Movies can change your entire life. They can alter your moods, your values and beliefs, and even change your hardened philosophy. Film brings out the best in people, allowing them to feel free and be open-minded about even the most controversial topics.
Anime breaches a lot of controversial topics, and while some may dismiss it as cartoon or childish, it really is a genre of film that begets thought and stimulation. Much like our previous delve into classic movies, we are going to take a look at nine anime movies worth seeing.
Jin-Roh: The Wolf Brigade
Ten years after the end of World War II, Fuse (a policeman who fights “terrorism”) gets suspended from service after the suicide of a young terrorist girl during a mission. To put it simply, he failed to shoot her in time and she self-detonated a jacket bomb. When he tries to gather some information about her, he meets her sister and befriends her. Both of them get dragged into the rivalries between the administration of the police and the counter terrorism commando unit Jin Roh (which translates to human wolves).
Aside from the excellent art direction and glorious volumes of Jin Roh cosplay, this iconic anime movie also seemingly inspired the Playstation blockbuster franchise Killzone. As a matter of fact, it’s common knowledge that the Killzone enemy Helghast armor is basically the same as the Kerberos armour from Mamoru Oshii’s Kerberos universe, which includes everything from manga, novels, Jin Roh, as well as two live-action films.
Furthermore, the Kerberos armor from Oshii’s alternate monochromatic military universe is most likely originally inspired by World War II German Wehrmacht uniforms. While the Killzone imagery and setting can be equally taken from Nazi military or the Kerboros saga, chances are that the creators of the Helghast used both.
Jin Roh is a prequel to two live-action films directed by Oshii, The Red Spectacles and Stray Dog: Kerberos Panzer Cops, but it fits into the larger universe he created. Make sure to add this anime movie to your must-see list.
Any self-respecting anime fan should at least be aware of the famous movie from 1988, named Akira. The titular persona Akira takes after a secret government project that two biker gang kids stumble upon, forcing them into a full scale battle between politicians, scientists, anarchists and rival bike gang members.
The character Tetsuo gets involved early on, bringing forth telepathic and psionic abilities that he has no concept or control over, and the battle for over his new power eventually leads to catastrophic events.
Akira has forever been etched into pop culture since its release, inspiring new anime, video games, and even merchandise for fans to grab hold of. Aside from the fan made replica motorcycles, endless cosplay, and even memes, Akira has also even inspired several Simpsons, Dark City, the Matrix, Metal Gear Solid, Robot Chicken, the Metropolis anime remake, Family Guy and South Park references and episodes.
Even better, the movie may get remade! That’s right – there is an Akira remake coming out in 2013 – lets hope it doesn’t suck!
Wasted 13 aka WXIII: Patlabor the Movie 3
This movie isn’t one for winning the hearts of anime fans. Some dislike it, others love it. It revolves around two police detectives investigating a series of mysterious cases of death and destruction occurring in and around Tokyo Bay.
Losing previous director Mamoru Oshii and removing a large chunk of the thought-provoking philosophy of the previous Patlabors, Wasted Thirteen is your basic monster film with a pinch of thriller and action mixed in. On top of that, check out the really good animation.
As you continue through the movie, the two policemen unravel a series of government cover-ups, ultimately leading to a new biological weapon entitled WXIII (or Wasted Thirteen). Although it may seem shallow from the outside, give this movie a chance and reveal the underlying connections of the monster and the detectives.
Extra points go to this movie for the most memorable use of a vibrator as a plot device ever!
Although Appleseed is filled to the brim with the same old clichés that we all know and love from every other anime that ever was, it still has some points of interest that got it onto this list.
Appleseed will not disappoint the eye. If you have a large high definition television, then you will have no problem admiring the massive attention to detail, surface reflections, shadowing, texturing, and every other little ounce of visual joy in this film.
If you watch this movie just for the visuals alone, then you won’t be disappointed.
You may remember this title from our previous article, five old movies worth seeing, where we discussed the greatness of the original movie that this anime remake is based on.
Using the same setting and tone as the original, Metropolis tells the story of a far future world where humans and robots uncomfortably exist alongside one another. The main characters, a private investigator and his son, are visiting the city for the first time while looking for Tima, a missing robot. Or rather they are hunting for Tima.
The animation and style seen in this movie is beautiful, stunning, and vast – the rich detail and depth of color, bring every scene to life. The character animation is no less amazing, and the story is very well thought out and enthralling. Check this movie out – it is also available on Netflix instant queue!
Vampire Hunter D
One of the first anime films released outside of Japan, and way back when anime was almost completely brand new (Vampire Hunter D came out in 1985!) this film is the classic, original vampire anime, achieving cult status in many anime circles. Vampire Hunter D is set in the year 12,090 A.D., in a post-nuclear holocaust world where vampires, mutants and demons terrorize the normal humans.
The main vampire Count Lee (named after actor Christopher Lee), attempts to turn the daughter of a werewolf hunter into a weird sort of zombie vampire until a dark hunter, named D. The hunter D is a dhampir, the half-breed child of a vampire father and human mother, the ideal vampire hunter (just like Blade).
Aside from extensive work on the visuals and historical flairs, Vampire Hunter D also has a very well received sequel, Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust.
Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within
You many have read or heard a lot of criticism for this movie – some of it is unfounded. While this movie features the voices of such actors as Steve Buscemi, Alec Baldwin, James Woods, Donald Sutherland, Ving Rhames, and Keith David, you have too look past the star power and into the animation and graphics.
While the near lifelike appearance of the characters in the film was acknowledged as a groundbreaking technological feat, some felt the characters fell into uncanny valley. The uncanny valley is is a point where a robot or animated character becomes very realistic, but slightly different enough from reality to feel creepy. But don’t let that scare you away – it should instead perk your interest!
If you don’t like the story or plot, then deal with it! You have to see this movie and look at the visuals that are packed into it! They are amazing:
When this movie first came out in 2001, there were a lot of people going crazy about it. A lot of moviegoers, actors, and big Hollywood names legitimately thought that Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within would lead to technology and movie effects that would replace normal, in-the-flesh actors!
Nonsense right? Watch the movie and see why they had reason to be concerned.
Spirited Away is an award winning film, taking home the Oscar for Best Animated Feature (making it the first anime to win an Academy Award and the first non-English movie to do so). The movie centers around ten-year-old Chihiro who is on a trip moving to a new town with her family, when they get sidetracked and lost at an old amusement park.
After eating some deserted food (the best kind!), Chihiro’s parents are turned into pigs and it’s up to her to save them. She must venture into the wild world ruled by gods, witches, and monsters, and even meets up with a boy named Haku, who has a very amazing an magical secret.
The director, Hayao Miyazaki, who is also the creator of other films like Howl’s Moving Castle, Ponyo, and Princess Mononoke, delivers a movie that features incredible beauty, stunning visual and sensory delights, and masterful storytelling.
The music and original score is wonderful, the story one-of-a-kind, and the aesthetic visuals overwhelm and intrigue all at once. Spirited Away is magic to your entire being.