Even if you're not an anime fan, you may have heard of the 2016 film Your Name. The movie was a huge hit in Japan, going on to become one of the country's highest-grossing films ever and earning a space among the greatest anime movies of all time.
It's safe to say that Your Name's story of young love that transcends time and space connected with a lot of people. Like many of director Makoto Shinkai's works, it uses a supernatural hook—two high school students who inexplicably begin to wake up in each other's bodies on certain days — to explore themes of self-acceptance, love and the idea of fate. The two begin to leave notes for each other to manage their shared existence and grow closer, only to discover their mysterious connection may be linked to a catastrophic event. And of course, all of this unfolds amid breathtaking animation and gorgeous backdrops.
If you are searching for anime movies with the same beautiful cinematography and emotional weight as Your Name, look no further. We've rounded up five fantastic movies that tread the same ground and will be sure to tug at your heartstrings. Read on for the top five anime movies like Your Name.
Weathering With You
First up is another film from Your Name director Makoto Shinkai: Weathering With You. The two share a lot of the same themes, using fantasy elements to bring together two unlikely friends whose relationship blooms into something more.
The story follows 16-year-old Hodaka Morishima, who grapples with his newfound independence after running away from his rural hometown to Tokyo, which is caught in an unusually long rain spell. As he struggles to make ends meet, he hears rumors about a "sunshine girl" who can control the weather. His life is forever changed when he meets the real deal, a young girl named Hina Amano, who can bring sunshine by praying.
Desperate for money, Hina and Hodaka team up to start a business offering "sunshine services" to people tired of the endless rain. Everything quickly spirals out of control, though, as it's revealed that Hina's powers come with a serious cost.
A Silent Voice
A Silent Voice from Kyoto Animation, the same studio behind hit shows like K-On! and Violet Evergarden, lacks the supernatural elements that define Shinkai's movies, but it's just as much of an emotional gut punch.
The movie dives into the messiness of relationships and growing up through the lens of a reformed bully, Shoya Ishida. During his elementary school years, he mercilessly teased his deaf classmate Shoko Nishimiya until she was forced to transfer schools. Afterward, Shoya's classmates turn on him, and he becomes an outcast himself.
Now in high school, Shoya grapples with a deep-seated self-hatred that, over the years, has isolated him from his peers, their faces blocked out by "X" marks in his mind's eye. Looking to make amends, he learns sign language and reaches out to Shoko to apologize. As the two reconnect, they learn to understand each other's pain and confront their past mistakes, gradually healing and growing in the process.
Howl’s Moving Castle
What's a list of best anime films without at least one Studio Ghibli film? When it comes to gorgeous visuals and heart-wrenching stories, it's hard to beat the leading pioneer in anime movies for over thirty years.
Loosely based on the novel of the same name by Diana Wynne Jones, Howl's Moving Castle is a love story that transcends time. A young woman named Sophie leads a rather uneventful life working at a hat shop before her world is changed forever by an encounter with the mysterious and powerful wizard, Howl. Their meeting draws the attention of the Witch of the Waste, who in a fit of jealous rage puts a curse on Sophie, transforming her into an elderly woman.
Seeking to undo the curse, she sets out and finds Howl's enchanted castle that can walk and transform. As she becomes more involved in the castle's affairs, she grows closer with Howl and learns he's at the center of a war brewing between the world's different kingdoms.
The Wind Rises
Scratch that, let's make it two Studio Ghibli films. The Wind Rises tells the story of Jiro Horikoshi and his lifelong fascination with flight. Though his poor eyesight keeps him out of the pilot's seat, he studies hard to become an aircraft designer and realize his dreams.
His career grows amid the backdrop of pre-war and wartime Japan, and his love of aviation clashes with the ethical quandaries and devastating real-world impact of creating machines intended for warfare. Along the way, Jiro meets the love of his life, but their dreams of growing old together are cut short when her health begins to deteriorate.
The Wind Rises is an equal parts tragic and inspiring story about pursuing your dreams even in the face of adversity. As well as the unintended costs that can be incurred.
The most sci-fi entry on this list, Patema Inverted imagines a not-so-distant future in which a science experiment gone wrong, and essentially eliminates gravity for a large percentage of the world.
Years later, a select few survivors are living in an underground society, one of which is an adventurous young girl named Patema. After venturing outside her home, she discovers a hidden society on the surface that was somehow spared the gravity shift. The people there consider anyone from Patema's inverted world dangerous, but nevertheless, she befriends a boy named Eiji who welcomes their differences. The two develop a deep bond and work to uncover the mysteries of their world and bridge the gap between their societies of opposing gravities.
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Alyse Stanley is a news editor at Tom’s Guide overseeing weekend coverage and writing about the latest in tech, gaming and entertainment.
Prior to joining Tom’s Guide, Alyse worked as an editor for the Washington Post’s sunsetted video game section, Launcher. She previously led Gizmodo’s weekend news desk, where she covered breaking tech news — everything from the latest spec rumors and gadget launches to social media policy and cybersecurity threats. She has also written game reviews and features as a freelance reporter for outlets like Polygon, Unwinnable, and Rock, Paper, Shotgun. She’s a big fan of horror movies, cartoons, and miniature painting.