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Studio Ghibli has touched the hearts of millions with its beautiful visuals and relatable stories. I personally love their movies since they always give me the feeling of being swept into another world.
Formed in 1985 by three men in Tokyo, Studio Ghibli was made with the intent of being a breath of fresh air for the anime industry. Hayao Miyazaki, Isao Takahata and Toshio Suzuki went to work creating films for children that mixed charming adventures with breathtaking illustrations. Some of the studio’s most notable pieces are Spirited Away, Kiki’s Delivery Service, and My Neighbor Totoro. Ghibli movies soon gained massive success world wide for their ability to resonate with many people through the quality of their work. The Studio’s work has slowed in recent years but luckily, there are many films from other lesser-known studios that has manage to capture the same emotions.
If you’re like me, you’ve seen every Studio Ghibli movie and are on the hunt for movies that have the same imaginative vibe. In this post, you’ll find my top picks for amazing anime movies that aren’t by Ghibli:
Ready for a cute story mixed with sci-fi? In Summer Wars, a charming high school girl invites a boy to her family’s estate in the country. Everything is going fine until OZ, a virtual reality world, falls into the wrong hands and the boy is the only one who can stop it. I loved how this film had lots of science fiction elements while still maintaining a balance with the storyline.
Big Fish And Begonia
I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this movie. It captured a lot of deep emotions portrayed through fascinating visuals. The elements of sea life mixed with other creatures was very memorable.
Your Name was definitely one of the best recent movies to have come out. It follows the story of a handsome boy living in the bustling city and a restless girl living in a very rural area of Japan. The film depicts both of their day to day activities and how everything changes when their lives magically become entangled- realizing that they’ve been switching bodies. Lot’s of fun, drama and mystery ensures throughout this charming movie as the two attempt to figure out more about each other and the source for their body switching.
The enchanting visuals that this movie presented may be the best I’ve ever seen. Something about the way everything is drawn out is both nostalgic and captivatingly fresh. It’s no wonder this film reminded me of Studio Ghibli. If you enjoy down to earth stories with a touch of magic, don’t miss out on this film!
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Tokyo Godfathers features the story of three homeless people on the streets of Tokyo. After finding a baby abandoned in a garbage can, the three of them work together to reunite the baby with her family. It’s this heartfelt story line that’s resulted in the film gaining critical success. Although it doesn’t have the same picturesque scenes as most of my favorites on this list, the way the story unfolds has a nostalgic quality that is sure to warm your heart. Tokyo Godfathers also explores a heavier side of life with some deeper themes that aren’t often seen in popular anime.
I enjoyed this movie for its creative story line and imaginative visuals taking some on somewhat of a gloomier tone. Patema Inverted shows a future world where scientists conducted an experiment that miserably failed, causing a small group of people to have gravity reversed. The story shows how a boy living in a suppressed society one day finds a girl whose gravity is inverted from his own. The corrupt government tries to get ahold of the girl and the two fight for their freedom in this genius sci-fi film.
Mary And The Witch’s Flower
This is an absolute must see for Ghibli fans! Mary and The Witch’s Flower is the debut film of Studio Ponoc, which was developed by one of Hayao Miyazaki’s students. For long time Ghibli fans, this film received mixed reviews. However, I just adored the movie and it’s charm that so closely resembled that of Studio Ghibli while still having it’s unique style.
This story is about a young girl in the countryside who one night discovers a magical flower that will allow her to become a witch. She is then invited to a sorcery school to help her harness her powers. When she finds out that the school is not at all what it seems, the adventure begins.
I really enjoyed this film but the criticism that most people had, is that the characters don’t have the same real, relatable quality as Studio Ghibli. Especially when comparing it to the level of characters in Kiki’s Delivery Service. Never the less, for Studio Ponoc’s first film, this movie was spectacular. The scenes were extremely vivid and fully immersed the viewers.
The Girl Who Leapt Through Time
This had such a down to earth story line following a regular girl in high school struggling with her classes and friends. Her life then takes an interesting turn when she starts ‘leaping through time’, or having the ability to time travel through recent events. I always enjoy realistic, relatable stories that manage to incorporate a touch of fantasy and this movie did just that!
Paprika is probably the most unique film on this list, keeping you guessing at every turn. It’s a mind-bending film that blurs the lines between reality and fiction. It isn’t for everyone but if you’re in the mood for something different, it’s worth a try.
Paprika is known for being a brilliant scientist. But most don’t know that she’s also a ‘dream detective’, helping patients make sense of the disturbing images in their minds. In order to be able to travel into the dreams of others, Paprika uses a newly invented device. When this device falls into the wrong hands, her world turns upside down in an effort to stop the catastrophes that keep coming her way.
This film is definitely a phycological thriller, and unfortunately the last of legendary film director, Satoshi Kon’s work. Paprika also explores darker themes supported by bizarrely immersive visuals.
In This Corner of the World
This film illustrated the traditions and culture of Japan in the most charming way. It shows the peaceful life of a young girl and how it is changed by marriage and the atrocities of war. I loved the contrast that was depicted in this movie that followed the main character through the prime of her life. The events of the war shown were all historically accurate and really gave me a glimpse into how life was.
Those are my top picks for movies like Studio Ghibli! Let me know your thoughts below.