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Culture Movies/TV

The 18 Best Horror Anime Movies and TV Shows

So much horror cinema made in the United States is firmly rooted in a Western tradition, meaning that Judeo-Christian imagery and morality still dominate the genre — and with every generation, these movies become more and more self-referential. But other cultures have entirely different ideas about the afterlife and what demons lurk in the great beyond. That’s probably why so many horror die-hards are so obsessed with Japanese media.

Ever since The Ring, J-horror has deeply influenced Hollywood, but few American fans do a real deep dive on more obscure offerings. To help guide you through the cursed world of haunted cartoons, we’ve curated this (unranked!) list of the 18 best horror anime TV shows and films. Good luck sleeping after you’ve made it through.

18. ‘Gyo: Tokyo Fish Attack!’

Haunting images of giant sharks crawling on land with insect legs protruding violently from their stomachs became a grotesque meme on a handful of imageboards. The strange iconography of Gyo, one of horror legend Junji Ito’s most bizarre masterpieces, seems silly at first, but the film (based on the manga of the same name) is actually deeply unsettling. The mythos behind how the sea creatures became terrestrial is complicated and obscure, but Gyo’s story evolves into something much more gruesome and nauseating before it concludes.

watch on crunchyroll
https://aniplexusa.com/gyo/
17. ‘Perfect Blue’

The late Satoshi Kon, an anime director known for his dreamlike mise-en-scene and intellectual, postmodern twists, was widely celebrated as a visionary before his death. Perfect Blue is often considered his greatest work — and it’s gone on to influence a handful of award-winning Western films like Darren Aronofsky’s Black Swan. 

Perfect Blue tells the story of Mima Kirigoe, a fictional pop singer stalked by an increasingly threatening doppelganger. Are Mima’s nightmares coming true, or has she totally lost her grip on reality? Kon’s lovingly detailed and deeply empathetic animations juxtapose horrendously against scenes of sexual violence that slip between waking life and dreams until the audience can no longer tell what a psychotic delusion is and what’s actually happening — reflecting both the young idol’s nervous breakdown and our schizophrenic media culture.

watch on Prime Video
https://www.amazon.com/Perfect-Blue-Junko-Iwao/dp/B07NNP4R4H
16. ‘Jujutsu Kaisen’

Jujutsu Kaisen has garnered an impressive cult following since episodes began airing on Crunchyroll in late 2020. The series has already achieved a perfect balance between horror aesthetics and traditional shonen plotting. Ostensibly about a school for young sorcerers, the ultra-violent art direction and stomach-churning monster design keeps this new show from being yet another by-the-books adventure story about a plucky young fighter battling both literal and figurative demons. It’s got exciting action scenes and real heart, but it’s not for the squeamish.

WATCH ON HBO MAX
https://play.hbomax.com/page/urn:hbo:page:GX8fnVgocBIZDKQEAAABF:type:series
15. ‘Paranoia Agent’

A staple of [adult swim] in the early ’00s, Paranoia Agent is another Satoshi Kon classic which deals with many of the same themes and motifs as the aforementioned Perfect Blue. This 13-episode TV series is a complicated story about the pressures of the animation industry, told from a cartoonist’s perspective driven increasingly mad by her own creation. It’s a self-referential warning about the psychological perils of late capitalism and the flattening of our emotional lives by information technology — expressed through a story about a serial murderer who escaped from a nightmare.

watch on funimation
https://www.funimation.com/shows/paranoia-agent/
14. ‘Hellsing’

A steampunk update of the Dracula mythos, Hellsing uses perverted Christian imagery to tell a story equal parts bloody and campy. It’s not the highest quality animation, but the transgressive pleasures of this frequently juvenile show remain endearing, as does its early 00’s goth aesthetic. Spotting Hellsing’s influence on a plethora of contemporary anime (see: Castlevania) isn’t hard to do once you’ve seen the original show.

watch on hulu
https://www.hulu.com/series/hellsing-ae60fec0-4936-49a7-b00f-89de717bce07
13. ‘Devilman: Crybaby’

Artist Go Nagai created the Devilman character in the early 1970s, and he’s been endlessly reinvented ever since. Crybaby is the latest iteration of this iconic anti-hero, and Netflix’s high-budget adaptation is a great entry point for new fans, even if it is a bit abstract. Ultra-fashionable character design compliments the show’s slick techno soundtrack for an extremely stylish and gorgeously animated adventure that vacillates from sublime beauty to Oedipal terror. 

watch on netflix
https://www.netflix.com/title/80174974
12. ‘Promised Neverland’

