Anime shows and movies are extremely popular, however some may see them as a little weird or dorky. I am here to show you that just isn’t true. Many shows and movies give us examples of beautiful directing, writing and editing and character development.
If you’re a cinephile, there are anime movies that just can’t be missed. Similarly, many anime shows have complex characters and plotlines that just can’t be missed. Many include metaphors for real life problems that are often dark and topical. If you’ve never watched anime or you are an anime lover, delve into my list of the best movies and shows available to stream or watch online right now. With another lockdown on the horizon, why not start watching new movies and shows. It’s the perfect time for a new interest.
Enjoy my subjective list of the best anime movies and series in no particular order that are out there to watch right now.
1. Howl’s Moving Castle
This movie is a beloved classic for anime lovers, it is from Studio Ghibli and was released in 2004. The plot is set in a fictional kingdom which tells the story of a young girl named Sophie who is cursed by a witch to turn into an old woman. She then encounters a wizard named Howl and the story ensues. This is a fun and heart warming film that delves into themes of youth, love and freedom.
It’s one of my personal comfort films. The storytelling and animation are both beautiful. The film can also be interpreted as an anti-war peace and critique of the 2003 Iraq war from director Hayao Miyksaki, as he had strong political opinions about the war and was fiercely against it. This is available on Netflix.
2. Spirited Away
Another hit from both studio Ghibli and director Miyksaki, from 2001. This is another extremely popular anime like Howls Moving Castle. Arguably spirited away is Studio Ghibli’s most popular film. The plot involves a young girl who sets off on a trip with her parents, they stumble upon a seemingly abandoned amusement park. The girl’s parents are turned into giant pigs, Chihiro meets the mysterious Haku, who explains that the park is a resort for supernatural beings who need a break from their time spent in the earthly realm, and that she must work there to free herself and her parents. The film explores themes of greed and consumerism, although whimsical and fun it also serves as a critique on society. This is currently available on Netflix.
3. Perfect Blue
Perfect Blue is a famous anime psychological thriller by Satoshi Kon from 1994, based on the novel of the same name. The film follows a former pop idol who leaves her career as a singer to become an actress shedding her “good girl” image. Her sanity slowly starts to slip. This is a stylish and thrilling watch that will have you on the edge of your seat whilst watching.
According to the Irish Times, famous director Darren Aronofsky was attached to a live-action remake of Kon’s Perfect Blue for many years, until he loosely adapted that film’s story and themes into the Oscar nominated Black Swan. Check out the Irish Times article here: Perfect Blue review: Peerless animation that inspired ‘Black Swan’
You can watch Perfect Blue dubbed English on YouTube free here: Perfect Blue Eng dub , it can also be found online if you prefer watching with subtitles.
4. Princess Mononoke
Yet again, another Studio Ghibli production makes the list from 1997. The plot of the film involves a young protagonist, infected by an animal attack, who seeks a cure from the deer-like god Shishigami. In his travels, he sees humans ravaging the earth, bringing down the wrath of wolf god Moro and his human companion Princess Mononoke.
5. Your Name
Up next is the 2016 hit film Your Name, from CoMix Wave Films. Your name is fantasy film, following Two teenagers share a profound, magical connection upon discovering they are swapping bodies. But things become even more complicated when the boy and girl decide to meet in person. If you’re looking for beautiful animation this film is for you. It is available to watch on Netflix.
6. A Silent Voice
A silent voice is another 2016 film production by the company Kyoto Animation. It is a teen drama which explores heavy themes such as bullying, depression and suicide. A synopsis of the film; it follows a grade school student with impaired hearing who is bullied mercilessly, the student transfers to another school. Years later, one of her former tormentors sets out to make amends. A Silent Voice can be found on Netflix. Keep the tissues near for this one!
7. I Want to Eat Your Pancreas
This movie is a recent hit only premiering in 2018. It is an anime romance. The movie is about an aloof boy who comes across a book in a hospital waiting room. He soon discovers that it is a diary kept by his very popular classmate who reveals to him that she is secretly suffering from a fatal pancreatic illness. The film is a tear jerking love story and can be found online to watch.
8. A Whisker Away
This Japanese fantasy movie came out in 2020 and is available on Netflix. to watch. A plot synopsis is, the line between human and animal starts to blur after a girl transforms herself into a cat. This is an uplifting and feel good film.
Paprika is an anime Sci-Fi psychological thriller by Perfect Blues, Satoshi Kan, based on the 1993 novel of the same name. The plot involves a machine that allows therapists to enter their patients’ dreams. When it is discovered that the dreams are being stolen, all Hell breaks loose. Only a young female therapist, Paprika, can stop it. The film explores themes of memory, identity and illusion. It is argued that Christopher Nolan’s hit movie Inception is based on Paprika. Paprika is available to rent or buy on Amazon UK here, Amazon Prime Video.
