MIND MELD: Anime Film Favorites (+ The Top 14 Anime Films of All Time!)

This week’s topic comes from Madeline Ashby:

What Are Your Top 5 Anime Films of All Time?

Read on to see the picks of this week’s illustrious panelists.

[Note: Following the responses will be a completely unscientific (but fun) list of The Top 14 Anime Films of All Time!]

Charles Stross
Charles Stross‘ first novel, Singularity Sky burst onto the science fiction scene in 2003 and earning Stross a Hugo nomination. Since then he has earned several awards for his novels, and his works Missile Gap and Accelerando are available online. His other novels include Glasshouse, Halting State, Saturn’s Children, Wireless, the books in The Merchant Princes series and the books in The Laundry series. In addition to writing, Stross has worked as a technical author, freelance journalist, programmer, and pharmacist. He holds degrees in Pharmacy and Computer Science, and some of the creatures he created for his Dungeons and Dragons adventures, the Death Knight and Githyanki, were published by TSR in the Fiend Folio.

I’ll peg my faves as being:

  1. Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence (Asks some interesting questions about identity that pick up where the first GITS movie left off. Honourable mention also goes to GITS and GITS: Stand Alone Compex.)
  2. Spirited Away (Hayao Miyazaki can do no wrong. It was this, or Princess Mononoke, or Howl’s Moving Castle, or …)
  3. Haibane Renmei (Haunting, weird exploration of self-discovery, death, and the loss of innocence via allegory)
  4. Akira (Just Because. Okay?)
  5. Serial Experiment Lain (More on identity and communication — you’re probably detecting a theme here, right?)

Lou Anders
A 2009/2008/2007 Hugo Award nominee, 2008 Philip K. Dick Award nominee, 2008/2006 Chesley Award winner/nominee, and 2006 World Fantasy Award nominee, Lou Anders is the editorial director of Prometheus Books’ science fiction and fantasy imprint Pyr, as well as seven critically-acclaimed anthologies, the latest being Fast Forward 2 (Pyr, October 2008) and Sideways in Crime (Solaris, June 2008). He is the author of The Making of Star Trek: First Contact (Titan Books, 1996), and has published over 500 articles in such magazines as The Believer, Publishers Weekly, Dreamwatch, DeathRay, free inquiry, Star Trek Monthly, Star Wars Monthly, Babylon 5 Magazine, Sci Fi Universe, Doctor Who Magazine, and Manga Max. His next anthology, co-edited with Jonathan Strahan and due in June 2010 from Harper Eos, is Swords and Dark Magic. Visit Lou online at http://louanders.blogspot.com/.
  1. Ghost in the Shell
  2. Serial Experiments Lain
  3. Princess Mononoke
  4. Akira
  5. and while I’m tempted to put Spirited Away or something else at #5, for its influence on my young mind, and my love of Lupin the 3rd, I’m going to put: The Castle of Cagliostro,
Frenchy Lunning
Frenchy Lunning is a Professor of Liberal Arts at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design, a Fulbright scholar, and researcher of manga and anime. She has taught design, popular culture and cultural theory throughout her 30 years of professional life. She is Editor-in-Chief of Mechademia, an academic journal published by the University of Minnesota on Japanese anime, manga and popular culture whose latest issue, Mechademia 4War/Time came out this fall. She is co-director of SGMS: Schoolgirls and Mobilesuits: Culture and Creation in Manga and Anime, an annual workshop at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. She has written for several journals and is currently working on three books. She is also Executive Producer for Moving Walkway Productions, which produces animations.

It takes a bit of thought — there are so many worthy choices. I would have to say that these are my top 5 anime films of all time:

  1. Ghost in the Shell
  2. FLCL
  3. Evangelion
  4. Revolutionary Girl Utena
  5. My Neighbor Totoro

This was so hard! I would also include Spirited Away and Akira, if I could!

