10 Best Anime Movies On HBO Max, According To MyAnimeList – Screen Rant

HBO Max has gradually become one of the premier streaming services, and these are the 10 best anime movies as ranked by MyAnimeList.
Even for being just a 2-year-old platform, HBO Max has been gradually becoming one of the premier streaming services available. With the dense catalog of content available, it also has plenty to offer for anime fans. On top of TV shows, the platform has a varied selection of anime movies as well.
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Unsurprisingly, this arena is dominated by the revered Hayao Miyazaki and co.’s Studio Ghibli. Along with the studio’s various acclaimed movies, though, are other anime that excel in telling deeply personal and touching stories that blend slice-of-life, fantasy, and romance.
From director Masaaki Yuasa – of Ping Pong: The Animation and Devilman: Crybaby fame – and studio Science SARU, The Night Is Short, Walk On Girl is a romantic comedy anime with one of the most unique animation styles in the medium. The movie is focused on two college students, a man only known as Senpai (senior) and a woman known as Kohai (junior).
The former falls in love with the latter and hopes to confess to her, but his attempts at spontaneously running into her keep failing spectacularly. Kohai believes everything is fated, and Senpai desperately tries to twist that in his favor. Its creative art style and use of comedy and romance combine for a resonating story and one of the best romance anime available on HBO Max.
Studio Ghibli and director/writer Isao Takahata’s The Tale of Princess Kaguya is one of the studios’ more recent anime movies, and it maintained its high standard of quality. It’s another inventively picturesque anime thanks to its art style. The Tale of Princess Kaguya opts for a more simple — but no less stunning — watercolor art style to complement its fairytale-like aesthetic and premise.
The story is a deeply emotional one, touching on themes of environmentalism, cultural progressivism, and feminism while centering its plot on a couple and the titular young girl they discover in a bamboo shoot and decide to raise as their own.
Director Yoshifumi Kondō and writer Hayao Miyazaki’s Whisper of the Heart take a musical spin on their usual coming-of-age/slice-of-life storytelling. This movie is an adaptation of Aoi Hiiragi’s manga of the same name, centered on a young energetic girl who decides to find the young boy who seems to share her passion for reading, as he’s been checking out the same books she has.
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Whisper of the Heart‘s story of youthful aspirations earned high praise, with the movie even spawning a spinoff about the cat Baron called The Cat Returns.
My Neighbor Totoro is another Miyazaki classic, and even though he has others that tend to rank higher among critics and fans, this movie’s iconic status has also helped it become a mascot for Studio Ghibli. It isn’t one of the famed director’s most thematically dense movies, but it still has plenty of emotional depth to it nonetheless.
The movie is about two daughters of a professor and their adventures with the titular Totoros — friendly woodland spirits. There isn’t much conflict or tension in My Neighbor Totoro, but it sentimentally highlights the beauty in childlike wonder and the simplicity of peaceful rural living through the lens of Japanese fantasy.
Miyazaki’s Castle in the Sky takes a steampunk take on Studio Ghibli’s fantasy conventions that follows a colorfully grandiose journey. The story follows an orphaned teenage boy named Pazu who catches and meets a girl named Sheeta as she falls from the clouds.
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The two go on a grand escape, as it’s revealed that government entities and pirates are chasing Sheeta for her crystal necklace. Castle in the Sky‘s vibrant atmosphere of adventure and likable duo of protagonists make for a fun and immersive story worth rooting for.
Animation studio CoMix Wave Films and director/writer Makoto Shinkai’s Weathering with You is a romantic fantasy movie similar to 2016’s Your Name. It was a worthy follow-up to Shinkai’s latter original story, as it tells a heartfelt tale of a runaway young boy struggling to find work in Tokyo amid an inexplicable torrential rain.
While there, he eventually befriends an orphaned girl who has the power to control the weather, though, it comes at a steep cost. Weathering with You conveys touching themes of both young romance and environmentalism that’d arguably be worthy to stand alongside Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli’s classics.
Miyazaki and co.’s Howl’s Moving Castle is one of the all-time greatest in anime film history, and it’s also one of the director’s most aggressively direct social commentaries.
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In terms of themes, the movie is a loose adaptation of author Diana Wynne Jones’ novel of the same name, and it revolves around an 18-year-old woman named Sophie who’s been cursed by a witch to be an old woman and the titular magician Howl as they venture to try and break her curse. Howl’s Moving Castle is set in a fantastical kingdom at war with another, and it contains biting commentary on the destruction that war leaves in its wake.
Princess Mononoke tends to stand neck-and-neck with Ghibli counterparts like Spirited Away and Howl’s Moving Castle, as it’s another critically acclaimed masterclass of a movie by Miyazaki. Like many of his movies, Princess Mononoke features an environmentalist message, but it’s expertly weaved in naturally as one of the nuances of the story.
Ashitaka, the last Ainu prince of the Emishi tribe finds himself on a quest to cure a curse inflicted upon him by a demon who’s destroying the forest. Along the way, he meets San — the titular princess and one of the best female Studio Ghibli characters — who was raised by wolves and has grown to hate humanity for the havoc they wrought on the world. The plot that unfolds is a thought-provoking conflict of morality that will stand the test of time.
Even by the studio’s monumentally high standards, Hayao Miyazaki’s Spirit Away still arguably stands as one of the best Studio Ghibli movies for many fans. The movie was a massive landmark for the studio in the anime genre overall, as it was the first to win an Academy Award for Best Animated Feature.
Spirited Away follows the story of a young girl named Chihiro who, after her parents are turned into pigs in a spirit world, goes on a fantastical journey to free them along with her following spirit companion No-Face (Kaonashi). Its compassionate protagonist, thematic exploration of Japanese folklore, and critiques of modern Japanese society and Western consumerism left a timeless legacy.
HBO Max has the boon of hosting MyAnimeList’s top-rated TV anime as well as the fifth highest-rated movie in the form of Your Name. From the studio that would go on to animate Weathering with You and director/writer Makoto Shinkai, Your Name was a quickly-acclaimed romantic fantasy movie.
It touches on similar romantic and environmental themes as Weathering with You, as the story features two protagonists: a young girl named Mitsuha who’s tired of the countryside and wishes she was a boy in Tokyo, and a young high school boy named Taki who’s an aspiring architect. However, the two begin intermittently swapping bodies and living each others’ experiences.
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Guillermo Kurten is a journalism graduate from the University of Houston. Originally from Caracas, Venezuela, he now resides in Houston. He is a fan of pretty much anything involving nerd culture. Video games, comics, movies, TV, anime, manga, you name it. He also has experience writing about soccer, specifically, the German team Bayern Munich.

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