A serene schoolhouse in the countryside filled with adorable kids belies some truly terrible dark secrets: When the children discover they’re being harvested as meat for demons, they begin to hatch an elaborate escape plan, but their every move is being watched! Emotional drama and psychological fear take center stage in this deceptively cute series with extremely morbid themes. 

watch on hulu
https://www.hulu.com/series/the-promised-neverland-3ef087c6-d967-4495-9730-b5ff54ded8e0
11. ‘Dorohedoro’

A battle between sorcerers and the slums rages in this highly stylized horror/action hybrid series. A citizen of a whimsical skid row one day wakes up with the head of a lizard and no memory of his past, leading him to embark on a grisly quest for both answers and revenge. Each episode gets stranger as more details of the surreal, magical world they inhabit are revealed. Although the show is rendered in CGI, the 3D models are very stylized and extremely expressive in ways reminiscent of more old-school anime.

watch on netflix
https://www.netflix.com/title/80991903
10. ‘Berserk’

Berserk is a traditionally gothic fairytale about an orphaned knight betrayed by his impossibly beautiful commander. The Western medieval setting is fairly traditional, and the story is almost Shakespearean in structure — until the last few episodes when the plot suddenly takes an unexpectedly hellish twist. Maybe it’s the nostalgia speaking, but there’s something really special about late 90’s anime, and Berserk is a classic of that era — rife with overt queer overtones and filled with wistfully melancholy. 

The show’s first run lasted 25 episodes and told only a fraction of the original manga’s story. (The series was rebooted in 2016, but the poorly done CGI animation style in this latest iteration is nearly unwatchable. Stick with the original and seek out the books if you get hooked.)

watch on crunchyroll
https://www.crunchyroll.com/berserk
9. ‘Serial Experiments Lain’

Serial Experiments Lain is a cyberpunk anime from 1998 which uncannily predicted the rise of cyberspace as the defining feature of the new Millenium. Lain is a young student whose interest in hacking slowly takes over her life until she’s no longer able to tell what’s happening online or in reality. Lain’s psychotic break has philosophical ramifications, as she encounters a series of unhinged conspiracy theories on message boards, leading her to an entity that claims to be God — or is she just going insane? The show was way ahead of its time in its predictions about the Internet and its depiction of a mass shooting only a year before Columbine. This is slow burn horror at its best, but the social implications are what is really disturbing.

watch on funimation
https://www.funimation.com/shows/serial-experiments-lain/
8. ‘Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust’

Fans of Final Fantasy might recognize the baroque and ornate art design of Yoshitaka Amano in Vampire Hunter D, yet another Japanese twist on the mythology of Dracula. In this breathtaking movie from 2000, the eponymous warrior D battles Carmilla, a sapphic demon based on the real-life murderess Elizabeth Bathory. It’s admittedly thin on a storyline, but the hand-animated action sequences and melodramatic imagery are stunning nonetheless.

buy on amazon
https://www.amazon.com/Vampire-Hunter-Blu-ray-Artist-Provided/dp/B00WHZZAP6/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=%27Vampire+Hunter+D%3A+Bloodlust%27&qid=1614091265&sr=8-1
7. ‘X/1999 AKA X: The Movie’

Manga studio CLAMP is best known for dainty romance stories and cutesy magical girl adventures, but their apocalyptic sci-fi book series X is a frightening depiction of a cosmic battle for humanity. They produced a standalone movie of X in 1996, and while it’s nearly impossible to condense an 18 volume manga into a 1.5-hour film, they did a pretty good job of distilling the graphic novel down to its essence. Secret factions of psychic warriors fight to save or destroy civilization unbeknownst to regular people in this shockingly violent and stunningly delicate doomsday tale.

buy on amazon
https://www.amazon.com/X-Movie-T%C3%B4ru-Furusawa/dp/B00000JL4L
6. ‘The Short Films of Kago Shintaro’

You may have happened upon artist Kago Shintaro’s images while scrolling through the darker sectors of social media: his fetishistic portraits of schoolgirls with their intestines hanging out and sexy paintings of nude women with their brains exposed garnered a kind of viral popularity amongst goths and otaku. Described as “fashionable paranoia,” Shintaro’s satirical humor clashes extreme gore with erotica in fascinating ways. His short films, many of which are available on YouTube, are much more humorous in nature but are often deeply unnerving in a Lynchian way. Shintaro’s fascinations with human viscera remain the most notable motif, but he plays more with the mundane in his animations.

watch on youtube
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DGVfVsG8lsQ
5. ‘Dororo’