Brian Ruh
Brian Ruh is the author of Stray Dog of Anime: The Films of Mamoru Oshii. His articles and chapters on anime and Asian cinema have appeared in a variety of books and journals. His most recent contribution was to the Directory of World Cinema: Japan, available online as a free PDF and as print book in February 2010.
  1. Transformers: The Movie (1986, dir. Nelson Shin) – What better way to begin such a list than a debate on the nature of anime itself? Does Transformers: The Movie “count” as anime? It certainly does if we look at the animation itself, which was created by Japanese studio Toei Animation. However, since it was not an entirely Japanese production intended for Japanese audiences, some would say that this film does not fall into the “anime” category. Regardless of how you classify it, the film has held up remarkably well during the last 20 years. The scenes at the beginning right before the near-apocalyptic Decepticon attack, and through the battle, are still some of my favorite pieces of animation. The emotional and sensorial kick to the gut the film gave to my 9-year-old self continues through to this day.
  2. The End of Evangelion (1997, dir. Hideaki Anno) – Two years after the Evangelion television series aired in Japan, director Anno came out with this rewrite of the final two episodes. Or is it a rewrite? Some would say that it’s an alternate take on the exact same events as in the television series. Only this time, instead of abstract animation and quiet psychological self-interrogation, the audience is presented with a vortex of violence and surreal images. Not that this really clears anything up, mind you. However, the film is such a fantastic rush of images and caused such a controversy among fans when it came out that it had to be in my top five.
  3. Summer Wars (2009, dir Mamoru Hosoda) – This is the newest film in my top five list, but I think time will show that it undoubtedly deserves to be here. Director Hosoda presents a convincing view of the near future with regard to the ways people interact with and rely on online communities, while at the same time portraying a contemporary Japanese extended family and how they relate to one another. As a big science fiction fan, I was surprised to find myself being drawn in more by the family dynamics than the crisis going on in the online world that drives the main plot. This isn’t to say that there in something lacking in the online scenes, but rather testifies to the strength of the film throughout.
  4. My Neighbor Totoro (1988, dir. Hayao Miyazaki) – I generally like Miyazaki’s films well enough, but for some reason the contrarian in me keeps me from going wholeheartedly along with all of the praise he receives. I personally think he put out a number of great animated films up through Princess Mononoke (1997), but has been in decline ever since. My Neighbor Totoro, one of his earlier films, is a synthesis of a number of wonderful elements – beautiful images of the Japanese countryside in the years following World War II, the interactions between individuals in a loving family, and a great furry mascot that would soon become so iconic he would be on the logo of Miyazaki’s animation company Studio Ghibli. Most of all, this is a wonderful, captivating movie about everyday life (albeit a rather fantastic version of it) without some contrived, climactic evil to battle in the end.
  5. Patlabor 2 (1993, dir Mamoru Oshii) – My temptation at first was to fill my list with all films directed by Mamoru Oshii, who is one of my favorite directors and the subject of the book I wrote. But I will restrain myself and list the one film that I think is his most well-balanced work. I certainly could have chosen Ghost in the Shell, which is probably the film for which he is the most famous. But I kept thinking of how Oshii incorporates the right amount of pathos and comedy (yes, comedy – Oshii can be a funny guy when he wants to) into this futuristic techno-thriller and I kept coming back to this second film in the Patlabor franchise. (There are also two OVA series, a TV series, and two other movies.) The dialogue-free scenes of the Japanese army occupying Tokyo has to be some of my favorite moments in all of anime.
Joseph Mallozzi
Joseph Mallozzi, along with his partner Paul Mullie, is the executive produce/showrunner for Stargate: Atlantis. He also runs a Book Of The Month discussion at his website.

My top 5 anime films of all time? Hmmm. While my anime collection is admittedly massive, I’m ashamed to admit that there are plenty of great movies I have yet to get around to (Howl’s Moving Castle, Totoro). On the other hand, while I might be hard-pressed to select “the top 5 best anime of all time”, choosing my five favorites is infinitely easier since I’m basing my picks on a purely subjective response to these films at the time of viewing. Sure, many will argue that there are “better” anime films out there but, so far as I’m concerned, these five left a lasting impression:

Grave of the Fireflies

The greatest anti-war movie ever made. An incredibly poignant account of the struggles faced by two young orphans following the firebombing of Tokyo in World War II. Heartbreaking and haunting.

