The anime industry has come a long way in the first two decades of the 21st century. The perception that it’s only for children has been replaced by genuine love and admiration from the members of the general audience and critics alike. People have come to recognize that there is a real genre variety in the content produced by anime creators. Moreover, long before Hollywood sought to diversify itself so it can reach a bigger audience, the anime industry began serving its audience with a simple principle — there must be something for everybody. And it has worked over the years, considering it is now a multi-billion-dollar industry.
Since its launch in May 2020, HBO Max has increased its content library exponentially to establish itself in a wider market. Predictably, this includes a considerable number of anime series and movies. Here is a list of some of the best ones among them.
13. The Promised Neverland (2019–2021)
Set in the year 2045, ‘The Promised Neverland’ revolves around a group of children living in a self-contained orphanage called Grace Field House. They lead a happy, idyllic life and are looked after by a woman they all call Mom. Each of these children seems to possess a genius-level intellect. Although the orphans enjoy considerable freedom, they are not allowed to go beyond the gates of the facility. After one of them is supposedly “adopted,” the rest discover the horror that Grace Field hides about the world beyond. Despite the controversial manner the series ended, its first season is still as impeccable as anime can ever be.
12. Dr. Stone (2019-)
One of the best shounen anime of the 2010s, the concept behind ‘Dr. Stone’ is meant to ignite a curiosity about science in the mind of the audience all the while entertaining them. And the series does both with aplomb. In 2019, almost the entire humanity is petrified due to a mysterious flash. Three thousand seven hundred years later, science prodigy Senkuu Ishigami is revived and discovers the world he knew is long gone. With the help of the other revived individuals and descendants of those who escaped petrification, Senkuu begins the arduous process of returning humanity to its former glory.
11. Weathering with You (2019)
In ‘Weathering with You,’ as Tokyo experiences an unusual amount of rain, first-year high schooler Hodaka Morishima runs away from his home in Kōzu-shima due to family troubles. After arriving in the city, Hadaka initially fails to find any work. He encounters Hina Amano, a McDonald’s employee, who gives him some food after realizing how hungry he is. Hadoka later finds a job at an occult magazine publishing company and begins investigating the urban legends surrounding the rain. This ultimately leads him to the girl who gave him food when he needed it.
10. Jujutsu Kaisen (2020-)
The winner of the “Anime of the Year” accolade at the 2021 Crunchyroll Anime Awards, ‘Jujutsu Kaisen‘ uses classical shounen tropes to tell a story that is both familiar and confoundingly alien. Part of this is due to the complex magic system that serves as the heart of the narrative of the series. Yuuji Itadori has always been unsettlingly fit. Unknown to him and his fellow occult club members, they have unsealed a powerful curse object, the finger of Ryoumen Sukuna. In order to protect his friends, Yuuji swallows the finger and becomes Sukuna’s vessel.
9. Ponyo (2008)
Directed by the legendary Hayao Miyazaki, ‘Ponyo’ is partly inspired by Hans Christian Andersen’s ‘The Little Mermaid.’ The story follows Brunhilde, one of the daughters of wizard/scientist Fujimoto. Although Fujimoto once used to be a human, the family now lives underwater. Inherently curious, Brunhilde slips away from her family during one of their excursions and ends up in a small fishing town, where she meets five-year-old Sousuke, who gives her the name Ponyo.
8. Mob Psycho 100 (2016-)
Eighth-grader Shigeo “Mob” Kageyama desperately wants to lead a normal life. The problem is that he is an esper with remarkable psychic abilities. He must constantly keep his powers in check to avoid any catastrophe. The other main character of the series is Shigeo’s boss Reigen Arataka, who claims he is a spirit medium. In reality, he is a con artist. Despite Shigeo’s desire to avoid troubles, they constantly seem to find him, often because of Arataka’s actions.