Osamu Tezuka, often considered the Godfather of Manga, is best known for creating lovable cartoons like Astro Boy and emotionally compelling stories like Budha. One of his lesser-known works is Dororo, a brutal Japanese fairytale about a cursed prince born without limbs or skin. Although the original manga was drawn in Tezuka’s signature Disney-influenced aesthetic, the 2019 reboot adapted the novels into a more adult animation style that showcased the monstrous aspects of the source material — it’s a pretty faithful update otherwise. Hyakkimaru must battle the undead to wrest back his body parts from the underworld, but he’s unaware his unholy quest imperils all of Japan. There’s a lot of emotional depth in these 24 episodes, considering how vicious the actual plot is.

watch on prime video
https://www.amazon.com/Dororo/dp/B07MBT8FBF
4. ‘Witch Hunter Robin’

In the near future, witches are a secret criminal scourge hunted by a covert government agency known as the STNJ. Robin Sena is the branch’s newest recruit, hired for pyrokinetic magical abilities. Robin confronts her enemies and herself in this moody and dreamy gothic thriller. It’s not exactly fast-paced, but the story’s unfolding is filled with dark surprises and a fair amount of violence. This series was also part of [adult swim]’s lineup back in the day, meaning older anime fans probably remember encountering it late at night.

watch on funimation
https://www.funimation.com/shows/witch-hunter-robin/
3. ‘Puella Magi Madoka Magica’

From the first few episodes of Madoka, it would be ludicrous to describe this short series as horror, but a major twist in the plot about halfway through casts a different light on the show’s opening moments.

What appears at first as a Sailor Moon ripoff — frilly rainbow transformation sequences and all! — quickly turns into something much darker when it’s revealed that (MAJOR SPOILER ALERT!) an alien entity disguised as a cute animal companion has actually been parasitically feeding off the magical energies expended by the girls. The extraterrestrial creature is planning on harvesting all of planet Earth as food, forcing the children into a time loop where their ill-fated destiny repeats eternally. This postmodern horror story is filled with experimental animation techniques and a truly devastating existential message: humanity is at the whim of vast and indifferent cosmic forces with a ferocity beyond our comprehension.

watch on netflix
https://www.netflix.com/title/70302572
2. ‘Seoul Station’

Seoul Station is an animated film coming out of South Korea intended as a prequel to the cult hit Train to Busan. The film made its way around the European indie cinema circuit in 2016 before landing on a few streaming services. Like its source material, Seoul Station traces the frightening rise of a zombie pandemic that threatens to destroy the world. Train to Busan was praised for its not-so-subtle social commentary that depicted the ramifications of the devastating wealth gap in Korea — Seoul Station is a little less obviously political but is thrilling nonetheless.

watch on prime video
https://www.amazon.com/Seoul-Station-English-Subtitled-Joon/dp/B071F9VJ2L
1. ‘Junji Ito Collection’

Although it would be impossible to capture the precise and hideous drawings or intellectually sophisticated plots from horror master Junji Ito’s manga in animated form, this collection of shorts does a pretty amazing job of reducing the major themes and motifs into short, digestible segments. Ito’s stories have little in common with Western horror, so each episode is hauntingly fresh and original compared to the formulaic scares we get on this side of the world. The Tomie OVAs are particularly dismal.

watch on crunchyroll
https://www.crunchyroll.com/junji-ito-collection
Categories
Culture Movies/TV

21 Best Anime Shows and Movies on Hulu You Need To Watch

The amount of anime currently available on the Internet is absolutely staggering, and sorting the cheaply made tripe out from the avant-garde gold is a gargantuan task. Netflix has curated a pretty impressive selection of original and recycled content, whereas Crunchyroll’s almost endless library is instantly overwhelming. Hulu’s selections are somewhere in between the two: there are definitely hidden treasures hidden amongst the trash.

Fear not young weebs, we’ve got you covered: here’s our (unranked!) selection of the 21 best anime shows and movies currently available on Hulu —ranging from shonen classics to classic magic girls to artsy explorations of Japanese identity.

21. ‘Ninja Scroll’

Ninja Scroll has come to represent the Golden Age of 90s anime: it combined adult eroticis, ultra-violence, and grotesquery for a unique artistic experience equal parts nauseating and titillating. It’s easy to see director Yoshiaki Kawajiri’s influence on a handful of more contemporary animation, but almost no artist since has been able to create something as darkly compelling as this gem from 1993.

20. ‘Afro Samurai: Resurrection’

A continuation of the miniseries of the same name that requires no foreknowledge of what came before it, Afro Samurai is a humorous and bloody hodgepodge of cyberpunk, samurai movies, and shonen anime archetypes. Voice acting from Lucy Lui and Samuel L. Jackson lends cultural legitimacy to what might otherwise be cynically dismissed as silliness. It’s certainly more style than substance — but in a fun way.

