The Best Non-Studio Ghibli Anime Movies

When talking about “good anime movies”, what comes to mind most often is Studio Ghibli, and rightfully so. In the 36 years of its existence, this studio produced many visually beautiful and intellectually fascinating films that became some of the best anime of all time, as well as garnering critical acclaim and box office success around the world. Ghibli has created his own distinctive brand of magical realism and sentimental, intimate depictions of everyday activities like cleaning and cooking. Even ‘Food Ghibli’ has its own theme on Twitter, each post easily gaining 35-50k likes!

However, the wonderful world of anime should not be narrowed down and defined through Ghibli alone. There are a plethora of genres, from romantic comedies to horror, beautifully rendered and promoted by anime studios, lesser known to viewers outside of Japan. Some as Peppers, perfect blue, Y ghost in the shellit even went on to inspire Hollywood blockbusters from the likes of Nolan, Aronofsky and the Wachowski sisters.

Japan has long abandoned the misconception that animation is a medium aimed solely at children. The target audience for anime is teens and adults alike, because they understand that sometimes live action, no matter how good, just can’t achieve the fluidity of movement, rich facial expressions, and varied, surreal visual eccentricities that anime does. are available in animation. Anime can combine stunning visuals with such refined storytelling ability, each shot stylized to perfection, whether it’s a story about raging Tokyo gangsters or a high school student experiencing first love.

With such an abundance of masterful creations, the question arises: where to start? Before the launch of Suzume no Tojimarifrom anime giant Makoto Shinkai, this fall, let’s look at the top ten independent anime movies, not from Studio Ghibli.

10 a silent voice

The boy and girl on a balcony in A Silent Voice
kyoto animation

An unflinching look at the reality of bullying, from the bully’s point of view. This adaptation of Yoshitoki Ōima’s manga a silent voice it’s moody and sensual, without shying away from teenage angst: broken friendships, longing for love and acceptance, and self-loathing. Ambient music and delicate hand-drawn images help convey the fragile inner world of Shoya, who tormented a deaf-mute classmate. Having become a social outcast, he confronts his victim and his conscience.

Related: If You Want To Watch Anime, These Are The Best Shows To Start With

Shoya decides to fix the relationship with her, but the search for forgiveness is not easy. This uplifting story of growth and redemption, which uses the anxieties of youth to create something uplifting about self-improvement, quickly became a hit in Japan. grossing $20 million in the year of its release.

9 summer wars

The cast of Summer Wars before and after animation
Chizu Studio

Scorching sun, gooey melting ice cream, and the scent of adventure – the quintessential start to the perfect summer vacation. Kenji is a math genius, who is forced to pretend to be the boyfriend of a girl he secretly likes. He follows his crush to his ancestral mansion and accidentally runs into an artificial intelligence demon, Love Machine: chaos ensues. summer wars Director Hosoda Mamoru is a legend in the world of animation. Hosoda has a knack for stories centered around multi-generational families and well-thought-out intricate virtual worlds.

8 perfect blue

A woman looks at screens of her own face in Perfect Blue
insane study

Satoshi Kon’s filmography is famous not only among anime fans, but also among moviegoers in general. Their perfect blue is a psychological thriller that explores the dangerous depths of obsessive fanaticism. He criticizes the pop culture industry, its entire web of greedy consumption and talent exploitation. The story follows Mimi, a member of a J-Pop idol group, who wishes to change her image to that of a mature actress, futilely trying to find herself in the process. The filmmakers have paid tribute to the fantastical and haunting images of perfect blueespecially Darren Aronofsky in his Requiem for a Dream (which has exact shot-for-shot remakes of the movie) and Black Swan.

7 the anthem of the heart

The cast of The hymn of my heart
Photos A-1

The little Mermaid satisfies To talk in the beautiful movie the anthem of the heart. It is a sincere fairy tale, about a girl condemned to silence, who learns to communicate with the world without words. It’s not cloying, though, as Anime News Network wrote: “There’s a quiet loneliness to many of the sequences here that really sells them, and the film isn’t afraid to get into key spaces that many teen dramas avoid, either.” The film allows these teenagers, who don’t know how to tell each other their feelings, to show everything through their expressive character designs and body language.

