My Oni Girl: 10 Similar Coming-of-Age Anime You Must See

The anime film, ‘My Oni Girl,’ is an adventure fantasy that intensely blends the themes of family, coming-of-age, and the balance between the suppression and the encouragement of thoughts and emotions. Originally titled ‘Suki demo Kirai na Amanojaku,’ the Netflix film is directed by Tomotaka Shibayama. The plot follows Hiiragi, a high school freshman who has been struggling to reveal his true feelings, letting his father make his decisions for him. Driven by his desire to be liked, he feels out of place until his life takes a magical turn one unseasonal summer day.

Hiiragi encounters Tsumugi, an oni girl, on a quest to find her mother in the human world. Bold and unconcerned with others’ opinions, she takes Hiiragi on an adventure to reach the hidden realm of Snow Gods—mythical creatures who relieve one of the suppression of emotions. For viewers who enjoy adventurous coming-of-age films, here are 10 must-watch anime like ‘My Oni Girl.’

10. Drifting Home (2022)

In ‘Drifting Home,’ childhood friends Kosuke Kumagaya and Natsume Tonai find their relationship tested following the death of Kosuke’s grandfather. One summer day, Kosuke and his classmates reunite to explore the nearby “ghost housing complex” and reminisce nostalgic memories before its demolition. The gang encounters Natsume and learns of a mysterious boy named Noppo before a sudden storm strands the group, leading to a surreal discovery: the housing complex adrift in the ocean. Directed by Hiroyasu Ishida, this Netflix anime expertly places long-lost friends in a stranded situation where they discuss the complexities of friendship, loss, and nostalgia; corresponding to the adventurous nature of ‘My Oni Girl’ and similar anime. Like the latter, ‘Drifting Home’ manages to transport viewers in an unexpectedly twisted tale that is aimed at motivating the youth.

9. Children Who Chase Lost Voices (2011)

One of the most underrated films from the career of writer-director Makoto Shinkai (‘Your Name,’ ‘Suzume‘), this fantasy-adventure follows Asuna, a young girl who lives in a small town with her mother and spends her days listening to a mysterious radio. Asuna’s life changes when she finds a strange boy named Shun at her secret spot. He introduces her to the hidden world of Agartha, and the two embark on a journey through this magical realm, where she searches for answers about life, death, and her lost father while battling mythical deities. Like ‘My Oni Girl,’ Shinkai’s film, too, delves into themes of coping with the loss of a parent and the transformative power of unexpected friendships. Both stories feature young protagonists whose lives are turned upside down by encounters with strangers of the opposite sex who bring them to a brand new realm.

8. Josee, the Tiger and the Fish (2020)

Bringing Seiko Tanabe’s eponymous short story to life, ‘Josee, the Tiger and the Fish‘ centers on Tsuneo, a university student who dreams of studying marine biology abroad. His life changes when he meets Josee, a young woman with paraplegia who spends most of her time reading and painting. Despite her rude demeanor, Tsuneo agrees with her grandmother to be her caretaker, and together they embark on a journey of emotional growth. Directed by Kotaro Tamura, the anime film beautifully captures the essence of the power of human connection. In its many similarities with ‘My Oni Girl,’ this coming-of-age romance highlights a more gut-wrenching approach to both the loss and absence of parental figures. The thematic elements of overcoming expectations—familial, societal, and individual—combined with the empowering message of summoning courage to pursue one’s true desires resonate deeply in both films.

7. Words Bubble Up Like Soda Pop (2020)

Director Kyohei Ishiguro’s ‘Words Bubble Up Like Soda Pop’ embodies a uniquely vibrant visual style in its attempt to superimpose the worlds of literature and music over one another. The anime film introduces us to Cherry, an introverted boy with a passion for haiku poetry, and Smile, a popular girl who is hyperactive on social media. The duo’s chance encounter sparks an energetic summer romance amidst the ups and downs of adolescence. An external affair finds its way into the story, when Mr. Fujiyama, an old record shop owner, expresses his desire to listen to a lost track of his late wife.

As the couple works to the bone to fulfill Fujiyama’s wish, an upcoming summer festival approaches their town, bestowing upon them a perfect opportunity to take the next step in their relationship. The Netflix production serves viewers with a heartwarming story, embracing the elements of the transformative power of creativity, friendship, self-expression, and ways to overcome insecurities, most of which are also reflected in ‘My Oni Girl.’ The constant reminder—that art and friendship could heal any shortcomings—is, in particular, highlighted in the narratives numerous times.

6. Penguin Highway (2018)

‘Penguin Highway’ is the story of Aoyama, a brilliant but prying fourth-grader who is determined to uncover the mystery behind the sudden appearance of penguins in his town. In order to reach the depth of this phenomenon, he joins Lady, a mysterious woman from a dental clinic, as she takes him on a long adventure. Directed by Hiroyasu Ishida, the anime is adapted from Tomihiko Morimi’s science fiction novel, ‘Pengin Haiwei.’ Not dissimilar to ‘My Oni Girl,’ ‘Penguin Highway’ also borrows its sci-fi and fantasy backdrops to serve metaphoric purposes, providing light to the shadowed themes of childhood innocence, self-discovery, and human connection. Both stories involve young protagonists to unite with seemingly enigmatic women from other worlds—only to realize that realms do not bind their populace from feeling similar hardships in life.

