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FEATURE: 9 Upcoming Anime Films to Check Out This Summer



Hello everyone, and welcome to Why It Works. Summer has finally arrived, and along with warm weather and vacation time, that means it’s also the season for summer blockbusters. In addition to the wide array of live-action films coming out this summer, there’s a plethora of anime films enjoying global theatrical releases. In fact, it’s never been easier to see anime in theaters outside of Japan, and the list of engagements this summer should please fans of basically any genre. The number of features coming out is long enough that it’s frankly a little hard to keep track of, so today, I figured I’d highlight a handful of the summer films fast approaching. Without further ado, let’s celebrate the animation headed for the silver screen this summer!


Personally, there’s no theatrical release I’m more excited for than The Deer King, an anime-original film that’ll be having limited engagements starting in July. The film is the directorial debut of Masashi Ando, whose work as an animator and animation director stretches from Paranoia Agent to a bevy of Ghibli classics. By its premise, it looks to be a sprawling and thoughtful fantasy epic, featuring a story by Nahoko Uehashi (the creator of the sensational Moribito). And with an absurd roster of former Ghibli storyboarders and animators on deck, I’m looking forward to The Deer King offering both a refreshingly mature narrative and a staggering aesthetic experience, demonstrating the continuing drift of former Ghibli talent into the wider anime industry.


The Deer King

Image via GKIDS


If all that talk of Ghibli has you yearning for the original article, don’t worry — this summer will also be featuring some US screenings of The Cat Returns, one of the lesser-known entries in the Ghibli canon. Odder still, The Cat Returns is actually the studio’s only sequel, following up on a minor character from Whisper of the Heart. If you haven’t seen Whisper yet, I consider you very lucky — the film is a poignant and gorgeous personal story and one of my favorites among the studio’s productions. In contrast, The Cat Returns is a far more fantastical experience, making it perfect for a boisterous theatrical viewing. So get on Whisper of the Heart right this second and secure your ticket for the sequel!


RELATED: Inu-Oh’s Stylish, Psychedelic and Symphonic Spin on Japanese History


Moving on from Ghibli and post-Ghibli features, this August will see the release of a cutting-edge anime production, Masaaki Yuasa’s Inu-oh. Yuasa is undoubtedly one of our greatest, most imaginative working directors, having spearheaded projects ranging from the whip-smart sci-fi drama Kaiba to the Taiyo Matsumoto adaptation Ping Pong the Animation. Speaking of Matsumoto, he actually handled the character designs for Inu-oh, which bills itself as a “revisionist rock opera” from the 14th century. Yuasa does his best to fit music and dance sequences into even his most serious narratives, so I can’t wait to see him tackle a genuine musical. Consider this one a must-see production!




While those are all major releases from highly established names, one film you might have overlooked is the gentle-seeming The House of the Lost on the Cape. The adaptation of an award-winning novel centers on two girls with nowhere to go who find sanctuary in the cape side home of an old woman. The story is being adapted by the ever-reliable Reiko Yoshida, and with Non Non Biyori director Shinya Kawatsura spearheading the project, this quiet personal story seems to be in the best possible hands. No screening dates have been announced as of yet, but I’m keeping a close eye on this poignant-looking production!


RELATED: The House of the Lost on the Cape Wins The 76th Mainichi Film Award's Best Animation Film


Along with original film productions, this summer is also blessed by some major franchise releases, which Crunchyroll will be bringing to theaters in the US. The latest Dragon Ball Super release SUPER HERO will be arriving soon, and promises to shine a major spotlight on both Gohan and Piccolo. Meanwhile, the recent Fruits Basket adaptation will be capstoned by a prequel film, which will be revealing the full story of Tohru’s mother Kyoko, and finishing this revival of the beloved manga in style. No word on One Piece’s Film Red so far, but I’m keeping my fingers crossed!


Dragon Ball Super: SUPER HERO


And while not every anime feature is getting the theatrical treatment it deserves, we’re still receiving theatrical features in record time compared to eras past. Among those films bypassing the theater system, we’ll soon be getting the delightful Fortune Favors Lady Nikuko on Bluray, while The Tatami Galaxy sequel Tatami Time Machine Blues will be jumping straight to Disney+. We’re living through an incredibly fertile period of anime film production and I can’t wait to see some of these features with you all. I hope you’re looking forward to some of these exciting films and please let me know if there’s any I’ve missed in the comments!




Nick Creamer has been writing about cartoons for too many years now and is always ready to cry about Madoka. You can find more of his work at his blog Wrong Every Time, or follow him on Twitter.

Source: Crunchyroll


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