Having two young Anime buffs in our house, we thought we would share our top 10 Anime films which are (mostly) family friendly.
Our family love a film night, but when that night includes anime then it ticks all the boxes for us, magic, mystery, intrigue, fantasy, morality and great artwork.
When discussing what anime movies would be good for a family who have never watched anime, that's where it becomes difficult as there are sooooooo many to choose from, as with everything, it depends on that individuals taste.
Some anime may seem completely bonkers, talking animals, spirits, odd looking humans (especially when it comes to the older generation portrayed in these style of movies).
But as with most lists like these, they are completely subject to our personal taste and what we think are good movies for all the family.
There is a problem is some cases where an Anime series has made a movie, but unless you have watched the series , you wont understand the film as quite often the film starts at some later point in the series where the characters have been all introduced and fleshed out as it were, meaning the film versions don't need to do this. So, as a beginner you will be left confused - which is why we have left so many of these out of this list.
Now, when it comes to family friendly most anime fans wouldn't be surprised to see more than a few Hayao Miyazaki films on this list - the director of Studio Ghibli (almost comparable to Disney in the Anime world) as well as Mamoru Hosoda, these two directors have decades of masterpiece works and specifically target the family friendly genre and as we love Studio Ghibli works, we may as well begin with them at the top of the list.
Yes, we know its a given, but Spirited Away was for many the first introduction to Anime (in the Western world anyway). The film centres on a young girl called Chihiro whose mother and father have decided to move them to a small town in the countryside. On their journey to their new home, Chihiro's father makes a wrong turn, ending up in a dead-end road at the mouth of a tunnel.
The family's exploration leads to many a surprising and magical turn of events including parents being turned to pigs, dragons, spirits, witches and soot sprites.
This is a film that can be watched by all, at any time of the day. Its a story about love, respect and growth of understanding.
Hayao Miyazaki, the director of this (and most of Studio Ghibli work) has an amazing talent of bringing not only the characters to life, but sucking the viewer into these brilliant masterpieces so effortlessly that you will find it hard not to fall completely in love with his work.
Now this might surprise some of you Anime fans out there, but this truly is in our second place spot...why?
This film may actually be better for those who have never been introduced to anime before as the foundations of the story and the artwork aren't so fantastical as Spirited Away, but definitely has as much heart and beauty as any studio Ghibli film out there.
The film concentrates on a young woman who falls in love with a mysterious man from her college - no spoilers here but he is a werewolf, no, not the kind that turns into a monster on a full moon, but one who can turn into a wolf at any point, especially if they need food and he has to hunt for his new family.
Much to her delight (and obvious concern) she becomes pregnant and gives birth to werewolf children who come with their own very special "gifts". The story has many very moving, uplifting, hilarious and heart warming parts and is especially good for families of young children as you will see some of the struggles their family go through can be mirrored by your own. Mamoru Hosoda, the director of this amazing film has done many great works, all of which centre on self discovery, heart warming (and breaking) scenes that will make you feel emotions that may shock the uninitiated.
Kiki's Delivery Service
Yes another Ghibli movie, get used to it. Kiki's Delivery Service is a delightful film about a young witch named Kiki who at the age of 13 has to leave her family for a year and live in a different city to gain independence and complete her training.
This film has no villain for the protagonist to worry about, this story is more about "coming of age", watching how a young girl deals with different circumstances, making friends and gaining responsibility as her year progresses.
Jiji, her black cat (of course), provides good comedic relief in parts and having a great Japanese cast as well as household names like Kirsten Dunst providing the English dubbed versions of the characters, there's nothing much that can be negatively said about this film, but to be completely honest, young boys and girls who are into more action type films may become disinterested at points in this film.
The girl who leapt through time
Another Mamoru Hosoda movie, actually his first. This is about a school girl who gets the power to travel through time, and as most who would attain this power, starts off using it to her own benefit, but as with a lot of time travelling theories (and films such as Groundhog Day) she comes to realise what messing with time can result in.
This film is more geared toward families with older children, but can be enjoyed by all.
It is funny, thoughtful and extremely enjoyable to watch, as with all the movies on this list, the scenery and artistry is gob smacking - definitely a must watch.
Mary and The Witch's Flower
Now this film we were lucky enough to go to one of the first UK screenings of in London and we must say it was great.
