With the recent release of the trailer for Suzume, being directed by Makato Shinkai, director of the much acclaimed, Your Name, fans have been wondering whether this new project will also be a coming-of-age story. While a lot of fans love anime because of the limitless possibilities in storytelling and visual graphics, character journeys are also a big part of the storylines which fans love to see.
Coming of age is a genre that has been explored hundreds of times in anime movies, which add their own flair to the genre. It is always interesting to see how characters progress and go through their arcs, even in stories that might not always be about ‘humans’ per se.
10/10 Tamako Love Story
Tamako Love Story came out in 2014, and it revolves around the life of Tamako whose life is completely changed when her best friend confesses his love for her.
Reddit user Sandtalon says that Tamako Love Story “fits” the trope of a coming of age movie “beautifully.” The focal point of the storyline is quite relatable, where the two teenagers struggle to express their feelings for one another. Through their journey with this struggle, the characters go through an arc of becoming more confident and self-reliant within themselves while also overcoming the fear of rejection. Although the movie is a follow-up to a series, it is enjoyable for first-time viewers as well
9/10 Your Name
Your Name came out in 2016, and it revolved around the lives of a high school boy in Tokyo and a high school girl in the Japanese countryside. Both the characters suddenly start switching bodies which leads them through a journey of self-discovery and finding love.
Reddit user sinzszd picks Your Name as one of the best coming-of-age stories and “loved it” the moment they watched the movie. Both the characters realizing the struggles and the nuances of difference in perspectives of different families adds a layer of self-realization that elevates the entire story, along with making the characters more mature as they experience “another life.” This is also one of the most unique anime settings ever, especially due to the twist in the final act.
8/10 A Silent Voice
A Silent Voice came out in 2016 and revolves around the story of a grade school girl who changes schools after being bullied for her hearing impairment. Years later, one of her former bullies tries to make amends.
Reddit user Damarugaki says that the movie will make sure “To tug at your heartstrings.” The gradual realization of oneself being a bully and coming to terms with the fact and the victim is a story that a lot of teenagers as well as adults can relate to. The journey of the characters and the emotional trauma suffered by the victim make A Silent Voiceone of the saddest romantic anime.
7/10 Whisper Of The Heart
Whisper Of The Heart came out in 1995 and revolves around Shizuku, an aspiring writer who falls in love with Seiji, an aspiring master luthier. The two try to balance their personal life with achieving their personal goals. The story here will remind a lot of viewers of La La Land.
Reddit user Wayayoshitaka recommends Whisper Of The Heart as a great coming-of-age movie. The movie highlighted the importance of being persistent while following any dream and the sacrifices one has to make to get there. The character’s struggle and final realization of balancing “love” and “ambition” is a story that most people might relate to. It is because of these elements that Whisper Of The Heart can be categorized as one of the best-advanced anime out there.
6/10 Summer Wars
Summer Wars came out in 2009 and is a slightly different take on the coming-of-age genre. The story revolves around a young math genius who inadvertently endangers the Earth because of an AI system. While on a surface level, the story has larger themes of sci-fi, the internal struggle of Kenji Koiso while trying to solve the problem he created deals with themes such as guilt, responsibility, and existential crisis quite brilliantly.
Reddit user EconomyProcedure9 recommends Summer Wars as a great coming-of-age movie. The light-hearted script makes the heavier themes more digestible for younger audiences as well.
5/10 Kiki’s Delivery Service
Kiki’s Delivery Service came out in 1989 and revolves around the story of a young witch in training who starts a delivery service on her flying broom. This might be the truest form of a coming-of-age story as Kiki has to come to terms with the fact that she lost her abilities and overcome her self-doubt to get her powers back.
Reddit user EconomyProcedure9 suggests this as a coming-of-age movie, the protagonist is a young, insecure character with whom a lot of younger audiences can easily relate. The larger theme of dealing with the failure and loss of Kiki losing her powers and her journey of getting them back is a great motivational tale.
4/10 Patema Inverted
Patema Inverted came out in 2013 and revolves around Patema and Age, who leave their community to find out why gravity was reversed by an energy experiment. This is also a great mix between sci-fi and a coming-of-age story of a young boy becoming more mature by realizing that the people in power do not always make the best choices for the people, they are quite often motivated by their personal agendas.
Reddit user Contraptionfour says that Patema Inverted is a “Metaphorical take” on a coming-of-age story. The main focus of the story is the mind-mending gravity crises, but Patema’s entire journey is that of turning into a young man from a child. Some fans also believe that Patema Inverted could be considered one of the best anime out there.
3/10 The Girl Who Leapt Through Time
The Girl Who Leapt Through Time came out in 2006 and revolves around Makoto, who gains the power to travel through time. Throughout the story, Makoto is seen using her ability to her advantage, going back in time to fix mistakes or change situations to benefit her.
By the end of the movie, Makoto comes to terms with the decisions she is making in real-time while also gaining a sense of maturity and responsibility after realizing the consequences of her actions. This is also why fans such as Reddit user Sandtalon suggested it as a great coming-of-age story.
2/10 A Letter To Momo
A Letter To Momo came out in 2012 and revolves around the story of Momo, who starts experiencing strange events after she receives a message from her father.
Reddit user Sandtalon also suggests A Letter To Momo as a great coming-of-age movie. The entire story is a coming-of-age story of Momo, who learns to deal with the grief of her father passing. Momo dealing with moving from Tokyo to a remote island also adds another layer of loneliness to her journey.
1/10 Her Blue Sky
Her Blue Sky came out in 2019 and revolves around the story of two sisters, Aoi and Akane, and her high school boyfriend, Shinno. There are some supernatural elements present in the movie.
Reddit user MapoTofuman suggests Her Blue Sky as a coming-of-age story. While the larger plot surrounds high school love, the subplot of Aoi realizing the fact that people change over time and trying to rekindle old relationships might not be the best idea leads her on a path of emotional growth as well as realizing that being hurt is not always a bad thing and is a natural part of life.