When it comes to standout anime distributors in the U.S., GKIDS, along with Aniplex of America, is one of the best. Since its inception in 2008, the company has become a standout thanks to its eye for rich, impactful stories and expansive catalog.
One reason I like GKIDS so much is their unwavering commitment to not only award-winning anime but also underrated gems that have flown under the radar. In this article, we dive into the GKIDS’ U.S. catalog. From the enduring magic of Studio Ghibli films to innovative titles that redefine their genres, there’s so much to explore. GKIDS releases, even the standard Blu-ray releases, usually come packed with special features as well, an added bonus to shopping their catalog.
That said, here are all the GKIDS anime releases in the U.S. to date. We break down their titles, highlighting everything you need to know about each. If you are looking to buy any of these releases, be sure to check out the best anime deals to make sure that they aren’t currently on sale.
GKIDS Anime Releases
These are all of the GKIDS anime releases that have been released in the U.S. to date. They are listed in alphabetical order.
- 5 Centimeters Per Second
- A Letter to Momo
- Castle in the Sky
- Children of the Sea
- Children Who Chase Lost Voices
- Earwig and the Witch
- Evangelion:3.0+1.11 Thrice Upon A Time
- Fortune Favors Lady Nikuko
- From Up on Poppy Hill
- Giovanni’s Island
- Goodbye, Don Glees!
- Grave of the Fireflies
- Howl’s Moving Castle
- Kiki’s Delivery Service
- Lonely Castle in the Mirror
- Lupin III: The First
- Lupin the 3rd: The Castle of Cagliostro
- Mary and the Witch’s Flower
- My Neighbor Totoro
- My Neighbors the Yamadas
- Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water
- Napping Princess
- Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind
- Neon Genesis Evangelion
- The Night Is Short, Walk On Girl
- Ocean Waves
- Okko’s Inn
- On-Gaku: Our Sound
- Only Yesterday
- Panda! Go Panda!
- Patema Inverted
- Perfect Blue
- The Place Promised in Our Early Days
- Pom Poko
- Pompo the Cinephile
- Porco Rosso
- Princess Mononoke
- Ride Your Wave
- Satellite Girl and Milk Cow
- The Secret World of Arrietty
- Song of the Sea
- Spirited Away
- Summer Ghost
- Tales from Earthsea
- The Tale of the Princess Kaguya
- Tokyo Godfathers
- The Cat Returns
- The Case of Hana & Alice
- The Deer King
- The Wind Rises
- Weathering with You
- When Marnie Was There
- Whisper of the Heart
You can learn more about GKIDS anime releases and find out where you can shop each below! Some of these releases have Collector’s Editions or Limited Edition Steelbooks that you can shop. I will be sure to note if there are different editions below.
In this poignant tale from Makoto Shinkai, the acclaimed director behind Weathering With You and Your Name, the complexities of young love, fleeting encounters, and unresolved emotions intertwine. The 5 Centimeters Per Second Blu-ray was released on June 7, 2022.
5 Centimeters per Second is told through three touching segments, each spotlighting the bittersweet intricacies of love, framed by Shinkai’s signature stunning visuals. Takaki, holding deep feelings for his childhood friend Akari, finds himself separated from her due to a family move.
Though they initially keep in touch, life’s twists, school, and new friendships gradually widen the gap between them. As time flows, reflective Takaki grapples with his past relationships, perpetually shadowed by the unspoken words he harbored for Akari, his first love.
A Letter to Momo was released on October 26, 2021, by GKIDS and SHOUT! FACTORY.
In A Letter to Momo, Momo’s final memory of her father is a heated argument, leaving her with an unfinished letter—just the words “Dear Momo” and an unsettling void beneath. Relocating with her mother to the secluded Japanese island of Shio, Momo stumbles upon three yokai residing in her attic.
These playful spiritual beings, visible only to her, cause a whirlwind of mischief in the tranquil coastal town, challenging Momo to keep their presence under wraps. Yet, amidst the chaos, these mystical creatures might just be the bridge to understanding her father’s unfinished sentiments.