19. ‘Akira’

Often considered the greatest animated movie ever made, Akira by Katsuhiro Otomo is a true triumph of the art form as much as it is a processing of national trauma. Warnings of another nuclear nightmare and the fear of an impending youth revolt seem even more prescient nowadays despite the movie being decades old — and the surreal, sci-fi imagery remains both powerful and deeply disturbing. It might not be the easiest movie to digest on a first watch-through, but the film will leave an impact nonetheless.

18. ‘Grave of the Fireflies’

Oscar-winning director Hayao Miyazaki is better known for his colorful steampunk fantasy worlds than for emotionally gut-wrenching realism, but Grave obviously falls in the latter category. It’s hard to imagine the cultural devastation wreaked by nuclear warfare, but this frightening story of survival highlights the real human toll of America’s military might. Keep a box of tissues nearby while watching: only the most heartless can make it through this movie without shedding a tear.

17. ‘Akame ga Kill!’

The category is guilty pleasure! There’s almost nothing artistically redeemable about Akame Ga Kill!: the art style is amateurish, the storyline borders on nonsense, the character design is overtly misogynistic — but the show’s a lot of fun if you love all the cliches of anime action. The short series is comparable to Kill La Kill — it’s way worse quality, but it’s also strangely addictive. Some things are just so bad, they’re actually good. 

16. ‘Assassination Classroom’

Although it’s certainly geared for a teenage audience, it’s hard not to be endeared by Assassination Classroom’s squishy yellow protagonist, a mysterious alien who threatens to destroy the planet unless a group of unsuspecting delinquent students figure out how to kill him. There’s a kind of monstrous sexuality throughout that’s all a bit unsettling, but somehow the kids wind up actually learning heartwarming life lessons amidst all the attempted murder. Expect some filler episodes in between the hilarious action sequences that can be skipped, but for the most part, Korosensei’s bizarre journey is harmless fun. 

15. ‘Cowboy Bebop’

Often considered the greatest anime series ever made — and widely thought of as a sci-fi masterpiece — Cowboy Bebop is a wildly successful experiment in genre-mashing: a thrilling space adventure/neo-noir with a rousing jazz score, the show traces a ragtag group of bounty hunters on an interstellar journey. Spike Speigel and his crew capture criminals as they face their own dark pasts. No short description can really capture the artistry and emotionality of this shockingly sophisticated show — and its absolutely heartbreaking ending has left audiences devastated for decades.

14. ‘Demon Slayer Kimetsu No Yaiba’

A hyper-stylized shonen anime that hits all the beats of classic Japanese cartoons for boys while still putting a fresh spin on all the prototypical tropes. After his sister transforms into a demon, a plucky young samurai begins his quest to save her soul as he battles a parade of devilish villains. A colorful and fun art style compliments the show’s cutesy character design and adds to the vibrant energy of the series’ fight scenes.

13. ‘Digimon Adventure’

Although Digimon is often condescendingly referred to as an inferior analog to Pokemon, the original show’s first run is quite obviously a far more emotionally sophisticated journey than Ash Ketchum’s misadventures. Yes, both shows are certainly aimed at young kids, but Digimon’s cast of multi-dimensional characters tug at the viewer’s heartstrings in ways that Nintendo’s hyper-toyetic TV series never could.

12. ‘FLCL’

This six-episode miniseries is an avant-garde tour de force that’s even made its way into contemporary art museums as an example of the so-called “superflat” postmodernist movement. The plot is a self-referential pastiche of anime tropes that explode in surreal and gorgeously animated sequences, soundtracked by the legendary Japanese punk band The Pillows. Don’t expect to understand what’s happening on your first watch-through, but closer analysis reveals a story about the oppressive isolationism of Japanese culture and the clashes its confrontations with the West produces. If all that intellectual blather doesn’t interest you, there are lots of explosions and outlandish supernatural battles to keep lesser sophisticated fans amused.

11. ‘Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood’

So this gets a little confusing: A Fullmetal Alchemist animated series, based on the original manga of the same name, started in 2003 — but the production of the TV show quickly outpaced the speed at which the books were being released. The show’s creators began improvising with the plot, leading the story into a totally different direction than what the original writer had imagined, and the series wrapped up in a super disappointing finale. Cut to 6 years later: Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood rebooted the show from the start in order to keep the original plot more intact, and although the opening narrative arc is almost entirely the same as the first anime, the plot takes an entirely different — and much more coherent! — direction as it advances.

FMA: B tells the story of the Elric brothers, two magically gifted siblings who attempt to resurrect their mother in a magical ritual that goes terribly wrong. As they get conscripted by an army and dragged into international warfare, the boys hope to discover how to make things right — while battling a slew of nefarious enemies hoping to take their power.

