The Best Anime Movies On HBO Max (July 2022) – GameRant

HBO Max has tons of great anime movies in its catalogue. These are the best ones you can stream on the platform.
In May 2020, HBO Max launched as a streaming service. While Netflix, Hulu, Prime Video, and Disney Plus are among the most popular platforms, HBO Max had amassed a massive audience since its debut. The service offers many kinds of television series and movies, including anime of both categories.
Services like Crunchyroll are excellent for finding anime series, but movies can be in short supply. In fact, some general streaming services have an arguably stronger selection of feature-length anime films, and HBO Max is one of the most impressive in this area. What are the best anime movies on HBO Max?
Spoiler: Studio Ghibli might make an appearance.
Updated July 8, 2022 by Mark Sammut: HBO Max's anime movie selection might not have an overwhelming amount of diversity, but the streaming service delivers quality over quantity. This article has been expanded to include some more of HBO Max's best anime films.
Castle In The Sky is a story about teenagers Pazu and Sheeta. He is an orphan from a mining town who caught her when she fell from the clouds. Soon after, Pazu finds out Sheeta is being chased by pirates as well as the government because they want her crystal necklace (which is from the floating city of Laputa). Both of them go on an adventure to find Laputa and escape the bad guys.
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One of Hayao Miyazaki's earliest movies, Castle in the Sky takes the audience on a glorious adventure filled with irresistibly likable characters. The world is also fascinating, so much so that this movie almost needs to be longer so that more time can be spent exploring this realm.
Ride Your Wave tells the love story of Hinako and Minato. She is a surfer in college from a seaside town and he is a firefighter who saves the day. But right after they meet and fall in love, Minato dies in an accident due to the ocean itself. Then Hinako finds out she is able to sing and summon him from the water, any body of water.
Released in 2019, Ride Your Wave is a slightly underappreciated anime movie with relatable characters, great animation, and a good message about finding yourself.
My Neighbor Totoro is about magical creatures and little girls. There is 10-year-old Satsuki and 4-year-old Mei, and Totoros. The girls are sisters and they go on tiny adventures with the Totoros in the forest near their house. There is more to the plot, such as them moving to the countryside in the first place with their father to be closer to their mother who is in the hospital.
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My Neighbor Totoro is basically Studio Ghibli's defining film, at least in terms of marketing and representation. It is also quite different from Miyazaki's other projects since this is a slice of life anime without much in the way of tension; however, My Neighbor Totoro exemplifies the director's whimsical and mature style.
Promare takes place thirty years after the appearance of Burnish, a race of mutant beings that have the power of fire. They destroyed much of the world with flames. Suddenly, a new group of mutant beings appears, and both battle it out. These mutants are called Promare and are like firefighters and use mechs to fight back.
Promare packs in everything people have come to expect from a Trigger production: exciting music, stellar action, and near-untouchable animation. This movie is all about HYPE, delivering one crowd-pleasing moment after another. While this feels like a film designed to be watched in a packed theater filled with Trigger fans who are ready to explode in joy at every reference, Promare is still a fun watch on HBO Max and a solid introduction to the studio's work.
Although predated by the entertaining The Castle of Cagliostro, Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind is the first proper Hayao Miyazaki movie, in the sense that the project reflects many of the ideas and themes that would remain as fixtures throughout the esteemed director's storied career. The best anime movies on HBO Max consist largely of Studio Ghibli's filmography, but this 1984 classic came out prior to the company's creation; thankfully, it is still included in the streaming service's library.
Set in a world where nature has spread to challenge humanity's authority, Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind follows a "chosen one" style figure as she fights to protect her kingdom. Epic in ambition, animation, and storytelling, this movie is a sweeping masterpiece that flies by. In fact, the only criticism one could make of this anime is that it is too short (at two hours long).
Howl's Moving Castle tells the unusual love story between Sophie and Howl. Sophie is an 18-year-old young woman who is cursed by a witch, turning her into an old woman. On the other hand, Howl is a magician who lives in a castle that moves and contains the fire demon Calcifer. Together, they try breaking the curse.
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Howl's Moving Castle is arguably Miyazaki's angriest film as the director was influenced by the start of the Iraq War. A number of the filmmaker's projects discuss war as a theme, but Howl's Moving Castle is the most direct and aggressive, which is not a negative thing. The animation is unsurprisingly brilliant, particularly the titular castle, and the romance builds well even if the film at times struggles to balance all of its ideas.
When Marnie Was There is about 12-year-old Anna who befriends Marnie. They are in the Japanese countryside, where Anna likes to sketch by herself. Marnie is mysterious. Eventually, the viewer finds out Marnie is not just a stranger to her after all.