From director Mamoru Hosoda and Studio Chizu, the minds behind films like Mirai, Wolf Children, and Summer Wars, arrives Belle, a poignant tale set in the digital era. Suzu, a reserved high schooler from a quaint village, has long lived in the shadows of her own life. However, upon entering “U,” a vast virtual realm, she transforms into Belle, a stunning and universally adored singer.
A pivotal concert of hers is disrupted by a strange creature being pursued by online vigilantes. As the chase intensifies, Suzu embarks on a journey — not only to unveil the true nature of this “beast” but also to find herself in a digital age where identities are both malleable and elusive.
Belle was released on August 30, 2022, by GKIDS and SHOUT! FACTORY. A Blu-ray, Limited Edition Steelbook (Blu-ray), as well as a 4K release, which comes in the Collector’s Edition, were released of the film.
From STUDIO4°C, the studio behind Tekkonkinkreet and MFKZ, and under the direction of Ayumu Watanabe, comes an adaptation of the manga, Children of the Sea. Accompanied by music by Joe Hisaishi, known for his work in Spirited Away, this narrative dives deep into the mysteries of the ocean.
As a child, Ruka glimpsed a spectral figure in the aquarium where her father was employed. This memory now draws her back to the aquarium and to two enigmatic boys, Umi and Sora, raised by dugongs and echoing the same cryptic sea calls as Ruka. Delving into the puzzling global disappearance of sea fish, the trio unravels celestial links that promise to transform their lives eternally.
From Makoto Shinkai, the creator behind Your Name. and Weathering With You comes Children Who Chase Lost Voices, a story woven with myth and fantasy set amidst ancient deities.
Asuna, a reserved young girl, finds solace in a radio bequeathed by her late father. One fateful day, an enigmatic tune from this radio stirs something deep within her. This melody soon intertwines her fate with a mysterious boy, guiding her to Agartha, a legendary realm where myths claim the departed can be revived.
Drawn by the melody and the boy’s allure, Asuna’s odyssey through this enchanted land is fraught with challenges, as formidable foes and terrifying beings stand in her path, guarding Agartha’s ancient secrets.
Evangelion:3.0+1.11 Thrice Upon A Time is the climactic fourth and final chapter of the Rebuild of Evangelion series. This film offers a riveting finale to the tales of Shinji and the Eva pilots, all while capturing the beautiful animation and deep, introspective narrative that has cemented Evangelion‘s place as one of the best sci-fi anime series of all time.
As Misato and the rebel group Wille approach a now red, core-ized Paris, the Wunder crew face a daunting mission on a containment tower with only 720 seconds to revert the city to its former state. The situation escalates when a swarm of NERV Evas emerges, prompting Mari’s advanced Eva Unit 8 to take action. Elsewhere in Japan, Shinji, Asuka, and Rei continue their journey, their paths uncertain.
A standard Blu-ray release, as well as a Collector’s Edition 4K release of Evangelion:3.0+1.11 Thrice Upon A Time, is being released by GKIDS.
Fireworks is from Genki Kawamura, the producer behind Your Name, and it’s a captivating narrative that blends romance with a dash of sci-fi fantasy. In this story, you meet the introverted Norimichi and the outspoken Yusuke, both smitten with their mysterious classmate, Nazuna. However, Nazuna, grappling with her mother’s decision to remarry and relocate, has plans to escape her hometown, secretly choosing Norimichi as her companion.
When their plan falters, a luminous multi-colored orb from the sea grants Norimichi the power to rewind time and alter their fate. Yet, every reset not only brings new challenges but also distances them from the tangible world, endangering their grip on reality.
Fireworks unfurls a heartfelt narrative of youthful yearning, resonating with the intensity of young love. It evokes sentiments of fleeting moments, lost opportunities, and age-old dreams. It captures the fervor of young hearts yearning for a world of their own, a mystical sanctuary untouched by time, where love remains eternal.
Directed by Ayumu Watanabe, known for Children of the Sea, and produced by STUDIO4°C, known for Tekkonkinkreet, Fortune Favors Lady Nikuko is a comedy-drama that’s sprinkled with elements of magical realism.
The story dives into the lives of an atypical family residing in a tranquil seaside town. Nikuko, a spirited single mother, lives life on her terms, much to the chagrin of her introspective and imaginative daughter, Kikuko.
