10 Best Anime Directors That You Should Know Update 07/2024

Best Anime Directors

It’s not just Hayao Miyazaki who is a great animation filmmaker. These additional creators are deserving of acclaim from aficionados of the genre.

One of the most influential and beautiful genres of film in the world, Japanese animation, has been recognized by the Academy Awards. Japanese animation filmmakers’ out-of-the-the-the-box thinking is to credit for this. Miyazaki is likely the most well-known of them and has long been a household name.

Other Japanese anime movie filmmakers’ achievements and creations are considerably overshadowed by this level of recognition and influence. As it turns out, there are a lot of extremely talented directors, and each has their own individual style of animation and storytelling, just like Miyazaki. After rewatching all of Studio Ghibli’s classics, Japanese anime film enthusiasts should be delighted by these other directors and their works.

1. Makoto Shinkai

Makoto Shinkai

In Your Name, Makoto Shinkai made a name for himself in the West, and he also came closer to Miyazaki’s stature. Hand-drawn animation and passionate music were among the many things that were praised about the film. When it comes to weather effects and a seamless blend of the supernatural with the real-world, Shinkai commonly employs these techniques.

With short films like Garden of Words, among others, Shinkai has already made noteworthy advances in animation before this. Interestingly, Makoto Shinkai himself acknowledged that Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli were the key influences on his art style.

2. Satoshi Kon

Paprika, Satoshi Kon’s best-known film, investigates the power of human dreams and the hidden universe. For the most part, it revolves around a technology that aids in manifesting and controlling dreams. In fact, Christopher Nolan drew inspiration from this unusual plot device for his subsequent mind-bending western, Inception.

The concepts for his films and anime series that Satoshi Kon has come up with thus far have been absolutely groundbreaking. The combination of his dreamy, surreal cartoon cinematography and his anime flicks can make them feel like both a fever dream and a dismal realist painting. Many of his works, including Perfect Blue, fall within this category.

3. Mamoru Hosoda

Mamoru Hosoda

Hosoda appears to have a particular talent for integrating sci-fi themes with contemporary Japanese settings. An unhappy teen girl discovers that she may travel back in time and prevent misfortunes by leaping through time in The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, one of his most popular works.

Sci-fi was more restrained in this one. On the other hand, Summer Wars was a virtual world playground and a full-blown war royale of artificial intelligence. Mamoru Hosoda began experimenting with 3D animations interlaced with 2D animations here as well.

4. Hideaki Anno

While Hideaki Anno has produced a slew of sci-fi-themed works in both anime and film, he is most known for Neon Genesis Evangelion, a rambling metaphor about Christianity. In the world of anime, it’s just one of the most culturally significant and important franchises ever created.

Evangelion’s overwhelming focus on trauma and mental health issues is in part due to Anno’s own struggle with depression while making the show and the accompanying films. No other anime has been able to equal the premise and execution of Evangelion, thus it’s reasonable to say he turned something horrible into a masterpiece.

5. Katsuhiro Otomo

Katsuhiro Otomo

As one of the most influential works in the cyberpunk genre, Katsuhiro Otomo’s anime Akira is a must-see. An animation and cyberpunk storytelling masterpiece when it came out in 1988, the film Akira was a huge hit. Cyberpunk was a relatively new cultural media in Japan when this film was released.

Akira excels at establishing a genuinely dismal and depressing cyberpunk environment, to say the least. Neo Tokyo, an anthology that functioned as a prototype or testing ground for Otomo’s magnum work, was his previous cyberpunk film.

6. Isao Takahata

It’s not boring or uninteresting, but rather weighty and dismal for the viewer’s weak hearts to watch a 1988 anime film. Grave of the Fireflies is the name of the movie.

Director Isao Takahata is to be credited for the tragic period piece that is this anime. Isao Takahata is an admirer of stories that aren’t polluted by supernatural, fantasy, or sci-fi escapism. His other well-known picture, The Tale of Princess Kaguya, deals with adult and important cultural issues, despite its supernatural undertones.

7. Mamoru Oshii

Mamoru Oshii

Thanks to Mamoru Oshii, fans of the action and science fiction picture The Matrix enjoy one of the greatest films ever made. That’s because the Wachowskis drew heavily on Oshii’s greatest opus, Ghost in the Shell, when creating The Matrix. The similarities between the two films are immediately apparent without having seen them.

To that end, Mamoru Oshii, like Katsuhiro Otomo, is an important cyberpunk pioneer. In terms of free will, existentialism, and humanism, Ghost in the Shell leans more towards the philosophical side of cyberpunk. His ability to create a whole franchise out of a single picture is quite remarkable.

8. Shinichirō Watanabe

Another pioneer of Japanese cyberpunk, Shinichiro Watanabe. Cowboy Bebop, one of the all-time great anime entries, was directed and created in part by Watanabe himself (and its film). Although it’s not a cyberpunk film, Watanabe has also contributed to anthologies like The Animatrix, which acts as the prequel to The Matrix.

Watanabe’s sense of style is unmistakable. Outside of action, the character’s movements are sluggish and clunky, and the colors used are purposefully washed out or pallid. That adds a lot to the mood of his animation and gives it a more mature but still youthful appearance.

9. Naoko Yamada

Naoko Yamada

Anime filmmaker Naoko Yamada is one of the few female directors in a male-dominated field in Japan. K-On!, an anime that focuses on music, is possibly her most well-known and culturally relevant work of art. One of the most distinctive anime in its genre, it retains a loyal following more than a decade after its release.

A Silent Voice, a film by Naoko Yamada released in 2016, was another significant cultural contribution. Sound and hearing are also taken into consideration in this anime, making it a unique piece of art. Her shoujo-inspired character designs and stories go well with that kind of aesthetic.

10. Yoshiyuki Tomino

Every time you see a shelf full with Gundam model kits, you want to thank the person who put them there in the first place. That recognition goes to Yoshiyuki Tomino. He is the only creator of the Mobile Suit Gundam universe.

In addition to being a novelist, animator, screenwriter, songwriter, and creator, Yoshiyuki Tomin is also the director of most Mobile Suit Gundam films and television episodes. That’s an impressive resume and a strong cultural footprint. Without him, the mecha anime subgenre would not be where it is now.