest in its source and immediately goes to Cagliostro along with his buddy Jigen.

As he begins his search, Lupin fortunately meets Clarisse, a runaway princess who holds information about the hidden treasure. Now, Lupin decides to help her escape forced marriage and find both the counterfeit secret and hidden treasure.

7. Princess Mononoke

Princess Mononoke
Source: Princess Mononoke movie

No one can beat the 90s anime aesthetic, and that’s why fans are still enjoying those classic Japanese anime movies. Princess Mononoke is one of them and also one of the best anime movies everyone should watch, produced by Studio Ghibli.

The movie mainly revolves around the ongoing conflict between humans and forest gods over forest resources. On the one hand, humans want to bring civilization by cutting down forests. On the other side, forest gods try their best to save the animals and spirits of the forest from becoming homeless.

Out of nowhere, a young prince named Ashitaka finds himself in the middle of their conflicts and decides to bring peace between them. To do that, he seeks help from a wolf goddess and her daughter, Princess Mononoke.

6. Ghost in the Shell

GHOST IN THE SHELL- one of the top Classic anime movies 90s
Source: GHOST IN THE SHELL movie

Ghost in the Shell is one of the first classic anime movies 90s that shows what a powerful female lead looks like. This movie elevates the popularity of the mecha genre among fans through its advanced technology, epic action, and captivating visuals.

The movie follows the action-packed adventure of Motoko, a female cyborg who is incredibly skilled at gunfighting. She is on a mission to hunt down a mastermind who is manipulating human memories by hacking their brains.

It’s quite unusual to see how someone with no human brain can save those with human brains. So, watch the movie and witness Motoko’s coolness and how she turned a regular epic mecha anime film into a classic.

5. Howl’s Moving Castle

Howls moving castle-
Source: Howls moving castle movie

No matter what type of anime movies you are looking for, you will always find Hayao Miyazaki’s movies there. So, Howl’s Moving Castle is one of his best classic anime movies 2000s that you should watch. The movie revolves around Sophie’s thrilling journey to break the witch’s curse and return to her young self.

While searching for the cure, she meets a bunch of magical creatures and a wizard named Howl. She then unintentionally gets involved in the kingdom’s ongoing war with the neighboring kingdom.

Now she has two goals to achieve: first, to save her life, and second, to return to her normal self. If you love fantasy, adventure, and female leads, then you must watch this movie. 

4. Akira

Source: Akira movie

Now moving on to Akira, one of the best 80s anime movies of all time. This movie plays a major role in altering the perception of the anime medium among western audiences. Its complex themes, dystopian world-building, and epic action scenes prove that anime is more than just a Japanese cartoon.

The movie follows the gritty story of two friends, Kaneda and Tetsuo, who love bike riding and have their own bike gang. In a major bike accident, Tetsuo suddenly gains psychic powers and decides to use them for evil purposes.

Now, Akira must stop his friend at any cost before he brings destruction to the city. If you enjoy action and bike riding, then you must watch this classic sci-fi movie.

3. Your Name

Your name
Source: Your Name movie

Before the release of Makoto Shinkai’s Your Name, no one had ever imagined in their dreams that anime could be so beautiful. That’s why I am very confident to say that Your Name is truly the best anime movie with beautiful scenery.

It’s not just great in terms of Japanese animation and art style; the story and characters of the movie are also quite captivating. The movie follows the daily lives of two teenagers who are completely different from each other. They both are very bored with their current lives and are expecting something different and interesting.

And that’s where the magic happens, and they suddenly begin swapping bodies with each other. With every swap, they learn more about each other and discover something new about the world. Lastly, its ending is worth watching, and I bet you can’t guess what’s going to happen in the end.

2. Grave of the Fireflies

Grave of the fireflies- one of the best Classic Japanese anime movies
Source: Grave of the fireflies movie

Whether you are an avid anime fan or just started watching anime, you must try out Grave of the Fireflies. It is one of the best anime movies for non-anime fans, produced by Studio Ghibli. It will present you with the saddest war story ever.

The movie is set in a Japanese city where war has been taking place and focuses on the survival of two siblings. After losing their parents in the war, the elder brother tries his best to save himself and his younger sister. However, the enemy’s weapons are not the only challenge for them.

They must find food, shelter, and other necessary things to survive. Their survival journey is filled with terror, sadness, and emotions that will make you cry for them. So watch this one of the best classic Japanese anime movies of all time and witness the consequences of war

1. Spirited Away

Source: SPIRITED AWAY movie

Talking about classic anime movies 2000s, how could I forget to add the Oscar-winning movie, Spirited Away? This movie brought the popularity of the anime medium to its peak by winning an Oscar. The movie is set in a magical world where a young girl named Chihiro has been trapped with her parents.

Her parents were turned into pigs by a witch, leaving Chihiro no choice but to work under her as the witch’s assistant. Now she must work hard to find a way to turn her parents back to normal and bring them back to the real world.

However, it’s a challenging task for her, as she has no idea what this magical world is filled with. So, join Chihiro’s adventure, which is filled with thrills, magic, and mysteries.

Final Notes:

Here, I wrap up our list of the 15 best classic anime movies you need to watch. I hope you found this anime movie recommendation useful and found something to your taste. Whether you love action, adventure, fantasy, drama, or anything else, you will find everything on this list. Stay tuned with us for more wonderful recommendations and anime write-ups. Thanks for reading it so far! 


1. Where can I watch classic animated Christmas movies?

There are a bunch of classic animated Christmas movies available to watch, such as Santa Claus is Coming to Town, Frosty the Snowman, and Mister Magoo’s Christmas Carol. You can watch all these animated films on Amazon Prime Video and Apple TV.

2. Which are the must-watch classic anime movies?

Each movie has its own reason to be referred to as a classic and influential anime movie. It’s totally up to your interest what to choose. However, Spirited Away and Howl’s Moving Castle can be considered must-watch classic anime films.

1 thought on “15 Best Classic Anime Movies”

  1. Frederick S Hintze

    My favorite anime movies I recommend are Spirited Away, Kiki’s Delivery Service and Princess Mononoke. I also recommend are Sailor Moon R Promise of the Rose, Final Yamato, and Strike Witches the movie.

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