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Best Anime Movies on Netflix Now (April 2023)

The definition of anime has long been a source for debate amongst fans. In Japan, the word “anime” is simply Japanese for animation, no matter the media or its origin. But outside of Japan, the word has come to be associated specifically to animation being produced in Japan or from Japanese creators.


This gets a bit complicated, as plenty of cartoons from the West like Transformersand even Animaniacswere at least partially animated by Japanese studios, and shows like The Last Airbenderand movies like The Matrixwere heavily influenced by anime. With Netflix now becoming a powerhouse in the anime industry, things get even more complicated, as they have shows made by Western creators like Castlevania and Seis Manosbut are marketing them as anime.

For this particular list, we’ve decided to go by Netflix’s own anime category, choosing from the movies listed within it, no matter its origin. We’ve combed through the available titles to bring you the very best of the best. There is something in this list for everyone, from youngsters being introduced to the genre, anime movies aimed at a young adult audience, complex or franchise titles not recommended for newbies, to critically acclaimed classics for all audiences. Whether you’re a long-time fan or just looking to get into the medium, there is something for everyone.

For more recommendations, check out our list of the best movies on Netflix, best anime shows on Netflix, and best cartoons for adults.

Editor’s note: This list has been updated April 2023 to include Dragon Quest: Your Story.

Related: Best Anime Shows for Newbies to Watch

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A Whisker Away (2020)

Image via Netflix

Run Time: 1 hr 44 min | Genre: Fantasy Romance | Director: Jun’ichi Satô, Tomotaka Shibayama

Cast: Mirai Shida, Natsuki Hanae, Hiroaki Ogi

A story of love and cats, the anime A Whisker Away is a pure cinematic treat from beginning to end that will leave you smiling from ear to ear and purring in contentment. The original Japanese title translates to Wanting to Cry, I Pretend to Be a Cat, a poetic encapsulation of the playful spirit of this fantasy adventure that may leave you wishing you, too, could become part of the feline world. Overflowing with whimsy, it centers on young Miyo Sasaki, who tries to get the attention of a classmate by turning into a cat. However, this ends up becoming less about young love and more about her own personal exploration of how she wants to live her life. As Miyo tries to escape the sad feelings of her life through this transformation, the animation ensures that there is joy and beauty to be found there as well. It all becomes a unique experience that speaks to the pains of growing up with how we all must try to find a way to work through the inevitable challenges of life — even if it means turning into a cat now and again. – Chase Hutchinson

Watch on Netflix

Dragon Quest: Your Story (2019)

dragon quest your story
Image via Toho

Run Time: 1 hr 43 min | Director: Makoto Hanafusa, Ryuichi Yagi, Takashi Yamazaki

Cast: Takeru Satoh, Kasumi Arimura, Haru

Based on the beloved Dragon Quest games, adapting the storyline from the fifth installment, Dragon Quest: Your Story is a charming story directed by Makoto Hanafusa, Ryuichi Yagi, and Takashi Yamazaki. The animation style of Dragon Quest: Your Story feels like a unique blend of computer-generated anime with a hint of How to Train Your Dragon meets The Incredibles. With the original Japanese iteration controversially featuring live-action actors to voice the characters, Dragon Quest: Your Story stars Takeru Satoh, Kasumi Arimura, and Haru, dubbed into English well-known voice artists, Yuri Lowenthal, Stephanie Sheh, and Xanthe Huynh. – Yael Tygiel

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Altered Carbon: Resleeved (2020)

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Image via Netflix

Run Time: 1 hr 14 min | Director: Takeru Nakajima, Yoshiyuki Okada, Shouta Kitamoto

Cast: Ray Chase, Doug Stone, Kaiji Tang, Chris Conner, Brittany Cox

Set a couple hundred years before the short-lived Altered Carbonseries, Altered Carbon: Resleeved is an animated spin-off film with fantastic animation and soaring action. Expanding the universe in pleasing, albeit expected, ways, Altered Carbon: Resleeved stars Ray Chase, Doug Stone, Kaiji Tang, Chris Conner, and Brittany Cox. Taking place on the planet of Latimer, Altered Carbon: Resleeved follows Takeshi Kovacs (Chase) on his investigation into the death of a yakuza boss while attempting to protect a tattoo artist named Holly (Cox). Directors Takeru Nakajima, Yoshiyuki Okada, and Shouta Kitamoto tackle the techno-orientalist backdrop with beautifully choreographed fight sequences, weaving everything together. – Yael Tygiel

