If you’re a fan of anime, you’ve probably heard the name Mamoru Hosoda. The filmmaker is one of the best-known directors working in the form today, and he’s responsible for some absolute cinematic treasures, including (but certainly not limited to) the Academy Award-nominated Mirai and his most recent feature, Belle, which is out in select theaters January 14.
Much like his contemporary Makoto Shinkai (Your Name, Weathering With You), Hosoda has been haphazardly compared to Hayao Miyazaki by American critics. But the reality of Hosoda—and every other director at whom people lob that comparison—is that he’s his own auteur, a filmmaker who engages with narrative, characterization, and genre in a way that’s completely unique.
With a number of shorts and features available, it’s hard to know where to start with the director. (Some of them are harder to find than others, thanks to U.S. distribution rights. But you’ll find several of these films on the anime streaming service Funimation.) It’s a vast, fantastic world, and we’re here to drag the uninitiated down the rabbit hole that is Mamoru Hosoda. Here are five choices of what to check out.