The characteristic that defines all the top 10 anime movies is the ability to transcend stereotypical confines of cartoons. They create truly unique, enjoyable stories and characters that easily stand up to any live action movie.

  1. "Spirited Away." Written and directed by renowned anime filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki, this is a tale of growing up and moving on, both for the girl Chihiro and for society as a whole. The magical world parallel to ours, showcased mostly in an elaborate bathhouse populated by talking frog people and a myriad of strange spirits, among others, is beautifully detailed. This combines with a character-driven plot to create the best anime movie. 

  2. "Princess Mononoke." This anime movie is Miyazaki's anti-war and pro-environmentalism message. In a world where humans live alongside sentient animals, the land is being poisoned by war and increased industrialism. Ashitaka must stop all sides from destroying each another and lift a deadly curse on himself brought about by hate and anger.  

  3. "Tokyo Godfathers" This is Satoshi Kon's anime movie about an unlikely trio of a middle-aged hobo, a homeless drag queen and a runaway teenager. They become the guardians of an abandoned newborn baby. Through taking care of it, they learn something about themselves and each other. The baby becomes angelic in scenes of magical realism.

  4. "Nausicaa Of The Valley Of The Wind." This anime movie is another tale of war and environmentalism from Miyazaki. It's also about living simply versus living lavishly. His love of aircraft comes through here in great detail as does the teeming, toxic fungal forest full of giant insects. The largest are pill bug like and have telepathic powers. There are similarities between this movie and Dune.

  5. "Paprika." This anime movie from Satoshi Kon is a psychedelic head trip. Terrorists have stolen a device that allows a person to enter another's dreams. The lines between dreams and reality blur as the device is used against a group of psychologists and police. Beautifully detailed but often disturbing images abound depicting circuses, toy parades, body manipulation and fairy tales, among others. 

  6. "My Neighbor Totoro." While this anime movie from Miyazaki is meant for kids it's enjoyable for all ages. Two sisters have adventures with the forest spirit creatures around their new country home. This isn't as moralistic as Miyazaki's other films. It's more of a pleasant slice of life tale. And its impossible to forget the cat-bus, which is exactly what it sounds like.

  7. "Akira." This is a science fiction anime movie that takes place in a near future Tokyo full of corrupt politicians, scientists and military. A biker gang member goes through an experiment that gives him destructive psionic powers. The animation perfectly illustrates the vastness and technological glut of this movie's version of Japan's capital city.

  8. "Castle In The Sky." This anime movie from Miyazaki is pure steampunk. It again showcases his love for aircraft. Pazu helps Sheeta find her identity in a mystical floating city. Its secrets are thought to be profitable but prove dangerous as the two are hounded by pirates and secret agents. The strength of this movie is in its never ending wonder around every corner.     

  9. "Grave Of The Fireflies." This emotionally powerful anime movie is anti-war that doesn't glorify it in any way. Set in Japan during World War II, the human cost of war is shown as a brother and sister have to carve out a new existence for themselves from nothing when their mother dies in an air raid and their soldier father goes missing in battle.

  10. "Howl's Moving Castle." With a European steampunk theme, this anime movie tells the tale of a young woman cursed to be old that hitches a ride on the time and space traveling clanking creature-like walking castle of a fickle but handsome wizard. While the plot is interesting enough, the animation is gorgeous, vast and even more fluid that Miyazaki's previous works.