10. ‘Gurren Lagann’

The studio behind FLCL and the beloved masterpiece Neon Genesis Evangelion isn’t always producing hyper-intellectual action: Gurren Lagann brings Gainax’s signature excellent animation to a plucky and lighthearted story about giant robot battles in outer space. The tropes are all familiar, but the artistry is next-level. The bombastic soundtrack and hilarious styling make this one of the most fun 27-episode runs of any show ever created. It won’t blow your mind in the way that their other works might, but it’ll get your heart pumping.

9. ‘Hellsing’

Hellsing doesn’t exactly hold up as much more than a fascinating cultural artifact from the early 00’s — the animation is a bit lazy, the story is not so coherent, and the characters’ one-liners are impossibly cheesy — but it’s a great time capsule of the kind of goth subculture culture that proliferated at the time. The design of Hellsing has been endlessly copied and there’s some wonderful mise-en-scene. For otaku of a certain age bracket, the nostalgia factor is unstoppable, making unbiased evaluation of this bloody vampire story almost impossible. Japanese interpretations of Western mythology are always idiosyncratic, and this steampunk spin on the legend of Dracula is no exception.

8. ‘Inuyasha’

Millennials will remember the endless reruns of Inuyasha’s never-ending journey playing on Cartoon Network. It’s hard to say how much of the program holds up today, but the show’s delicate balance between shonen and shoujo styles has not been replicated since. Although there’s lots of action, Inuyasha is a magical love story at heart — but beware, there’s a whole lot of filler in between the rousing episodes that actually advance the plot.

7. ‘Kill la Kill’

With an almost aggressively stupid story, Kill La Kill is an example of anime’s campier pleasures: beyond over-the-top fight scenes and absurdly sexualized character design, the show is definitely offputting for audiences looking for something with actual emotional substance. Staunch critics have to admit that the animation throughout is beyond excellent, even if it’s not the smartest program ever made.

6. ‘Mobile Suit Gundam Wing’

MSG:W was the first series of the Gundam franchise to make it to the United States in the mid 90’s, and gained an ever greater following over here than it did in Japan. It would be easy to dismiss the show as a campy collection of giant robot space battles, but the sci-fi plotting is surprisingly sophisticated, and the characters are emotionally complex: the show is an extended meditation on the trauma of war as much as it is an adventure story.

5. ‘My Hero Academia’

MHA is basically Japan’s answer to the X-Men: the show takes place in a near-future where almost every human has developed some kind of special power. Deku, the show’s endlessly endearing main character, enrolls in a school for young superheroes as he battles the nefarious League of Villains and other assorted underworld underlings. The fight scenes are hype beyond belief.

4. ‘Sailor Moon’

The ultimate Magical Girl anime, the original Sailor Moon cartoon is a beautiful time capsule of 90’s girl power. Nostalgic whimsy aside, the bright and delicate art style (even the watercolor backgrounds are breathtakingly pretty) pairs perfectly with iconic character design and lovable writing. It’s no surprise this cartoon is often cited as an inspiration by drag queens and fashion designers alike.

3. ‘Samurai Champloo’

Director Shinichirō Watanabe tried to recapture the genre-mashing magic of Cowboy Bebop with his follow-up series Samurai Champloo, which uses a hip hop score to tell a story about traveling warriors looking for revenge in feudal Japan. The experiment definitely works — and although it doesn’t quite measure up to Bebop (almost nothing truly does!), it’s still one of the most fun anime shows ever made. 

2. ‘Soul Eater’

If the casual misogyny of mainstream shonen anime presents a problem for you, skip Soul Eater — but if you’ve got an insatiable appetite for absurd action sequences featuring bizarre weapons and even more bizarre characters, this show is likely up your alley. The graphic design of the show is impeccably clean, and was likely an inspiration for newer, hyper-stylish shows like My Hero Academia and Demon Slayer. There’s not a ton of filler either, meaning it’s not hard to breeze through the whole thing in a week. 

1. ‘Witchblade’

Based on the Todd McFarland-adjacent American comic book series of the same name, the Witchblade anime is an erotic suspense story filled with blood, guts, and a lot of fire. Set in the same continuity as its source material, the Witchblade anime is an entirely original story about the addictive nature of lust and power. 

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Culture Movies/TV

The 20 Best Anime Films on Netflix

Demon Slayer just became the highest-grossing film of all time in Japan, surpassing the previous record-holder, Spirited Away. Anime movies are only getting bigger and bigger. With that in mind, we compiled a list of the best anime movies on Netflix for you to watch right now. Although Spirited Away isn’t in the catalog, there are some great options for everyone out there, from Hayao Miyazaki diehards to people looking to dip their toes in the genre. Without further ado, these are the 20 best anime movies on Netflix right now. 

