Whenever we think of best anime movies, Studio Ghibli usually comes to mind. After all, they always produce the most memorable anime movies that just made your heart move. They are very resonant, and we just feel at home.
As such, it was not surprising that some Studio Ghibli movies are nominated in the Academy Awards. Notably, Spirited Away was well-remembered and known by everyone as it secured the Best Animated Feature in Oscars 2003.
But we actually have more great anime movies out there that are not from Studio Ghibli. If you are only interested in investing a short time in watching anime, then movies are definitely worth-watching. You do not have to dedicate a lot of time and energy in catching up with some episodes or seasons. Moreover, if you are a fan of anime, it is good to explore stories as well.
So, we have created a list of 15 best anime movies that are not Studio Ghibli for you to watch!
1. Ghost in the Shell
Synopsis: In a futuristic setting, Niihama City has become technologically advanced. This includes the replacement of robotic limbs to citizens, and eventually their whole bodies.
Amidst all of this, there was a mysterious hacker by the name of “Puppet Master” who had victims stripped off their memories. The Puppet Master’s body consisted of robotic parts, so he has remarkable strength.
The Public Security Section 9 then embarks on an investigation on the Puppet Master, which was headed by Major Motoko Kusanagi. However, further down the investigation, the case became even more complicated as the Public Security Section 6 also got involved.
Motoko is forced to confront a lot of questions about her life, and realize that the Puppet Master have the answers.
2. A Silent Voice
Synopsis: Shouya Ishida used to be a cruel kid who bullied the deaf Shouko Nishimiya in his elementary school days. When Shouko’s mother notified the school about this, everyone turned on Shouya with all the blame placed on him. Shouko was then transferred to a different school, while Shouya got bullied by his other classmates in return which persisted until middle school.
When Shouya reached high school, he is still haunted by all of the bad things he did as a kid. As such, he sought out Shouko to make amends and be redeemed. But will he succeed in doing so?
3. Weathering With You
Synopsis: Tokyo has been suffering from countless rains and unpleasant weather conditions for a long while. This did not deter Hodaka Morishima, a runaway high school student, to find a job to support himself financially. Hina Amano is also doing the same thing to support her younger brother.
Hodaka landed a job at a small publishing business. He eventually met Hina when he tried to rescue her from shady men, which started a friendship between the two. Hodaka then discovered that Hina has the ability to make the sun appear whenever she prays for it. Hodaka then has the idea to make Hina use her ability so that they can provide sunshine for the people. Hina gained popularity and was then called the “sunshine girl”.
However, using this strange power comes a great price.
4. Perfect Blue
Synopsis: Mima Kirigoe was a member of the semi-successful J-Pop idol group, CHAM!. However, she then decided to part ways with the group because she wanted to become a serious actress. This decision was met with mixed reactions, particularly negative due to some fans not wanting Mima to shed her ‘innocent’ and ‘pure’ image.
Mima’s first acting roles require her to be more adult or mature. However, this jumpstarted a lot of problems for Mima.
She has to adjust drastically to what her roles demand of her, and deal with obsessive fans. Specifically, a fan has started stalking her with the moniker “Me-Mania”, and an invasive blog was created to share her personal thoughts to the world.
Overwhelmed, Mima becomes increasingly mentally unstable – unable to distinguish what is real or not.
5. Wolf Children
Synopsis: Hana is a college student girl who fell in love with a strange man who attends one of her classes. This happened to be Ookami or “Wolf Man”, who transforms into a werewolf during full moon. Despite this, Hana still loved and accepted him, so they got married and started a family.
They had two children together: Ame and Yuki. Ame was born during the rainfall season, while Yuki was born in the snowfall season. Both of the kids are able to transform into werewolves just like their father.
However, tragedy struck the family. Ookami died suddenly, leaving Hana a single parent to care for two children. Hana got stressed of raising her family in a densely populated city considering her children’s peculiarity. She then decided to move to the countryside to escape the judgment from the unforgiving society.
6. Your Name
Synopsis: Mitsuha Miyamizu and Taki Tachibana live completely different lives. Mitsuha lives in the countryside, who is also a shrine maiden maintaining the traditions of her family. However, she is dissatisfied with this life as she dreamt of becoming a handsome boy in Tokyo. Taki, on the other hand, is a Tokyo city boy who works part-time at a restaurant. He has dreams of becoming an architect and urban planner once he grows up.
Their fates became intertwined when they began swapping bodies with one another. Mitsuha began living as a city boy in Taki’s body while Taki experiences a countryside life in Mitsuha’s body. After their initial misgivings, the two started to understand and fall in love with each other. At the same time, they started to improve each other’s lives.
But with the strange phenomena of switching bodies, will they be able to meet face to face with each other?
Synopsis: Atsuko Chiba and Kosaku Tokita have been developing a new form technology called the “DC Mini”, a device that allows to enter dreams. Their intentions in creating this device is that they wanted to help and cure people from psychological disorders, as dreams are the psyche of a person. It reveals their deepest fears and desires.
