7 of The Top Anime Directors To Watch Out For

The ability of a film to capture its audience depends mainly on its visual creativity, which is solely the work of a director. To be a good anime director, it is essential to have a passion for art, knowledge of animation, the ability to create perfect visuals, and good storytelling techniques.

Anime directors have been able to capture the world and gain more audiences with these skills. Most top anime directors started working as an assistant and employees before they were able to make it to the top.

This article will list the best seven anime directors, their works, and how they were able to achieve such a feat.

7 of The Top Anime Directors To Watch Out For

Here you have the list of top anime directors in the world, the top anime movies they worked on, and their biography.

Read on!

1. Hayao Miyazaki

Hayao Miyazaki1

Hayao Miyazaki is one of the most famous and trending anime directors in the world right now. Hayao is not only an animator director but also a producer, screenwriter, author, and artist.

The 81 years old director was born in Tokyo, Japan. He started his career in animation in 1963 when he was recruited into Toei animation, where he featured in Doggie March and Wolf Boy Ken as an in-between artist. Miyazaki’s role in the production of the great adventure of Horus, Prince of the sun cannot be underrated as he worked as a scene designer, chief animator, and concept artist.

He left Toei animation in 1971 to A-Pro animation where he spent 4 years before moving to Nippon Animation. He had his first anime film as a director in 1979 titled “The Castle of Cagliostro” under telecom animation film. He co-founded Ghibli studio in 1985 with Toshio Suzuki and Isa Takahata who are both his mentors.

Miyazaki gained global recognition in 1997 after the release of his movie titled “Princess Mononoke” which became the first anime movie to earn the Japan Academy Prize for Picture of the year. The film also became the highest-grossing film in Japan for months after its release. The film also exposed the Ghibli studio where it was produced to the global market.

Another wave-making movie was produced in 2001 titled “spirited away” which also earned several awards the highest-grossing film in Japan and others. He was awarded the honorary golden lion for lifetime achievement award in 2005 at the 62nd Venice international film festival after the release of his movie Howl’s moving castle.

Through his works, he has been able to portray his views about environmental rights, climate change, family, love, loyalty, peace, and women’s rights. Miyazaki is also known for his application of both hand-drawn animations and computer-generated imagery. He is an inspiration to many animators, video game designers, directors and writers globally.

He was decorated as a person of cultural merit by the government of Japan- in 2012, he received eight Tokyo anime awards, eight kinema junto awards, three anime grand Prix, five Annie Awards, and a lot more. Miyazaki got married in 1965 to Akemi Ota who is also an animator and the marriage blessed them with two children.

2. Shinichiro Watanabe

Shinichiro Watanabe1

Shinichiro Watanabe was born on the 24th of May, 1965 in Kyoto Japan. He is an anime television and film director who is popular for the use of music and multiple genres in his films. He started his career in anime directing in 1990 when he joined Sunrise, a Japanese animation studio.

He had his first debut by co-directing in the Macross series before he single-handedly directed the Cowboy Bebop in 1998. He directed a short film titled “Kid’s Story” and “A Detective Story’’ which was his first American-produced anime in 2003.

Apart from being a director, Watanabe is also a creative music producer and has been involved in various films like a Mind game, Michiko & Hatchin, kids on the slope, and more. Watanabe was among the team that produced the Cowboy Bepop series which was aired on Netflix in 2021. He is popular for his use of music which he termed as a universal language. He is estimated to be worth $20 million.

3. Makoto Niitsu Shinkai

Makoto Niitsu Shinkai1

Makoto is an animator, writer, manga artist, and filmmaker of japan origin. He was born on the 9th of February, 1973 in Koumi, Japan. He worked in a video game company after graduating from university, he worked there to make video games and content for websites.

He released a short anime video in 1999 titled “she and her cat” which earned him recognition and several awards. He also released other videos in 2001 and 2004 titled voices of a distant star and the place in our early days respectively. His “your name “movie ranked as the highest-grossing anime film in the world overtaking it spirited away by Miyazaki.

He is planning to release another film in 2022 titled Suzume locking up the doors. An asteroid is named after him, and he has received several awards including best director in 2003, 2016, 2017, and 2020. He is married to Chieko Misaka who is a retired actress and producer. He is being inspired by Haruki Murakami and Ray Bradbury who are writers and filmmakers respectively.

4. Mamoru Hosoda

Mamoru Hosoda1

Mamoru Hosoda is one of the anime directors to watch out for in the industry. The Japanese director and animator were born in Toyama, Japan on the 19th of September, 1967. Mamoru was inspired to go into animation through Hayao Miyazaki’s movie. He got his first appointment in Toei Animation where he worked on his first two films before he moved to Ghibli studio in the early 2000s. He joined madhouse in 2005 where he was able to reach the peak of his career there.

He gained global acknowledgment in 2006 when his movie the girl who leaped through time won the japan academy prize for animation of the year and summer wars in 2009. He established his own studio with Yuichiro Saito in 2011.