While Nikuko embraces her vivacious nature, Kikuko struggles with her desire for societal acceptance, especially amidst the typical challenges of middle school. However, the tranquility of their harborside life is tested when a revelation from the past emerges, posing potential ramifications for their close-knit bond.
From the animation studio Production I.G, known for its work on anime like Ghost in the Shell and Psycho-Pass, and under the direction of Mizuho Nishikubo, Giovanni’s Island is a poignant historical drama.
Garnering recognition with the Satoshi Kon Award at the Fantasia Film Festival, this film delves into the lives of brothers Junpei and Kanta, residents of Shikotan, a quaint fishing island relatively untouched by the ravages of World War II. The siblings, named after characters Giovanni and Campanella from their deceased mother’s cherished novel “Night on the Galactic Railroad,” find solace in its pages following the war’s end.
However, their peaceful existence is disrupted when Soviet troops, accompanied by their families, take up residence on the island. Among them, Junpei encounters Tanya, the commander’s daughter. Despite the palpable tensions and the challenges of language, the children forge a surprising bond.
From the vision of director Atsuko Ishizuka, known for A Place Further Than the Universe, comes her first original film Goodbye, Don Glees!.
In this film, you follow teenage misfits: Roma, Toto, and Drop, collectively known as the “Don Glees,” a nickname for their backyard escapades. But their camaraderie is tested when they’re wrongfully accused of instigating a forest fire. Determined to clear their names, they venture deeper into the woods.
However, as unexpected challenges confront them, underlying rifts surface, prompting them to grapple with the diverging paths their lives are taking. Rendered in vibrant animation with intricate landscapes, Goodbye, Don Glees! captures the complexities of youth, friendship, and self-realization.
Directed by Masaaki Yuasa, known for works like MIND GAME and Devilman Crybaby, Inu-Oh is a glam-rock opera set in 14th-century Japan. It’s not just an exploration of music but also a poignant reflection on artistic expression and its challenges.
Born into nobility, Inu-oh is burdened by a time-old curse that has ostracized him. But his life takes a turn when he crosses paths with Tomona, a blind biwa priest and musician grappling with his past. Together, they unveil an entrancing talent for dance and form an unbreakable bond.
As they captivate audiences with their dynamic performances, they face adversities from the powerful who wish to stifle their art. The duo, determined, embarks on a quest using their musical prowess to unravel the mysteries of their talents.
In Lonely Castle in the Mirror, reclusive Kokoro, dodging school for weeks, stumbles upon a magical gateway in her bedroom mirror. Stepping through, she’s transported to a bewitching castle, where she’s joined by six other students.
The group is then introduced to a game by a girl donning a wolf mask. Tasked with identifying the hidden thread binding them, they must tread carefully, for breaking the rules has dire consequences – being devoured by a wolf.
This emotional drama, crafted by the esteemed Keiichi Hara (known for Colorful and Miss Hokusai) and inspired by Mizuki Tsujimura’s bestselling novel, delves into the intricacies of adolescence and the unexpected ties that bind. The standard Blu-ray edition comes with bonus features, including an Art Gallery and Trailers.
Renowned archaeologist Professor Bresson, often hailed as the most significant in this century, leaves a legacy upon his demise – the Bresson Diary. This diary is believed to unveil the secrets to the treasures of a vanished civilization. Lupin III, the elusive descendant of the legendary French thief, sets his sights on this diary.
His aim? To retrieve the hidden treasures and restore the reputation of his grandfather, who reportedly failed to decipher the diary’s contents. As Lupin’s path intersects with the young Laetitia, who is also pursuing the diary, he finds himself pitted against the cunning Professor Lambert and his covert society.
Lupin must navigate these challenges, solve the enigma of the Bresson Diary, and establish himself as the world’s preeminent thief. Lupin III: The First is available on DVD, Blu-ray, and a special Limited Edition Steelbook.
Hayao Miyazaki’s inaugural feature film, Lupin the Third: Castle of Cagliostro, makes a triumphant comeback to home video, boasting an enhanced transfer and a slew of new special features.
