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Don’t have time to binge a whole series? Give one of these anime movies on Netflix a try.
As part of its quest to be a streaming solution for every kind of viewer, Netflix has heavily invested in anime. Just a cursory glance at the anime on Netflix will reveal a well-curated, thoughtful collection of series across multiple genres. Sadly there’s one catch: The service has dropped the ball when it comes to anime movies on Netflix. While there are 70 anime series to catch, Netflix offers only about half that number for anime movies.
Of those, most of the anime movies on Netflix are part of an extended series you’ll need to catch up on to understand the plot. It can be frustrating. Save yourself some searching. Here are the best anime movies on Netflix to stream, in no particular order.
The best anime movies on Netflix
Created by Tsutomu Nihei, the genius behind Knights of Sidonia, Blame! is a dark sci-fi tale of automation gone wrong. In the distant future, self-replicating robots have taken over in a murderous quest to eliminated all human life. One village’s only hope is the mysterious traveler Killy, whose search for a lost gene intertwines with the hunt for food. Well-crafted characters give this post-apocalyptic thriller a sense of real stakes.
Fans who long for the hyper-violent days of bodies exploding during monster fights should write Netflix a thank you note for picking up GANTZ:O. In this CGI adaptation of the classic manga, a group of recently deceased people find themselves in a bizarre afterlife. Handed battle suits and weapons by an unknown force, our heroes find themselves in a brutal battle against monsters with their afterlives on the line.
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3) Miss Hokusai (2015)
If action bores you, the thoughtful Miss Hokusai will be right up your alley. Utilizing a series of vignettes this historical drama details the relationship between painter Katsushaika O-Ei and her more famous father, Hokusai. See the birth of classic Edo period art and the woman who lived its shadow despite her talent.
4) Expelled From Paradise (2014)
Angela Balzac is a defender of people who have no physical bodies. In the future, most of humanity lives in a virtual reality environment, their digitized minds removed from their bodies. When a hacker on the abandoned planet Earth infiltrates the VR environment, Balzac is given a body and sent to the surface to find the mystery invader. Expelled From Paradise was directed by Seiji Mizushima of Mobile Suit Gundam 00 fame.
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5) In This Corner of the World (2016)
We often forget that in times of war, life still goes on for people living in war zones. In 1944, 18-year-old Suzu moves 15 miles from her family in Hiroshima City to marry a man in Kure. As she settles into her new life, war slowly envelops their existence, leading to food storages and horrors humanity had yet to face. Recreating pre-war Hiroshima with historical photos, In This Corner of the World is a compelling war movie told from the point of view of average people who are just trying to survive.
6) Berserk: The Golden Age Arc Part I, Part 2, and Part 3 (2012-2013)
Berserk debuted as a manga in 1988, but it didn’t hit TV screens until its first series in 1997. Legendary for its brutality and graphic violence, Berserk follows a wandering mercenary named Guts as he travels the land looking for people who need his sword. The Golden Age Arc sees him begrudgingly join a mercenary group called the Band of the Hawk, following our hero from his early introduction to the group through his eventual exit. If you’ve been longing for a mature and violent story, Berserk offers a level of gore and darkness that would make even Game of Thrones fans queasy.
7) Naruto Shippuden: The Movie (2007)
Jumping headlong into Naruto in any regard can be intimidating thanks to the depth of the source material. Naruto Shippuden: The Movie doesn’t require a deep dive to enjoy, offering a stand-alone story that showcases why the characters are beloved in the first place. Naruto must protect a priestess, a standard adventure complicated by a vision that says his death is on the horizon. Fast and funny with brilliant fights, this movie will make you want to go back and become a fan.
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8) Yo-Kai Watch: The Movie (2016)
If you’re looking for anime movies on Netflix to watch with your kids and have worn out Pokémon, you should give Yo-Kai Watch: The Movie a shot. The Yo-Kai Watch gives the person wearing it the ability to see and capture Yo-Kai—demons and spirits from Japanese folklore. When Nate’s watch is stolen, our hero gets pulled into a mystery involving time travel and a plot to separate the human and Yo-Kai worlds. If Pokémon were set in the real world, you’d have Yo-Kai. Even adults will have fun with this one.
9) The Castle of Cagliostro (1979)
The Castle of Cagliostro is somewhat different from Hayao Miyazaki’s more famous works at Studio Ghibli. While he went on to make other adaptations like Howl’s Moving Castle, Cagliostro is actually part of a wider franchise. It belongs to the anime/manga series about Lupin III, a master thief inspired by the early 20th century literary character Arsène Lupin. His adventures fall somewhere between Sherlock Holmes and comedy heist capers, with The Castle of Cagliostro following Lupin as he tracks down the origin of some counterfeit money. (Money that he stole, naturally.) —Gavia Baker-Whitelaw
10) Mary and the Witch’s Flower (2018)
Based on Mary Stewart’s 1971 book The Little Broomstick, Mary and The Witch’s Flower follows a young girl who discovers a rare plant that blooms once every seven years and gives her magical for a short period of time. With an expressive black cat by her side and a broomstick filled to the bristles with personality, she’s transported to Endor College, a prestigious academy for witches. Mary and The Witch’s Flower is a colorful and visually stunning spectacle, a film that packs plenty of detail within its frames. And while it doesn’t always capture the magic it attempts to display, the film is carried by the charm and heart of its characters. —Michelle Jaworski
Need more ideas? Here are our Netflix guides for the best war movies, documentaries, anime, indie flicks, true crime, food shows, rom-coms, LGBT movies, gangster movies, Westerns, film noir, and movies based on true stories streaming right now. There are also sad movies guaranteed to make you cry, weird movies to melt your brain, old movies when you need something classic, and standup specials when you really need to laugh. Or check out Flixable, a search engine for Netflix.
Editor’s note: This article is regularly updated for relevance.
John-Michael Bond is a tech reporter and culture writer for Daily Dot. A longtime cord-cutter and early adopter, he's an expert on streaming services (Hulu with Live TV), devices (Roku, Amazon Fire), and anime. A former staff writer for TUAW, he's knowledgeable on all things Apple and Android. You can also also find him regularly performing standup comedy in Los Angeles.