As acclaimed directors such as Hayao Miyazaki or Satoshi Kon have proven time and time again, anime isn’t just a way for kids to pass the time. It’s a universal art form that, if given the time and resources, can match if not exceed the same tonal and thematic density of live-action movies such as Black Swan Where Creation, two films that actually owe their stories and concepts to anime director Satoshi Kon.
The 2010s brought a great generation of animated films for new and longtime fans alike, as studio behemoths such as Studio Ghibli were in great shape while newcomers such as Masaaki Yuasa and Makoto Shinkai defined their career.
ten When Marnie was there
When Marnie was there is a unique coming-of-age story that centers on the hidden friendship between Anna Sasaki and the titular Marnie. Anna is a young girl who suffers from severe asthma attacks which made it difficult to interact with others and to form friendships with her. As recommended by her doctor, Anna is spending time in a seaside town to see if clean air can help improve her health.
However, while there, she discovers an abandoned house and the mysterious girl who lives there, Marnie. Marnie becomes Anna’s friend and her cheerful attitude helps Anna to thrive. However, as the two grow closer, Anna begins to learn more about Marnie’s strange circumstances.
9 Alter with you
Makoto Shinkai is a rising force in the anime industry whose hyperrealistic animation and youthful writing have drawn millions of people between Japan and the world. Alter with you is its follow-up to your name and, coming at a time constantly threatened by environmental consequences, he tells his love story amid a seemingly endless rain in Tokyo.
Hodaka Morishima is a high school student who ran away from home to succeed in Tokyo. He miraculously finds a job in an underground tabloid magazine whose exploits help him meet the mysterious Sunshine Girl, a girl who is magically able to summon sunlight through the endless clouds of Tokyo. As the two try to use his power for good, they suddenly discover that it comes at a serious price.
8 I want to eat your pancreas
In I want to eat your pancreas, Sakura Yamauchi has a fatal pancreatic disease. Unable to tell her own friends, Sakura turns to Haruki Shiga, a seemingly emotionless boy who stumbles upon her secret, as her only confidant and solace during this difficult time in his life.
During Sakura’s journey to fully experience what appears to be the last moments of her life, Haruki’s harsh exterior begins to melt and he begins to see the true meaning of life. With the help of breathtaking animation, I want to eat your pancreas has flourished in the industry as a must-have watch.
7 Liz and the blue bird
Few films as a whole manage to use body language and music as distinctly and effectively as Kyoto Animation. Liz and the blue bird. That means something since it’s not a fantastic epic. Set in the same world as the animated series, Ring! Euphonium, Liz and the blue bird tells a simple story about two friends who go their separate ways as each pursues high school and music differently.
What sets this film apart from the rest is how acclaimed director Naoko Yamada uses her stunning animation to accentuate gestures and emotions in a way that rivals live performance, and how the music in this film becomes. almost a full-fledged character like the audience is able to identify changes and fluctuations with each note.
6 Wolf Children
Mamoru Hosoda has grown into one of the anime industry’s top directors and a leading provider of creative family content. Telling intimate stories that adults and children alike can enjoy, Hosoda uses the power of animation to combine human emotion with grandiose storylines and concepts. One of his outings was Wolf Children.
This tells the story of a young woman, Hana, who falls in love with a hidden werewolf. After her death in a sudden accident, Hana must take care of their half-wolf, half-human children on her own. Struggling as a single mother, she moves them to the countryside where she works to raise them, protect their secret, and cultivate a healthy farm.
5 Maquia: when the promised flower blooms
Anime has used high fantasy television styles to tell epic adventure stories as well as to define the new isekai genre. However, with Maquia: when the promised flower blooms, high fantasy is not only used to encapsulate a wide world. It is used to heighten the emotions and beauty of a truly unique yet incredibly impactful situation.
In this film, an immortal girl loses her village due to human rampage; and in her attempt to run, she finds a human baby. Lost and without a family, the girl decides to raise the child on her own and faces the trials and tribulations of being both a single mother and seeing someone she loves growing up right in front of her.
4 The tale of Princess Kaguya
The tale of Princess Kaguya is a classic story in Japanese folklore that sees new life from Studio Ghibli. In the film adaptation, a bamboo cutter named Okina discovers a tiny baby in one of the stems. He believes the girl, Kaguya, is a heavenly princess, so he decides to raise her as his own.
Kaguya enjoys life in her village and grows up to be a spirited young girl. However, Okina takes him away from his peaceful life when he finds a large amount of treasure in the forest. He becomes determined to make Kaguya a real princess; but as he does, Kaguya begins to show his true purpose to the world.
3 A silent voice
A silent voice is one of Kyoto’s most successful animated films to date and one of the greatest animated films to be released in recent years. He focuses on Shouya Ishida, a troubled child who struggles to find his way in the world, but has a second chance to redeem himself when he meets the deaf girl he bullied as a child, Shouko Nishimiya.
As he learns more about his life and how hard his bullying affected her, Shouya begins to see his outlook on life change and begins to make new friendships. He sees his relationship with Shouko starting to grow; but as his past begins to catch up with him, Shouya struggles again with his sense of self and actions.
2 The night is short, walk girl
Coming out of the imagination and surrealism of its flagship animated series, The Tatami Galaxy, Masaaki Yuasa creates a spiritual sequel in his film, The night is short, walk on Girl. Although the stories and characters differ a bit, this film continues the exploration of Yuasa’s romance through the misguided adventures of youth.
Here, a mysterious dark-haired girl explores the streets of Japan, drawn to every local bar run, book event, and game along the way. His secret admirer follows suit and will do anything to get his attention (besides talking to him). As they experience all of the mysterious wonders the night has to offer, fate slowly draws them closer.
1 your name
Although he did a few other works along the way, Makoto Shinkai’s true flagship project is the critically acclaimed love story, Your name. Here, two children grow up in very different parts of Japan.
Mitsuha lives in rural Japan where she dreams of finding a more grandiose life and adventure. Taki is a boy from Tokyo who takes each day as it comes. Suddenly, although they had apparently never met before, the two begin to change bodies. Having to live each other’s lives, the two begin to get to know each other in a way that no one else in their life does. However, when their switching suddenly stops, it’s up to Taki to learn the mysterious circumstances surrounding them.
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