Anime Movies to Watch This Late Summer


With no end of the coronavirus in sight, this is a perfect time–life’s responsibilities willing–to sit down on the couch, tune out the neverending news, and watch a good movie. Maybe it is even the time, if you have not already, to check out animated movies of the Japanese variety. Many of these anime movies rival the recent productions from studios like Pixar, Disney, and Dreamworks.

I did not seriously start watching anime until my freshman year of high school, so I understand entering the animated fray can feel intimidating, but I think the movies listed here are good places to start. Hopefully, you can find something here that engages your tastes or, possibly, challenges your sensibilities, leading you to a fulfilling, movie-watching experience. These movies are listed in no particular order.



Anime film veteran Mamoru Hosoda’s “Mirai” (2018)  follows the adventures of Kun (Jaden Waldman), a little boy who, after the birth of his little sister Mirai (Victoria Grace), feels abandoned by his parents. After running away from home, Kun’s life quickly becomes magical when he finds a garden that can transport him through time.

“Mirai” is one of the more unique films I have seen in terms of plot structure because it is not defined by conflict. This can sometimes be to the film’s detriment, because it feels like the story is not actually progressing– rather it just happens. However, despite this drawback, “Mirai” had me hooked from the beginning with its surreal beauty and heart-warming opening song by the famous Japanese singer Tatsuro Yamashita. With clean and precise directing, wholesome but human characters, and classic hand-drawn animation, “Mirai” is a treat for those who want to be reminded of what it is like to be a kid growing up, the importance of familial bonds, and cultural heritage. This is also the only movie on this list that I can confidently say can be watched with children.

If you enjoy this movie, I would also recommend another overlooked Hosoda film, “The Boy and the Beast” (2015).

“Mirai” is currently streaming on Netflix.


Weathering with You

The anime director extraordinaire Makoto Shinkai follows up the much-praised “Your Name” (2016) with the highly-anticipated “Weathering with You” (2019). The film is set in a fantasized Tokyo where the sky is always cloudy and rain is a constant companion. In the midst of all this glum, poor teenage boy Hodoka’s (Kotarou Daigo) life changes when he runs into Hina (Nana Mori), a similarly-aged girl who can control the weather. However, like most things in life, these abilities come with a heavy price–a price that may not be avoidable.

Although I think that “Your Name” is the superior and more recognizable Shinkai film, it is so talked about in anime circles, I figured I would recommend Shinkai’s latest film instead. “Weathering with You” shines due to its technical prowess and Shinkai’s ability to make the animation feel real, even if the story and characters are not nearly as compelling as those in “Your Name.”

Furthermore, one of the great strengths of “Weathering with You” is its incredible music, which almost feels like a high-budget and professionally-made anime music video at certain points. I find myself listening to the soundtrack again and again. If you want to escape into a gorgeous piece of art for a little under 2 hours, “Weathering with You” is just the film for you.

“Weathering with You” is available to buy on multiple platforms.


In This Corner of the World

Competing in a year marked by other modern greats like “Your Name” (2016) and “A Silent Voice” (2016), director Sunao Katabuchi stakes his own claim for greatness with the searing war tragedy, “In This Corner of the World” (2016). The film depicts the miseries and the eerie mundanity of war, specifically World War II, through the lens of Japanese girl turned bumbling housewife Suzu, voiced by Rena Nōnen. Suzu is an imaginative girl and is described by other characters in the story as normal. But, due to their unfortunate circumstances, Suzu and her family must quickly adapt to the ever-encroaching proximities of war.

The film is, at times, reminiscent of another animated film known for its heartbreaking portrayal of World War II, the late, great Isao Takahata’s 1988 classic “Grave of the Fireflies.” However, the film holds its own thematic weight with innovative directing and storytelling, the potently human voice acting of Suzu, and a subtly sublime soundtrack. It breathes life into the oftentimes faceless victims of war, investigating war’s mechanics of brutality and its daily, minor inconveniences. Joy, pain, love, grief, life, death–“In This Corner of the World” depicts human resiliency at its best, even when humanity is at its worst.

