Top 10 Anime Movies Better Than Studio Ghibli – CBR – Comic Book Resources

Studio Ghibli is an undeniable presence in the world of anime movies, but the company often overshadows other notable works of the form.
In the world of anime movies, Studio Ghibli stands out as the most well-known and well-regarded powerhouse of Japanese animation. The films produced by Ghibli's staff, especially the works directed by the studio's legendary founder Hayao Miyazaki, invoke a comforting, nostalgic feeling in the audience. Their soothing, magical ambiance and sincere yet thoughtful narratives earned the studio recognition worldwide and critical praise.
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To this day, Miyazaki's masterpiece Spirited Away is the only anime to ever receive an Academy Award, proving that Studio Ghibli has truly transcended cultural boundaries and became an international phenomenon. Despite the studio's incredible library of work, Ghibli movies are not the only anime features that deserve to be so widely regarded. Some would even argue that there are countless anime films far more ambitious than Studio Ghibli's features, worthy to be praised just as highly.
Hayao Miyazaki isn't the only anime director famous for his atmospheric, immersive visual prowess. After shaking the world with his hit feature film Your Name, Makoto Shinkai became one of the most popular directors in the medium, rivaling even the monumental success of Studio Ghibli.
Nevertheless, the director's earlier works might be even more impressive than his most recent visual masterpieces. The Garden of Words, a somber, melancholic love story between an older woman and a teenage shoemaker, stands out amongst Shinkai's library of work as his most mature and breathtaking film, making even the most stoic of viewers weep.
After making a name for itself as a cult-classic anime series, the Monogatari franchise followed up on its initial success with an even more ambitious and surreal feature trilogy, Kizumonogatari. Going back to the time before the series' notorious protagonist, Araragi Koyomi, made a name for himself by defeating various oddities, the films tell a story of his initial introduction to the world of supernatural.
The increased budget of a feature film Kizumonogatari showcases the jaw-dropping animation skills of SHAFT's team while keeping the show's iconic humor and art-house narrative style.
Kyoto Animation has always been at the forefront of creating some of the most visually stunning and emotionally charged anime in the medium. Both their feature worlds and their TV series were consistently met with tremendous audience reception, securing the studio's spot at the top of the industry.
A Silent Voice is considered Kyoto Animation's finest work by many. In this heart-wrenching drama film, the studio brought light to the issues of bullying, highlighted the struggles of living with a disability, and explored the emotional aftermaths of growing up with regret.
It's a rarity for a director's debut to be an immediate outstanding success, yet Mari Okada managed to create a masterpiece with her very first feature film. Maquia: When the Promised Flower Blooms is a sincere and earnest fantasy drama film that explores the themes of parenthood sacrifices and everlasting motherly love.
While the medieval magical setting might seem unusual for such a grounded and heartfelt story, it successfully elevates the profound narrative, adding an element of enchantment to an otherwise tragic story of Maquia.
The science-fiction adventure film Patema Inverted takes place in a space between two worlds, a totalitarian nation Aiga and an upside-down underground civilization that exists above it. On the edge that separates two different societies, a tender, forbidden friendship blooms between an Invert, Patema, and a curious Aigan student, Age.
Despite his nation's hatred towards Patema's kind, Age decides to protect his newfound companion. In a story about overcoming differences and seeing past the societal prejudices, the two explore the mysteries that brought their worlds so far apart.
Studio Ghibli isn't known for spectacular action scenes that differentiate anime from any other kind of animated media. Nevertheless, the industry has many other outstanding examples of thrilling, captivating action spectacles that remember to be sincere and heart-warming.
RELATED: 10 Visually Stunning Action Anime
Studio Trigger's mecha adventure Promarehas everything that made the avant-garde anime team so iconic – over-the-top action, spectacular visual flare, and heartfelt emotional momentum. The story of a flame-wielding nation of mutants and their conflict with the rest of society truly highlights the studio's endless ambitions and passion for creating meaningful, exciting narratives.
World War II was a devastating historical period that deeply affected every life involved in the conflict. Studio Ghibli explored the aftermaths of this tragedy in their 1988 feature drama Grave of the Fireflies. MAPPA's 2016 historical film In This Corner of the World shares similar themes with Ghibli's timeless masterpiece, yet it chooses to portray the horrors of war from a completely different perspective.
The heartbreaking movie explores the war's noxious effects on a simple rural girl Suzu Urano, whose dreams of a quiet life got destroyed by a world-shattering catastrophe.
The incredibly profound industry darling Mamoru Hosoda made a name for himself directing some of the most heartwarming, inventive anime films in the industry. Family and parental relationships are a common theme in the director's works. But none of them quite capture the gratifications and sacrifices of raising a child as successfully as Wolf Children.
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The story of Wolf Children starts with a diligent college student Hana falling in love with a werewolf. Yet, after a devastating tragedy that results in Hana's lover's death, the girl is left alone with two small children, half-human and half-wolf. Raising two kids is a difficult task for any single mother. And the added circumstances of those children being partially canines only add trouble to Hana's strenuous life. Yet, with love and devotion, everything is possible.
Satoshi Kon is often regarded as one of the most influential industry veterans. The critically acclaimed director earned his legendary status by experimenting with different genres in his films, ranging from chilling psychological horror to heartfelt Christmas stories. His surrealistic feature film Paprika might not be the director's most well-known work, yet it captures his unorthodox cinematic style perfectly.
In this science fiction thriller, dreams and fantasies mend with reality, creating a pleasantly confusing and endlessly captivating universe that tests the limits of human imagination.
Anime is a medium of endless creative expression, which can take countless different forms and follow myriads of unique directions. The most talented and unorthodox creators in the industry can even be instantly recognized by their personal artistic style. The statement stands true for both Studio Ghibli, whose serene visuals are an iconic staple of the anime landscape, and Masaaki Yuasa, a much more bizarre and surrealistic director.
His feature film The Night Is Short, Walk on Girl is a vibrant, mesmerizing celebration of the director's unique style and Japanese nightlife culture, following a brave nameless heroine on her adventures through Kyoto's lively streets and bars.
Maria Remizova is a writer, reader, filmmaker, and media analyst based in Los Angeles, US. After working as a journalist for a major television network in Russia, she moved to the United States to study filmmaking. A graduate of Full Sail University’s Film program, she now writes for CBR’s Anime Lists and works as a screenplay analyst. From childhood, Maria was enthusiastic about Japanese media and culture and has watched over 2500 anime in her lifetime. Her favorite flavor of ice cream is coffee.
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