Even for being only a 2-year-old platform, HBO Max gradually became one of the premier streaming services available. With the dense catalog of content available, it has a lot to offer anime fans as well. In addition to TV shows, the platform also offers a diverse selection of anime movies.
Unsurprisingly, this arena is dominated by the Studio Ghibli of revered Hayao Miyazaki and co. Alongside the studio’s various acclaimed films, there are other anime that excel at telling deeply personal and touching stories that blend slice-of-life, fantasy, and romance.
The night is short, step on the girl (8.20)
From director Masaaki Yuasa – from Table tennis: entertainment and Devilman: Crybaby fame – and Science SARU studio, The night is short, step on the girl is a romantic comedy anime with one of the most unique animation styles in the medium. The film focuses on two students, a man known only as Senpai (senior) and a woman known as Kohai (junior).
The first falls in love with the second and hopes to confess to her, but his attempts to meet her spontaneously fail spectacularly. Kohai believes that everything is destined, and Senpai desperately tries to twist this in his favor. Its creative art style and use of comedy and romance combine for a resonant story and one of the best romantic anime available on HBO Max.
The Story of Princess Kaguya (8.21)
Studio Ghibli and director/screenwriter Isao Takahata The Story of Princess Kaguya is one of the most recent animated films from the studios, and it has maintained its high level of quality. It’s another inventively quaint anime thanks to its art style. The Story of Princess Kaguya opts for a simpler – but no less stunning – style of watercolor art to complement its fairytale aesthetic and premise.
The story is deeply moving, tackling themes of environmentalism, cultural progressivism, and feminism while centering its plot around a couple and the titular young girl they discover in a bamboo shoot and decide to raise as the their.
Whisper of the Heart (8.22)
Director Yoshifumi Kondō and writer Hayao Miyazaki Whisper of the heart take a musical spin on their usual coming-of-age/slice-of-life storytelling. This film is an adaptation of the manga of the same name by Aoi Hiiragi, centered on an energetic young girl who decides to find the young boy who seems to share her passion for reading, because he consults the same books as her.
Whisper of the heartThe story of the youthful aspirations of has earned praise, with the film even spawning a spin-off about the cat called Baron. The cat returns.
My Neighbor Totoro (8.26)
My Neighbor Totoro is another Miyazaki classic, and while there are others that tend to rank higher among critics and fans alike, this film’s iconic status has also helped it become a Studio Ghibli mascot. . It’s not one of the acclaimed director’s most thematically dense films, but it does have plenty of emotional depth nonetheless.
The film is about two daughters of a teacher and their adventures with the titular Totoros – friendly spirits of the woods. There are not many conflicts or tensions in My Neighbor Totorobut he sentimentally emphasizes the beauty of childlike wonder and the simplicity of peaceful rural life through the prism of Japanese fantasy.
Castle in the Sky (8.27)
by Miyazaki Castle in THE sky takes a steampunk take on Studio Ghibli fantasy conventions that follows a grand and colorful journey. The story follows an orphaned teenager named Pazu who catches and meets a girl named Sheeta as she falls from the clouds.
The two go on a grand escape, as it is revealed that government entities and pirates are pursuing Sheeta for her crystal necklace. Castle in THE skyThe vibrant atmosphere of adventure and the likeable duo of protagonists make for a fun and immersive story worth rooting for.
Grow old with you (8.32)
CoMix Wave Films Animation Studio and Director/Writer Makoto Shinkai’s grow old with you is a romantic fantasy film similar to the 2016 one your name. It was a worthy sequel to Shinkai’s last original story, as it tells the heartfelt story of a young boy on the run who struggles to find work in Tokyo amid an inexplicable torrential downpour.
There, he ends up befriending an orphan girl who has the power to control the weather, but it comes at a high cost. grow old with you conveys touching themes of both young romance and environmentalism that would arguably deserve to stand alongside Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli classics.
Howl’s Moving Castle (8.66)
Miyazaki and company Howl’s Howl’s Moving Castle is one of the all-time greats in animated film history, and it’s also one of the director’s most direct social commentaries.
In terms of themes, the film is a loose adaptation of author Diana Wynne Jones’ novel of the same name, and it revolves around an 18-year-old woman named Sophie who has been cursed by a witch to be an old woman and the titular magician Howl as they venture out to try and break his curse. Howl’s Howl’s Moving Castle is set in one fantasy kingdom at war with another, and it contains biting commentary on the destruction that war leaves in its wake.
Princess Mononoke (8.68)
Princess Mononoke tends to go neck and neck with his Ghibli counterparts like Taken away as if by magic and Howl’s Howl’s Moving Castle, as this is another critically acclaimed masterclass of a Miyazaki film. Like many of his films, Princess Mononoke presents an environmentalist message, but it is deftly woven naturally as one of the nuances of the story.
Ashitaka, the last Ainu prince of the Emishi tribe finds himself on a quest to cure a curse placed on him by a forest-destroying demon. Along the way, he meets San, the titular princess and one of the best female studio ghibli characters – who was raised by wolves and taught to hate humanity for the havoc they wreaked on the world. The unfolding plot is a thought-provoking moral conflict that will stand the test of time.
Spirited Away (8.79)
Even by monumental studio standards, Hayao Miyazaki make disappear probably remains as one of the best Studio Ghibli movies for many fans. The film was a major milestone for the studio in the anime genre in general, as it was the first to win an Academy Award for Best Animated Feature.
Taken away as if by magic follows the story of a young girl named Chihiro who, after her parents are turned into pigs in a spirit world, sets out on a fantastical journey to free them with her spirit companion No-Face (Kaonashi). Its compassionate protagonist, its thematic exploration of Japanese folklore, and its critiques of modern Japanese society and Western consumerism have left a timeless legacy.
Your name (8.87)
HBO Max has the advantage of hosting MyAnimeList’s Highest Rated TV Anime as well as the fifth highest rated film in the form of Your Last name. From the studio that would continue to animate grow old with you and director/screenwriter Makoto Shinkai, your name was an quickly acclaimed romantic fantasy film.
It deals with romantic and environmental themes similar to those grow old with you, as the story features two protagonists: a young girl named Mitsuha who is tired of the countryside and wishes to be a boy in Tokyo, and a young high school student named Taki who is an aspiring architect. However, the two begin to swap bodies intermittently and go through each other’s experiences.