While he had reached the coasts of the United States long before 1988, when Akira appeared in theaters and movie rental stores across the country, many Americans were introduced to the Japanese art of anime for the first time. For decades, it seemed like the anime was only meant for adults, but that changed in the 1990s with the rise of Pokemon. Since then, the American fan base for the anime has grown by leaps and bounds.
It can always be difficult to know for sure whether an animated film is suitable for the whole family. With so many options and so many different stories to discover, how can you be sure that the movie you choose will entertain a child and an adult for a movie night? Here are a few movies you can be sure the whole family will be happy with.
ten Princess mononoke
written and made by the iconic HaYao Miyazaki, Princess mononoke tells the story of Ashitaka, the last prince Emishi. While protecting his village from a demon, Asitaka is struck with a deadly curse. To find a cure, Ashitaka must travel to the western forests where the demon comes from. When he reaches the western woods, Ashitaka discovers that there is a war between the humans and the gods. Ashitaka does her best to convince Lady Eboshi, the leader of the humans, and Princess Mononoke, a human raised by a wolf god, to end the fighting. While Princess mononoke is family oriented for the most part, some scenes may be too violent for children under 13.
9 Professor Layton and the Eternal Diva
When famous singer Janice Quatlane meets a little girl who claims to be the reincarnation of her friend Melina, she enlists the help of world-renowned puzzle solver and archaeologist Professor Layton to help her uncover the truth. Layton and his assistant Luke go to the theater to see Janice’s new opera, but soon find themselves trapped in the opera, held captive by a mysterious man who forces them to solve a series of puzzles.
With a long list of Professor Layton’s video games, movies, TV shows and manga, you can be sure that Professor Layton and the Eternal Diva, with all the franchise, will be filled with fun adventures and family jokes. Best of all, there are so many more Professors’ adventures to experience at the end of the movie.
8 Abducted as if by magic
While traveling to their new home, a family takes a wrong turn and ends up in an abandoned amusement park. While her father is eager to explore the park, Chihiro, 10, is afraid. After eating food at an empty restaurant in the abandoned park, Chihiro’s parents magically turn into pigs. At sunset, the inhabitants of the park – demons, evil spirits and gods, come out.
With her parents stuck like pigs, it’s up to Chihiro to find a way back to the real world, but if she forgets her name, she’ll be stuck at the amusement park forever. Another Miyazaki classic, Abducted as if by magic may look like a horror movie, but it’s more like a fairy tale that the whole family can safely enjoy.
7 Howl’s moving castle
When 18-year-old Sophie is transformed into a 90-year-old woman by a witch, she sets out on a quest to break the curse. After meeting a scarecrow she names Turniphead, Sophie finds herself in the bizarre Howl’s Moving Castle of a magician named Howl.
In Howl’s Castle, Sophie encounters a fire demon named Calcifer who claims to be able to remove Sophie’s curse, but only if she can free him from his contract under Howl. Based on the novel by Diana Wynne Jones, HoHowl’s Moving Castle is an anime classic that has captured the imaginations of fans around the world.
6 A letter to Momo
After the death of his father, Momo and his mother leave Tokyo and settle on the remote island of Shio. Momo soon discovers that his new home is also the home of a trio of mischievous imps, an ogre and a farting lizard. Every night when the islanders sleep, these strange creatures steal food and cause trouble. Now that Momo knows they’re there, they think she might be able to help them free them from the island so they can return to their true homes.
At just five years old, Sosuke leads a quiet life with his mother on a cliff by the ocean. When he discovers a goldfish trapped in a bottle on the beach, Sosuke releases the small fish, only to learn that the goldfish is in fact Ponyo, the daughter of a wizard and a sea goddess.
Ponyo wishes to become a human, and with Sosuke’s help, she can make her dream come true, but her powerful father is against it. He even tries to destroy their world to get her back. Written and directed by Hayao Miyazaki, Ponyo is a modern day fairy tale that anyone can enjoy.
4 My neighbor Totoro
Wishing to be closer to his sick wife, Professor Tatsuo Kusakabe moves his two daughters to a new house near the hospital. Satsuki and Mei soon meet a first spirit they call Totoro.
Throughout the summer, the sisters have a number of little adventures with Totoro and the other forest spirits as they become friends. When Mei runs away, Satsuki and Totoro set off on a journey to find her. My neighbor Totoro is another highly acclaimed animated film written and directed by Hayao Miyazaki, a master of the art form.
3 Kiki’s delivery service
Based on the novel by Eiko Kadono and written and directed by Hayao Miyazaki, by Kiki Delivery service focuses on the life of Kiki, a young witch who is still learning to use her powers. With the help of her talking cat Jiji, Kiki moves to a seaside village and opens a “witch delivery business” where she delivers food and supplies to villagers via her flying broom. Meanwhile, a boy named Tombo who is in love with Kiki works on his own flying machine. When Tombo’s experimental airship crashes, it’s up to Kiki to save it.
2 Arrietty’s Secret World
When a boy named Shō goes to his great-aunt’s house for a visit during the summer, he sees something he can’t believe. A girl who is only four inches tall. Over time, Shō learns that the girl’s name is Arrietty and that she and her family live under the floor of the house.
With the family discovered by Shō, Arrietty’s father decides that they must leave the house, even though Shō promises them that he won’t harm them or tell any other human about them. During the week, as her family prepares to move, Arrietty and Shō become friends.
1 The return of the cat
When high school student Haru Yoshioka rescued a cat from a truck, she didn’t realize the cat was actually Moon, prince of the cat kingdom. When Moon proposes marriage to Haru, she is not sure if it is a good idea but still finds herself slowly transforming into a cat. With the help of two other cats, one a large white cat and the other an elegant cat statue that has come to life, Haru plans a way out of the cat world she finds herself entangled in before she becomes herself. – even a cat forever.
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