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Drifting Home (2022)

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Image via Netflix

Run Time: 1 hr 59 min | Genre: Fantasy Adventure | Director: Hiroyasu Ishida

Cast: Mutsumi Tamura, Ayumu Murase, Yumiko Kobayashi, Asami Seto

Directed by Hiroyasu Ishida, who co-wrote the refreshing film with Hayashi Mori, Drifting Home is a story about a group of neighborhood children who find themselves and their entire apartment complex drifting across a mysterious sea. Along their journey, they discover unexpected secrets. Drifting Home is a beautifully animated film that gingerly addresses themes of grief, family, and new beginnings. With a wonderfully charming cast, including the voices of Mutsumi Tamura, Ayumu Murase, Yumiko Kobayashi, and Asami Seto, and through deliberate storytelling, Drifting Home is a heartwarming adventure movie for audiences of all ages. – Yael Tygiel

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Bubble (2022)

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Image via Netflix

Run Time: 1 hr 40 min | Genre: Action Adventure | Director: Tetsurô Araki

Cast: Jun Shison, riria., Mamoru Miyano

From director Tetsurô Araki (Attack on Titan) comes Bubble, a fascinating anime film that takes place after Tokyo is attacked by bubbles, leaving the city destroyed and isolated from the rest of the world. Produced by an all-star team in the anime sphere, including writers Gen Urobuchi, Renji Ooki, and Naoko Satou, Bubble allows experienced filmmakers to bring their visions to life. With gravity as broken as the city, Tokyo becomes a parkour battlefield. When a couple of young people unexpectedly meet during a reckless jump, it seems their encounter might be more fortuitous than they thought. – Yael Tygiel

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Seven Deadly Sins: Cursed By Light (2021)

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Image Via Funimation

Run Time: 1 hr 19 min | Genre: Action Fantasy | Director: Takayuki Hamana

Cast: Yūki Kaji, Sora Amamiya, Misaki Kuno, Aoi Yūki, Tatsuhisa Suzuki, Jun Fukuyama, Yūhei Takagi, Maaya Sakamoto, Tomokazu Sugita

A sequel to The Seven Deadly Sins the Movie: Prisoners of the Sky, Seven Deadly Sins: Cursed By Light picks up six months after the Seven Deadly Sins have disbanded after defeating the Demon King and Cath Palug and losing their dear friend Escanor. This film sees Meliodas and his friends forced to jump back into action again when a powerful new magical alliance threatens to disrupt the newfound peace and put everyone in grave danger. Fans of the show are sure to enjoy this fearless, jam-packed installment filled with adventure and flair. – Taylor Gates

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Violet Evergarden: The Movie (2020)

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Image via Kyoto Animation

Run Time: 2 hr 20 min | Genre: Drama Fantasy | Director: Taichi Ishidate

Cast: Yui Ishikawa, Daisuke Namikawa

Emotional and sincere, Violet Evergarden: The Movie is a stunning film that tackles the theme of overcoming trauma. As a child, Violet was made to be a soldier, and during battle, she lost both her hands and her beloved mentor, Gilbert. To overcome her painful past, she became a Doll: someone who ghostwrites letters to help people express their feelings. After encountering a terminally ill boy named Yurith, Violet is forced to confront painful memories as well as her love for the man she lost. The animation and story are equally stunning, but beware: you’re going to want to grab some tissues before tuning into this beautiful tale. – Taylor Gates

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Child of Kamiari Month (2021)

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Image via Netflix

Run Time: 1 hr 39 min | Genre: Adventure Drama | Director: Takana Shirai

Cast: Aju Makita, Maaya Sakamoto, Miyu Irino, Riko Nagase, Ko Shibasaki, Minako Kotobuki, Akira Kamiya, Chafurin, Wataru Takagi

Child of Kamiari Month effortlessly combines fun, lighthearted moments with serious topics like grief. The film centers around an elementary school girl named Kanna, who has a passion for running, which she inherited from her mother. However, after her mother passes away, Kanna struggles to cope and loses her love for it. But when Kanna is sent on an unexpected journey, joined by a rabbit named Shiro and a demon named Yasha, she may just refind her enjoyment for the sport – and refind herself in the process. With a touching plot and gorgeous animation, Child of Kamiari Month is a must-see. – Taylor Gates

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NiNoKuni (2019)

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Image via Warner Bros. Japan