“In This Corner of the World” is currently streaming on Netflix.



If this list were to act as a family of sorts, “Promare” (2019) would be the wild younger son, throwing destructive parties over the weekend while his parents are out of town. He never seems to get in trouble because, well, he is the younger son, but maybe it is also because he is pretty awesome. Conversely, “Promare” director Hiroyuki Imaishi is anything but inexperienced in the anime industry, having led similarly bombastic anime projects such as “Kill la Kill” and “Gurren Lagann.”

In “Promare,” the world is afflicted by the Mad Burnish, a group of fiery, rage-induced ‘former’ humans. When Galo (Kenichi Matsuyama), one of the firefighters-slash-policemen tasked with taking them down, finds the last remnants of the group, and more particularly the leader, Lio (Taichi Saotome), all that he knows to be true in the world may crumble right before him.

One of my only serious qualms with the film is its constant thematic juggling– it takes on so many themes that it is not able to delve into any of them in a particularly meaningful way. However, “Promare” is an action-packed thrill ride that will have you geared for more when its credits roll. The film’s art style and animation are also fantastic, with vibrant colors popping off the screen, bold black outlines of characters emphasizing their designs and the backgrounds they inhabit, and a unique triangular motif. For a more in-depth take on the movie, you can read my review here.

Promare is available to rent/buy on multiple platforms.


Perfect Blue (Classic Pick)

In a world where everyone is actor and audience, the late, great director Satoshi Kon seems especially clairvoyant with his debut film, “Perfect Blue” (1997). The film revolves around the idol singer Mima (Junko Iwao) who, after switching careers to an actor, finds her life in danger by a creepy stalker, Mamoru (Masaaki Ookura). Mima’s troubles do not end there, for as she delves deeper into her role of actor, the lines between herself and her public persona–reality and fiction–become increasingly blurry.

If you want a psychological thriller, this is the film for you. I must admit it has been a few years since I have watched “Perfect Blue,” but I will never forget the impact it left on me. At its core, the film asks the mind-seeping question, who are we without our identities as individuals and what are the terrifying consequences of someone outside of ourselves taking our public persona as unquestioned reality? As macabre, invasive, and hauntingly deceptive as any Alfred Hitchcock film, “Perfect Blue” is one to remember in your dreams.

Perfect Blue is available to rent/buy on multiple platforms.


A Silent Voice*

Saving my personal favorite for last, “A Silent Voice,” (2016) directed by Naoko Yamada, is a visceral, emotional powerhouse. Unconventional for a film of its kind, it follows the bully Shoya (Robbie Daymond), who, along with his classmates, terrorizes the deaf girl in class, Shoko (Lexi Marman Cowden), who only wants to be friends with him. One day Shoya takes his antics a step too far and, in a change of circumstance, finds himself the victim of bullying. An older, teenage Shoya makes it his mission to make things right with Shoko. But can or should he?

The film “A Silent Voice” is a tale about depression, forgiveness, social ostracization, disability, self-loathing, and the worst kind of guilt: the guilt of living one’s own existence. I make it a point not to cry in public, but there were certain points in the film where it is just plain impossible (thank goodness for the dimness of movie theaters). Be sure to ready the tissues before watching “A Silent Voice”; it will crush you in more ways than one while playing a melodic soundtrack in the background. I would also like to note that I watched the English dubbed version of the film, which has Shoko, the co-main character, voiced by an actual deaf person. It is great; check it out.

“A Silent Voice” is currently streaming on Netflix.


No matter your age or experience, it is never too late to get into anime. One of the many things I enjoy about the medium is that it holds a little bit of everything for everyone. Comedy, action, drama, thriller, horror, mystery, anime has it all– just, simply, in animated form. Even this list is not sufficient enough to showcase the broad scope of anime. I do not say that to intimidate; rather, I do so to inspire a fruitful and hopefully long-lasting relationship with the medium. There are many excellent anime films out there that are not listed here, or I have not watched myself. This was only meant to be a mostly modern starting point from which to venture into more niche, developed areas. I hope you have found something you may enjoy here. And as always, happy watching!


*Watched English dubbed version of the film