4.152 out of 5 from 214 votes
When a young girl’s seeing eye dog runs off after a thief that's stolen her bag, the girl must navigate around town using only her senses of smell, touch, and hearing. With only a common stick to hold, she experiences the joys and wonder of the world around her.
Shuichi Nitori is about to start middle school with a terrible secret: he wishes he were a girl and likes wearing their clothes. With the right outfit and his cute, effeminate looks, he is often able to convince people that he is someone else - or even something else. Unfortunately, although his best friend and object of affection, Takatsuki, accepts him as he is, she does not return Shuichi’s feelings. Moreover, school is an unforgiving place and Shuichi walks a fine line between liberating his true self and being labelled a freak by all his peers...
Bit of an odd rec, but whatevs.
Out of Sight and Wandering Son attempt to shed some light on groups not usually featured in anime (or any type of media, for that matter): people with disabilities (in this case blindness) and transgendered people. Refreshingly, instead of treating either like a novelty, both are gentle and humanizing, with an art palette of pretty, watercolor-y pastels.
An old man resides in a city mostly submerged by water, living in a home he had to build on top of his old one. His daily routine now consists of smoking his pipe, drinking wine, watching television and eating the fish he catches. Living alone in the silent desolation of the elderly he is surrounded by photographs but no people. One day he drops his pipe into the water and it disappears into his old, submerged home. To retrieve it he rents a scuba suit, but once he descends into the place he used to live he is overwhelmed by the memories of the life he used to have - the family he used to know.
Both of these are animated shorts without dialogue. They both have main characters whose stories tug at the heartstrings, and both are a mini "journey of discovery" of sorts, as the viewer comes to an understanding of the characters and the worlds they each inhabit.
For nearly fourteen years, Arrietty has lived with her parents under the floorboards of a house. As 'tiny people', the family must remain hidden from humans, 'borrowing' items from them such as postage stamps or herbs to cook with. Arrietty is old enough to borrow for the first time, and alongside her father, the two explore the house in search of tissue and sugar. But when the pair is spotted by Sho, a boy who is visiting his great aunt, Arrietty's parents fear for their safety. However, unlike her family, Arrietty is convinced that not all humans are dangerous, and together she and Sho form an unlikely friendship.
Another super adorable anime about characters that experience life differently than most people. Captures a really great sense of awe and exploration, despite the seemingly mundane setting. Watch them!