10. Grave of the Fireflies
This World War II film is an emotional tragedy depicting the loss and suffering victims of war face. It is told through the eyes of a teenage boy and his little sister who he is caring for after they become separated from their parents. If you’re in the mood to shed a tear this movie is for you. You can watch the movie on YouTube here, Grave of the Fireflies Eng Dubbed
11. Castle in the Sky
Yet another Studio Ghibli piece of fantasy animation from 1986 that was written and directed by once again Hayao Miyzaki. This was the first film animated by Studio Ghibli in this style which paved the way for the many beautiful films to come out of the studio. It follows the adventures of a young boy and girl in the late 19th century attempting to keep a magic crystal from a group of military agents, while searching for a legendary floating castle. It is available to watch on Netflix.. It is a perfect family friendly movie to watch this autumn.
I hope you enjoyed my list of must watch anime movies. Now let’s move onto TV series!
11 of the best anime shows to watch right now
1. Attack on Titan
First on my list Tv series, is the hugely popular, if not the most popular, anime series out there. Attack on Titan is an action/fantasy show based off the Manga series of the same name. With a stellar plot and great character development that will leave you hooked.
It is set in a world where humanity lives within cities surrounded by enormous walls that protect them from gigantic man-eating humanoids referred to as Titans. You can watch season one on Netflix now. If you start watching now you might be able to catch up before the final season is going to be released in December!
2. Death Note
Another widely popular series is Death Note, there is only one season so it’s a perfect watch for the weekend Netflix binger. Death Note follows protagonist Light Yagami, a college student who stumbles across another worldly notebook. The notebook has the ability to grant the user the power of killing anyone whose name is written in the book. It is available on Netflix. Death Note has aspects of horror, thriller and crime all wrapped into one.
This show is another perfect watch for the weekend as it’s only season. The show mixes aspects of time travel and murder mystery, which leave you wanting more. It is available on either Netflix or Amazon Prime Video. The plot follows 29 year old manga artist Satoru Fujinuma is sent back in time 18 years to prevent the events leading to his mother’s death, which began with a series of kidnappings in his 5th grade year.
If you’re a fan of sport shows and underdogs this show is for you, it is available on Netflix. The show follows a short boy Hinata, who is determined to be like the volleyball championship’s star player Shouyou, nicknamed “the small giant,” as he joins his school’s volleyball club.
5. Tokyo Ghoul
This series is another highly popular one, it is also available on Netflix. The show has drama, action and horror. It is set in a world where ghouls live among humans, they are the same as regular people in virtually every way, other than their craving for human flesh.
6. Banana Fish
Banana Fish is not for the faint of heart, it’s definitely on the heavier side, with dark themes such as child prostitution, gang violence and murder. It is filled with tragedy, drama, action and violence and follows a war between a mafia boss named Dino and a young gang leader searching for redemption named Ash. This show tugs on your heart strings so be prepared! It is available to watch on Amazon Prime Video
7. The Promised Neverland
This show is an adventure, mystery from 2019, the plot is based on young orphans discovering a secret and sinister purpose for why they were raised, and follows them as they look for a way to escape from their evil caretaker. It is available on Amazon Prime Video.
8. Your Lie in April
This show is available to stream on Netflix, it is a drama show which follows a piano playing young boy coping after his mother’s death, once a piano prodigy after his will to play disappears. But meeting a free-spirited girl who plays the violin turns his life around. This is an emotional TV show that is just one season.
Kakegurui is available on Netflix and is set in a private academy, an institution for the privileged with a very peculiar curriculum for the children of prominent wealthy families across Japan. Being smart doesn’t get you ahead in this school but rather how good of a gambler you are. The show also gives lots of interesting facts on card games.
10. Rascal does not dream of bunny girl senpai
This show is available to watch on Crunchyroll, it is a coming of age tale. A teenage boy’s life takes a turn for the unexpected when he meets teenage actress Mai Sakurajima, dressed as a bunny girl, wandering through a library and not being noticed by anyone else there.
11. Devilman Crybaby
Last on the list is a show that definitely isn’t for everyone. It is explicit and often violent, it is available on Netflix. It is an action drama, in which two childhood friends Akira and Ryo live in a world where demons are among humanity. Akira, a timid boy, is tasked by his friend Ryo to merge with one of these demons in order to be able to fight back against them for the sake of humanity. It is an explicit hypnotic show that is rated 18’s and over.
Hopefully this list helps you to pick a new show to start binging ASAP.