But the DC Mini can also be abused when it falls into the wrong hands. It got stolen, and the perpetrator has been causing havoc with the people around them. Atsuko and Kosaku resolved to find the perpetrator with the help of Officer Konakawa. They traversed real life and dreams to solve the issue.
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Synopsis: A race of flame-wielding mutants has posed a danger to humanity. They are called ‘”Burnish”, and they have brought death and destruction alike.
A nation, Promepolis, is actively working in fighting against the Burnish. They were led by their competent leader, Kray Foresight, who made the nation prosperous despite the dangers. Galo Thymos respected and admired Foresight so much, as the latter has rescued his life. As such, he devoted himself in being one of the firefighters who fought against the Burnish – the Burning Rescue team.
The Burnish also have an organization of their own: the Mad Burnish led by the terrifying Lio Fotia. Galo and Lio eventually met, which left a conflict within Galo. He then set off on a journey to find the truth about the Burnish.
9. The Girl Who Leapt Through Time
Synopsis: Makoto Konno is struggling to decide what to do with her future, as she is in her final year in high school. In the midst of dealing with the pressure, she found out that she has the ability to jump through time.
She took advantage of this to know the future, but was then confronted by the reality that each choice has a consequence. Time-leaping is not as simple as what she thinks to be.
10. 5 Centimeters Per Second
Synopsis: Takaki Koono and Akari Shinohara are childhood friends who are in love with each other, but the harsh realities of life are driving them apart. They promise to stay in contact, but as the grow older, the distance between them is becoming wider. They are also in a long-distance relationship too, which makes it worse.
Both Takari and Akari cling onto their past memories, so they still have hope to see each other again. But on the long run, they are just hurting themselves and the people around them. Will their relationship survive?
11. Millennium Actress
Synopsis: Ginei Studio’s old and dilapidated buildings are set to be demolished. This allowed ex-employee and filmmaker Genya Tachibana to create a commemorative documentary on Ginei Studio’s leading actress during Japan’s Shouwa era – Chiyoko Fujiwara. She also happens to be Genya’s lifelong idol.
Chiyoko now currently lives as a recluse, which is why Genya was overjoyed to receive approval of interviewing her. Dragging along his reluctant cameraman, Genya made it his goal to bring the spotlight back to his idol.
Chiyoko then tells her story that intertwines with Japanese cinematic history. Her life is shown through the roles she took during her career, transcending beyond the borders of reality.
12. Drifting Home
Synopsis: Kousuke Kumagaya and Natsume Tonai were inseparable as children. However, the death of Kousuke’s grandfather Yasuji has caused them to drift apart.
When the apartment building they grew up in is set to be demolished, Natsume habitually visits it as she is unable to let go of the past. Kousuke, on the other hand, thinks differently. One day, when Kousuke encountered Natsume in the building, they got into a heated argument.
Suddenly, a torrential rain occurred which transported them into nowhere. Together with their other friends, they find themselves in a predicament: they are in the middle of the ocean with just the old building. They have no idea how they went there or how they are going to escape.
13. Tokyo Godfathers
Synopsis: Hana, Gin, and Miyuki found an abandoned baby among heaps of garbage on Christmas Eve. Hana’s maternal instincts kick in, and resolved to find the child’s biological mother to get an explanation.
The trio named the baby “Kiyoko”, and they began searching for clues of the baby’s parents: which was only a key and a note. Their journey is not smooth-sailing, but the trio persevered, so that they will be able to return Kiyoko to her true home.
14. To the Forest of Firefly Lights
Synopsis: 6-year-old Hotaru Takegawa is spending her summer vacation in her grandfather’s house. However, she got lost in the forest while she is exploring outside, which led her to cry.
The forest is rumored to be inhabited by spirits, and sure enough, a mysterious masked boy named Gin approached her. Gin offered to help her find her way home, much to Hotaru’s joy. Hotaru then ran off to hug him, but he rudely rejected this. Gin explained that when a human touches him, he will disappear forever. This was because he was cast a spell by the youkai who lived in the forest.
Gin urged her to never return to the forest, but the stubborn Hotaru never listened. Every summer, she would return to the forest to spend time with Gin. Their relationship blossomed with Hotaru growing older by the year. As such, being unable to touch each other is becoming hard.
15. Kayoko’s Diary
Synopsis: Kayoko is a young girl living a normal life with her family in 1940. She loves playing with her friends and older brothers. At the same time, she was also looking forward on having a younger sibling as her mother is pregnant. This is despite the fact she still does not fully understand the responsibility of being the older sister.
However, World War II broke out, and Kayoko only felt natural to support her country. She contributed her favorite dolly, as it contained materials for explosives. But nothing could prepare her for the traumatic events that are about to come.
It is also possible that you have watched all of these movies! Yet, it would not hurt to recommend it to your friends who also love to watch anime movies. These movies can also be a way for you or your friends to get into anime. After all, animation is a medium, and they should not just be labelled as “kids’ movies”.
So, what other good anime movies not included in the list would you recommend?