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The Best Anime That HBO Max Has To Offer

A collage of anime movies: 'Kiki's Delivery Service,' 'Spirited Away,' 'Princess Mononoke,' 'Weathering With You,' and 'Castle in the Sky'

I really hope you don’t mean anime series … Why? Because there’s literally only six of them currently streaming on Max. Some are great! Some are … bad. So I can’t in good conscience recommend you watch any anime series that I think are just eh. That would be a violation of my nindo, my ninja way.

But if you’re looking for anime films … oh, senpai, I’ve got you covered. The streaming platform formerly known as HBO Max has some of the finest anime movies of any service—EVER. So if you’re looking for a good anime flick to tide you over until Suzume comes to a theater near you, scroll to your heart’s content.

Kiki’s Delivery Service

kiki on a broom!
(Studio Ghibli)

Witches! Talking cats! Flying broomsticks! If you’ve been disappointed by J.K. Rowling’s transphobic antics and you’re looking for an anime to fill that Harry Potter-shaped hole in your heart, look no further. Kiki’s Delivery Service is a coming-of-age story about a young witch who sets off on her own to start a delivery service. She finds a small coastal town that is looking for an enterprising young magical capitalist like herself to help deliver mail. And of course, she meets a boy who is totally crushing on her. Wist, magic, and romance abound.


Lio from Promare
(Studio Trigger)

Promare is set in a not-too-distant future, when a race of flaming humanoids called the Burnish have laid waste to half the planet with their pyrokinetic powers. But regular humans are fighting back! A young man named Galo Thymos is a member of an elite team of firefighters who use totally over-the-top technology to fight against the Burnish threat. After a series of arson attacks, Galo meets a young Burnish named Lio Fotia, whom he initially blames for the crime. The two then realize they are—gasp—not so different after all and that someone else may FRAMING the Burnish people. But who???

Related: Top 10 Best Harem Anime of All Time on Twinfinite

The Tale of Princess Kaguya

Kaguya reaching for cherry blossoms
(Studio Ghibli)

Do you want to ugly cry? Good. This is the movie for you. The Tale of Princess Kaguya is inspired by one of Japan’s oldest and most famous folktales: A childless old bamboo cutter and his wife live in the woods, barely eking out a living. One day, the bamboo cutter discovers a beautiful baby girl inside a stalk of bamboo, along with a ton of gold. The girl, who the couple name Kaguya, grows rapidly into a lovely young woman. And soon all the fanciest men in Japan wish to marry her. But where did she come from? Who are her real parents? And will they come looking for her?

The Secret World of Arrietty

Arrietty says goodbye
(Studio Ghibli)

Have you ever lost your phone or your keys? Even though you swore you put them down in the same place you always do? Ever noticed bits of food going missing from the pantry? If so, your house may have borrowers living inside it! In The Secret World of Arrietty, borrowers are diminutive humans who live in the houses of regular-sized people and “borrow” their stuff in order to survive. Arrietty and her family are borrowers who live in a house in rural Japan. Everything is going fine for them, until Arrietty is accidentally discovered by a sickly boy her age. It’s the romance that can never be … sigh.

Castle in the Sky

Sheena and Pazu with a robot!
(Studio Ghibli)

You ever wish that the love of your life would just fall right out of the sky? Live vicariously through this movie! Castle in the Sky is about a young girl named Sheeta who carries a mysterious crystal that allows her to defy gravity. After she is attacked on an airship by sky pirates, she falls out of the sky and into the arms of a young orphan boy named Pazu. She tells Pazu that the crystal is a relic of Laputa: The Castle in the Sky (title drop!) and the pair set out on a quest to find the mysterious floating castle before the sky pirates and some shady government agents can beat them to it.

Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind

nausicaa flying on her glider
(Studio Ghibli)

Ever wonder what Hayao Miyazaki’s first film was? Look no further than Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind! And then look away if you’re afraid of bugs. In Miyazaki’s debut feature, humanity has been pushed to the brink of extinction by a toxic jungle filled with nasty insectoid creatures. Nausicaa is the princess living in the Valley of the Wind, one of the last places on Earth that remains untouched by the jungle. War soon breaks out between the Valley of the Wind and a neighboring kingdom, and Nausicaa has to set out on a journey to stop it. And in doing so, she may uncover a way to stop the spread of the toxic jungle for good.

Spirited Away

Chihiro and Haku
(Studio Ghibli)

An anime classic, and arguably Studio Ghibli’s finest work. Spirited Away is the story of a young girl named Chihiro who is transported into a bizarre spirit world after she and her family stumble into an abandoned town in the Japanese countryside. Her parents are transformed into pigs for the crime of eating food they didn’t pay for, and Chihiro has to attempt to save her mother and father from a witch named Yubaba.

Princess Mononoke

San with blood on her face
(Studio Ghibli)

Princess Mononoke is my fave anime film of all time. Nothing comes close. Set in an ancient age where gods and demons walk the Earth, the banished prince Ashitaka must go on an epic journey to purge himself of a fatal curse. On the way, he meets a young woman named San who has been quite literally raised by wolves—well, wolf gods. San and her family are at war with the village of Iron Town, who are destroying nearby forests in search of iron to use in an endless war. Ashitaka attempts to broker peace between the humans and the gods of the forest, but that peace is threatened when an elderly monk appears to hunt for the head of the most powerful god in the land: the Forest Spirit.

The Wind Rises

Jiro and Nahoka kiss
(Studio Ghibli)

The Wind Rises is an aeronautical romance flick that takes place in pre-WWII Japan. The film is loosely based on the life of Jiro Horikoshi, a young engineer credited with creating the Mitsubishi A6M Zero fighter plane used by the Japanese military in World War II. During a quest to achieve his dream of building a beautiful aircraft, he meets a young woman named Nahoko. The pair fall in love, but their relationship is threatened by a world on the brink of war.

Weathering With You

Hodaka and Hina

Weathering With You is about a young writer named Hodaka who runs away from home to start a new life. After moving to Tokyo, he meets a young woman named Hina with the ability to control the weather. Hina and her brother make ends meet by running a business using Hina’s powers to stop the heavy rain that plagues Tokyo and bring sunshine to people’s lives. But soon her powers begin to spiral out of control, and Hodaka might be the only one who can stop it.

(featured image: Studio Ghibli / Toho / The Mary Sue)

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Jack Doyle (they/them) is actually nine choirs of biblically accurate angels in crammed into one pair of $10 overalls. They have been writing articles for nerds on the internet for less than a year now. They really like anime. Like... REALLY like it. Like you know those annoying little kids that will only eat hotdogs and chicken fingers? They're like that... but with anime. It's starting to get sad.