Best Anime Movies That Capture Coming of Age Stories
From childhood to adulthood, people always experience new things that shaped them to become the person they are today. So it’s no wonder that coming of age movies would pique the audience’s interests. Instead of flashy action scenes, most of these movies follow a steady flow of the story filled with heart-warming scenes and a pinch of laughter. Coming of age movies are known to focus on the growth of characters from their childhood to adulthood. Those movies portray character development perfectly. If you want to watch some coming of age movies, I think anime movies would a better choice to start with.
The art, music, and characters of anime movies have always been eye-catching over the years. Even the most basic anime movie has the ability to tell a great story. Anime movies have such a beautiful way of reminding us of the fascination of childhood. So, we have shortlisted some of the best comings of age anime movies. Our list ranges from popular movies to hidden gems. However, all of them will undoubtedly warm your hearts.
1. Whisper of the Heart (1995):
My Anime List Ratings: 8.24
This anime movie is an adaptation of Aoi Hiiragi’s manga of the same name. Whisper of the Heart is a coming of age romantic anime movie directed by Yoshifumi Kondo and written by Hayao Miyazaki. Studio Ghibli provided the animation for the movie. This 111 minutes long anime movie was first released on 15 July 1995 in Japan. Whisper of the Heart follows the story of teenagers Shizuku Tsukishima and Seiji Amasawa.
Shizuku is a 14-year-old middle school girl who lives in Tokyo. She is a bookworm and aspires to become a writer. While looking for books in the library, she finds out that Seiji Amasawa previously checked out all the books she chooses. Over the next few days, she meets a boy who always annoys and teases her. One day, she finds a cat riding a train and follows it only to discover an antique shop run by an older man Shiro Nishi. She sees a cat statuette, and the owner tells her its name is Baron Humbert von Gikkingen, though he calls it “The Baron.”
Shizuku finds the shop fascinating and asks the owner if she could visit again, to which he agrees. When she goes back there, she again encounters the same boy who always teases her. His name is Seiji, the same boy who took those books from the library. Seiji is Nishi’s grandson, and she becomes friends with him. The story proceeds as Shizuku starts writing a fantasy novel with The Baron as her inspiration. Seiji aspires to become a violin crafter and also loves playing it. However, in the middle of two teenagers aspiring to make their dreams come true, they eventually fall in love with each other.
2. Mai Mai Miracle (2009):
My Anime List Ratings: 7.24
Mai Mai Miracle movie is based on Nobuko Takagi’s autobiography titled Maimai Shinko. Madhouse studio produced the show, and NYAV Post licensed it. Sunao Katabuchi wrote and directed this movie. The movie initially debuted on August 15, 2009, at the Locarno International Film Festival in Switzerland. On 21 November 2009, the movie first released in Japan and ran for seven long months in the movie theatres.
The movie has a 1955 setting of Mitajiri, a village near a small-town Hofu in Yamaguchi Prefecture. Shinko Aoi is a 9-year-old girl who grew up hearing tales of life from her grandfather a thousand years ago. She can vividly see past events. A princess named Nagiko Kiyohara lived in the same village a thousand years ago. Shinko claims her ability to see past events is because of a cowlick on her forehead, and she calls her “Mai Mai.” She becomes friends with a new transfer student Kiiko Shimatsu. As they form a “Destiny Squad” with the local village boys, the two girls get involved with an incident that occurred a thousand years ago.
3. The Anthem of the Heart (2015):
My Anime List Ratings: 7.98
This movie is an adaptation of Makoto Akui’s manga of the same name. The Anthem of the Heart is a high school romance movie directed by Tatsuyuki Nagai and Maro Okada. This two-hour long movie was produced and distributed by Aniplex, and A-1 Pictures gave the animation. The Anthem of the Heart was initially released in Japan on 19 September 2015.
