Every year, many anime movies are released, but not every anime movie gets famous or appreciated, despite this extreme increase in popularity over the past few years. There are still several anime movies that go mainly ignored and unrecognized for their cinematographic perfection.
In this list, we mostly list movies that are good but underappreciated, so here are our 20 highly underrated anime movies.
Highly Underrated Anime Movies
Colorful is one of the great Highly Underrated Anime Movies.
Keiichi Hara’s adaptation of Eto Mori’s novel is an interesting perspective on the lives of youth under pressure to achieve.
Colorful follows a person who begins as a miserable soul and is granted a second opportunity in life. He is implanted in the body of Makoto Kobayashi, a 14-year-old who committed himself by overdosing on pills.
2. Sword of the Stranger
Sword of the Stranger is both unusual and refreshing in the manner it appeared out of nowhere and showed how to be a fantastic anime.
To earn money meet, a teenage orphan named Kotarou and his dog Tobimaru steal from unsuspecting people during Japan’s Sengoku era. However, Kotarou is forced to leave when he is chased by assassins dispatched by China’s Ming Dynasty for strange reasons unrelated to his small crimes.
When Kotarou is attacked and Tobimaru poisoned, the duo runs upon Nanashi, a ronin who has taken shelter in a tiny shrine.
Although the samurai saves the helpless pair from their pursuers, he feels no need to assist them further; however, when offered a gem in exchange for his services as a bodyguard, he accepts Kotarou’s offer of employment—but only until Tobimaru is healed and the two arrive at their destination.
As the three go on a dangerous journey, it quickly becomes clear that their road is fraught with danger, as the Ming Dynasty has dispatched a formidable swordsman after them in order to capture Kotarou and fulfil a prophesy.
3. Perfect Blue
If you enjoy psychological thriller movies, your expectations are usually rather high. Satoshi Kon’s 1997 animated movie Perfect Blue is a classic psychological thriller in the spirit of Neon Genesis Evangelion and other legendary disturbing anime films.
Mima Kirigoe (Junko), the main heroine, is a 21-year-old pop idol who abandons the pink stockings and ballerina skirts of her bubblegum trio to pursue a new career as an actor on a television psychodrama.
4. The Cat Returns
If you love cats and a great fantasy film, The Cat Returns will be your thing. This 2002 animated film from Hiroyuki Morita of Studio Ghibli fame is based on a manga by Aoi Hiiragi.
The Cat Returns, a spin-off of Whisper of the Heart, depicts the storey of a girl named Haru who can talk with cats. Haru saves a cat from being hit by a truck, and the cats reward her with catnip, mice, and an offer of marriage to Lune, Prince of the Cat Kingdom.
5. Wolf Children
Wolf Children is about what comes after and how life is very rarely so simple.
Hana, a committed college student, falls in love with a mystery man who attends one of her classes despite the fact that he is not a student. He, too, is not actually human, it turns out. He turns on a full moon night, indicating that he is the last werewolf alive. Despite this, Hana’s love continues, and the two eventually decide to raise a family.
Hana gives birth to two healthy children, Ame, who is born during rain, and Yuki, who is born during snowfall, both of whom have the power to transform into wolves, a talent inherited from their father. All too soon, however, Hana’s world is shattered by the unexpected death of her partner, leaving her to raise a strange family entirely on her own.
The burden of raising her wild-natured children in a heavily populated metropolis, all while keeping their identities hidden, leads to a choice to go to the countryside, where she hopes Ame and Yuki may enjoy a life free of society’s judgements.
6. A Letter to Momo
Hiroyuki Okiura directed the 2011 drama A Letter to Momo. The movie explores the grieving experience through the eyes of a kid.
Momo Miyaura, 11, leaves Tokyo with her mother after her father’s tragic death and relocates to an old secluded island in the Seto Inland Sea. Her father’s lone memento is an incomplete letter with only two words inside: “Dear Momo”—along with her heart’s unease from it.
Momo unwillingly attempts to adjust to the old wooden buildings, silent agricultural fields, and mysterious lonely shrines in the new and unknown tiny town.
One day, while investigating her new home’s attic, she discovers a worn out picture book about youkai. Strange things begin to happen throughout town as a result of this discovery, and Momo is surprised by the entrance of three problematic youkai.
When it comes to the plot of Redline, it is brief, sweet, and to the point. The film follows our main character JP, a driver who wishes to compete in the Redline competition, which is conducted every five years.
Every five years, an amazing race known as Redline is conducted, and the universe’s most anticipated competition has just one rule: none. Racers are pushed to their extreme limits, a sensation that daredevil driver JP is all too familiar with.
Having just recently qualified for Redline, he is eager to compete against the other very proficient drivers, notably the stunning emerging star and the only other human that qualified, Sonoshee McLaren.
However, this year’s Redline may be considerably more deadly than normal, since it has been reported that it will take place on the planet Roboworld, with its trigger-happy military and criminals looking to use the race for their own gain.
The potential risk, however, does not deter the racers; rather, it adds to the excitement. JP prepares for the event, relying completely on the speed of his car, hoping to win the biggest race of his life.