1. The Castle of Cagliostro

While movies like Spirited Away and Princess Mononoke have firmly found their footing as some of the greatest animated movies of all time, some older movies of Hayao Miyazaki’s go overlooked. The Castle of Cagliostro was the legendary director’s feature film debut, and it tells the tale of master thief Arsène Lupin III. The movie is thematically different from many of Miyazaki’s later entries, but still features his telltale beautiful portrait shots and witty characters. The Castle of Cagliostro is a must-watch for Studio Ghibli fans, as it provides amazing insight into the genesis of Miyazaki as a filmmaker. 

2. A Whisker Away

This is one of the most recent entries on the list; A Whisker Away released in English on Netflix this past June. The film depicts the story of Miya Sasaki, an unhappy middle school girl who receives a magical Noh mask from a mysterious seller, which grants her the miraculous ability to transform into a cat. As she spends more and more time as Tarō the cat, Miyo has to face numerous questions regarding the self and who she truly is. The animation is beautiful and the film poses questions about what makes us who we are. It’s introspective, colorful and adorable; you’ll come away from the movie with a totally new perspective on relationships and the self. The film was directed by Sailor Moon director Junichi Satoh and written by Anohana writer Mari Okada.

3. Flavors of Youth

Flavors of Youth is an anthology film, so it actually covers three seemingly disparate stories: “The Rice Noodles”, “A Little Fashion Show”, and “Love in Shanghai”. All of the segments of the film, which was a Japanese-Chinese co-production between CoMix Wave Films and members of Haoliners Animation League, take place in China, beautifully highlighting the country’s distinct cityscapes. Flavors of Youth is only 75 minutes long, with each segment making up roughly a third of the runtime. But directors Li Haoling, Jiaoshou Yi Xiaoxing and Yoshitaka Takeuchi manage to pack in tons of sentiment and commentary on family dynamics in the film’s short runtime.

4. A Silent Voice

A Silent Voice, which is based on the manga of the same name, is an incredibly heartfelt teen drama from 2016. The film investigates the horrors of teen bullying, invoking characters who have been both the perpetrators and victims of harassment. In this way, director Naoko Yamada (and original manga writer Yoshitoki Ōima) provides a less black and white narrative of teenage trauma. It’s a thematically dark film, rendered beautifully by Kyoto Animation. This movie is truly a must-watch; you will come away from it a different person than when you began.

5. Okko’s Inn

The 2018 film Okko’s Inn is based on the series of children’s novels of the same name, released between 2003 and 2013. The film tells the tale of young Okko and her grandmother Mineko (and a ghost or two) as they manage the Hananoyu Inn. It’s a beautiful movie, which includes scenes of cutting sadness peppered in amongst moments of pure joy. Unlike some of the other options on this list, Okko’s Inn is a great choice for children and adults alike. 

6. Expelled from Paradise

Expelled from Paradise is another great entry for fans of science fiction. The film, directed by Seiji Mizushima and written by Gen Urobuchi, tells the story of agent Angela Balzac, who works on the space station DEVA. The inhabitants of the station have no physical bodies; their minds have been inputted into a virtual reality environment. This is a super cool movie for fans of science-fiction world-building and post-apocalyptic/dystopian futures. The animation, from Toei Animation and Graphinica has a cool, paler color palette, but the complicated sci-fi narrative is what makes this 2014 film really stand out. 

7. Children of the Sea

Children of the Sea is a 2019 film from director Ayumu Watanabe and producer Eiko Tanaka (of Studio 4 °C). Like many of the entries on the list, this movie is also based on a manga of the same name, written by Daisuke Igarashi—who also wrote the screenplay. As the title suggests, the movie is set near the ocean and uses the backdrop to interrogate numerous questions regarding the relationships between humans and nature. The film follows the relationship between junior high student Ruka—and her two new friends, brothers Umi and Sora—and a series of aquatic supernatural phenomena. 

8. Mary and the Witch’s Flower

Mary and the Witch’s Flower was directed by Hiromasa Yonebayashi, a former animator for Miyazaki’s Studio Ghibli. That much is clear when you watch his 2017 film. Yonebayashi certainly takes cues from legendary Miyazaki in its tale of young Mary Smith, who discovers “fly-by-night”, a curious flower which grants her the ability to become a witch for one night. This film is incredibly cute, and a great option not only for scratching your Miyazaki itch, but for anyone interested in discovering an up-and-coming auteur in the anime genre. 