6 The night is short, walk on girl

The girl walks down the middle of Kyoto street in The Night Is Short, Walk on Girl
SARU Science Study

Winner of the 41st Ottawa International Animation Festival in the Animated Feature Film category, The night is short, walk on girl is a wacky anime that follows a student who decides to go all out: she’ll drink to her heart’s desire and try the nightlife. Her secret admirer follows her through the night streets of Kyoto, and they find themselves in various comical, drunken, and completely magical situations in the ancient city. Described by The Guardian as “a hallucinogenic trip down a rabbit hole”, this film is a love letter to Kyoto. One particular draw of this feature is the unique, dynamic, and whimsical character designs, which are not typical of anime. They were created by Yusuke Nakamura, one of Japan’s most popular modern illustrators.

5 penguin highway

The cast of Penguin Highway surrounded by penguins and sky.
colorful studio13

This animated children’s film is full of heart and fan-service. penguin highway is a fun summer detective story with sci-fi elements, cute but refreshing as viewers can never be sure where the story will take them next. One day, a group of Adele penguins suddenly appears in a small island town. Only Aoyama, a science-loving pre-teen, can solve this mystery of where they came from. Not without the help of his friends, of course.

Director Hiroyasu Ishida wanted to emulate the hand-drawn aesthetic with digital techniques to create a bright, crisp, multi-dimensional feel, with the backgrounds of forests and fields being the most visually striking. The film proved to be a hit with both critics and audiences, winning Excellence Awards and breaking into the top 10 at the box office in its first week of release.

4 Concrete

The cast flies through town in Tekkonkinkreet
4°C study

Concrete It has an ethereal and abandoned and futuristic universe of the Yakuza underworld, narrow alleys and sharp corners, a fantastic and colorful setting for a story that at its core celebrates love and family loyalty. Brothers Black and White make their way through Treasure Town and try to protect it from cruelty, crime and corporate greed, yearning to destroy his beloved city.

Related: Exclusive Interview: Michael Arias Creates New Worlds with Tekkonkinkreet

Director Michael Arias approached Taiyo Matsumoto’s manga adaptation without the intention of copying the visual style, but rather to create an experience. The end result is a sensory bewilderment that leaves the viewer breathless. The rough visuals, skewed angles, and weird movements all work wonderfully with the given world-building and story. Concrete it received numerous awards, including the Mainichi Film Award and the Japan Academy Award for Animation of the Year.

3 Words bubble like soda

The cast of Words Bubble Up Like Soda Pop
Signal.MD Studio

A laid-back romance that feels like the sweetest sip of soda during a hot, sweaty summer. Words bubble like soda is a soft and sincere tribute to first love. This film cleverly introduces genre and romance movie clichés, only to elevate them with visual and verbal poetry: slow-motion shots, subtle glow, flexible neon accents, the character’s fascination with music and haiku. Such a nuanced and empathetic portrayal of a teenage love story (their cute meeting and impending separation that comes with the end of summer) drives home the film’s message of celebrating love and art. With a 100% critics rating on Rotten Tomatoes, this film can be considered an instant classic of the melodrama genre.

two old Z

Old Man Z surrounded by machinery
PPP Study

Many anime from the early 90’s are a pinnacle of aesthetics. Every image is delightfully detailed, all the characters are strong and unique, and the plots are absolutely absurd. black comedy old Z It is a great representation of the time. A runaway computer appears to have been inhabited by the spirit of an old man’s wife and, in a desire to visit the sea, she escapes from the hospital and wreaks havoc on the town. The only one who can stop him is a kind young medical student, who was always kind and loving to the elderly in her care. While brilliant and satirical, this story is as much about compassion as it is about colorful mecha. old Z it won the Mainichi Film Award for animation in 1991. In 2001, Wizard Entertainment included the film in their top 50 anime to be released in North America.

one miss hokusai

Miss Hokusai drawing a dragon
IG Production Studio

miss hokusai Discover the story of one of the most notable figures in Japanese culture: Hokusai… or rather, his daughter Ōi. Due to the position of a woman in the society of the time, she had to show her works under the name of her father. This highbrow biopic is a mosaic of episodes from Ōi’s life, subtly showing how she is becoming herself, talented in her own right, even compared to her genius father. The use of natural light provides delicate images, close to the aesthetics of Hokusai’s paintings. This contrasts with the fiery electric guitar music on the soundtrack, modernizing the story. A huge compliment to the honest and feminist review of Japanese history and culture. The film has a 93% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes and was nominated for Annie and Satellite Awards.

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The Best Studio Ghibli Movies, Ranked

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