8. The Case of Hana & Alice
The original film starts with Hana and Alice as an inseparable duo, but The Case of Hana and Alice begins before the two have met.
Tetsuko, a 14-year-old schoolgirl, relocates to a new town with her mother. She gets ridiculed immediately at her new school and is given the seat of a murdered student. Tetsuko begins investigating the death, determined to learn what happened.
Alice’s investigation of the murder takes her to Hana, the girl next door who hasn’t attended to school in over a year. Hana decides to help Alice in determining whether their friend was murdered, and the two go on a junior high-sized murder investigation.
9. Psychic School Wars
Kenji Seki’s daily routine hasn’t altered much. Every morning, he walks his dog to the beach in the hopes of spotting his classmate, Kahori Harukawa, surfing.
After that, he runs into his neighbour and childhood friend, Natsuki Suzuura, and they walk to school together. In actuality, he has a perfect life in which his main concern is figuring out how to express his feelings to Kahori.
The arrival of a strange transfer student causes a disruption in Kenji’s schedule. Kenji has long wished for the charm and celebrity of Ryouichi Kyougoku, who claims to be a psychic.
Soon after, Kahori develops feelings for Ryouichi, and Natsuki becomes withdrawn if Kenji shows his feelings.
How will Ryouichi’s entrance effect everyone around Kenji as his life unwinds? Nerawareta Gakuen follows these previously normal high school students as they grow obsessed with the supernatural.
10. From Up on Poppy Hill
Coquelicot Manor is a boarding house on a hill with a view of a seaside harbour. Because the property is managed by her relatives, Umi Matsuzaki handles many of the chores associated with running the small firm, such as cooking meals for her fellow boarders.
If she isn’t at home, she visits the local high school, which is now struggling with a mild problem.
A treasured old clubhouse will be demolished to make way for a new one in preparation for the upcoming Olympic Games. As a result, a large majority of the student body has banded together to prevent this from happening.
Umi finds herself assisting the newspaper club in spreading awareness about this cause, where she befriends Shun Kazama, with whom she eventually falls in love. Yet Shun is an orphan with no understanding of his origins, and as the two begin digging for clues to the boy’s history, they find that they could have a lot more in common than any of them might have expected.
11. Tales of Vesperia: The First Strike
Ten years after the Great War against the demon-beasts, the empire rules the world, and riches is based on the widespread usage of aer.
Flynn Scifo and Yuri Lowell are two young guys who have recently joined the famous Imperial Knights. They are brought one day to the town of Ceazontania, where unnatural aer behaviour is reported to have resulted in the development of terribly mutated monsters, posing a serious threat to the entire country.
Meanwhile, behind closed doors, the Knights Supreme Commander Alexei Denoia and the inexperienced Princess Estellise are involved in a power struggle. The situation in Ceazontania worsens when the Imperial Knights’ garrison realises that they are unable to request immediate aid from the capital.
Then, Niren Fedrok, the leader of the Imperial Knights in Ceazontania, makes an abrupt decision that will forever alter Yuri and Flynn’s fate.
What are the truths behind the strange incidents between Yuri and Flynn? Will they be able to safeguard the innocent people of Ceazontania while remaining true to their beliefs?
12. Maquia: When the Promised Flower Blooms
Maquia is a member of the Iorph, a race of mystical beings who may live for hundreds of years while remaining separate from the lives and daily struggles of humanity. Maquia, on the other hand, has always felt lonely despite being surrounded by her people, as she was orphaned at an early age. She fantasises about the outside world, but she is afraid to leave her house because of the clan’s chief’s threats.
The outside world eventually finds her, when the power-hungry kingdom of Mezarte invades her village. They already control what remains of the giant dragons, the Renato, and their ruler now intends to add the immortality of the Iorph to his bloodline.
The humans and their Renato annihilate the Iorph country, killing the majority of its inhabitants. Maquia is taken away by one of the Renato who has gone insane in the midst of the attack. It dies quickly, and she is abandoned in a wilderness far from home, really alone save for the screams of a single baby out in the distance.
Maquia discovers the baby in a burned-out village and decides to raise him as her own, naming him Ariel. Despite knowing nothing about the human world, how to nurture a child that ages far quicker than she does, or how to live with the blazing loneliness inside, she is determined to make it all work.
13. Hotarubi no Mori e
Hotaru Takegawa, a six-year-old girl fascinated by the mythology of a mountain deity, becomes lost in the ancient forest while visiting her uncle. Hotaru is tired and seeks for help when he comes upon Gin, a veiled woodland spirit. She learns the hard way that she can’t contact the youngster or he’ll disappear. Regardless, Gin guides Hotaru out of the jungle and warns her not to return, despite the fact that she has agreed to return with a gift.
Hotaru and Gin become good friends when she visits him every summer, despite the fact that they are separated by space and life planes. However, their friendship and determination are pushed to the test when their emotional impulses clash with the only law.
