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The 10 Best Anime Movies for Kids

Jun 17, 2024

These anime movies convey impactful narratives straightforwardly, sometimes with a content gap between youth-oriented and general themes.

Bored with the same old anime movies? No worries! Anime films offer a refreshing option for young audiences, introducing diverse cultures and fresh concepts. They convey impactful narratives straightforwardly, sometimes with a content gap between youth-oriented and general themes. Thankfully, several compelling anime films bridge this divide, delivering captivating experiences suitable for all ages. Here are some of the best anime movies for kids of all ages to enjoy!

Directed by the talented Hayao Miyazaki, the story revolves around two sisters, Satsuki and Mei, who move to the countryside with their father to be closer to their ailing mother in a nearby hospital. As they explore their new surroundings, they discover magical creatures called Totoro, including the giant and friendly Totoro. These creatures introduce the sisters to a world of wonder and imagination, helping them cope with their mother’s illness.

My Neighbor Totoro’s enchanting world of magical creatures and adventurous exploration makes it highly suitable for younger audiences. The film’s gentle storytelling and captivating visuals create an engaging and wholesome experience that children can enjoy while also learning important lessons about imagination, friendship, and empathy.

Influenced by anime aesthetics, Big Fish and Begonia maintains distinct character designs. The plot centers on Chun, a 16-year-old from a mystical realm who transforms into a dolphin for a human realm rite of passage. Her act of saving a drowned human boy defies rules and triggers cataclysmic consequences.

The film introduces unfamiliar afterlife concepts to Western audiences, adding an intriguing layer. It weaves a captivating narrative of love, death, and sacrifice, highlighted by stunning magical destruction scenes. An essential moment occurs after the closing credits, redefining the initial melancholic ending and its preceding events in a magnificent manner.

This delightful anime follows a young boy named Sosuke who discovers a goldfish with a human-like face, whom he names Ponyo. Unbeknownst to Sosuke, Ponyo is a fish who dreams of becoming human. Through a magical accident, Ponyo’s wish comes true, but it disrupts the balance of nature and sets off a series of events that could threaten the world.

Studio Ghibli’s rich interpretation of The Little Mermaid's imagery and mythology captivates young audiences, just like the catchy soundtrack. Ponyo's charming story of a magical fish, coupled with vibrant animation and lovable characters, makes it a perfect choice for kids to watch.

Related: 10 Must-Watch Anime TV Shows if You Love the Harry Potter Movie Franchise

Spirited Away is Japan’s highest-grossing film and is rich enough for extensive exploration. A young girl named Chihiro becomes trapped in a mysterious and magical world after her parents unwittingly eat food meant for spirits. In this fantastical realm, Chihiro must navigate a bathhouse filled with spirits, gods, and other mystical creatures.

With imaginative storytelling, visually stunning animation, and a blend of whimsy and depth, Spirited Away is a cinematic masterpiece that appeals to both children and adults alike. Along with its magical world, the main character’s journey of courage and self-discovery makes it an empowering experience for young viewers.

Adapted from children’s novels, the story revolves around young Orika Seki’s recovery from a car accident that took her parents and affected her memory. Moving in with her grandmother, who runs an inn, Okko discovers her ability to see friendly ghosts there. With her extended family, the inn’s guests, and her companions, Okko gradually copes with her tragedy.

This movie adeptly addresses grief and loss, even for young audiences. Okko’s Inn, much like Disney’s impactful works, utilizes parental death to convey deep emotions. This approach helps introduce children to the inevitable concept of death sensitively and genuinely. This film handles the theme matter-of-factly, emotionally, and with a touch of fantasy.

Hana falls in love with a wolf-man. After he dies, she single-handedly raises their two children, Ame and Yuki, who can transform into wolves. Hana navigates the challenges of single motherhood while keeping her children’s dual identities a secret. As Ame and Yuki grow, they must choose between their human and wolf natures.

Wolf Children is a heartfelt tale that captures the struggles and joys of raising unique children while celebrating the bond between a mother and her offspring. The transformation of the children into wolves adds an element of fantasy and adventure that can captivate young imaginations.

Kiki’s Delivery Service is another renowned anime, depicting the journey of a young witch named Kiki. Kiki, at the age of 13, embarks on a tradition where she must live independently for a year. Accompanied by her talking cat, Jiji, Kiki settles in a seaside town and starts a delivery service using her flying ability. As Kiki faces challenges in her new life, she learns valuable life lessons and discovers her own inner strength.

Staying true to Studio Ghibli’s style, the film’s emphasis on warmth and exploration stands out, avoiding explicit, intense themes. This movie is beloved by anime enthusiasts spanning all ages, and is hailed as a timeless classic for its adorable art and meaningful messages.

Related: One Piece Touted as Best Live Action Anime Adaptation of All Time

Drifting Home stands out due to its unique backdrop of the ocean. During their summer break, a group of sixth graders end up in a slated-for-demolition apartment building and encounter an unusual event, finding themselves surrounded by a vast sea. These kids navigate their way back home while trying to survive in the open sea.

The film’s main strength lies in its depiction of the ocean setting. Supported by Studio Colorido’s soft lines and adept color usage, the movie’s childlike and nostalgic tone is effectively conveyed. The seemingly simple animation style and diverse soundtrack keep the younger audience engaged until the very end. Throughout its duration, the film manages to balance its central mystery with classic coming-of-age themes skillfully.

The Cat Returns serves as a quasi-sequel to Whisper of the Heart, portraying a similar coming-of-age tale presumed to be written by the earlier film’s protagonist. The plot follows Haru, who rescues a cat and, in turn, earns the gratitude of the Cat King. As a result, she becomes entangled in a whimsical adventure in the feline realm.

The film’s emphasis on friendship, courage, and staying true to oneself is portrayed in an accessible and entertaining way. The fantastical world of the Cat Kingdom, especially the talking animals, engages the children's attention. Additionally, the charming characters and visually appealing animation make it a delightful and family-friendly choice for kids to enjoy.

Set in a fantasy world, the story follows Sheeta, a young girl with a mysterious crystal pendant that holds immense power. Sheeta becomes a target for both government agents and sky pirates who seek the crystal’s abilities. During a daring escape, she meets Pazu, a young boy, who dreams of finding the legendary floating city of Laputa. And so together, they embark on an adventurous journey together.

The animation is visually stunning, showcasing Hayao Miyazaki’s signature attention to detail and creative designs. The themes of friendship, bravery, and the importance of protecting the environment resonate with children while delivering positive messages. Additionally, the story’s blend of mystery and action keeps the young viewers entertained while also sparking their curiosity.

Fatima is an author, seamstress and English major who is enthusiastic about films, comics and cosplay. She also has an avid love for writing and writes about the latest entertainment news and trends on Movieweb.

AnimeMy Neighbor TotoroBig Fish and BegoniaPonyoRelated: Spirited AwayWolf ChildrenKiki’s Delivery ServiceRelated: Drifting HomeThe Cat Returns