Japanese animation – perhaps better known as “anime” – has grown steadily over the years – gaining worldwide recognition rather than just standing still in Asian countries.
In this list, you may be familiar with some titles, notably the Studio Ghibli movies, but we’re going to diversify things a bit by moving away from those. We also stay away from movies with animated series because we wanted you to have a sharper, seamless experience.
5 centimeters per second (Byosoku Go Senchimetoru)
This is a romantic drama that revolves around the main character Takaki Tono and the three phases of his love life. Each phase has a different name: Cherry Blossom, Cosmonaut and 5 Centimeters Per Second. Realized by Makoto shinkai, you might want to prepare your heart for this movie. Honestly, you might just want to check out all of Makoto Shinkai’s work, he continues to make its way into your heart long after the screen goes black.
In a way, it’s a realistic portrayal of life and the different types of love you encounter at different stages of life. In Cherry Blossom we see a young type love, in Cosmonaut we feel the pain of a one-sided love and in 5 Centimeters Per Second we understand the sorrow and longing for an unforgettable past love.
Abducted as if by magic
One of the most popular animated movies that even non-animated fans have probably watched, Abducted as if by magic through Hayao miyazaki is a whimsical story designed to be meaningless, set in the spirit world with a 10-year-old girl as the protagonist. The world in which this film takes place is colorful, imaginative and eerie. Therefore, it naturally captures everyone’s attention!
Chihiro must find a way to save his parents (who have been turned into pigs) and return to the human world. She sort of finds herself working for Witch Yubaba’s public baths in her escape mission, befriending Soot Sprites and Transfigured Human Dragons to aid her cause. You will follow his adventure through the spirit world, sitting on trains and running in a traditional Japanese public bathhouse.
A novel movie “shoujo” through Mamoru hosoda where a college student falls in love with a werewolf. But make no mistake about it. It only scratches the surface of the film as her werewolf lover dies and she finds herself with two werewolf children to raise. The two children have yet to learn to control their animal instincts and she is now a young mother raising her children on her own.
The film tackles the themes of loneliness and the strength of a single mother trying to navigate motherhood on her own. All in all, a beautiful film about sacrifice and love that lingers long after the film ends. Without a doubt, you will need some handkerchiefs for this one.
A silent voice (Koe no Katachi)
Kyoto animation studios, A silent voice is a teenage drama film based on a manga of the same name by Yoshitoki Oima. As the title suggests, there is a deaf-mute character named Shoko in the anime who will end up playing a significant role in the protagonist’s life and of course in the story.
A silent voice focuses on the themes of bullying, mental health, friendship and disabilities. This all happens in high school between Shoya and Shoko. This movie is great if you are easily triggered by suicide and mental health issues then warning! The movie begins with bullying but ends with forgiveness and redemption – maybe even a little crush somewhere.
Howl’s Moving Castle
Another famous work from Studio Ghibli, Howl’s Moving Castle is another whimsical fantasy adventure set in the midst of a war between countries mingled with magic, adventure and love. According to its title, Howl’s Moving Castle revolves around a wizard named Howl living in a constantly moving magical castle.
Protagonist Sophie finds herself cursed into an old woman by the Trash Witch and somehow finds a way to work in Howl’s moving castle. With a mission to become a younger herself again, she is now somewhat absorbed in Howl’s problems and distaste for war. The film turns into an adorable love story towards the end, with peace and harmony achieved at all ends.
It was about time we included one of the most important genres in Japanese animation: the mecha! Promare is a fairly recent anime released in Japan by Trigger and FLAGX on future humans with pyrokinetic abilities that survived spontaneous human mass combustion. A pretty cool concept with some pretty cool artistic styles used.
We take a look at a firefighting group known as Burning Rescue in their efforts to end the ill-labeled “terrorist” group known as Mad Burnish. However, after a turn of events and alien intervention, the two main characters from opposite sides ended up working together to protect Earth with their mecha and pyro abilities.
Also known as Mirai of the future (Mirai no Mirai), this anime is a fantasy comedy adventure in which a little boy somehow meets the future and past self of the people around him. This includes his jealous newborn sister, the teenage version of his mother, and the younger version of his great-grandfather.
This film is about growth and family values. As a child, Kun is stubborn and rebels against his family. He thinks the world is unfair to him, but soon enough he realizes that his perceptions were wrong. By the end of the film, Kun has grown to accept the role of an older brother in mystical ways that you will have to find out while watching the film!
A tragic comedy-adventure anime revolving around three homeless people in Tokyo – an alcoholic, a trans woman, and a teenage girl on the run with their discovery of a dumpster baby. The trio set off in search of the baby’s parents, all this in the middle of winter in the middle of Christmas.
The film explores the abuse and misconceptions about the homeless and the dark side of Tokyo in a comedic and light-hearted way. As much as it wants to sound like a healthy movie, it also features dark themes like addiction and death. All in all, it’s a movie that will warm you up with laughs and leave you with some hard-hitting thoughts.
Your name (Kimi no Nawa)
A fantastic romance involving body changes and time warping by Makoto shinkai. Taki and Mitsuha wake up one day in each other’s body and start living the other’s life. They found a way to communicate by leaving notes to each other and slowly began to change each other’s lives.
It’s all cute and stuff, but that’s just the beginning of their story. One day, the body exchanges stop and they find themselves in need of each other. This is where the real adventure and mystery begins as they find a way to physically meet. Discover scientific mysteries and transcend spiritual realms to meet.
We’re not going to sugarcoat it, you’ll be sad how this all turns out. Either way, remember to always ask for someone’s name before anything else! You never know when you might need it.
In this corner of the world (Kono Sekai no Katasumi ni)
A war drama to end it all – In this corner of the world brings us to Hiroshima and Kure 10 years before and after the dropping of the catastrophic nuclear bomb. We follow the lives of Suzu and her family as they prepare for war by training in air raids, food distribution and sewing women’s pants.
This film addresses the themes of death, loss and perseverance. It’s the kind of movie that reminds us why war is not the answer to everything and that only devastation can come out of it. Suzu lost her hometown and family to the war, not to mention the trauma and emotional turmoil that war brings.
Here is! 10 of the best animated movies you can check out right now. Whether you’re new to the genre or a longtime fan, these are titles you can’t miss.
That said, if you’re a huge anime fan, you’ve probably watched all of the Ghibli movies. Note that you can find all of these movies on iTunes, so be sure to grab a few. Itunes gift card if you plan to dive!