When renowned thief Lupin the Third and his accomplice Jigen execute a heist at a national casino, they find themselves duped with counterfeit money. To seek retribution, the duo journeys to the secluded European nation of Cagliostro. However, their mission gets more complicated when they come across Clarisse, a young royal coerced into a wedding with the malevolent Count Cagliostro.
Determined to save her, Lupin and Jigen, aided by Lupin’s capricious ex-lover Fujiko and the skilled swordsman Goemon, navigate through a labyrinthine castle riddled with deadly traps and face a host of professional assassins.
As they delve deeper into the mystery, they must evade their perpetual pursuer, Inspector Zenigata, and unravel the secrets concealed within the Castle of Cagliostro. Will Lupin be able to rescue the damsel, outwit his adversaries, and uncover the castle’s hidden treasures?
Mary and the Witch’s Flower
Mary and The Witch’s Flower is an enchanting tale from Hiromasa Yonebayashi, an Academy Award nominee and the director behind When Marnie Was There. Known for his animation work on Spirited Away, Yonebayashi crafts a mesmerizing narrative about a girl named Mary who stumbles upon a flower with ephemeral magical properties.
While staying with her Great-Aunt Charlotte in the countryside, Mary encounters a peculiar broomstick and a unique flower that blooms once in seven years. This discovery unexpectedly propels her to Endor College, a magical institution overseen by the enigmatic Madam Mumblechook and the astute Doctor Dee.
Yet, beneath its wonder lies a darker secret. When a misstep forces Mary to weave a falsehood, she finds herself in a perilous situation, challenging her to right her wrongs.
From the minds behind Batman: Gotham Knight and The Animatrix, and brought to life by animators from the iconic sci-fi masterpiece, AKIRA, director Shojiro Nishimi presents MKFZ, an adaptation of Guillaume “Run” Renard’s graphic novel.
In this film, you jump into the gritty world of Angelino and Vinz, residents of a dilapidated building set amidst an LA-esque dystopia – Dark Meat City, an urban wasteland marked by gangs, decay, and omnipresent cockroaches. Here, Angelino is just another face in the crowd, trying to make it through another day.
But a fateful collision with an enigmatic stranger on his scooter catapults his life into chaos. Suddenly, he’s plagued with visions of terrifying creatures haunting the city’s shadows. Torn between questioning his sanity and the fear of an impending alien onslaught, Angelino’s life spirals into an exhilarating adventure.
Mirai is from director Mamoru Hosoda, known for masterpieces like Wolf Children, and it’s a unique tale that intricately explores the complex tapestry of familial bonds across time.
When Kun, a four-year-old boy, welcomes a new baby sister named Mirai (translating to “future”) into the household, he struggles with feelings of jealousy as she quickly becomes the center of the family’s affection. His tumultuous emotions lead him to the garden, a seemingly ordinary place that acts as a crossroads of time. Here, he encounters unexpected visitors from different timelines, including a teenage version of Mirai.
Together, they embark on a mesmerizing journey that traverses the depths of their family’s rich history. This enchanting narrative masterfully delves into the intricate nature of family relationships, emphasizing the profound connections that shape our identities.
Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water is set in the bustling heart of 1889 Paris, during the Exposition Universelle, the world’s visionaries present their newest scientific wonders. Amidst this backdrop, young and ambitious inventor Jean encounters the enigmatic Nadia, who possesses the rare and coveted Blue Water crystal.
Their chance meeting propels them into a whirlwind adventure, as dark forces relentlessly chase them with a singular goal: to seize the Blue Water. As Jean and Nadia navigate treacherous skies and vast oceans, they must outwit their pursuers and uncover the profound secrets shrouded within the crystal.
Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water, crafted by Hideaki ANNO, offers a glimpse into the mind that would later give birth to the iconic anime Neon Genesis Evangelion. This beloved classic, now graced with a restoration, beckons new and returning viewers to dive into its intricate tale of adventure and intrigue.
Amidst the chaos of her everyday life, high school student Kokone finds solace in her dreams. But these aren’t just any dreams; they’re vivid and fantastical, filled with monsters and heroes in a world vastly different from her own.
Voiced by Mitsuki Takahata, Kokone battles these creatures as she attempts to save a realm in distress. However, as her father, a talented car designer, is wrongly accused and imprisoned for theft by his former employer, Kokone begins to suspect that these aren’t just dreams. The parallel universe she visits during her naps might hold the key to proving her father’s innocence. As the lines between dreams and reality blur, Kokone must confront the challenges of both worlds.