Spirited Away

Again, I’m sure there are those who’ll say there are better Miyazaki films but, for me, Spirited Away is the ideal example of the director’s wild inventiveness: colorful characters, bizarre scenarios, and marvelous visuals all steeped in rich Japanese tradition.

Aachi & Ssipak

The sole non-Japanese entry to this list is a South-Korean scifi spectacular that positively revels in gratuitous depictions of squash-and-stretch violence, sexuality, and bodily functions. Truly amazing.

Ninja Scroll

Akira was the first anime movie I ever saw and it honestly didn’t do much for me, simply cementing my belief that Japanese animation offered little outside its cryptic post-apocalyptic offerings. And then I watched this marvelous epic and was instantly won over by its intriguing story, clever characters, and stunning visuals.

The Girl Who Leapt Through Time

A smart and sweet coming-of-age tale about a young girl, her ability to leap through time, and the unintended consequences and surprising revelations her newfound abilities bring.

Blue Tyson
Blue Tyson has rated SF to the tune of over 3000 novels, 20000 short stories, 600 collections, 700 anthologies and 500 magazines on Free SF Reader and Not Free SF Reader.

I am by no means a big anime fan, with my preferences being for realistic art style adult science fiction. So somewhat picky in what I am likely to be interested in as far as this topic goes.

  1. Akira – The first anime movie I saw, and blew me away. The biker gang chase visuals on through just getting weird and weirder as it tried to pack a ton of stuff in from postnuke cyberpunk to crazy ESP. One of the very few movies I have ever paid to see more than once in a cinema.
  2. Vampire Hunter D – A simpler story of kill the vampires, maybe save some people in the process in the process with enough weird (and swords) to make it interesting.
  3. Ghost In the Shell – A cyberpunk outing, with both androids and humans involved.
  4. Space Adventure Cobra – Trippy, fun and tragic space pirate space opera.
  5. The Castle of Cagliostro – Lupin and a counterfeit caper and its aftermath that is very entertaining.
Shaun Duke
Shaun Duke is a graduate student at the University of Florida studying science fiction, postcolonialism, and fantasy. He is also the editor-in-chief of Survival By Storytelling Magazine and can be found on his blog, The World in the Satin Bag.

Any time you limit someone’s choices of favorite Anime films to five, you’re asking that person to commit blasphemy. I expect to get torn to shreds for leaving out Akira or some of Miyazaki’s “better” films like Spirited Away or My Neighbor Totoro (unless I’m overestimating the zeal of the Anime community). In any case, my top five are as follows:

  1. Howl’s Moving Castle (Hayao Miyazaki)

    I know it has serious flaws in its pacing and plot, but the first time I saw this movie I fell in love. The way the world develops and sucks you in is hard to find in any film, let alone an English-dubbed Anime. But, Howl’s Moving Castle does just that: the second you realize what kind of world you’re dealing with, you can’t escape; you’re drawn in until the end.

    An aside: I’m sure it helps that the story is rather heartwarming too.

  2. The Cat Returns (Hiroyuki Morita)

    I have a special place in my heart for this one. I don’t remember when I saw it the first time, but anyone who has been reading my Catnip Pete stories and has seen this film should be able to put two and two together. It’s silly, it’s cute, and it’s fun. Musa rules!

    An aside: I have actually gone to an Anime convention and dressed up in those fuzzy cat ears and tails they sell in the dealer’s room. Yes, I consider myself an Otaku.

  3. Ghost in the Shell (Mamoru Oshii)

    Cyberpunk at its finest. The Japanese are really where it’s at in terms of the cool science fiction ideas, and they have been for a long while. The problem is that so little of their written SF has been translated into English, leaving us with a lot of dubbed or subbed films, and manga (both of which are great, but there’s a huge literary tradition we’re not seeing, and it ain’t fair).

    Ghost in the Shell is a classic because it’s all that is wonderful about good science fiction wrapped up in one beautiful package.

    An aside: The second movie isn’t too bad either; if anything, it deepens the story and mythos established by the first movie in ways nobody ever expected.