9. Mirai

Mirai is an extremely cute movie that finds its biggest strengths in its simplicity. From legendary writer/director Mamoru Hosoda and Studio Chizu, the critically acclaimed anime (it was nominated for Best Animated Feature at the 91st Academy Awards, among numerous other accolades) tells the story of young Kun Ota as he adjusts to having a newborn sister. The screenplay was inspired by Hosoda’s own experience with his three year old son and explores family dynamics and coming-of-age, told through numerous invocations of fantasy and time travel. 

10. The End of Evangelion

Neon Genesis Evangelion is widely considered to be one of greatest anime television series of all time. The television show tells the tale of Shinji Akari as he pilots the massive humanoid mecha Evangelion Unit 101 in a series of battles against the hostile alien race, the Angels. The End of Evangelion serves as a parallel ending to the TV show; it picks up where the 24th episode of the show ended and answers some of the questions posed in the series’ 25th and 26th episodes. You honestly can’t consider yourself a diehard anime fan if you haven’t seen this landmark film. 

11. MFKZ

MFKZ (Mutafukaz) is a French-Japanese co-production between Ankama Animations and Studio 4°C from 2017, directed by Shōjirō Nishimi and Guillaume “Run” Renard. MFKZ is a deeply chaotic and turbulent science fiction movie, which takes cues from many great films of the sci-fi canon. The English dub cast also includes some bigtime names, from legendary actor Giancarlo Esposito to Long Beach rapper Vince Staples. The film features a super unique animation style reminiscent of sketched-out video games like Borderlands. It’s truly worth a watch just for a glimpse of the unique animation style. 

12. Naruto Blood Prison

Naruto requires no introduction. Although this movie was met with semi-mixed reviews upon its 2011 release (2014 for North America), Naruto diehards are desperate for any content we can get with our favorite nine-tailed demon fox Naruto Uzumaki. Blood Prison depicts the story of iconic protagonist Naruto after he is wrongly arrested and sent to prison for attacking the Fourth Raikage. 

13. Pokemon the Movie: I Choose You

Unfortunately there aren’t a ton of Pokemon movies available on Netflix right now, but of the limited selection, I Choose You is certainly a cute entry to the franchise. Released as part of a 20th anniversary celebration of the anime series’ initial release, the film (based loosely off of the anime’s pilot) tells the story Pokémon Trainer Ash Ketchum and his pals, Pikachu, Verity, and Sorrel, on their quest to meet the Legendary Pokémon Ho-Oh. It’s not exactly a cinematic masterpiece, but certainly a fun watch for any big time fans of the franchise. It’s also exactly 1 hour and 37 minutes long, so we had to include it. 

14. The Garden of Words

The Garden of Words is only 46 minutes long, but manages to pack in a lot of narrative and themes of maturity and loneliness. The film was written, directed and edited by Makoto Shinkai and animated by the studio CoMix Wave Films. The narrative focuses on Takao Akizuki, a 15-year-old aspiring shoemaker, and Yukari Yukino, a 27-year-old woman, as they keep bumping into each other at the Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden. Rain, poetry and the Japanese garden are motifs throughout the film, contributing to the film’s overall aesthetic which highlights the beauty in traditionally gloomy spaces.

15. Lu Over the Wall

Lu Over the Wall, directed by Masaaki Yuasa (of studio Science Saru) and written by Yuasa and Reiko Yoshida, is a really cute entry on the list. The film tells the tale of Kai Ashimoto and his burgeoning friendship with ningyo (a fish creature from Japanese folklore) Lu. It’s a beautifully eye-catching and colorful film with a fairly simple narrative, making it an easy and fun watch for any fans of the genre.

16. NiNoKuni

NiNoKuni is a film adaptation of the renowned video game series of the same name. The games, which have been released since 2010, include animated sequences produced by legendary Studio Ghibli, and most of the games’ music was composed by Joe Hisaishi, the composer for all of Miyazaki’s films. The magic-filled adventure that is the 2019 film may not be a masterpiece, but it’s certainly a solid watch for any fans of the franchise.

17. Evangelion Death (True)

This film is another followup to the legendary anime series, Neon Genesis Evangelion. This iteration is an edit of the film Neon Genesis Evangelion: Death & Rebirth, which was released as the first installment of the film series following the anime. The film consists of a recap of the series’ first 24 episodes as well as a substantial amount of new animation, setting up the events of The End of Evangelion, mentioned above. You could hypothetically watch this movie as your first entry into the franchise, as it explains many of the events of the series. However, the anime series is truly a masterpiece, so there’s good reason to binge it before diving into the films. 