The movie follows the story of Jun Naruse, who is a very talkative girl. However, one day she ends up unintentionally hurting people with her words. She sees her father exit a love hotel with a woman and tells her mother about it. This results in her parents’ divorce, and she blames herself for that. A fairy egg curses Jun to be unable to speak so she’ll never hurt anyone again. Since then, whenever she tries to talk, she gets a stomach.
Several years later, she becomes a Charity Committee member in high school with three other classmates: Takumi Sakagami, Daiki Tasaki, and Natsuki Nito. When she hears Takumi singing, she asks him by typing on her phone to convert her words into song because the curse won’t be effective if she sings. The story proceeds as Jun deals with psychological barriers with the help of her new friends.
4. Spirited Away (2001):
My Anime List Ratings: 8.83
Spirited Away is a coming of age fantasy anime movie. It is an original anime movie written and directed by Hayao Miyazaki. Studio Ghibli provides the animation, and Toho produces the movie. John Lasseter, the animator of Pixar, who is a fan of Hayao Miyazaki, convinced Walt Disney Studios to buy the film rights for North America. The movie was originally released on 20 July 2001 in Japan and held the highest-grossing movie in Japanese history. It held the first rank for 19 years until the Demon Slayer movie released in 2020.
The movie follows the story of a 10-year-old Chihiro Ogino who isn’t fond of the idea of her parents visiting an old village. While traveling to their new home, the family discovers a tunnel, and Chihiro’s father wants to explore it. They find an abandoned village where she meets a boy named Haku, who warns her to leave the place before sunset. However, things turn out for the worse when she is late to inform her parents about it and find out they have been transformed into pigs now.
Strange creatures begin roaming around the seemingly normal village as soon as dusk falls. Chihiro realizes that she somehow crossed over to the spirit world. Haku finds her and asks her to find a job from Kamaji, the bathhouse’s boiler-man. Chihiro gets the job and sums up her courage to work with the spirits. Now, with the help of Haku, she tries to find a way to get her parents back to normal. However, Haku has some secrets of his own.
5. A Letter to Momo (2012):
My Anime List Ratings: 7.64
A Letter to Momo is a supernatural drama original anime movie written and directed by Hiroyuki Okiura. Production I.G if the producer of the movie and NYAV Post and GKIDS licensed it. The movie initially premiered at Toronto International Film Festival on 10 September 2011 and was released in Japan on 21 April 2012.
The movie follows the story of Momo Miyaura, an 11-year-old girl who just lost her father. She travels from Tokyo to an old remote island in the Seto Inland Sea with her mother. The only memento she has from her father is an incomplete letter with “Dear Momo” written on it. After arriving at her new home, she finds a picture book about goblins and Yokai in the attic. Momo’s life began to change after she encounters three yokai and a young boy Yota. The story proceeds as Momo adapts to her strange life with her friends, and she also finds the secret behind the mysterious letter her father left her.
6. From Up on Poppy Hill (2011):
My Anime List Ratings: 7.87
This historical romance drama movie is the adaptation of Tetsurou Sayama’s (story) and Chizuru Takahashi’s (art) manga of the same name. Goro Miyazaki directed this movie, and Hayao Miyazaki wrote the screenplay. Studio Ghibli provided the animation for this movie, and Toho produced it. The movie was initially released on 16 July 2011 in Japan, and GKIDS disturbed the English version in North America, where the movie was released on 15 March 2013.
From Up on Poppy Hill tells the story of a high school girl Umi Matsuzaki in 1963 Yokohoma. She lives in a boarding house named “Coquelicot Manor,” and her mother is a medical professor in the United States. Umi looks after the house and carries out duties such as preparing meals for the boarders and also takes care of her siblings and grandmother.
Shun Kazama is an orphan with unknown origins and a member of the school newspaper. Umi and Shun start as friends and eventually fall in love with each other. The two try to look for clues about Shun’s past and realize they have a lot in common.
7. When Marnie Was There (2014):
My Anime List Ratings: 8.12
This movie introduces a novel sharing the same name by a British author and illustrator for children’s books. When Marnie Was There is directed by Hiromasa Yonebayashi and written by Masashi Ando. This movie is also a Studio Ghibli movie that was initially released on 19 July 2014 in Japan.