  4. Princess Mononoke (Hayao Miyazaki)

    This is the first Miyazaki film I ever saw and it blew me away. The imagery is amazing, the story is brilliant, and the characters are fascinating. Honestly, I can’t imagine any list of Anime movies that doesn’t contain at least one Miyazaki film. The man is a genius for a reason (even his older films, all of which are terribly flawed, are unique and wonderful). Princess Mononoke is, in my opinion, the best of them all.

    An aside: Going on a Miyazaki movie binge is good for your health.

  5. The Place Promised In Our Early Days (Makoto Shinkai)

    I’m personally a fan of complicated, not-quite-love stories. PPOED is such a story set in a an odd and confused future that you really have to see to understand. And it is one of those films that grabs me on an emotional level and really hits the message home, without having to be too flashy or too overwhelming in order to do it. I still cry at the end. I still feel for all the characters and find myself falling in love with the story all over again when I re-watch it. It’s a beautiful movie that succeeds where so many movies with bigger budgets never can. Dare I say that it may be a…perfect Anime movie?

    An aside: It’s okay to cry at the movies. You don’t get beat up for it anymore.

And there you have it!

Ed Sizemore
Ed Sizemore has been watching anime and reading manga for just over a decade. He starting reviewing manga in 2007 as a way to justify his buying so many books. He currently writes reviews for MangaWorthReading.com.

My Top 5 Anime of All Time:

  1. My Neighbor Totoro (1988) A warm, touching film about two young sisters who have recently moved to the countryside and their amazing encounters with one of the forest gods. Miyazaki proved you can make a great kid’s film without talking down to your audience. Also, that a kid’s film could be just as emotionally rich and complex as any ‘serious adult film’. My Neighbor Totoro is filled with the innocence and wonder inherent in childhood. It’s a delightful film that washes the soul clean and reinvigorates any adult that watches it. The legendary director Kurosawa is rumored to have listed My Neighbor Totoro among the ten greatest films ever made. Once you’ve seen it, you’ll understand why that’s not hard to believe.
  2. Grave of the Fireflies (1988) Perhaps the most depressing film every made, Grave of the Fireflies opens with the death of a young boy, Seita, from malnutrition. Set in the final months of World War II, the movie chronicles the events that lead up to Seita’s tragic death. This film has more than a simple anti-war message. It offers a harsh critique of Japanese self identity. Takahata condemns the imperial government for letting it’s citizens starve to death to save its military pride. He exposes the Japanese hypocrisy of calling each other by familial names like ‘older brother’, ‘aunt’, and ‘grandmother’ while letting children starve to death. It’s not a pleasant film to watch. Just writing about it gives me a lump in my throat.
  3. Millennium Actress (2001) Most of Kon’s films explore the shifting boundaries between reality, our perception of reality, and the fictional realities we create. Millennium Actress embodies this exploration perfectly as retired actress Chiyoko Fujiwara reflects on her life and career. Fujiwara’s memories of her real life blend in with the characters she played. We see how her real world experiences helped her as an actress and how the roles she played helped her as a wife and mother. Kon seamlessly moves between these realities keeping the audience thrilling off balance. The animation is gorgeous and the movie needs a Blu-ray release.
  4. Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence (2004) I’m sure others would nominate the original Ghost in the Shell, but I find this to be the better movie. A new model of pleasure cyborgs are killing their owners than committing suicide. Batou and Togusa from special investigations unit Section 9 are put on the case to investigate. Innocence is a mix of exciting action sequences and philosophical pondering on what it means to be a person and can cyborgs become autonomous people. It leaves you with a lot to think about when it’s over. This is the most beautifully animated film I’ve ever seen. You’ll need to see it on a full-sized movie scene to truly appreciate all the details. This is a must buy on Blu-ray.
  5. Princess Mononoke (1997) This was the first anime film I saw in a movie theater. It sealed my anime fandom permanently. Ashitaka has been cursed by a dying boar god. He travels west in hopes of finding a cure. There he encounters two incredible women on opposite ends of a fundamental battle. Lady Eboshi is trying to establish a town that gives the disenfranchised and outcast in society a place to find honest work and to be treated with dignity. However, she is carving her town out of the ancient forest which brings her in conflict with San, a young girl raised by the wolf gods. San is a protector of the ancient forest and wants to preserve them as they’ve always been. This is Miyazaki’s most mature reflection on his competing commitments to humanism and environmentalism. The film’s unresolved ending is an honest reflection of Miyazaki’s own inability to find a workable balance between the two. Princess Mononoke offers a lifetime of reflection on these issues to guide us as we continually struggle to find a way to preserve our planet and create liveable space for humans at the same time. A film that will remain timely for generations to come.
Jason Sanford
Jason Sanford co-founded the literary journal storySouth, through which he runs the annual Million Writers Award for best online fiction. He won the 2008 Interzone Readers’ Poll for one of his stories, and has also been published in Year’s Best SF 14, Analog: Science Fiction and Fact, Orson Scott Card’s Intergalactic Medicine Show, The Mississippi Review, Diagram, Pindeldyboz, and other places. He’s published critical essays and book reviews in places like The New York Review of Science Fiction, The Pedestal Magazine, and The Fix Short Fiction Review.