18. Sol Levante

Sol Levante is only 4 minutes long, but it’s still technically a film, albeit short. It is the first hand-drawn anime using 4K HDR technology, which allowed the artists to provide even more detail than traditionally permitted, giving the film an entirely fresh visual style. The film tells the story of a young warrior on a quest for a place said to grant wishes. The narrative aside, Sol Levante is an immensely innovative film for anime as a whole and the technological capabilities opening up to the genre.

19. Fireworks

Fireworks is a 2017 anime based on the 1993 live-action Japanese film, Fireworks, Should We See It from the Side or the Bottom? It tells the story of a romance between Norimichi Shimada and Nazuna Oikawa. Although the film doesn’t break any barriers from a narrative perspective, the gorgeous music (composed by Satoru Kōsaki) and beautiful animation (who doesn’t love animated fireworks?) make it a great choice for fans of romance movies looking to get into anime. 

20. Berserk: Golden Age Arc I – The Egg of the King

The first entry from the Berserk: Golden Age Arc is such a banger. Based on the Berserk manga series, the first film tells the story of mercenary Guts in the war against Midland’s rival kingdom. The series is set in medieval pseudo-Europe dark fantasy world, and follows the tale of Guts and Griffith, the leader of the mercenary band called the “Band of the Hawk”. All three movies (released between 2012 and 2013) from the series are available to stream on Netflix, so this trilogy is a great option if you’re looking to binge. 

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5 Most Underrated Pokémon Cards You Can Easily Buy

No matter how old we get, Pokémon cards will still inspire many valuable debates that are hard to settle on and off the playground. Even though the game is more than 20 years old—with the first cards having dropped in 1996—several burning questions haunt new and veteran players alike such as, What are the most underrated cards in the game? By that we mean, what are the cards that aren’t immediately thought of as a powerhouse, ready to spring forth from their Poké Ball and smash their opponents?

With more than 800 Pokémon in existence, everyone’s personal deck probably contains multiple cards that each player considers to be underrated (just check out this underrated Pokémon cards Twitter thread to see what we mean.) So, basically, there’s no definitive way to determine which cards everyone needs to have in their best deck. But we did our research, we tried our best and we think we found some of the most underrated cards guaranteed to evolve your deck.

1. Electrode
Pokémon Trading Card Game

Type: Electric

Why it’s underrated: Electrode on its own works as a flexible attack against any type of Pokémon your opponent tries to throw at you. But not only that, Electrode piggybacks super well off of so many other cards in your deck. The ability to turn the card into two energy of your choosing would benefit many other cards, including several other picks on this list.

Price: Electrode is super cheap, and you can find it for $1.50 on eBay.

2. Genesect GX
Pokémon Trading Card Game

Type: Bug/Steel

Why it’s underrated: Genesect GX is an excellent ace to have in the hole. The card can attach multiple tools and overcomes all resistance your opponents may try to put up. Additionally, it has some very strong lasting power. As Venemous Woe put it, “That thing can kick major booty and stick around for a while with damage-reducing tools. Plus, Max Potion can keep it around even longer, and Megnezone/Mt. Coronet can get energy back on after you pop a Max Potion.”

Price: You can find this card for under $5 on most sites.

3. Swampbert
Pokémon Trading Card Game

Type: Water

Why it’s underrated: Swampert not only has some great damage to offer, its higher HP means it can stick around for a while to cause as much havoc as possible. “Swampert is a beast in attacking and defensive areas and can have STAB-ready moves to cause severe damage in battle. With also having Water-type abilities, you can teach it multiple ice attacks to defeat stronger Grass-types,” Dragon’s Lair says.

Price: Swampert is easy to get for under $1 at many places on the internet.

4. Delphox
Pokémon Trading Card Game

Type: Fire

Why it’s underrated: Not only does Delphox blessedly help you keep a full hand of cards, it also can do an intense amount of damage with its attack. For each energy attached to the card, it does 20 more damage. That can add up quickly. Pair this card with a deck chock full of energy and let the damage fly as high as Delphox itself.

Price: Delphox costs under $1 all over the internet.

5. Charizard hologram (base set)
Pokémon Trading Card Game

Type: Fire


Why it’s underrated: The original Charizard hologram, it can be argued, is pretty well known. But it’s higher value places it firmly in the camp of being undervalued in actual play. In many discussions online of the most underrated cards, this one comes up again and again.

Charizard can cause some major damage, and allows a sneaky way of creating that damage by converting energy to useful Fire energy. Combine this card with a deck that lets you draw often and you could have a real game-changer on your hands.


Price: While the hologram can be found for as costly as $4,000, you can get a regular version of this card for $100.

Read next: ‘Pokémon Red’ and ‘Blue’ Came Out 20 Years Ago on Game Boy

Read next: Are We in the Dawn of Good Video Game Movies?