Weathering With You may be the latest Japanese animation to hit it big in the cinemas this year, but it’s hardly the only anime worth watching. Here is a list of other amazing anime titles that should be on your to-watch list, whether you’re looking for adventure, romance, or Japanese culture.
Bear in mind that this is not an exhaustive list – just a teaser of some different genres you may enjoy.
Four-year-old Kun has lived a spoiled life as an only child, but when his new baby sister Mirai is brought home, his simple life is thrown upside-down. He is prone to frequent temper tantrums – that’s when he is visited by past and future versions of his family, most notably Mirai, who appears to him as a teenager.
Why: This magical sibling adventure is a dreamy, touching look at the importance of family ties, packaged in a gorgeously animated film with moments of cuteness.
Your Name (2016)
Despite living in different timelines, country girl Mitsuha and city boy Taki swap bodies with each other frequently to hilarious effect. As they get to know each other by leaving messages on phones on notebooks, the two teens gradually become close, but a looming destructive meteor strike threatens to destroy their relationship and they must bridge the time gap in order to find each other.
Why: The gorgeous animation is complemented by a rich, complex story immersed in Japanese culture, brilliantly illustrating how the thread of fate brings two souls together.
In This Corner of the World (2016)
Set in Hiroshima during WWII, the story follows 18-year-old newlywed Suzu, who lives with her husband’s family. She has to run the household creatively, preparing meals during times of rationing and bombings, while her husband works with the military. Her life changes irrevocably when the US bombers reach her town, but she continues to persevere.
Why: It’s a rare, and very heartwarming anime that combines various animation styles to convey the emotions of those who lived during times of war.
A Silent Voice (2016)
Shoko, as a sixth grader with a hearing disability, was constantly picked on by school bully Shoya. They do not speak to each other again until years later in high school, when an older, outcast Shoya – tormented by his past behavior – decides he must atone for his sins, and the victim role is suddenly reversed. Both teens go through the pain of their past in order to find redemption, and a future in each other.
Why: This poignant film brings up one of the deepest communication problems in every society, depicting the struggles of adolescence alongside coming-of-age outside the norm.
Summer Wars (2009)
Timid high school math genius Kenji is recruited by his secret crush Natsuki to pose as her boyfriend during her grandmother’s 90th birthday party. After he solves a complicated math riddle, he unwittingly unleashes a malicious AI in a virtual world which threatens the safety of the real world. He has to defeat his AI foe by playing an old Japanese game…
Why: It tackles the very real threat of technology, with influences from Avatar to The Social Network, and cleverly weaves Japanese culture into the story.
Paprika is a sci-fi psychological thriller about a doctor using a new, untested device that allows psychotherapists to treat patients by entering their dreams. When the device is stolen, all hell breaks loose – nightmares merge with reality – and only a mysterious character called Paprika (the alter ego of the doctor who pioneered the programme) can stop it.
Why: With its cartoonish, creepy characters, many viewers have trouble understanding what exactly is going on even after a few viewings.
The Girl Who Leapt Through Time (2006)
High-school girl Makoto acquires the power to travel back in time, and decides to use it for her own gains, unknowingly affecting the lives of others as she does so. But as soon as she finds out, she races back in time to fix everything, but with every jump she is one step closer to discovering the most wonderful secret.
Why: Its beautiful visuals and imaginative story combine to make it one of the most memorable coming-of-age comedy dramas.
Spirited Away (2001)
From the legendary Studio Ghibli, middle schooler Chihiro visits an abandoned theme park with her parents who suddenly turn into pigs as night fell. She then has to navigate the ‘underworld bathhouse’ by taking up a job as a scullery maid – meeting helpful spirits and malicious ghouls along the way – in order to save her parents and discover her true strength.
Why: An Academy Award winner, it has gorgeous immersive visuals that showcase the depth and beauty of Japanese culture and Shintoism.