The Five Best Anime Movies For Little Kids

The Five Best Anime Movies For Little Kids
To sign up for our daily newsletter covering the latest news, features and reviews, head HERE. For a running feed of all our stories, follow us on Twitter HERE. Or you can bookmark the Kotaku Australia homepage to visit whenever you need a news fix.

Sick of Disney? Anime movies can provide a great alternative for young viewers, opening up new cultures and ideas. However, a lot of anime isn’t for children. Here are ten wonderful and age-appropriate anime films that little kids will love.

What is anime? In short, it’s the Japanese word for animation. It’s more than that, though. Since the country is culturally different from the West, showing anime to young children between the ages of 3 to 8 can introduce them to another world. Literally.

5. The Cat Returns

This list needs a good cat movie, and The Cat Returns is a good cat movie. Schoolgirl Haru is able to talk to cats and one day she saves a cat from getting run over. The cat wasn’t any old feline, but the Prince of the Cat Kingdom. Kids of all ages should enjoy The Cat Returns.

4. Ponyo

Not my personal favourite, but this isn’t about me. It’s about kids. Small kids. And I’ve found that small kids, generally speaking, adore this movie. Studio Ghibli’s lush take on the imagery and mythos of Hans Christian Andersen’s The Little Mermaid captivates younger viewers, as does the catchy soundtrack.

3. Kiki’s Delivery Service

Kiki, a young witch, makes her own way, moving to a small town and getting a job delivering bread. A charming film that’s perfect for all ages. The original Japanese soundtrack is fantastic, too, with some clever sound cues.

2. Wolf Children

Wolf Children tells the story of a woman facing the difficulties of raising children who are half human and half wolf. Directed by Mamoru Hosoda of The Girl Who Leapt Through Time fame, this movie will enchant kids and adults in equal measure. It’s one of the best films I’ve ever seen about the trials of being a parent. Wolf Children is magical for young and old alike.

1. My Neighbour Totoro

I’ve lost count of how many times this movie has played at my house. All three of my children have grown up on it, and all three love it. My Neighbour Totoro tells the story of a father and his two daughters who move to the countryside, while their mother recovers in a hospital. Magic soon follows, as director Hayao Miyazaki writes a love letter to the Japanese countryside and the imagination of children. Also, this movie has a catbus. It’s a bus that’s also a cat. What else do you need?

This was a difficult list to put together, and I’ve left plenty of movies off. (The Doraemon movie, the Pokémon movies, Yo-Kai Watch and Professor Layton and a bunch more Ghibli movies and pre-Ghibli movies like Go! Panda, Go!, as well as TV series like Astro Boy, Speed Racer, Kimba the White Lion, Dragon Ball, Naruto…. and so on.) I hope you’ll share your own recommendations in the comments below.

In case you missed it, here is Kotaku‘s list of the best TV shows for little kids.


  • really, dragon ball and naruto for kids under 8.
    they’re pretty violent, and prob not the best messages for young developing minds.

  • whats the best for the lower end of the scale. my daughter is 3.5. she gets scared in some disney movies at the moment, eg, the octopus from little mermaid scares her and even the evil lady in Tangled does too in a couple of scenes.

    • My 2.5yr olds go nuts for: kiki, ponyo, totoro.
      Disney movies are scary. These ones hardly have an antagonist (except ponyos dad but he’s only menacing at best[worst?]).

    • The most distinguishing thing about sharing Japanese movies (in particular Ghibli) with your kids is that culturally speaking spirits and ghosts are there to help and guide people not to torment and scare them. This will have a major impact as your kids grow into their teens.

      The other major difference is that there is no evil or bad person that caries the blame, which inevitably leads to their death. Totoro’s issues are the from the kid s themselves dealing with adult problems. Spirited away has Chirio talking her way out of the issue and bringing people together. Howls castle shows that you take curses as they come and make do with the situation you have. Porko Rosso shows that pirates aren’t that bad, and just want to marry a nice girl 🙂
      Even Nausica has the most passive female lead even when everyone around her is being killed.
      This may not entirely help your situation, but watch what you can yourself and make the call about showing it to your daughter.

      Movies like finding Nemo show that “scary” is a matter of perception it could be a good starting point to help explain that.

      Finally, one thing Ghilbli shows is kids crying. This can cause confusion in younger people, as it is something that western children’s content tends to avoid rather than embrace.

  • I would of been about 8 when i had my world blown wide open by Ninja scroll and Akira, dont deprive your kids of those cultural masterpieces.
    Iv also been rewatching the ghibli movies on Sbs of recent, always a fantastic watch!

    • Yeah, they’re both essential. And a bit rapey. Well ninja scroll is heaps rapey, Akira only slightly.

      • I know right!
        My Grandad was mad, 10 years old, takes me to the movies, ‘No Grand son of mine will see a shitty G rated movie, starship troopers it is!’
        My mum hated it, but best Grandad ever

  • I saw Hosoda’s latest The Boy and The Beast yesterday. Not quite up to Wolf Children for me but I still really enjoyed it. Hosoda is maintaining his 100% quality streak for me with his movies. Keep them coming!

  • Havn’t seen the Wolf children. This weekend maybe.

    My kids adore howls moving castle.

  • Edit: said some negative things about Kiki and realised it wasn’t in the spirit of the topic.

  • Good list… But, I can’t say I agree with the “for little kids” title. Any of these movies are quite enjoyable regardless of the age.

  • obviously the best one of all is Pokemon: The First Movie. I remember nearly crying as a little kid when Ash got turned to stone, hit me right in the feels

Show more comments

Comments are closed.

Log in to comment on this story!