Run Time: 1 hr 46 min | Genre: Action Adventure | Director: Yoshiyuki Momose

Cast: Kento Yamazaki, Mackenyu Arata, Mei Nagano, Maaya Sakamoto, Mamoru Miyano, Yuki Kaji, Kenjiro Tsuda

Based on the video game series of the same name, NiNoKuni is a fantasy film about a trio of teenagers who get swept up into a magical kingdom called Evermore. As they jump back and forth between worlds, they discover how actions in one affect the other. Eventually, as with any great magical movie, there’s an epic battle between good and evil they must fight in. NiNoKuni feels like a combination of classics, like Spirited Away meets The Wizard of Oz. If you’re looking for a solid adventure flick that can transport you to a faraway land, look no further. – Taylor Gates

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New Gods: Nezha Reborn (2021)

Li Yunxiang, the modern avatar for Nezha

Run Time: 1 hr 56 min | Genre: Action Adventure | Director: Zhao Ji

Cast: Yang Tianxiang, Zhang He, Xuan Xiaoming, Li Shimeng, Zhu Ke’er, King Zhenhe,

New Gods: Nezha Reborn takes a classic character from a popular Ming dynasty-era novel and gives it a steampunk twist. The film tells the story of Li Yunxiang, a motorcyclist who learns that he is actually the great deity Nezha reborn. However, before he can fully process this and come into his powers, old enemies start cropping up, putting him in danger. New Gods: Nezha Reborn does an excellent job blending realism with more surrealist aspects, offering an interesting and fresh approach to traditional mythology. – Taylor Gates

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Blame! (2017)

blame
Image via Netflix

Run Time: 1 hr 46 min | Genre: Action Drama | Director: Hiroyuki Seshita

Cast: Takahiro Sakurai, Kana Hanazawa, Sora Amamiya, Mamoru Miyano, Aya Suzaki, Nobunaga Shimazaki

If you’re scared of technology growing more and more powerful, Blame! might not be the best watch for you. (Or, if you’re looking for a terrifying horror movie, maybe the perfect one.) The film takes place in the distant future, where humans are considered illegal residents and hunted by robots. One day, however, a group of survivors comes across Killy: a synthetic human who could be the key to survival. Sci-fi fans who are craving a good atmospheric drama are sure to find lots to love in this film. – Taylor Gates

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The Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf (2021)

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Run Time: 1 hr 23 min | Genre: Action Adventure | Director: Kwang Il Han

Cast: Theo James, Lara Pulver, Mary McDonnell, Graham McTavish

A prelude to the main story of TheWitcher franchise, The Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf is a stunning action-packed peak into a young Vesemir’s (Theo James) life and a look into the world prior to Geralt’s adventures. Tasked with hunting down Kitsu (Kari Wahlgren), a missing elf turned evil mage, Vesemir and the witch, Tetra (Lara Pulver), slowly begin to uncover a more sinister plot brewing in the shadows of the land. Fluid animation and beautifully rendered backgrounds create an immersive world that both fans of the franchise and newcomers will enjoy, and the noteworthy voice acting only adds to the experience. Be prepared for chilling monster designs and lots of carnage, as well as a pleasantly surprising amount of that dark humor that Netflix Anime has come to be known for. The Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf excels at defying expectations, revealing a thrilling story filled with love, loss, and lies. – Olivia Fitzpatrick

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A Silent Voice: The Movie (2016)

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Image Via Warner Bros. Pictures

Run Time: 2 hr 9 min | Genre: Drama | Director: Naoko Yamada

Cast: Miyu Irino, Saori Hayami, Aoi Yûki

A beautiful journey into the often broken and perilous experience of growing up, A Silent Voice: The Movietakes the story from the beloved manga to the big screen to remarkable effect. It all centers on a group of students and the long, painful process of making amends for past harms on a rocky path to redemption. Specifically, it is all about how one young boy bullied another girl who is deaf to the point where she left the school. There is no easy way to make up for such horrible things, and the film doesn’t shy away from this, pushing characters to really grapple with the harm they have caused. It does so with both vibrant and brilliant animation that masks a more profound sadness that only gets more overwhelming at every turn. Spanning several years as the characters grow into early adulthood, it is a film that tackles often heavy subject matter with a sense of grace and joy that more than earns its bittersweet ending. – Chase Hutchinson

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Flavors of Youth (2018)

A girl staring out at fireworks in

Run Time: 1 hr 15 min | Genre: Drama Romance | Director: Haoling Li, Yoshitaka Takeuch, Xiaoxing Yi