7. Promare (2019)
‘Promare’ is set in a world where half of the human population perished from fires caused by mass spontaneous human combustions during a cataclysmic event known as the Great World Blaze. Among the survivors, certain individuals have developed pyrokinetic abilities and come to be known as the Burnish. Set thirty years after the Great World Blaze, the main narrative revolves around Galo Thymos, a firefighter affiliated with the group, Burning Rescue, and Lio Fotia, the head of the alleged terrorist group, Mad Burnish. Although Galo and Lio start as enemies, they soon realize they must work together to take down the city’s diabolical governor, Kray Foresight.
6. Re:Zero − Starting Life in Another World (2016-)
Perhaps the immense popularity of the isekai genre is the main reason for it being overflown by mediocre productions. Fortunately, anime like ‘Re:Zero‘ exists in the world. It follows Subaru Natsuki, a NEET who ends up in an alternate world. Initially, he is very happy by the prospect. He has read all the isekai manga and seen all the isekai anime. Now, he can’t wait to manifest his own powers. However, after some traumatic experiences, he realizes that the only power he has turns back the clock every time he dies. Shortly after his arrival in the new world, Subaru meets a half-elf girl named Emilia. It is only later that he learns this unassuming young woman is one of the candidates to rule the Kingdom of Lugunica.
5. Howl’s Moving Castle (2004)
Regarded by Miyazaki as his best work, ‘Howl’s Moving Castle’ revolves around a young milliner named Sophie, who is transformed into a ninety-year-old woman by the Witch of the Waste. Hoping to free herself from the curse, Sophie invites herself into the eponymous castle and meets the fire demon Calcifer, whose powers are the source of the castle’s magic. Calcifer agrees to free Sophie of the curse if she can sever the connection between the demon and Howl. Meanwhile, Sophie’s native kingdom prepares to go to war with a neighboring country.
4. The Night Is Short, Walk on Girl (2017)
Amidst the fantasy and science fiction galore, ‘The Night Is Short, Walk on Girl’ is a down-to-earth romantic comedy, for the most part. The plot follows a young man and a young woman during their night out. The man likes the woman but hasn’t been able to confess his feeling to her yet. He has decided this will be the night when he finally tells what is in his heart, but circumstances keep interrupting him.
3. To Your Eternity (2021-)
‘To Your Eternity’ has arguably the best pilot episode of any anime series. It floods you with a torrent of conflicting emotions and leaves you heartbroken when it ends. But that doesn’t mean that the anime is inherently pessimistic, far from it. The pilot leaves you with enough morsels of hope that you are compelled to watch the next episode and the one after. This continues until you are done with the first season and left wanting more.
‘To Your Eternity’ begins with a featureless Orb, created by an otherworldly entity known as Kansatsusha or the Beholder, to observe Earth and its inhabitants. However, the orb begins to change as soon as it makes contact. It transforms into a rock, and then into a dying arctic wolf, and later into a silver-haired boy. As the boy, he comes to be known as Fushi. As he travels through the lands, he discovers his identity and individuality.
2. Princess Mononoke (1997)
Another gem from Miyazaki, ‘Princess Mononoke’ is set during Japan’s Muromachi Period. While fighting to protect an Emishi village from a demon, prince Ashitaka is subjected to a curse. Although the curse grants him incredible abilities, Ashitaka learns that it will eventually kill him. Heeding the words of the village’s wise woman, Ashitaka sets out to find a cure in western lands, where the demon, who was originally a boar god, came from. Upon reaching his destination, the Emishi prince finds himself in the middle of a battle between humans and forest deities. The titular character is a human girl named San, who was raised by the wolves and now hates other humans.
1. Spirited Away (2001)
The recipient of the Best Animated Feature at the 75th Academy Awards, ‘Spirited Away’ is one of the best films ever made, period. The plot follows Chihiro Ogino, a spoiled and naive ten-year-old girl who finds herself in a strange and abandoned amusement park while traveling toward her new home with her parents. Soon, Chihiro begins seeing ghosts everywhere she looks, and her parents are turned into pigs, making her realize that they are stuck in the spirit world. With the help of a boy named Haku, Chihiro tries to find a way to escape from the spirit world before she completely forgets who she is.
Read More: Best Fantasy Anime