The story is based on a book written by Mary Stewert called "The Little Broomstick" and was adapted excellently by Hiromasa Yonebayashi and Studio Ponoc. It follows a young adventurous girl called Mary who moves in with her Great Aunt Charlotte while her parents are away. When exploring the local area she finds a rare flower that turns her into a witch temporally. This story has a Ghibli-esque type feel to it, very innocent and a pleasure to watch.
This is Studio Ghibli's tenth film and what a wonderful one it is too.
This story follows a curious yet cute little figure called Brunhide, who lives underwater with her once human scientist father and lots of younger siblings. She wonders off one day and becomes trapped in a glass jar which drifts to shore, where she is found by a little boy called Sosuke. Our little hero smashes the jar and cuts his finger, Brunhide licks the wound and it heals. So pleased with this and his new found "pet" who he called Ponyo, Sosuke takes her home and a budding friendship is born.
This tale is about friendship, a parents love as well as the rebellious nature of our young ones. Once again, Studio Ghibli knows its audience and doesn't disappoint this raw and beautiful story has an impressive English voice over cast that includes Matt Damon, Liam Neeson and Cate Blanchett - amazing.
The Boy and the Beast
Once again Mamoru Hosoda creates an indulgent and awe inspiring animation where two worlds collide.
It follows a 9 year old boy by the name of Ren whose mother has died and his father is no-where to be found. Feeling lonely and refusing to live in foster care he runs onto the streets of Tokyo, stealing food and sleeping where he can.
He meets a warrior beast who determines that Ren becomes his apprentice/disciple back in the beast world.
This story has some wonderful moments of hilarity and sentiment, with beautiful imagery and characters who you cant help but feel empathy for.
My husband has seen the Japanese version, but finding an English dubbed one can be difficult, but he believes it will be well worth it as he believes it could be a firm family favourite.
Our final Studio Ghibli. To be honest, this is up there as one of our favourites but has to be this far down the list as younger viewers may not understand what is happening, and some parts may be unsuitable for under 6's. The story concentrates on our main protagonist, Prince Ashitaka, who after defending his village from demon is left with a cursed arm that will eventually kill him.
When investigating the body of the demon they find the cause of its transformation to be man-made iron. Determined to get to the bottom of how this piece of iron got into the "god" that turned it into a demon, our hero sets off on his journey.
Meeting many colourful characters all throughout his journey, with some exciting battle scenes, this is truly an epic movie.
As with all Studio Ghibli tales, this story definitely has a focus on what human beings are doing to their environment and how it effects the ecosystems.
The reason we say that children under 6 may not like certain parts of this film is because the gods/demons can come across a little scary.
The following two films are from my husbands younger days (80s films). He has inflicted these on the kids.
Starchaser - The Legend of Orin
This is a much older anime/animation film that my husband watched as a child. His description is somewhat a Starwars/Temple of Doom rip off at first, but has a good storyline of a world set in the future where robots are the norm, crystals are fuel/money and interplanetary travel is common place. The main character is Orin, a slave miner who has lived all of his life in the crystal mines, finds a sword whilst digging for them, a prophecy reveals itself from the sword blade telling of the world above, the blade of the sword disappears with a message saying "find the blade and you will find your freedom." Orin takes it upon himself to find out the truth and find the blade....and free his people.
The adventure takes him through many worlds and self discovery situations.
My husband warns that there are some inappropriate moments and language you may find questionable (such as innuendo and "bastard" moments) but is still a pretty good film overall. Yes it doesn't hit you in the feels as much as Ghibli movies, but then again, we don't always want to be knee deep in sentiment.
The Transformers: The Movie
There is some debate on whether this is actually an anime, but i have included it on this list as not only is it the oldest anime-style movie on here, but was also one of my husbands first ever anime he watched as a child.
He was always into Transformers, and being 7 years old when this was released it was clearly a must. He does warn that the film has clearly aged, music, style and even language are outdated, but if you have a child who is nuts for Transformers then this could be a way into anime for you.
The human friendly Autobots must stop a planet destroying robot called Unicron from consuming all that stands in its way. The only thing that can beat this humongous planet muncher is the Autobot Matrix of Leadership, which resides in Optimus Prime chest...can they save the universe whilst defending themselves from the terrible Unicron and the tyranical Decepticons?
So, there you have it - out top 10 Anime films. Although I really wanted to include My Neighbour Totoro, Howel's Moving Castle and the very emotional Grave of the Fireflies.
Next we will be sharing our favourite Anime series.