He has directed several films from his studio including Wolf’s Children, The Boy and the Beast, Mirai, and Belle. Mirai was nominated as the best-animated feature film. His films are known to showcase the importance of family, digital technology, and love. Mamoru is one of the richest directors with a net worth of $ 1.5 million. He is currently not married.

5. Hideaki Anno

Hideaki Anno1

Hideaki Anno is an animator, filmmaker, and actor. The Japanese anime director was born on the 22nd of May,1960.he began his career in 1982 while he was at Osaka university of arts when he participated in the release of the super dimension fortress Macross .he gained recognition when he worked with Hayao Miyazaki in the production of Nausicaa of the valley of the wind in 1984.

He became a co-founder of Gainax and had his debut as a director for the studio’s first film “Royal space force” in 1987. He once had a depression which led to the production of his television series “Neon Genesis Evangelion” which has been on air since 1996 till date. He has since directed several films like Kareshi Kanojo no Jijo, Love and pop, Funky forest, cutie honey, and a lot more.

Hideaki has received several awards including the best new director award at the Yokohoma festival 1998, the best artistic contribution award, director of the year, best director in the world, and more. He launched a japan animator expo in 2014 together with studio Khara.

Furthermore, Hideaki is married to a writer who wrote a book exposing Hideaki as being part of the Otaku cult. He is known for incorporating mental health awareness, the Japanese way of life, and his theories on life, politics, racism, and more. He is also a businessman and has endorsed several brands in Japan. His net worth is $ 12 million. 

6. Naoko Yamada

Naoko Yamada

Naoko Yamada is one of the few female anime directors in Japan. The Japanese director was born on the 28th of November,1985 in Kyoto Prefecture, Japan. She enjoyed drawing right from childhood and enjoyed watching movies. She attended Kyoto University of art and college where she studied oil painting. She joined Kyoto animation immediately after graduation from the university. She had her first role as an inbetweener in Inuyasha between 2000 to 2004.

She started working as a key animator in 2005 and worked on anime films like a lucky star, Kanon, and the melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya. She had her debut in directing in 2008 through the production of “Clannad”.

And she became a chief director in 2009 when she directed K – On! She has since then, directed several films like Tamako love story, Tamako market, silent voice, and more. She has received several awards including the new face award at the japan media art festival and her silent movie won the best animation film in the Mainichi film award and excellent animation of the year in the japan academy prize.

She left Kyoto studio after it got burnt down to start her own studio at home in 2020. She is presently working on the Heike story under science SARU and had its first episode released in 2021.

Yamada is a feminist and most of her films portray the girl’s struggle, she also focuses on bringing live-action to her film and this is known to always excite her audience. She also captures audiences with her style of communication using low-angle shots, unique camera movement, and a shallow depth of field. She described herself as being a mentor to herself and several others. She is one of the youngest Japanese anime directors. Her net worth is estimated to be $ 700,000.

7. Mamoru Oshii

Mamoru Oshii

Mamoru Oshii is one of the top anime directors in the world right now. The Japanese director is also a writer and a filmmaker. He was born on the 8th of august, 1951 in Tokyo, Japan. He was inspired by Jean-Luc Godard, Andrei  Tarkovsky, and Jerzy Kawalerowicz who are all filmmakers. His father is also a cinephile. He started his career in 1976 after graduating from the University of Tokyo, Gakugei.

He joined Tatsunoko production and worked as a storyboard artist on Ippatsun Kanta-Kun. He moved in 1980 to work under Hisayuki Toriumi in his studio pierrot. He had his debut as a director in 1981 in Urusei Yatsura which helped him gain recognition in the industry. He has since then directed several films like the beautiful dreamer, angel’s egg, ghost in the shell, and more.

He gained international prominence after the release of Ghost in the Shell in 1996 which topped the Billboard chart in the United States. Mamoru adopted the Hollywood style of filmmaking which includes a high-quality visual output before anything. He is also known for directing thought-provoking films showcasing his political views, technology, and equity.

He is an inspiration to a lot of animators like Kenji Kamiyama, James Cameron, and more. He has worked together with Production I.G studio where his films are being produced. He also worked with Kenji Kawai whose music accounts for 50 cents of his successes.

Mamoru has written several novels and manga with the Kerberos Panzer Cop being the most remarkable.  The Kerberos is a military science fiction franchise and has become a series since then.

He has also received several awards including the feature film award, best-animated film, future film festival digital award, and more. His film ‘Avalon’ is known to be the most stylish, beautiful, and artistic sci-fi film in the industry. His net worth is $10 million and he is one of the most popular anime directors on social media.


The anime movies industry is gaining ground in all parts of the world .this is due to the improvement in skills, knowledge, and funding attributed to it.

With the advancement of technology, anime directors are bringing new innovations for the enjoyment of their audience. This has also helped the directors in gaining influence, fame, and no doubt wealth from the anime industry. 

Affiliate Disclosure: Purchases that are made using our links may earn us commissions from affiliate partners such as Amazon and other retailers.

Leave a Comment!