There’s more to anime than amazing series. In fact, the movies are often even more impressive. From young heroes making a name for themselves to little kids running with penguins, this year was full of a wide variety of films that would appeal to anyone. There’s nothing better than hitting your local theater to catch one of a handful of obscure showings of a highly anticipated anime film. Okay, looking back at this year’s releases and picking out the ones that stood out most might be a bit more fun — which is why we’ve already done it. Here’s our ranking of the seven best anime movies of 2018.
7. I Want to Eat Your Pancreas
At first glance, I Want to Eat Your Pancreas may look like your typical romantic drama about a dying young girl. But in actuality, it’s a tale about celebrating life and friendship — a point made clear by Sakura’s upbeat and cheerful demeanor. However, the film still has several heartbreaking moments that will make you grab the tissue box. And thanks to Studio Voln’s use of bright and gloomy colors, their unique art style, and seamless CG effects; viewers can visually experience these intense emotions.
It’s a fantastic film that pulls off a few surprises with its characters, who are magically brought to life by its top-notch theatrical quality, and certainly moved audiences this past fall.
6. Flavors of Youth
Told in three different chapters and taking place in three different cities in China –Beijing, Guangzhou, and Shanghai — Flavors of Youth explores the simple joys of life, like beautiful memories and love transcending time.
Flavors of Youth‘s Chinese setting is meticulously detailed, thanks to the use of the vibrant colors and urban environments found in the Asian country by studio CoMix Wave Films. This same attention to detail carries over to the film’s food shots, which become a metaphor for the character’s lives. Seriously, food hasn’t been this beautifully animated since Miyazaki.
Despite being one feature film comprised of three chapters, each with their own director, the visual language and focus on detail remains the same and acts as a thread that connects them all. Flavors of Youth is a stunning visual effort and has a refreshing setting worthy that make it worthy of our list.
5. Dragon Ball Super: Broly
Dragon Ball Super: Broly takes place after the Tournament of Power, which Goku and Vegeta entered to test their limits. The erased universes were restored by Android 17 at the tournament’s conclusion, but, as we all know, peace is short-lived in the world of Dragon Ball. A new Saiyan has arrived, and he seeks to destroy none other than Vegeta, the Prince of all Saiyans.
The film’s biggest draw is undoubtedly the introduction of a canonized Broly, one of the series’ most iconic characters. As we get to know the bulky new Saiyan, we get to learn more about Goku and Vegeta’s past and the reason they left their home planet.
Dragon Ball Super: Broly manages to revitalize the series without sacrificing the quirks fans have come to love, such as Goku’s destructive fighting power and Frieza’s maniacal laugh. The film’s animation makes it accessible to a new generation, but still gives us satisfying over-the-top battles. And Goku’s not the only one reaching new heights, Broly‘s story elevates the entire franchise to a new level of storytelling by mixing the old with the new, something new and old Dragon Ball fans will appreciate.
4. Penguin Highway
Fourth-grader Aoyama is a mature little boy who constantly writes in his notebook, counting down the days until he becomes an adult. One day, several penguins mysteriously appear in his neighborhood. Curious about this weird phenomenon, Aoyama sets out to figure out why the penguins have appeared in the first place.
Penguin Highway‘s bright color palette perfectly evokes a childlike sense of wonder, and its playful animation mirrors the main character’s enthusiasm, especially when the penguins move about. Even simple scenes, like Aoyama walking down the street, are full of energy and detail. The animators took joy in drawing not only the human characters, but also the penguins with their cute little walk.
Despite being Studio Colorido’s first feature-length film, Penguin Highway hits all the marks of a movie that the entire family can enjoy, which is why its one of the best of 2018.
3. My Hero Academia the Movie: Two Heroes
Aptly titled My Hero Academia: Two Heroes, the first movie in the superhero series centers around All Might and his protégé Izuku Midoriya as they head to a Quirk research facility and support item development center. However, things go awry when villains show up.
My Hero Academia: Two Heroes is a fun superhero film that’s just as enjoyable as its live-action counterparts. It’s packed with new Quirk, creative new villains, and tons of new gadgets. But the best part is watching our favorite future heroes work together to take down the new big bad in town. Plus, we get to see All Might during his early days as a hero.
A treat for both longtime fans and those new to My Hero Academia, Two Heroes embodies all the things that fans have come to love about the anime, such as themes of friendship and teamwork and kickass fight sequences.
Mirai tells the story of Kun, a boy who gets a younger sister named Mirai. Kun isn’t too pleased with this new addition to the family, as he now has to share his parents’ once-undivided attention. The boy’s jealousy causes him to come dangerously close to harming his younger sibling.
Mirai is a coming-of-age movie that mixes time travel and emotional depth. The film’s director, Mamoru Hosoda (Wolf Children, Summer Wars), transforms this common trope into a magical ride through time and memories. Kun gets to visit family members from the past, present, and future; and the experience moves the young boy to change how he sees his new sister.
Kun’s journey through these different timelines comes together through the hand-drawn work of countless animators. Each element, from the character designs to the landscape, is a unique and beautiful creation. It’s because of this that Mirai has the power to move audiences, young and old.
1. Maquia: When the Promised Flower Blooms
Maquia is a Lorph, an immortal clan who stopped aging and exiled themselves from human society. But when the army of a nearby Kingdom attacks the Lorph, Maquia gets tossed into the human world, where she comes across a baby boy. She adopts him and names him Ariel. What follows is a tale of mother and son, with the former knowing that she’ll one day have to watch her child die.
A maternal love story, Maquia: When the Promised Flower Blooms shows the beauty of love and pain as the young mother tries to protect her child from the dangers of the world. The stunning visuals elevate these themes as we follow their journey from the beautiful countryside to hectic cities overflowing with humankind’s cruelty. The movie’s emotional content and P.A. Works’ work on the backdrop make Maquia: When the Promised Flower Blooms the best anime movie of 2018.