#31. Attack on Titan: Wings of Freedom (2015, Wit Studio)
Condensing the second half of Attack on Titan‘s first season into a two-hour package, the middle of Wings of Freedom is a breathtaking action set-piece split into two halves. The former is a heart-pumping chase where characters are beset by Titans in a wide plain, while the other a thrilling battle against the formidable Female Titan in a towering forest.
While the first recap movie’s pacing felt a little off to me, Wings of Freedom is a constantly intense ride.
#32. Love, Chunibyo and Other Delusions! (2012, Kyoto Animation)
Yuuta Togashi wants to forget his embarrassing middle school past, a time when he called himself the Dark Flame Master. Alas, a meeting with the eyepatch-wearing Rikka Takanashi, who believes she is a sorceress, dashes his hopes.
The first half is a fun high school comedy, but the second half is a serious and engaging drama about coping with grief. The second season and movie are less essential.
#33. Time of Eve (2010, Studio Rikka)
In a future where human-like androids serve humanity, the Time of Eve café welcomes both as customers, with the condition that androids are not to be discriminated against.
Like our two protagonists, you’ll be frequently wondering which customer’s a human, which is an android, and whether that distinction ultimately matters. The 3DCG backgrounds are rather impressive too.
#34. Maquia: When the Promised Flower Blooms (2018, P.A. Works)
Maquia is an epic fantasy movie with dragons and inter-kingdom conflict, but the main theme is motherhood. It’s not flawless – the central mother-son relationship doesn’t always capture the feeling of one, and there’s a subplot which doesn’t get the focus it deserves.
But when events head towards their climax in the third act, it’s hard not to feel invested in the show. Backed by Kenji Kawai’s masterfully-crafted score, Maquia is imperfect, but beautiful nevertheless.
#35. Wolf Children (2012, Studio Chizu)
Another movie about motherhood, Wolf Children shows the adversities faced by a young single mother as she raises two half-human, half-wolf children after the death of their werewolf father. While the daughter fits into human life, the son finds himself drawn to the wild.
Grounded despite the werewolf factor, it’s an engrossing movie about parental struggles and growth, and the grown-up daughter’s narration lends it a sense of nostalgia.