Directed by Kenji Kamiyama, known for his work on Ghost in the Shell, Napping Princess is a journey that melds the struggles of adolescence with the wonders of a dreamland. The film explores themes of family, justice, and the connection between dreams and reality.
Neon Genesis Evangelion is set in a futuristic Tokyo known as Tokyo-3, where humanity stands on the brink of destruction. The city is constantly under threat from “Angels” – mysterious, powerful entities whose origins and motives remain unknown. The only defense against these relentless adversaries? The Evangelions – titanic humanoid weapons piloted by young pilots. Shinji Ikari, an ordinary teenager, finds himself thrust into this maelstrom when he’s chosen to pilot one such Evangelion.
Hideaki ANNO’s masterwork, Neon Genesis Evangelion, was released for the first time in North America on Blu-ray by GKIDS. This five-disc Standard Edition comes packed with over five hours of additional content, ranging from behind-the-scenes animatics to nostalgic TV commercials and music videos.
Included in the set is the complete original television series and the companion films, EVANGELION:DEATH (TRUE)2 and THE END OF EVANGELION. Experience the saga that redefined mecha anime and left an indelible mark on pop culture.
In addition, to a standard Blu-ray release, GKIDS released a Limited Edition Collector’s Edition of the series as well, which comes with a deluxe 11-disc set, a 40-page book, 8 art cards, Official Dub and Subtitled versions, and bonus Classic Dub and Subtitled versions.
In The Night Is Short, Walk On Girl, which is directed by Masaaki Yuasa, known for Tatami Galaxy and Lu Over the Wall, you journey into the whimsical world of Kyoto’s nightlife.
As the city lights gleam and the evening unfolds, a young woman, referred to as “The Girl with Black Hair”, finds herself amidst a series of bizarre and dreamlike escapades. Each encounter, more surreal than the last, paints a vibrant tapestry of Kyoto after dark. Yet, unbeknownst to her, there’s a narrative unfolding in the shadows. Senpai, her fellow sophomore, harbors a secret admiration for her.
Throughout the night, he orchestrates numerous “coincidental” rendezvouss, hoping each one will spark a connection. His antics, comical and desperate, form the heartbeat of this tale.
In Okko’s Inn, which is directed by Kitaro Kosaka, an animator from Studio Ghibli, life takes a dramatic turn for young Okko when she tragically loses her parents. Seeking solace, she moves to the serene countryside to live with her grandmother, who manages a traditional inn nestled beside a mystical spring believed to possess therapeutic qualities. But as Okko tries to adjust to her new life, she makes a startling discovery: the inn is home to spirits, visible only to her.
These aren’t the haunting specters of lore but gentle, playful spirits who befriend and comfort her. Their presence becomes her secret, a connection to the realm beyond. As Okko endeavors to emulate her grandmother by becoming a gracious hostess, she is met with a series of guests, each with their unique tales and challenges.
On-Gaku: Our Sound is an offbeat, whimsical tale of three high school delinquents with an unlikely dream: to create rock music. Despite lacking the fundamentals of music-making—like instruments, skills, or even a full drum set—this intrepid trio is resolutely committed to making their mark in the music world. The story is driven by their desire to impress a friend, stave off a gang rivalry, and, above all, experience the euphoria of a jam session.
It’s about the camaraderie, the youthful rebelliousness, and the joyous, unadulterated passion for something that offers a break from the monotony of everyday life. Adding authenticity to the musical elements of the story are lead performances by Japanese alt-rock sensation Shintaro Sakamoto.
In Panda! Go Panda!, you follow Mimiko, a spirited young girl left to her own devices while her grandmother travels. Her life takes a turn when she unexpectedly becomes the caregiver to Panny Panda and his father, Papanda. Embracing them as her newfound family, the trio embarks on a series of delightful adventures.
Directed by Isao Takahata, with a concept by Hayao Miyazaki, Panda! Go, Panda is an enchanting precursor to their work at Studio Ghibli. The standard Blu-ray release includes both Panda! Go, Panda and its sequel, Rainy Day Circus, as well as some bonus extras.
