Japanese animation has long since established itself as an artistic and commercial force throughout the world, and the 10 best Japan anime movies are spectacular artistic achievements. Along with the work done recently by Pixar, these films have brought the art of animation to new heights of imagination. Warning: spoilers.

  1. “Princess Mononoke” – Hayao Miyazaki’s ultimate masterpiece tells a mythical and portentous tale of the effect of mankind’s greed and malevolence on nature and the spirits of the world. Clearly indebted to Japanese mythology and Shinto beliefs, the film is original in conception and execution. One of the ten best Japan anime movies, “Mononoke” has the wisdom to emphasize balance over victory.

  2. “Ghost in the Shell” – “Ghost in the Shell” is a visually captivating sci-fi anime. A major influence on “The Matrix,” “Ghost in the Shell” asks some serious ethical and philosophical questions, and is as intellectually stimulating as it is sensually engrossing. The film is easily one of the ten best Japan anime movies.

  3. “Paprika” – This extremely surreal and enrapturing anime is one of Japan’s top ten animated films. The premise is this: A research psychologist develops a device that allows therapists to work on patients by entering their dreams. We don’t want to give too much away, but suffice it to say some very strange things happen and some extremely trippy visuals ensue.

  4. “Mind Game” – Underground anime hit “Mind Game” is just that: a protracted bout of “What the hell is happening?” First someone gets murdered, then there’s a car chase, then some people are eaten by a whale and end up living on a creaking house with an old man built of scaffolding. Inside the whale. Then it just gets weirder.

  5. “Akira” – “Akira” is commonly cited as the pinnacle of Japanese animation directed by someone other than Hayao Miyazaki. The film is condensed from a comic that is thousands of pages long, yet still manages to convincingly tell the tale of a futuristic military experiment go awry and its terrible consequences. 

  6. “Grave of the Fireflies” – If nothing else, “Grave of the Fireflies” takes the cake for saddest film on the list. On of the best anime movies, it delves into the lives of two children stranded in Tokyo during the carpet-bombing that took place at the end of the Second World War. We don’t want to give away the ending, but have some tissues on hand. 

  7. “Spirited Away” – Another of Miyazaki’s many masterpieces, “Spirited Away” deals with a young girl who become lost in the world of the spirits and have to find her way back to humanity. The film tackles issues of identity, belief, myth and childhood in the context of growing up without growing old. It is a charming and magical film, and one of the ten best Japanese anime movies.

  8. “Metropolis” – “Metropolis” is a brilliant adaptation of Fritz Lang’s seminal Weimar film of the same name. Without sacrificing any of the potent allegorical value of the original, the animated Japanese version advances the ideas of the first film so that they apply more directly to life in the 21st Century. It’s quite an accomplishment.

  9. “Tokyo Godfathers” – “Tokyo Godfathers” is a strange and wonderful movie about a homeless man, a transvestite, and a young girl who find a baby on Christmas Eve while digging through some trash. The baby has a key, and with this key begins the process of tracking down its parents.

  10. “Vampire Hunter D” – Vampires. Hunters. Nudity. What else could you want? Well, this top-ten Japan anime movie also offers a haunting vision of a future ruled by supernatural forces, an enigmatic warrior, evil demons and the threat of eternal damnation.