When Marnie Was There follows a 12-year-old Anna Sasaki story who lives with her foster parents in Sapporo. Anna is a quiet and unsociable girl with low self-esteem that causes her parents to worry about her. One day, after she suffers an asthma attack in school, the doctor said that the attack was triggered due to stress. Her parents decide to send her to the countryside for the summer break to live with her mother’s relatives.
While wandering outside the village, she discovers an abandoned mansion named the “Marsh House.” However, she later finds out that a young mysterious girl Marie lives there. Marie’s personality is the exact opposite of Anna, as she is more bubbly and cheerful. Anna becomes friends with Marie, but there’s more to it about her new friend that meets the eye. As Anna’s summer break is close to its end, she begins to discover the Marsh House’s mysteries.
8. The Boy and the Beast (2015):
My Anime List Ratings: 8.34
This is another original coming of an age anime movie. The Boy and the Beast anime movie is written and directed by Mamoru Hosoda. This movie was initially released on 11 July 2015 in Japan and won Animation of the Year at the 37th Japan Academy Prizes. This movie is the second highest-earning movie of 2015 in Japan.
The Boy and the Beast tells the story of a 9-year-old orphan boy Ren. With his mother’s death, no information about his father, and not wanting to live with his legal guardians, Ren runs in the confusing streets and alleys of Shibuya. He encounters Kumatetsu, who leads him to the beast realm of Shibuten. The grandmaster of the beast realm wants Kumatetsu to find a disciple to succeed him after his death.
Despite the opposition of other beasts, Kumatetsu manages to make Ren his disciple. Now Ren starts living in the beast realm, and Kumatetsu named him Kyuta after making him his disciple. Over the years, while Kumatetsu searches for recognition from the other beasts and Kyuta adjusts to his new home, the two beings of the different worlds develop a bond like father and son.
9. Wolf Children (2012):
My Anime List Ratings: 8.65
This coming of age movie focuses on the parent-child relationship as its central theme. Wolf Children is an original anime movie written and directed by Mamoru Hosoda. Mamoru Hosoda established Studio Chizu to create the movie. The movie was initially released in France on 25 June 2012. On 21 July 2012, Wolf Children first released in Japan.
The movie tells thirteen years of the life of a single mother, Hana. She falls in love with a mysterious man when she was 19-years-old. She meets the man in one of her college classes, though he is not a student there. Hana later finds out that he is the last remaining werewolf, and he transforms every full moon. However, that doesn’t affect her love for him, and they eventually decide to start a family.
Hana gives birth to two children, a girl Yuki and later a boy Ame. However, her husband’s sudden death leaves devastate her, leaving her to raise alone two children possessing the same abilities as their father. This is an emotional movie showing the struggles of a young single mother while she hides her children’s identity.
10. The Girl Who Leapt Through Time (2006):
My Anime List Ratings: 8.21
This is a science fiction romance anime movie produced by Madhouse. This movie is an adaptation of Yasutaka Tsutsui’s novel of the same name. Mamoru Hosoda directed this movie, and Satoko Okudera wrote it. The Girl Who Leapt Through Time was initially released on 15 July 2006 and won many awards, including won Animation of the Year at the Japan Academy Prizes.
The movie tells the story of Makoto Konno, who is in her third year of high school. In the middle of dealing with the stress of what to do in her future, she somehow discovers that she can be leaping through time. Initially, she uses her powers to get perfect grades, avoid being late at school, and other daily activities. However, every time she uses her powers, it harms others.
Makoto discovers that a tattoo on her arm indicates the number of times she can leap through time. Meanwhile, Makoto’s best friend, Chiaki Mamiya, who has a crush on her, tries to figure out her abilities. Makoto uses her last leap to avoid his confrontation. However, Chiaki has some secrets of his won, and the two eventually get closer after they both find out each other’s secrets.