10 Visually Pleasing Animated Movies

While actual anime shows are not for everyone, I’m a firm believer that if you like movies, you will like anime movies. They don’t always have all the crazy ridiculous elements that anime typically has, which makes it like watching any other animated Disney movie. There is a certain aesthetic and overall warm feeling that you can get from anime movies that you can’t quite get from other animated movies. Here is a list of ten movies that have absolutely stunning visuals, that are almost so good you barely even pay attention to the plot!

  1. 1. 5 Centimeters per Second

    By Makoto Shinkai This film is honestly one of the most stunning animated films I’ve ever seen. I’ve seen this movie so many times and I’m still left speechless by its amazing flawless animation. The film is made up of three short stories following Takaki Tono and his different romantic interests. While the movie doesn’t have the most satisfying ending, as it ends somewhat open-ended and pretty disappointing, it’s like this for a reason. The movie is about unrequited love and distance, so leaving it open ended is a perfect way to drive the point home. Not to mention it has a beautiful soundtrack!

  2. 2. A Silent Voice

    By Naoko Yamada Not only is the film visually stunning, the plot is extremely moving. The film is about a girl with impaired hearing who was bullied so bad in grade school she had to transfer. Years later, when one of the boys who bullied her started going to the same school as her, he sets out to make things right. The film touches on all of the characters' problems, and how they overcome them together. 

  3. 3. Garden of Words

    By Makoto Shinkai Another Makoto Shinkai film! This movie is just as stunning as 5 centimeters per second. If you like plants or rain, this is the perfect movie for you! It's runtime is only 46 minutes, so if you’re not ready to sit down for a full length movie this is a good choice! The plot is pretty simple. It’s about a highschool boy who skips his morning classes every time it rains and goes to a national garden instead. It is here he meets an older lady that he can’t quite figure out. The two of them find comfort in each other and we get to watch as they handle their new relationship.   

  4. 4. Spirited Away

    By Hayao Miyazaki This film is arguably one of the most beloved Studio Ghibli films by fans. Along with its stunning visuals, it has an extremely interesting and unique plot. The movie follows ten year old Chihiro as she gets trapped in a spa resort for supernatural beings. Chihiro gets a job at the bathhouse while working to free her parents and return to the human world, with the help of a spirit named Haku. 

  5. 5. Your Name

    By Makoto Shinkai It is very possible you have heard of this movie even if you don’t usually watch anime. This film by Shinkai became a big hit after its release in 2016. It is about two teenagers that swap bodies. One is a boy living in the city, and the other is a girl living in the countryside. We get to watch as they adjust to the random switches, and as things get even more complicated when they try to meet up with each other. Like any Makoto Shinkai movie, the visuals are absolutely breathtaking to the point it’s hard to focus on anything but all the beautiful scenery.

  6. 6. Weathering with You

    By Makoto Shinkai The last, and newest movie by Makoto Shinkai, Weathering with You could be described as the plot of Your Name, mixed with the visuals of Garden of Words. The film follows a boy who runs away to Tokyo and meets a girl who can manipulate the weather. The two of them make a business out of the girl’s skill, but what they don’t know is manipulating weather comes at a price.   

  7. 7. Wolf Children

    By Mamoru Hosoda The artwork for this film isn’t quite as flash-ie as Makoto Shinkai’s films are, but that doesn’t make it any less stunning. There is a simplicity to Hosoda’s work that creates a whole new sort of beauty. The movie follows Hana, who had married a man who could turn into a wolf and had two children together. Not long after their second child was born, Hana’s husband passed away. The family moves to a country side, and the rest of the movie just follows the adventures of the children and their process of growing up as half humans, half wolves.   

  8. 8. Summer Wars

    By Mamuro Hosoda The first time I watched this movie, as soon as it had finished I restarted it and watched it again. Summer Wars is about a young student who is insanely good at math, who solves a complex equation that caused him to accidentally release an insanely smart artificial intelligence into a popular virtual world that ends up becoming a threat to Earth. In order to stop this AI, a family made up of multiple generations works together to beat it. A wild sounding plot I know, but it’s executed brilliantly, and Hosoda’s visuals make it all that much better. Unlike Wolf Children, a lot of vibrant colors and outside of the box world building is used that completely captures your attention and leaves you wanting more.   

  9. 9. Ponyo

    Hayao Miyazaki Ponyo is not only absolutely stunning visually, but has such a cute plot it leaves your heart feeling warm and fuzzy! Ponyo is a goldfish princess that escapes from her house and goes to the surface where she meets a human boy. As she spends more time with this little boy, and her desire to become human grows stronger, she starts to become more human like. Her father tries to bring her back to the ocean, but after a string of events, the sea gets thrown out of balance and puts the boy’s town in danger. There are so many beautifully animated underwater scenes in this movie that I couldn’t help but put it on the list.   

  10. 10. Ocean Waves

    By Tomomi Mochizuki  Originally a television film, this is one of the more unknown Studio Ghibli films. A lot of lofi playlists on youtube use clips from this film, so there's a chance you’ve seen it in passing. The movie is set in a small town near the ocean, Kochi, and focuses on a love triangle between two good friends and a girl who just moved from Tokyo. This movie was a project for the younger artists at Studio Ghibli, and is not very well liked by most fans as it was slightly confusing, and after watching it the first time I also had to agree. However, after stumbling across this youtube video, which had brought up that the movie could have been perceived as not a love triangle, but the two best friends falling in love with each other, but because this was released in 1993 they couldn’t say that outright and had to cover it, I felt like everything in the movie made a lot more sense. While this take on the movie is only a thought, and not actually confirmed, watching it with this in mind did make it more enjoyable all together!

These are some of the most stunning anime films out there! Of course there are plenty of others, and there's always new films coming out, not to mention all the shows that are just as stunning. But finding the best ones can be a little hard when you are still new to the genre, and these ten are the perfect one’s to start with! I love to put these movies on when doing other things too! The amount of times I’ve watched Garden of Words while doing school work is way more than I care to admit! These films make my art major heart happy, and I hope they make you just as happy! Take a break from all your online classes and watch one of these movies to relax! I promise it’ll be worth your time. 

HCXO, Hannah