When it comes to Anime films, diehard fans are often a bit hesitant, and for good reason. Even with amazing classics like Akira, the discerning connoisseur can be a bit disconcerted by the format.
After all, especially when it comes to works that are based on an original manga.
How can one hope to correctly portray the complex and nuanced character arcs that fans have come to love in the format of a single film that might be, at absolute maximum, a mere two hours long?
While several Anime films might at times seem like a superfluous money grab by an established franchise, and most fans would sooner not waste their times digging around for diamonds in the rough, there are simply some stories too notable to forget.
After all, you would hardly be a true anime fan if you simply ignored something on the virtue of its format.
All your collectibles, your Japanese anime figures, and your memorabilia would be for naught! Luckily, you can check out some true treasures with our list of some of the most underrated anime movies.
1. Only Yesterday (1991)
Only Yesterday is a film far ahead of its time in terms of feminism, a rare attribute for a film in the early nineties.
The film is unique as it is a gritty and realistic drama for women in their adulthood.
Taeko, the film’s protagonist, is a young woman who escapes city life by moving to the countryside to assist her family with the harvest.
As she does, we get a glimpse into her adolescent life through small flashbacks.
The film explores puberty, childish romance, and the general terror of growing up, and is a must for not only anime fans but all women who feel the pressures of modern life and growing up in a largely adversarial world.
2. Colorful (2010)
While most anime fans will be immediately drawn to the mesmerizing animation of this recent masterpiece, the true treasure of this film is its ability to tackle very real and moving subject matter within the context of an anime film.
Colorful tackles deep-rooted issues facing young people in this day and age, such as depression, suicide, and generally finding one’s place in the world.
The semi-fantastic romp follows a character who is given another chance at life and is relegated to finding meaning in a broken world.
3. Perfect Blue (1997)
While not technically critically underrated, Perfect Blue is a masterpiece that remains largely overlooked by many self-proclaimed anime fans, which is a travesty.
Especially considering critically acclaimed films such as Black Swan are largely based upon this original story about the poison that is fame and adoration.
One could even make the argument that this film helped create the modern psychological drama, starring an unreliable narrator and horrifying shifts in reality.
This thriller is emotionally harrowing but possesses a relatable and tragic sublime beauty that you can’t afford to miss.
4. Eden of the East: The King of Eden (2009)
The original series “Eden of the East” was already vastly overlooked by critics, running for a mere 11 episodes before its apparent conclusion.
It’s no surprise then that the movie furthering the story released soon after was met with underwhelming acclaim. Fans of the series, however, find this level of ignorance baffling, and for good reason.
Eden of the East, which follows the adventures of Akira Takizawa, (if that his real name), struggling to find his place in a game he doesn’t understand, shortly after apparently wiping his own memory.
With groundbreaking narrative and gorgeous animation, there’s really nothing to hate in this epic, heartfelt story.
5. Wolf Children (2012)
This coming of age film follows the misadventures of Hana, a single mother who has to take care of her two half-wolf children after the death of her husband, who just so happened to be a werewolf.
Hana struggles to raise her children in the countryside, where aside from the usual pressures of raising children, she deals with the added stress of her young ones being able to change into wolves whenever they choose.
Mamoru Hosoda blends raw emotion here to create a perfect blend of the hardships that face any struggling family with the grossly fantastic. It’s a simultaneously heartwarming and heartbreaking ride that anime fans can’t afford to miss.
6. Redline (2009)
Redline is unique in that the film contains precious little character development or emotional struggle, but centers entirely around a race.
While this may seem off-putting to the anime fan concerned with epic story arcs, Redline is certainly not one to miss.
Besides the fact that it somewhat inspired the 2014 already cult-classic Space Dandy, you’re not likely to find more breathtaking feats of animation anywhere else but here.
The whole film is a romantic, action-packed, against-all-odds adventure, and if that’s not just classic anime, what is?