From the mind of director Yasuhiro Yoshiura, known for Sing a Bit of Harmony, comes Patema Inverted, a sci-fi tale that will turn your perspective on its head.
Living beneath the surface, Patema often feels trapped by her community’s many rules. Her adventurous spirit leads her to a forbidden zone where she unexpectedly finds herself in a topsy-turvy world above ground.
Here, she meets Age, a young student taught to avoid and fear the underground “sinners.” Instead of adhering to what they’ve been taught, the duo embarks on a journey together, seeking to understand the mysterious force that divides their worlds and hoping to unite them once again.
Renowned pop sensation Mima is transitioning from her singing roots to exploring the realms of acting and modeling. However, her devout fans are struggling with her decision to change lanes. Pushed by her management, Mima lands a significant role in a hit TV series.
But as success grows, so does the danger, with her close associates getting mysteriously murdered. As Mima grapples with guilt, she is tormented by eerie visions of her past self, making it challenging to discern reality from illusion. With a persistent stalker on her tail, both in the virtual and real worlds, the danger is much closer than she realizes.
Satoshi Kon’s debut film is a riveting psychological thriller that mirrors the challenges of the digital age. It is available in a standard Blu-ray and a Limited Edition Steelbook, brought to you by GKIDS.
Makoto Shinkai, known for creating visual masterpieces like Weathering With You and Your Name., presents his debut feature film, a poignant tale of friendship, loss, and the wonders of human connection.
Set in an alternative post-war Japan, the story revolves around three teens, enchanted by a mysterious sky-reaching tower just beyond the Union border. Hiroki and Takuya, fueled by this fascination, craft a makeshift airplane, promising their dear friend Sayuri that they’ll all journey to the tower.
However, destiny has other plans, and Sayuri vanishes before their dream is realized. Fast forward, the once dormant tower stirs to life, triggering a global phenomenon. As the world stands on the brink of change, the duo realizes that Sayuri might be the linchpin to understanding and resolving the looming crisis.
Pompo the Cinephile is set in “Nyallywood,” the cinematic heart of the world, Pompo is a fearless producer, best known for her B-movies. But she has bigger plans for her hesitant assistant, Gene. Entrusting him with her latest project, a poignant tale of an aging artist’s struggles, she challenges him to step up as a director.
With the enigmatic actor Martin Braddock taking the lead and a budding actress hungry for her big break, the stage is set. But as turmoil threatens the production, can Gene truly capture Pompo’s vision and make his directorial debut count? Pompo the Cinephile is a vibrant tribute to the magic of filmmaking, capturing the passion, challenges, and dedication it takes to craft a cinematic “masterpiece.”
You can watch it now via the Blu-ray released by GKIDS. It comes with extras, including Audio Commentary by the Director and Crew, Feature-length Storyboards, a Character Design Gallery, and Trailers and Spots.
From the renowned studio Trigger, known for Kill la Kill and Little Witch Academia, and director Hiroyuki Imaishi of Gurren Lagann, comes Promare— an electrifying action spectacle that’s full of heart and soul.
Three decades have elapsed since the rise of the Burnish, flame-wielding mutants responsible for reducing half the world to ashes. Now, with the emergence of the aggressive Mad Burnish group, an intense showdown is on the horizon.
Enter Galo Thymos, a fresh recruit of the anti-Burnish squad, Burning Rescue, as he faces off against Lio Fotia, the enigmatic leader of Mad Burnish. GKIDS released three editions of Promare: A Blu-ray, a Limited Edition Steelbook, and a Collector’s Edition.
GKIDS’ vast U.S. catalog and high-quality releases that are packed with special features have made them a go-to for me. From Studio Ghibli classics to lesser-known masterpieces, their selection reaffirms their top-tier status in the anime distribution game. Their consistent effort to pack each release with special features only adds to their appeal.
If you are just now getting into collecting their titles, I’d recommend keeping an eye out for good anime deals—high-quality anime releases, like those released from GKIDS, don’t always come cheap, but you can save money when shopping for discounts.
Want to see what else is on the horizon? Check out all of the anime Blu-rays releasing in 2023.