There are few forms of entertainment that offer as much versatility and creative freedom as anime, but there is still a bit of stigma associated with the medium. There are some exceptional stories told in anime that the public is limited to living just because of unwarranted hesitation and preconceptions about what anime should be.
Like any medium, there are certain stereotypes that can fill anime, but they are not present in all properties and are less prevalent in standalone narratives, like movies. Anime feature films are a great resource for those new to anime and those who are reluctant to give it a go. There are full of animated films that drop some anime staples and tell some absolutely amazing stories.
ten Your name creates a remarkable love story with a touch of clever sci-fi
Makoto Shinkai has become a renowned animation filmmaker, and most of his films portray extremely powerful romances and coming-of-age stories. your name could be the magnum opus of Shinkai. It is the delicate story of two young adults who find themselves strangely displaced in the body of the other. your name subverts the typical body swap and rom-com conventions to create something special. There have been repeated efforts to try and make a live American version of your name happen, but it’s absolutely a story that doesn’t need to be updated. your name sets the standard for modern love stories.
9 The millennial actress is an evocative journey through someone’s life and the power of a legacy
All of Satoshi Kon’s animated films are iconic works of art that make it even more devastating that the author’s career has been cut short. Most of Kon’s documents grapple with grim questions of identity, which are not entirely absent in Millennial actress, but they are also the most popular here. The contemplative film has an acclaimed movie star reflecting on his prolific career, but because it’s about Satoshi Kon, his nostalgic journey is presented in an unconventional and visually stunning way. It’s a poetic, straightforward story that feels more at home in an arthouse film than an anime.
8 The wind rises is Hayao Miyazaki at his most serious and humble
Anyone who has seen enough of Hayao Miyazaki’s work should realize that he has a passion for airplanes and aviation. The wind picks up allows Miyazaki to truly embrace that fascination and use it to tell a painful story about how something beautiful can be used to inflict pain and destruction.
Jiro Horikoshi aspires to create airplanes but is forced to fight against their use during WWII. It’s a mature subject that doesn’t rely on the same supernatural flourishes as Miyazaki’s other films.
7 I want to eat your pancreas causes tears early on and doesn’t hold back
There are a number of animated films, just like drama films, which intentionally pulling on the audience’s sensitive cords and want to have people bawling out as the credits roll. I want to eat your pancreas don’t even try to hide how emotionally draining this is going to be. It honestly shows how painful it can be to love someone who has a debilitating illness or is short on time. I want to eat your pancreas can be manipulative at times, but the relationship connects and she wins her struggles.
6 Perfect Blue is a gripping psychological drama with thoughtful turns
All Satoshi Kon anime movies should be must watch, even for those who have no interest in anime, but Perfect blue became the director’s most prolific work. Perfect blue juxtaposes the struggles of a vulnerable performer to understand the image she wants to give herself to the growing obsession with a dangerous stalker. It’s a crippling story about the cost of fame, and how easily it can be corrupted. Perfect blue even largely inspired by Darren Aronofsky Black Swan, so anyone who loves this trippy movie deserves to give Perfect blue a shot.
5 Redline turns a space race into the attraction of a lifetime
The majority of the animated films included here tell noble and emotionally grueling stories that heavily favor the character over eccentric animation. Red line is the exception, and it’s a simple film that revolves around a prestigious intergalactic race. Red line is a pure show and he wants to celebrate the exaggerated speed and the unusual characters.
This is a great example of how animation in these types of movies can break all the rules. However, Red line does not depend on anime clichés and all those who love Fast and furious or podracing in Star wars can get a kick from Red line.
4 Porco Rosso combines Studio Ghibli’s sense of wonder with serious subject matter
Porco Rosso is an animated film which is so purely Hayao Miyazaki and best represents the two extremes of the filmmaker. On the one hand, Porco Rosso is a serious tale about an expert WWI fighter pilot and his motley friends and relatives, but on the other, he indulges Miyazaki’s fascination with the impossible and inexplicably makes his titular combat ace a pig. This makes Porco rocco the perfect hybrid that can be appreciated for its deeper message, but also for the way it uses the anime to improve its story.
3 Paprika is a fascinating deconstruction of human mind and memory
Paprika is Satoshi Kon’s latest film and in many ways it’s his busiest job. Paprika leaps into the complex territory of dreams and the many layers that make up someone’s subconscious. Paprika is one of the most psychologically dense of Kon and visually ambitious films that seem impossible to achieve outside of anime. However, there is so much of the same DNA shared between something like Paprika and the works of Christopher Nolan, in particular Creation, that it’s easy to see how this film transcends its medium.
2 Ride Your Wave proves the eternal bonds of love and the importance of grieving
Masaaki Yuasa has accomplished a great deal over the past decade, both when it comes to animated feature films and television series. Yuasa’s work specializes in unpredictable animation which plays by its own rules and often represents how free and limitless anime can be. Surf your wave Still features stunning visuals, but it tells a story more grounded in loss, grief, and how to mourn. A very irregular relationship is formed through some intense hardship, but in the end it feels more like a magically realist fantasy movie than something that traditionally mirrors anime.
1 A silent voice presents genuine kindness and empathy that anyone can learn from
There are certain ideas that are explored in animated films that would only be diluted if they were extended to a full series. Sometimes the best story is one that is straightforward and can cover a huge amount of ground in a short period of time rather than prolonged serialization. A silent voice is the deeply human story of an ignorant tyrant who terrorizes a deaf classmate, only to reconnect with her years later and realize the error of his ways. A silent voice presents such a moving and honest relationship that can transform even the darkest of hearts.
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