World War II Anime may not be the most popular genre of Japanese animation but are definitely worth checking out if you are looking for something new to watch. They are mostly based on a period when the world was at war but with many different perspectives on it. Films listed in this article may have different sub-genres, but they are all revolving around World War II in one way or another. Here are some of the best World War II anime.
Grave of the Fireflies
This anime is written and directed by Isao Takahata and animated by Studio Ghibli. Grave of the Fireflies came out in 1988. The story is based on the 1967 semi-autobiographical short story of the same name by Akiyuki Nosaka. Grave of the Fireflies tells the story of two siblings in Kobe, Japan who are desperately struggling to survive the last months of World War II. The film received critical acclaim from the likes of Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times and many other famous critics and journalists. Rotten Tomatoes reported a fantastic 97% approval rating based on 36 reviews with an average rating of 9.1/10. The website consensus reads: “An achingly sad anti-war film, Grave of the Fireflies is one of Studio Ghibli’s most profoundly beautiful, haunting works”.
The writer, Isao Takahata received Blue Ribbon Award and Chicago International Children’s Film Festival awards for his work. Grave of the Fireflies is widely considered to be one of the Best World War II anime of all time.
Girls und Panzer
Girls und Panzer is directed by Tsutomu Mizushima, written by Reiko Yoshida and produced by Kiyoshi Sugiyama, Girls und Panzer is an anime franchise which depicts a competition between girls’ high schools practicing tank warfare as a sport. Takaaki Suzuki, a former military history advisor for Strike Witches and Upotte!!, was heavily involved in the production of the anime. First television airing of the first ten episodes in 2012 received favorable television ratings and strong viewership.
The popularity of the anime series reached its peak when the town of Oarai in Ibaraki Prefecture held an event themed along with the Girls und Panzer anime with the event featuring live tank demonstrations the sale of anime-themed merchandise.
In This Corner of the World
Produced by MAPPA, co-written and directed by Sunao Katabuchi, featuring character designs by Hidenori Matsubara and music by Fumiyo Kono, In This Corner of the World is a Japanese animated wartime drama film released in 2016. The story follows the life of Suzu Urano, a young bride with her new family living on the outskirts of Kure City during World War II. In This Corner of the World was a Jury Recommended Work in 2008 Japan Media Arts Festival. In 2009 it won the Excellence Price. Kouno’s humor has been praised as well as “folktale-like” tone of the manga. The TV special had a rating of 12.7 and had 1 million copies printed as of March 2018.
The Wind Rises
The Wind Rises is written and directed by Hayao Miyazaki, animated by Studio Ghibli for the Nippon Television Network Dentsu, Hakuhodo DY Media Partners, Walt Disney Japan, Mitsubishi, Toho and KDDI, The Wind Rises is a Japanese animated historical drama film released in 2013. A fictionalized biopic of Jiro Horikoshi, designer of the Mitsubishi A5M fighter aircraft and its successor, the Mitsubishi A6M Zero, which were used by the Empire of Japan during World War II.
The film received universal critical acclaim. On Rotten Tomatoes it holds an average score of 7.9/10 with the film having a “Certified Fresh” rating. The consensus reads: “The Wind Rises is a fittingly bittersweet swan song for director Hayao Miyazaki.”
Directed by Mori Masaki and starring Issei Miyazaki, Masaki Koda, and Ttsuya Jo, Barefoot Gen tells a story from a child’s point of view revolving around the events surrounding the bombing of Hiroshima and the main character’s first-hand experience of the bomb. The falling of the bomb is first shown from the American point of view which is quite emotionless and orderly. Then when the bomb explodes, the view from the Japanese side is very graphic, showing people being vaporized, buildings exploding and multicolor explosions. It was released on 21 July 1983 and on 13 June 1992 in Japan and the United States respectively. The Barefoot Gen has made TIME magazine’s list of top five anime DVDs and is considered to be among the best World War II anime.