We all love Studio Ghibli. But there are so many anime films out there that are just as good as the films by legend Hayao Miyazaki and his team. (Case in point: the uber popular Kimi no Nawa by Makato Shinkai that swept the world last 2016.) If you want more non-Studio Ghibli anime films to watch, these are some of the ones you should you start with.
5 Centimeters Per Second
Short and sweet — or more like, short and bittersweet. Created by the same mind behind Kimi No Nawa, 5 Centimeters Per Second is the story of Takaki and Akari told in three interconnected episodes that explore their relationship from development to an attempt to survive long-distance and to the realities of love in the face of the responsibilities of adulthood. Much like its title inspired by the rate at which cherry blossom petals fall, the film is slow and serene. But don’t be fooled — it’ll hit you where it hurts, making you face the realities of love and what it means to be a grown-up.
The Girl Who Leapt Through Time
Loosely based on the novel of the same name, The Girl Who Leapt Through Time follows a high-school girl Makoto, who has been struggling to decide on what to do with her future. She discovers that she has gained the power to literally leap and travel back in time. And what does she do? Use it to her advantage, of course. Unfortunately, she realizes a little too late that what she does when she’s out of her own time is also affecting the lives of other people.
After falling in love with a werewolf, college student Hana gives birth to two half-wolf children, Yuki and Ame. But when their father dies, Hana is left alone as a young single mother struggling to protect her wolf children from the world.
Children of the Sea
After a falling-out with her mother, Ruka doesn’t know what to do with all the time she has during summer vacation. She visits her dad at the aquarium where he works at and meets two mysterious boys, Umi and Sora, who, according to her father, were raised by dugongs. She becomes inexplicably drawn to the mysterious pair of brothers.
You’d imagine death would just be a quick flash of the most important moments of your life and then darkness. But what if you’re given another chance at life? This soul is placed in the body of fourteen-year-old Makoto Kobayashi, who just committed suicide. Within six months, the soul needs to find out the truth about two things: what his greatest sin was in his previous life and what reason Makoto had to commit suicide — all while trying to fit into Makoto’s life.
Hotarubi no Mori E
Based on a one-shot shoujo manga of the same name, Hotarubi no Mori E is the story of the human Hotaru and the supernatural Gin and the friendship that blossoms between them. When she was a child, Hotaru gets lost in the mountain forest near her grandfather’s country home, but the strange masked man Gin comes to her rescue. Hotaru comes back to visit Gin every summer, and their friendship grows and develops over the years, despite the fact that if Gin is touched by a human, he will disappear forever.
Garden of Words
Fifteen-year-old Takao Akizuki is an aspiring shoemaker, but he chooses to skip his first class to sit at the garden and just sketch designs. There, he meets 27-year-old Yukari Yukino, who is avoiding work because of personal problems. They meet again and again in the garden, but while Takao opens up, Yukari tells him nothing. Until the truth unfolds as Takao learns Yukari’s identity.
Zutto Mae Kara Suki Deshita: Kokuhaku Jikkō Iinkai
If you love the songs Vocaloid, the singing voice synthesizer software that had several anime faces (hello Hatsune Miku!), you should definitely give this a watch. Zutto Mae Kara Suki Deshita, or also known as I’ve Always Liked You in English, follows seven high school students struggling to confess their love to someone in their circle of friends. It’s a rollercoaster ride of emotions, but with less fluff and more angst.
Have you watched any of these? What other anime films do you recommend? Share them with us!