Cast: Taito Ban, Mariya Ise, Takeo Otsuka, Ikumi Hasegawa, Minako Kotobuki, Haruka Shiraishi, Hiroki Yasumoto

A film made up of three distinct and lovely vignettes that come together into something magnificent, Flavors of Youth captures a sublime sense of tragedy mixed with triumph. Following three different stories of growing up in three different cities in China, the film is centered around love and loss as they play out across the lives of disconnected strangers who all are at the same airport. They also are often linked to food, not just as something to eat but as a sensory connection to memory that sticks with us long into adulthood. There is just so much to latch onto with each individual story, as they are all lovingly crafted. From the detailed animation to the strong writing, they are all different even as they all operate in conversation with many of the themes of the other stories. Though you may feel sad that they are often fleeting experiences, this is the point, as you soon get swept up in the next story with the understanding that it too won’t last forever. The only downside? It will likely make you incredibly hungry for one of the many delicious meals you see brought to life. – Chase Hutchinson

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Mirai (2018)

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Run Time: 1 hr 38 min | Genre: Adventure Drama | Director: Mamoru Hosoda

Cast: Rebecca Hall, Daniel Dae Kim, John Cho, Victoria Grace, Haru Kuroki

Mirai is the latest family-friendly film from acclaimed Japanese filmmaker Mamoru Hosoda (Wolf Children). The story of Mirai follows four-year-old Kun as he attempts to deal with the arrival of a new member of the family, his baby sister Mirai. When Kun finds himself unable to cope with the loss of his parents’ attention and the changing dynamics within the household, he seeks solace in a magical, indoor garden that allows him to travel through time and interact with some surprising characters. Mirai is well worth a watch, as evidenced by the anime film earning an Oscar nomination for the Best Animated Feature Film. – Dave Trumbore

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Godzilla: Planet of the Monsters (2017)

Godzilla Planet of the Monsters
Image via Toho

Run Time: 1 hr 28 min | Genre: Action Adventure | Director: Kōbun Shizuno

Cast: Mamoru Miyano, Takahiro Sakurai, Tomokazu Sugita / Chris Niosi, Lucien Dodge, Edward Brosco

After more than 60 years and over 30 films, Planet of the Monsters is the first animated film in the Godzillafranchise and the first film in a trilogy about a future where humans are attempting to recolonize Earth 20,000 years after the planet was taken over by Godzilla.

Though the CGI animation may take some time getting used to, there are some beautiful shots and stunning action scenes that can even go up against the big-budget live-action King of the Monsters. This trilogy is also true to the original movies in the franchise in that it is more of a drama with monsters in them than full-out action all the time. Planet of the Monsters and its sequels also ask some interesting questions about philosophy and religion via two alien species in conflict while giving us a true sci-fi epic about a giant monster with an incredible soundtrack.

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The End of Evangelion (1997)

End Of Evangelion

Run Time: 1 hr 27 min | Genre: Action Drama | Director: Hideaki Anno, Kazuya Tsurumaki

Cast: Megumi Ogata, Megumi Hayashibara, Yūko Miyamura, Kotono Mitsuishi / Casey Mongillo, Ryan Bartley, Stephanie McKeon, Carrie Keranen

First of all, do not, under any circumstances, attempt to watch The End of Evangelion without having seen Neon Genesis Evangelion. This is the most complex, challenging movie on this list, but watching it will feel like a life-changing experience.

After an ambiguous ending that some fans considered to be unsatisfying and inconclusive, death threats were sent to creator Hideaki Anno. Prompted by the production company’s wishes to create a film ending to the series, Anno worked on End of Evangelion, a direct response to the backlash that literally incorporates the death threats into the movie for a split second. Taking place during the last two episodes of the show, the movie offers an alternate reason for Shinji’s breakdown and also shows the Evangelions’ organization NERV come under attack by shadowy corporation SEELE and the Japanese government, who are trying to bring about the world-ending Third Impact.

It is a fascinatingly personal look at Anno’s own mentality as he brings the audience in on his way of thinking, while also pointing the camera back at the audience and condemning them for demanding something other than what the author intended. It’s a masterwork of filmmaking, mixing animation with live-action scenes in what’s probably the most direct response to fan entitlement and toxicity in anime history.

Watch on Netflix

https://collider.com/best-anime-movies-on-netflix/ Best Anime Movies on Netflix Now (April 2023)

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