What are the best animated movies on Netflix? The 21 titles below largely come from the Japanese legendary animator Hayao Miyazaki and his Studio Ghibli, with the other movies coming from Hollywood studios such as DreamWorks and Illumination, or the Irish indie outfit Cartoon Saloon. And there is one Netflix original. The voice talent is naturally populated by Japanese stars such as Takuya Kimura, Hideaki Anno, Mayumi Tanaka, Minami Takayama, and Chieko Baisho. Elsewhere, we have the likes of Steve Carell, Gerard Butler, Jeff Bridges, and Cameron Diaz. A “⭐” marks an editors’ choice.
You might find more animated movies in our list of best movies. If you’re looking for even more movies on Netflix, we’ve recommendations for some select other genres as well that you should check out.
- Arrietty (2010)Based on Mary Norton’s 1952 book The Borrowers, the film explores the life of a four-inch-tall family who live in secret in the walls and floors of a human household, changes after their titular teenage daughter is discovered by a new 12-year-old boy who moves in. It is co-written by Hayao Miyazaki.
- The Breadwinner (2017)⭐This animated film follows a 11-year-old girl living under Taliban rule in Afghanistan, who disguises herself as a boy to provide for her family after the father is taken away without reason. Uses wonderfully-drawn vignettes to stress on the importance of storytelling.
- Castle in the Sky (1986)⭐In the first film officially under the Studio Ghibli banner, a young boy and a girl protect a magic crystal from pirates and military agents, while on the search for a legendary floating castle. Hayao Miyazaki writes and directs.
- Despicable Me (2010)Likely best remembered for the tiny yellow henchmen — Minions — who have been absorbed into Internet culture, the first chapter of this animated franchise was a romp from start to finish, as a supervillain (Steve Carell) adopts three orphans as cover for the heist of his life.
- How to Train Your Dragon (2010)Brought up in a world where Vikings have a tradition of being dragon slayers, a young teenager becomes an unlikely friend with a young dragon and learns there may be more to the creatures than everyone thinks.
- Howl’s Moving Castle (2004)After a witch curses an unconfident young woman called Sophie with an old body owing to her growing friendship with a flamboyant wizard called Howl, she attempts to discover a cure while she takes shelter in the boy’s large home that can move itself; and is caught in Howl’s resistance against a warring kingdom. Hayao Miyazaki writes and directs.
- I Lost My Body (2019)In this animated Cannes winner, a severed hand escapes from a lab and scrambles through Paris to get back to his body, while recounting its past life that involved moving to France after an accident and falling in love. A Netflix original.
- In This Corner of the World (2016)Set in Hiroshima during World War II, an 18-year-old woman agrees to marry a man she barely knows in this animated Japanese film, and then must learn to cope with life’s daily struggles and find a way to push through as the war rages on around her.
- Kiki’s Delivery Service (1989)⭐A coming-of-age story of the young titular witch, who opens an air delivery business, helps a bakery’s pregnant owner in exchange for accommodation, and befriends a geeky boy during her year of self-discovery. Hayao Miyazaki writes and directs.
- The Little Prince (2015)Antoine de Saint-Exupery’s 1943 novella is given the animation treatment, in which an elderly pilot (Jeff Bridges) recounts his encounters with a young boy who claimed to be an extra-terrestrial prince to his neighbour, a young girl. Rachel McAdams, James Franco, and Marion Cotillard also voice.
- Lupin the Third: Castle of Cagliostro (1979)In legendary Japanese director Hayao Miyazaki’s feature debut, a dashing master thief enlists the help of a long-time nemesis in the police and a fellow thief to rescue a princess from an evil count and put an end to his counterfeit money operation.
- My Neighbor Totoro (1988)⭐
Set in post-war rural Japan, a heart-warming tale of a professor’s two young daughters who have adventures with friendly forest sprits. Hayao Miyazaki writes and directs.
- Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (1984)
A thousand years into a post-apocalyptic future, where giant mutant insects roam a “toxic jungle”, the young titular princess of the Valley of the Wind who can communicate with said creatures attempts to bring peace between nature and mankind. Meanwhile, a kingdom plans to use an ancient weapon to kill all the insects. Hayao Miyazaki writes and directs.
- Only Yesterday (1991)
A Studio Ghibli production about a 27-year-old career-driven Tokyo woman who reminisces about her childhood on her way to the countryside to see her sister’s family. Isao Takahata writes and directs.
- Porco Rosso (1992)
Transformed into an anthropomorphic pig by an unusual curse, an Italian World War I ace fighter veteran now works as a freelance bounty hunter in 1930s Adriatic Sea in the Mediterranean. Hayao Miyazaki writes and directs.
- Shrek (2001)
In this half-parody of Disney-branded fairy tales, an eponymous ogre (Mike Myers) agrees to help an evil lord (John Lithgow) get a queen (Cameron Diaz) in exchange for the deed to his swamp. It’s filled with enough jokes for the adults and a simple plot for children.
- A Silent Voice: The Movie (2016)
Based on the manga of the same name, a coming-of-age story of a school bully who tries to make amends with a hearing-impaired girl he tormented back in the day, after the tables are turned on him.
- The Tale of The Princess Kaguya (2013)
In the most expensive Japanese movie ever made, which is based on a 10th-century folktale, a tiny girl, found inside a bamboo stalk, grows rapidly into an exquisite young woman and attracts many suitors. She sets out a series of impossible tasks for them, for which she will ultimately pay a price.
- When Marnie Was There (2014)
Based on Joan G. Robinson’s 1967 eponymous novel, introverted 12-year-old girl Anna is sent to a summer home in a sleepy, seaside town, where she befriends the mysterious, blonde-haired titular girl who lives in an abandoned mansion and asks Anna to keep their secrets from everyone. The final film for Studio Ghibli.
- Whisper of the Heart (1995)
14-year-old Shizuku, a bookworm who dreams of becoming a writer, discovers that all the library books she reads have also been read by one Seiji, a mysterious boy who is intent on pursuing his love for violin-making in Italy. Inspired by Seiji’s drive and an antique item that catches her eye, Shizuku begins to pen her own story. Written by Hayao Miyazaki.
- The Wind Rises (2013)
In this true story what was to be Hayao Miyazaki’s final film before he reversed his retirement, young Jiro Horikoshi’s dreams of being a pilot are shattered because he wears spectacles, and instead, he ends up pursuing airplane design, with his creations used by the Japanese in World War II.