When Marnie Was There has a mesmerizing quality to it. The anime's central mystery is engaging and driven almost solely by emotion, culminating in a final act that satisfies both the characters' arcs and the audience's expectations. As of right now, this 2014 release is the most recent "great" Studio Ghibli movie, although that will hopefully change once Hayao Miyazaki's How Do You Live? comes out.
Princess Mononoke is about the journey of Ashitaka looking for the cure to a curse by Tatarigami. He got it from a demon while protecting his village. Ashitaka, on his quest into a forest, meets Lady Eboshi, who leads a clan of humans, as well as Princess Mononoke, a woman who was raised by wolves. There is a war brewing between the humans and the creatures of the forest.
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Many of Miyazaki's movies incorporate an environmental message, but the director has a special talent for ensuring these themes do not come across as preachy. Princess Mononoke might be the best example of this as the film goes out of its way to not vilify anyone, presenting a more complex story in the process.
Only Yesterday tends to be overshadowed by Studio Ghibli's more mainstream releases, but Isao Takahata's early '90s drama acts as a splendid showcase of that legendary director's unique vision and talent. The story follows Taeko Okajima, a woman in her mid-20s who travels from Tokyo to a rural town to spend time with some family. During her trip, Taeko reminiscences about her childhood, be it in the form of repressed memories or dreams that fell by the wayside.
Minimalistic and naturalistic, Only Yesterday is grounded in raw human emotions, ones that are relatable but also complex. Taeko's journey is defined by self-reflection and discovery, and the movie does not hesitate to force its protagonist to face some harsh truths. This flick is a great pick for anyone searching for something less fantastical than most of the anime films on HBO Max.
Isao Takahata's final film, The Tale of the Princess Kaguya tells the classic Japanese story about a couple who discover a girl in a bamboo shoot. Narratively sparse and driven predominantly by emotion, Princess Kaguya is a visual masterpiece, albeit not quite in the typical sense. The film has a minimalist art style that is striking but also rather plain, which complements the story's fairy tale origins.
At just over two hours, Princess Kaguya is a long sit that gives each of its story beat plenty of room to breath, permitting viewers to immerse themselves in the world created by the anime. Towards the end of the film, there is a burst of animation that comfortably ranks among Studio Ghibli's greatest moments. Frankly, it might be the studio's crowning achievement.
Senpai has fallen in love with a mysterious girl with black hair, but his efforts to spontaneously bump into her have failed to pay dividends. The female lead believes that everything happens for a reason, a fact that Senpai hopes to use to tie their lives together.
Directed by Masaaki Yuasa, the same filmmaker behind Ping Pong The Animation, Devilman Crybaby, and The Tatami Galaxy, The Night is Short, Walk on Girl is a surreal comedy with bizarre imagery, an unfocused but not messy narrative, and unique animation. This anime takes audiences on a trip like no other that is available on HBO Max.
Spirited Away is a tale of 10-year-old Chihiro. She gets caught up in a secret world after losing her parents to a pig-like transformation. Chihiro winds up encountering strange spirits and creatures as well as a nasty sorceress named Yubaba and a mysterious boy named Haku. She must work at Yubaba's bathhouse to free herself and her parents (under Haku's supervision).
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The only anime movie to win an Academy Award for Best Animated Feature, Spirited Away might just be Hayao Miyazaki's crowning achievement. Overflowing with imagination and substance, this 2001 movie blends fantasy and humanity to create something truly magical.
Weathering With You is a story about a time in the world when the rain just will not stop. Hodaka, a teenage boy, runs away from the Japanese countryside to Tokyo. There, he befriends an orphan girl named Hina who is able to manipulate the weather. Unfortunately, there is a price to pay to use her powers and Hodoka does everything possible to stop that from happening.
Slightly overshadowed by Makoto Shinkai's previous film, Your Name, Weathering With You covers a lot of the same ground as its predecessor, be it star-crossed lovers or climate change. Like Your Name, Weathering With You is a work of art filled with beautiful imagery, endearing characters, and a whole lot of rain.
Perhaps a divisive pick, Batman Ninja is one of those movies that people seem to love or hate. As its title suggests, this film gives DC's Dark Knight an anime makeover; due to Gorilla Grodd's time displacement machine, a bunch of Gotham's heroes and villains are sent back to feudal Japan. Naturally, Batman has to pick up a sword and face off against an array of his most iconic villains, and yes, mechas are involved.
Batman Ninja is unapologetically outlandish, and the story builds to such an over-the-top climax that it becomes difficult to take anything happening on screen seriously. The movie does have some quieter moments, including a surprisingly potent flashback involving the Joker, but ultimately, Batman Ninja is all about excess. So, just enjoy the ride.
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