14. Jin-Roh: The Wolf Brigade
Following World War II, in an alternate history, public unrest and terrorism rage in a destroyed Japan under foreign domination. Constable Kazuki Fuse, a soldier in an elite counter-terrorism team, witnesses the true terror of human nature after a failed interception of underground weapons being transported by a terrorist organisation.
He fails to stop a teen girl from carrying out a desperate suicide bombing, resulting in massive havoc in Tokyo. Kazuki is ordered back to the military academy for re-evaluation, despite the fact that he has mental scars and his ability is called into question.
Unbeknownst to him, he would soon become involved in a network of government plots with the potential to determine Japan’s future.
15. Tekkon Kinkreet
The streets of Treasure Town are reported to be owned by “The Cats.” They are aware of everything that occurs in the city, and no one can cause trouble without first going through them. In actuality, The Cats are a pair of orphan boys named Black and White who aren’t afraid of anything or anyone.
However, their rule of the streets is challenged when the Yakuza arrive in town and begin to make changes. The free-spirited Black and careless White have no one to rely on but themselves to restore their Treasure Town to its former glory. But their friendship is put to the test when they realise that going back to the way things were may no longer be an option.
16. Summer Wars
OZ, a virtual world linked to the internet, has grown in popularity throughout the world as a place for people to engage in a wide range of activities, like as sports or shopping, using avatars generated and personalised by the user.
OZ also has nearly unbreakable security due to its high encryption, ensuring that any personal data transmitted across networks is kept safe to protect individuals who utilise it. Because of its practical applications, the bulk of society has become highly reliant on virtual reality, even entrusting the system with the return of the unmanned asteroid explorer, Arawashi.
Kenji Koiso, a 17-year-old math prodigy and part-time OZ moderator, is invited on a summer trip by his crush Natsuki Shinohara. But, unbeknownst to him, this trip necessitates him playing the role of her fiancé.
He receives a weird, coded message on his cell phone from an anonymous sender who challenges him to decode it shortly after arriving at Natsuki’s family’s estate, which is preparing for her great-90th grandmother’s birthday. Kenji cracks the code, but he has no idea that his mathematical ability has just put Earth in grave danger.
17. Ni no Kuni
Yuu, Haru, and Kotona, best friends, have a peaceful high school existence together. However, one day, a suspicious guy pursues and stabs Kotona, causing a disaster that Yuu and Haru are unable to avoid.
The two guys are nearly hit by a truck while bringing the girl to the hospital, but luckily escape unharmed. Instead, they find themselves in a fairy-tale-like country full with strange people and extraordinary creatures.
The guys are surprised to learn that Yuu, who has been bound to a wheelchair since childhood, can now walk! They don’t have time to think about the confusing scenario because their friend has left. Yuu and Haru are on their way to find Kotona when they stop at a local pub to inquire about her. However, after inspecting a photograph of Asha, the kingdom’s princess, the two make a shocking discovery.
Ni no Kuni, which tells the storey of an astonishing experience in a magical realm, displays the special link between two separate yet parallel universes, as well as the development of individual ties.
18. Josee, the Tiger and the Fish
Tsuneo Suzukawa, a university student with a passion for diving and an interest in marine biology, works many part-time jobs to raise enough money to study overseas. But one fateful night, he meets a girl in a wheelchair, forcing him to detour from his current path.
Kumiko, who wants to be called “Josee,” comes across as rude at first. Tsuneo, on the other hand, is convinced by Josee’s grandmother to accept the paid job as Josee’s caretaker.
Despite his irritation with her bossy approach, Tsuneo sees an opportunity to save more money to support his academic goal.
Tsuneo tries to quit after putting up with Josee’s behaviour for a while, only to uncover Josee’s fantasies of exploring the outside world—of experiencing a life free of her paralysing condition.
Tsuneo changes his mind and decides to accompany Josee on her exploration of the world’s wonders. During their time together, the two learn that the characteristics that unite them may be crucial to achieving their individual goals.
Ichirou Satou is a regular high school student who pretended to be a hero named “Maryuuin Kouga” in middle school, which led to his being bullied repeatedly.
Now that he has passed through this humiliating phase, he tries to avoid sticking out and live a calm existence, despite the fact that he believes the world has become very dull. When he returns to school one night to retrieve a textbook he left in class, he encounters a weird girl dressed in a costume.
This girl, Ryouko Satou, happens to be his classmate and suffers from the same issue as he did, believing she is someone else and dressing up to represent this. The next day, Ichirou is asked by his teacher to befriend Ryouko, which he flatly refuses, unwilling to be reminded of his own history.
When he notices that she is being bullied in the same way that he was, he feels it his obligation to take care of her and break her free from what once afflicted him—the ideal task for Maryuuin Kouga.
20. The Girl Who Leapt Through Time
Makoto Konno is in her senior year of high school and is unsure of her future plans. Makoto’s life abruptly changes when she unintentionally discovers that she is capable of literally leaping through time, in between facing the strain of her professors and killing time with her best friends.
Toki no Kakeru Shoujo follows Makoto as she experiments with her newly discovered power. However, she quickly discovers the hard way that every action has a consequence, and time is far more intricate than it appears.