Animes are of course great fun to watch and have become a great cultural ambassador for Japan. Characters like Doraemon and Naruto have become globally recognized figures. Here we give you 5 great anime movies that can help you understand Japanese culture while also being entertained.

1. My Neighbor Totoro

Almost every film from Studio Ghibli, founded by legendary Japanese animation filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki is a gem. Blending fantasy with a love for engineering and technology, Miyazaki created worlds that conquered the hearts of movie lovers across the world.

But for those who also want a good dose of Japanese culture, esp. rural life, mixed with a great fantasy story- My Neighbor Totoro is the best place to start. An ode to the innocence of childhood blended with unforgettable characters My Neighbor Totoro will leave you with a beaming smile at the end of the film and completely in love with Japanese culture.

2. Mirai no Mirai (Mirai from the Future)

Mamoru Hosoda’s recently created studio Chizu is often called the new Ghibli of Japanese animation. The claim is not misplaced. The studio has been producing some great animation films for the past few years and Mirai no Mirai is a great place to discover Hosoda’s whimsical mix of urban life with a bittersweet nostalgia for a lost past. Focused around a story of sibling rivalry that is sure to make you laugh aloud at places, Mirai no Mirai also highlights the essential family bonds that run through generations in a society like Japan’s. It is also a great showpiece of modern Japanese animation and it’s prowess.

3. Your Name

When Makato Shinkai released Your Name in 2016 no one expected it to be the worldwide megahit that it became. From France to the USA, the anime film became the most talked about animation film of the year and reaped several awards on its way to becoming a cultural icon. A story of love and loss that weaves dreams and sci fiction into an unforgettable tale, Your Name has its own tourist walks in Tokyo where guides help tourists visit the places shown in the story of the star crossed lovers.

4. Graveyard of the Fireflies

Not every anime movie needs to be entertaining- and Graveyard of the Fireflies is definitely not your normal animation film aimed at children and the adults who watch it with them. This tragic story of a young boy and his little sister who find themselves homeless and orphaned in wartime Japan is perhaps the most memorable antiwar movie ever made. The sad fate of the siblings will have you in tears at the end making you wonder why war even exists when so many innocent lives are destroyed for the profit of a few. The movie also offers an intimate look into life during the wartime in Japan, which makes it a piece of great cultural interest.

5. Ghost in The Shell

Perhaps one of the greatest science fiction anime films, Ghost in The Shell follows a special squad of officers in a near future Japan where memories can be downloaded from human brains into software chips and where the human body can be replaced easily by bionic parts. In such a future, what is it to be human? This is the core question that drives this great film that blends great animation with a thrilling story, while also pausing to give time to its philosophical musings. A must watch!