In the vast sea of anime, where popular studios like Studio Ghibli often steal the spotlight, there are hidden gems waiting to be discovered. Movies, overshadowed by the popularity of series, sometimes don’t get the recognition they truly deserve. Today, we’re diving into the world of anime movies that might not have the backing of big studios but certainly have captivating stories that demand attention. Let’s explore these seven underrated anime movies that deserve more recognition worldwide.
1. To the Forest of Firefly Lights
In a mere 45 minutes, To the Forest of Firefly Lights weaves a tale that will leave you with bittersweet emotions. The story follows the peculiar relationship between Hotaru Takegawa, a young girl, and Gin, a mysterious masked boy. Despite Gin’s reluctance to be touched, he consistently helps Hotaru when she’s lost in the forest. Hotaru, against advice, continues seeking out Gin every summer. The film unfolds gently from Hotaru’s perspective, offering a serene portrayal of love in its purest, platonic form.
2. The Stranger by the Shore
“In a world full of fear, we choose love,” says openly gay novelist Shun Hashimoto. Living on a secluded island, Shun grapples with accepting his sexuality due to past experiences. The story takes an emotional turn when Shun learns about Mio Chibana, who sits alone on a beach bench. After Mio’s return from a three-year absence, the anime unfolds a heartwarming tale of two strangers healing each other’s emotional wounds and striving for happiness together.
3. Summer Ghost
The belief that fireworks calm the souls of the departed sets the stage for Summer Ghost. Tomoya Sugisaki, Aoi Harukawa, and Ryou Kobayashi light up fireworks to encounter the ghost of a young woman who supposedly took her own life. Despite having a runtime of only 39 minutes, Summer Ghost ties up all loose ends as the trio discovers the truth behind the young woman’s death, finding newfound meaning in their lives.
4. Goodbye, Don Glees
Don’t be fooled by its IMDb rating of 6.6; Goodbye, Don Glees is a beautiful tale of three friends on a journey to clear their names after being falsely accused of starting a forest fire. Following Drop’s lead, Roma and Toto find themselves in more trouble than expected. As their journey unfolds, the trio forms an unbreakable bond, but a secret hidden by Drop threatens to tear them apart. With stunning animation, this movie takes you on a rollercoaster of emotions.
5. Lonely Castle in the Mirror
“If you could wish for one thing, what would it be?” This is the question posed in Lonely Castle in the Mirror. Kokoro Anzai and six other outcast students find themselves transported to a mysterious castle after their mirrors start glowing. The enigmatic Wolf Queen promises them one wish if they can find the key to a hidden room. However, only one of them can have their wish granted. This emotional story explores friendship, empathy, and sacrifice, breaking the cycle of loneliness and misunderstanding.
6. Yes, No, or Maybe Half?
“We all wear masks to keep our true selves hidden from others.” This is the premise of Yes, No, or Maybe Half? Kei Kunieda, a newscaster, presents a warm and kind persona in public but reveals a different side in private. His life takes a turn after an interview with the honest animator Ushio Tsuzuki. The movie unfolds smoothly in its 53-minute duration, exploring themes of honesty and identity as Kei becomes entangled in a web of lies.
Harmonie delves into the idea of a unique world within one’s mind. Juri Makina dreams of a futuristic world, haunted by a recurring melody and the sight of a robot girl near a dilapidated tower. Meanwhile, Akoi Honjo can recreate any music he hears. The 25-minute film leaves the audience yearning for more as it explores the connection between Juri and Akoi, leaving the interpretation of its enigmatic nature to the viewers.
In the world of anime, these movies stand out as diamonds in the rough, waiting to be discovered by a broader audience. Whether it’s the tender exploration of platonic love in To the Forest of Firefly Lights or the emotional rollercoaster of Goodbye, Don Glees, each of these films brings something unique to the table. So, the next time you’re scrolling through your anime watchlist, give these underrated gems a chance; you might just find a new favorite.