Most of you have probably heard of Hayao Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli. If not then you’ve probably heard of Spirited Away , Princess Mononoke or another one of their popular titles. There are, however, other anime movies out there (as you’ve probably guessed) that are just as good, if not better. Here’s a list of some of my favourite movies/directors that I think you should see.
Akira (Katsuhiro Ã”tomo, 1988)
Okay, first off I just want to say that this movie was released in 1988. This was a time when glam-rock reigned and mullets were socially acceptable. This was not a time of CGI or special-effects, and yet it’s one of the most visually stunning animated films to date. The story revolves around a couple of teenagers in dystopian Tokyo, year 2019, whose friendship gets strained when one of them decides to try and break-out a dangerous and imprisoned psychic. It’s rumoured that Warner Bros. and Leonardo Dicaprio want to remake a live-action version, so you’ll have that to look forward to as well. Overall, it’s amazing.
Metropolis (Rintaro, 2001)
Based off of Osamu Tezuka’s classic manga, Metropolis is one of the most detailed and beautifully filmed animated movies I’ve seen. The story is set in the futuristic city of Metropolis, where robots and humans bitterly co-exist. It touches upon a number of topics surrounding modernization and technology overwhelming humanity. Osamu Tezuka is one of the first published manga creators in Japan and this movie is a good introduction to his style and some of the themes he explores in his written works.
There are two release dates because there are two movies (same director). The movies center on a cyborg policewoman (Major Motoko Kusanagi) and her team solving various crimes in futuristic Tokyo. These movies are one of the more popular animated features from Japan, and you may have heard of them as being sources of inspiration for The Matrix . There certainly are several over-lapping themes; however the story-lines aren’t similar. In a bizarre and wonderful way, they read almost like poetry or song, so be prepared to be transported to a colour-saturated, esoteric dimension when watching these films (particularly the second).
Anything by Satoshi Kon
Okay so I’ve saved the best for last here. Satoshi Kon is a genius. Just to forewarn you though, his stuff is kind of trippy. I would say the closest parallel I can think of drawing is to Studio Ghibli, except with adult characters rather than children and more adult-centered themes. There’s tons of interweaving between real and surreal, many different themes and story-lines. No movie is quite like the other. Tokyo Godfathers is warm and fuzzy, Paprika is kind of an Alice in Wonderland of the mind, and there’s nothing quite like that chase scene in Perfect Blue to send you on creeper-alert. He’s not as well known as Hayao Miyazaki, although most anime buffs will know him. I highly recommend this director to the anime newbies and connoisseurs alike.