There’s something for everyone to enjoy in Japanese animated films – anime movies cover all genres. Many of these films are so thematically significant and artfully done, they merit inclusion among the classics of cinema. Whether you’re new to anime or a hardcore fan, these ten films are guaranteed to please.
Katsuhiro Otomo’s 1988 science fiction action film is set in Tokyo in the year 2019. The plot revolves around psychic teenaged biker Tetsuo Shima and his biker gang leader and childhood best friend, ShotaroKaneda. As Tetsuo’s psychic powers grow stronger, so does his deep-seated resentment of Shotaro. He seeks to shake off his reliance on his former friend and prove his own power.
A psychological thriller, “Perfect Blue” is the story of MimaKirigoe, who retires from her career as a pop singer to become an actress. An angry fan, Me-Mania, begins stalking Mima. As she begins to lose her grip on reality and several new colleagues are murdered, it becomes apparent thatMima’s problems are bigger than she realized.
This classic film from the “Walt Disney of Japan,”Hayao Miyazaki, has been called one of the greatest films of its decade and one of the best films in world cinema. It tells the story of a young girl,ChihiroOgino, who moves with her family to a new neighborhood — only to find herself in a frightening new world where her parents are turned into pigs by a witch. Somehow, Chihiro must find a way to free them and return the family to the human world.
“Howl’s Moving Castle”
An adaptation of the eponymous British fantasy novel by Diana Wynne Jones, “Howl’s Moving Castle” tells the story of 18-year-old Sophie. Under a witch’s curse, she finds herself transformed into an elderly woman. Her search for a cure leads her to Howl, an emotionally immature wizard whose castle walks on legs.
A period drama with elements of fantasy, “Princess Mononoke” is a tale of the struggle between man and nature. Human residents of Irontown threaten the existence of the nearby forest, which has led to conflict with the forest’s gods and supernatural guardians. San, a human girl raised by wolves, fights as Princess Mononoke to save the forest from human destruction.
“Cowboy Bebop: The Movie”
“Cowboy Bebop: The Movie” is based on the well-known anime television series of the same name.
The crew of the starship Bebop hopes to claim the bounty offered to whoever can stop Vincent Volaju, the man responsible for releasing a deadly pathogen in the capital of Mars. Before long, the crew discovers they’re not the only ones looking for Vincent — and that he didn’t act alone.
“Grave of the Fireflies”
This tear-jerking 1988 drama chronicles the story of an orphaned brother and sister who must rely on their wits and one another to survive in a devastated post-WWII Japan. With their mother dead and their soldier father MIA, they must steal to survive. Critic Roger Ebert included this powerful film on his “Great Movies” list.
“Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind”
This post-apocalyptic fantasy adventure tells the story of a young princess, Nausicaa, who interferes in a struggle between the kingdom of Tolmekia and a race of mutant insect giants. Nausicaa, who has befriended the mutant insects, seeks to heal the effects of the toxic warfare that destroyed human civilization a millennium before.
“Ghost in the Shell”
In the future, humans can access the Internet and other electronic networks directly through cybernetic bodies known as “shells.” When a hacker known as the Puppet Master begins illegally hacking into people’s minds, police officer MotokoKusanagi must track him down. Her investigations eventually reveal the mysterious hacker’s shocking origins.
This action thriller, set in feudal Japan, features plenty of fighting and dying by ninjas, samurai and demons alike. Wandering ninja JubeiKibagami finds himself facing Gemma Himuro, an old enemy he previously thought dead. Gemma, who has reincarnated as a demon and set himself up as the leader of a group of demon ninjas called the Devils of Kimon, wants to overthrow the government and rule the nation with an iron fist. Together with government spy Dakuan, Jubei must stop Gemma from rising to power.
“Princess Mononoke” Photo credit: quicheisinsane / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND
About the Author: Contributing blogger Ryan Whitman has been working as a film critic for over 12 years.