5. Rascal Does Not Dream of a Dreaming Girl (2019)

Based on Hajime Kamoshida’s light novel series, ‘Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai,’ and serves as the sequel to the popular anime series. Directed by Sōichi Masui, the film adaptation continues the story of high school student, Sakuta Azusagawa, as he finds himself amidst ineffable events. Surprised by the sudden return of his former love interest—Shoko Makinohara—in two different forms, Sakuta must help Shoko to prevent descending into his past. Much like ‘My Oni Girl,’ ‘Rascal Does Not Dream of a Dreaming Girl’ deals with adolescent themes such as lost love, popularity, and fear of the unknown. The two movies notably feature sequences of their protagonists going out of their way to help their friend recover their health and achieve their goals. The films’ manifestation of the complexity of relationships and the impact of past traumas is brought into the respective worlds by fantastical phenomenons.

4. Bubble (2022)

This Tetsurô Araki directorial post-apocalyptic anime revolves around the story of Hibiki, a young man living in Tokyo which has turned uninhabitable due to the mysterious bubbles that have broken the laws of gravity. Cut off from the rest of the world, the city becomes a battleground for young people to compete in parkour races. Hibiki, a standout competitor with a haunted past, one day falls into the ocean and is saved by Uta, a mysterious girl with a connection to the bubbles.

As Hibiki and Uta grow closer, they discover the correlation between the bubbles and the tragedies. The screenplay of this Netflix film shares notable similarities with ‘The Little Mermaid.’ Additionally, ‘Bubble’ utilizes fantasy in its narrative, only to touch upon more realistic themes, such as hope, determination, and redemption, corresponding to that in ‘My Oni Girl.’ Uta also serves as a similar deuteragonist as Tsumugi—a mythical girl often surrounded by bubbles—raising the parallels.

3. Mirai (2018)

Directed by Mamoru Hosoda, ‘’Mirai‘ tells the story of Kun, a little kid unable to find his parents and grandmother’s undivided attention after the arrival of his baby sister, Mirai. To teach Kun about the significance and inevitability of change and to cure him of his jealousy, a futuristic Mirai takes him on a magical journey through time and space. The siblings encounter various relatives at different stages of their lives, as Kun learns valuable lessons about family, empathy, and love, changing his perspective on his sister.

‘Mirai’ offers viewers a heartwarming exploration of the joys and struggles of family life, resembling the themes explored in ‘My Oni Girl.’ The two feature multiple supporting characters in a standalone manner as they make the protagonist rethink their lives. Moreover, a brother-sister relationship plays a significant role in both narratives, adding an authentic layer to their fantastical worlds.

2. Colorful (2010)

‘Colorful’ is the screen adaptation of Eto Mori’s novel of the same name. Directed by Keiichi Hara, this bold story does not shy away from depicting the difficulties of life, be it poverty, guilt, shame, or abandonment. Given a second chance at life, a lost soul is reincarnated into the body of a teenage boy named Makoto Kobayashi, who has recently tried to kill himself. In order to learn the truth about its original identity and the sin that brought it among the dead, the soul is tasked to redeem Makoto in his second chance.

Learning valuable life lessons along the way, the new Makoto deals with the complexities of adolescence, family bonds, heartbreaks, and unlikely friendships. Much like Hiiragi, Makoto’s familial issues contribute to the internal conflicts in the story. His mother’s affair, along with his family’s continuous input in deciding his future, parallels that of Hiiragi, who also mistakes his father’s advice for pressure. As the characters rediscover themselves, they are accompanied by mysterious figures—in Makoto’s case Purapura, a deity from the afterlife—who twist their lives into fantasies.

1. The Garden of Words (2013)

Clocking in at just over an hour, ‘The Garden of Words’ nevertheless manages to introduce viewers to the visionary writer-director Makoto Shinkai. Originally known as ‘Kotonoha no Niwa,’ the deeply emotional story centers on Takao Akizuki, a high school student who dreams of becoming a shoemaker. On rainy mornings, he skips class to sketch shoe designs in a beautiful yet empty garden, where he encounters Yukari Yukino, a mysterious older woman who shares his solitude. As they form an unlikely bond, their meetings in the garden become a refuge from the pressures of their lives with dialogues full of subtle, evocative emotions.

Shinkai’s signature visual style, characterized by breathtakingly detailed backgrounds and expressive character animation, brings the drama to life. The film also explores themes of loneliness, longing, and unexpected places where one can find motivation. Along with ‘My Oni Girl,’ it stands out as a nuanced portrayal of how a person, lost in their self-isolation, could resurface in the real world with a slight push from a trusted companion.

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