8 underrated anime movies that deserve more recognition
Movies often portray powerful and beautiful themes without being recognized in the endless influx of anime – so here’s a list of eight underrated anime movies that deserve more recognition.
Without the banner of Studio Ghibli or any popular studio, anime movies are often more underappreciated. A few incredible series tend to blend in with the crowd as the anime collection refreshes each year.
The depth and variety of the anime movies are too vast to comprehend properly with just a few titles. Once hooked, you’ll find yourself sliding through an unlimited collection of shows; it’s difficult to wrap your head around this bottomless pit.
Movies, in particular, are often sidelined compared to series. So, we have prepared a list of the eight best anime movies that deserve more recognition among the global audience.
1. To the Forest of Firefly Lights
In just 45 minutes, this movie will leave you with bittersweet feelings. It follows the unusual relationship between a young girl named Hotaru Takegawa and Gin, a mysterious boy wearing a mask. For some reason, the boy never lets her touch him but also tries his best to help her when she’s lost in the forest.
Despite being asked never to meet him, Hotaru finds him fascinating and continues to seek him out every summer. The movie maintains a slow, relaxed pace as the plot gradually unfolds from Hotaru’s POV. Love is presented in its purest and platonic form and is expressed with simplicity.
2. The Stranger by the Shore
“All the things we could fear in this world, and we choose love.” This quote by Shun Hashimoto, an openly gay novelist living on a remote island, describes his fear of accepting his sexuality because of what he’s faced in the past. He often sees Mio Chibana sitting alone on a bench on the beach. After finding out about the death of Mio’s mother, Shun seeks him out.
However, Mio leaves the island for three years, and upon his return, he is more honest with his feelings than ever. On the other hand, Shun’s past holds him back from pursuing his love for Mio. This anime movie follows a sweet tale of two strangers who heal each other’s emotional wounds and strive for happiness together.
3. Summer Ghost
They say fireworks calm the souls of the deceased. Tomoya Sugisaki, Aoi Harukawa, and Ryou Kobayashi lit up fireworks to meet the ghost of a young woman who is said to have committed suicide. However, she only appears in a specific area and meets those who are within arm’s reach of death.
Yet, for some reason, all three of them can see and talk with the ghost. As they each find meaning in their lives, Tomoya finds the truth behind the young woman’s death. Despite having a runtime of 39 minutes, Summer Ghost leaves behind no loose ends.
4. Goodbye, Don Glees
This anime movie has a rating of 6.6 on IMDb, but don’t let that score fool you. Goodbye, Don Glees is a beautiful tale of three friends who seek out on a journey to prove their innocence after they get blamed for a forest fire. Roma and Toto follow Drop’s plans only to end up in more trouble.
As their short journey continues, they form an unbreakable bond. However, Drop is hiding a secret that might separate them forever. The art is stunning, and the movie will take you on a rollercoaster of emotions.
5. Lonely Castle in the Mirror
If you could wish for one thing, what would it be? For Kokoro Anzai and six other students her age, the wish would be to end the source of their suffering. Kokoro stops going to school and stays inside her room every day. All of a sudden, her mirror starts glowing, and she’s transported into a castle in the middle of nowhere.
She meets six other teenagers who are outcasts like her. A little girl wearing a wolf mask and calling herself Wolf Queen grants them one wish if they can find the key to the hidden room. However, only one of them can realize their dreams. After regularly meeting one another in the castle, an emotional story of seven characters stuck in a cycle of misunderstanding and loneliness who are eventually set free by the power of friendship, empathy, and sacrifice unfolds.
6. Yes, No, or Maybe Half?
We all wear masks to keep our true selves hidden from others. Kei Kunieda, a newscaster, never wants to take off the mast of an amiable and kind person. Despite his persona, his behavior is opposite in private. However, his life changes after he interviews an animator, Ushio Tsuzuki.
Unlike Kei, Ushio is a more honest person. After a small accident, Kei finds himself woven into a web of lies as he begins helping Ushio with his work. On the other hand, Ushio finds himself drawn to both of Kei’s personalities. This movie follows a simple plot, but the story follows smoothly within its 53-minute duration.
7. Liz and the Blue Bird
This anime movie is a spin-off film adaptation of the Hibike Euphonium! series. It parallels a delightful fairy tale, a touching musical piece, and a delicate high school friendship. Mizore Yoroizuka is an introverted girl who is just as lonely as Liz in the fairy tale. However, she meets her blue bird, Nozomi Kasaki, in high school.
They’re in their high school concert band, and they’re working on a piece inspired by this fairy tale. Mizore, the quiet and restrained oboist, represents the kind and compassionate Liz. Meanwhile, Nozomi, the bright and popular character, plays the flute as the happy and lively Blue Bird. However, as they practice, the gap between Mizore and Nozomi appears to widen.
Everyone has a special world inside their heads. But what will you do if that world keeps haunting you? Juri Makina kept dreaming of a futuristic world inside her dreams. The melody continues to play as she sees a robot girl in front of a ruined tower. On the other hand, Akoi Honjo has a gift for recreating any music he hears.
After Juri’s friends changed her ringtone to the same melody, Akio played it again. He also dreams of the same scenario, leading Juri to believe that they’re similar. This short movie only runs for 25 minutes, leaving you wanting more. The story’s beauty lies in the mystery as viewers are left to interpret it as they see fit.
How to watch Crunchyroll from outside your location in 2023
Crunchyroll is the world’s best hub for streaming anime, whether it’s One Piece, Attack on Titan, or Jujutsu Kaisen – and thanks to ExpressVPN, you can access the platform’s full library even if you’re outside the US.
If you’re abroad, here’s what you need to do to access Crunchyroll’s full selection – and it really is this simple:
- Sign up for ExpressVPN, which has ultra-fast servers and offers a secure, private connection wherever you are in the world.
- Connect to a location anywhere in the US; Express VPN allows you to choose from 24 different spots, from New Jersey to Santa Monica.
- Visit Crunchyroll online and start streaming all of your favorite animes – and perhaps some you’ve never watched.
Accessing Crunchyroll’s US roster makes a difference; for example, Hong Kong users only have access to less than 100 titles, while the US has nearly 1,000 movies and TV shows.
You can also stream anime on Crunchyroll for free with an ad-supported plan, or you can pay for a subscription – there’s even a 14-day free trial if you can’t quite make up your mind.
You can check out a few of our other lists below and our other anime coverage here:
- 10 short anime series that deserve more recognition
- 10 comfort anime that will make you smile
- 10 Shonen anime to watch if you like One Piece
- Jujutsu Kaisen: 10 best Satoru Gojo quotes
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