Top 5 Anime Movies You Need to Watch (That are not from Studio Ghibli)

Written by: Artur Galvao

Undeniably Studio Ghibli and director Hayao Miyazaki have pioneered the way for anime film by raising the standards that are demanded out production studios in Japan. However, this may come as shock to some people but there exist great anime films not released by Studio Ghibli, I know, shocking isn’t it. I want to dedicate this list to anime films that deserve more praise and a wider recognition and which I regard in the same quality as films such as Spirited Away or Princess Mononoke.

1. Akira

Japanese title: アキラ, Akira

Director: Katsuhiro Otomo

Studio: Toho

Genre: Action

Release date: 16 July 1988

I’m keeping this one brief, for I consider this to be not only one of the greatest anime movie of all time, but one the best films of all time. Akira tells the story of a secret military project endangers Neo-Tokyo when it turns a biker gang member into a rampaging psychic psychopath that only two teenagers and a group of psychics can stop.


2. A Silent Voice

Japanese title: 映画 聲の形, Eiga Koe no Katachi

Director: Naoko Yamada

Studio: Kyoto Animation

Genre: Drama

Release date: 17 September 2016

From an old film to a relatively new one, A Silent Voice was released in 2016. This film details the story of a young man who is ostracized by his classmates after he bullies a deaf girl to the point where she moves away. Years later, he sets off on a path for redemption. This film provides an unique perspective, in which we see everything through the bully’s perspective. Whereas, anime of the same nature will opt to follow the bullied character, which should elicit emotion of sadness and sympathy. This film is heart-wrenching to watch at times especially if you have experienced bullying first hand. What makes this film great to watch is ability it has to side-step the melodrama that comes with films of this genre. The themes of youth and redemption provides a heavy amount of realism the isn’t commonly found in anime films. This film is uniquely crafted by director Naoko Yamada; one which anime fans must watch.


3. Your Name

Japanese title: 君の名は, Kimi no Na wa.

Director: Makoto Shinkai

Studio: CoMix Wave Films

Genre: Drama

Release date: 26 August 2016

Your Name is directed by Makoto Shinkai, who tends to enjoy directing stories of star-crossed lovers, and this film shares that component. This film approaches a narrative that I have not seem in anime before, a body swapping narrative. Your Name tells the story of two strangers that find themselves linked in a bizarre way. When the connection is formed they attempt to find each other. Although, the narrative is fresh in anime and provides the writers with many avenues for character/emotional development; where the film shines is stylistically. This film is breathtaking with certain shots being too beautiful to describe. The film’s theme of Japanese youth culture and how two people can fall in love without actually meeting, shows the emotional depth of the film.


4. Wolf Children

Japanese title: おおかみこどもの雨と雪, Ōkami Kodomo no Ame to Yuki

Director: Mamoru Hosoda

Studio: Studio Chizu, Madhouse

Genre: Drama

Release date: 21 July 2012

Wolf Children tells the tale of a women in university who falls in love with werewolf. After her werewolf lover unexpectedly dies in an accident, a woman must find a way to raise the werewolf son and daughter that she had with him. But their inheritance of their father’s traits proved to be a challenge for her. Out of every film on this list this is the closest to a Studio Ghibli production. The themes of single parenthood and choosing what you want to be provides an emotional narrative that could bring one to tears. What is great about this film is every major character has a full story arc. I won’t tell the changes that happens, for I do not want to spoil the film, but all the characters arrive at different place then where they were at the start of the film. The development of main characters, mother and both her children, provide a film that audiences can relate to, which one might not think it could happen when said film is about werewolves. Lastly, the decision-making of a dichotomy is prominent part of the film, in which a character chooses between two difficult paths, in which we see the consequences of. Each character is forced to do this, which allows for great development that deserves to be watch by more people.


5. Children Who Chase Lost Voices

Japanese title: 星を追う子ども Hoshi wo Ou Kodomo

Director: Makoto Shinkai

Studio: CoMix Wave Films

Genre: Fantasy/Science Fiction

Release date: 7 May 2011

The film is a coming-of-age story which follows a young girl named Asuna Watase discovering and venturing into a mysterious world of the dead. Brimming with adventure, action and light romance, its theme surrounds the concept of saying “farewell” and the sacrifices required to accept it.

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