In 1988, I spent a semester in Japan as a high school exchange student. While I’d grown up in the U.S., a country where animation was seen as fit only for children, I’d always had a deep love of the genre. And even as a teenager, I knew American animation was stuck in the limitations Disney had long established as the illustrated line down the middle of the road.

But even in the pre-internet world of my teenage years, I’d heard rumors about Japanese animation. So during my exchange, I sought out every anime I could. To my great fortune, Akira premiered while I was there and I saw it in the original Japanese, even though my poor language skills left me with almost no grasp of the plot or dialog. Still, I was blown away. I mean, here was an animated film with stark, amazing colors depicting vivid violence and drug use. Disney would have choked on his little Snow White ass.

In the years that followed, I discovered new anime films, which showed the power to be gained by combining the singular illustrations and vision of master animators with deep seated human emotions. To me, this is what the best anime films always do.

My favorites are:

  1. Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind: One of Hayao Miyazaki’s best, even though the technical animation isn’t up to his later standards. But the story, characters, and pastel color schemes are still a wonder to behold, as is his world creation. Miyazaki’s manga of the same story is rightfully put forth as one of the all-time best graphic novels, and the film and manga should be experienced together for a true glimpse into the mind of this storytelling master.
  2. Ghost in the Shell: As with many anime franchises, there are multiple versions of Ghost in the Shell to experience. The second film Innocence is good if extremely experimental, while the Stand Alone Complex TV series are a wonderful way to dive deeper into the world of cyborg Motoko Kusanagi and her covert operations division. But for pure animated poetry, nothing beats the first movie. The scenes where Kusanagi chases the hacked garbage man through the river district, or where Kusanagi battles the tank in the abandoned science museum, possess a surreal reality and grace all their own.
  3. Tokyo Godfathers: Satoshi Kon has become the patron saint of artsy anime, and with good reason. But while Millennium Actress and Perfect Blue are good, they simply can’t match the emotional impact and visual beauty of Tokyo Godfathers. This is a movie I watch several times each year, and it never fails to inspire me. For more on this film, please see my recent SF Signal review.
  4. Battle Angel OVA: This anime is nothing to write home about in turns of its animation, which is good but not amazing. But what carries this short film is its perfect tale of love and dreams. When the female cyborg Alita (called Gally in the film) expresses her dreams for the future to her true love–who himself despairs over ever reaching his own dream–shivers run your artificial spine, which in the story are an often stolen commodity. This is an amazing story which mirrors the initial story arch of Yukito Kishiro’s classic manga. But where Kishiro eventually lost sight of this emotional power in the endless violence which followed his first story arch, in this film the story remains perfect and tragic. There’s a reason James Cameron has talked of a CGI remaking of this anime being his follow-up to Avatar. Combine Titanic‘s tragic love story with Avatar‘s world creation and you would indeed have an amazing film called Battle Angel. But never forget you first saw the story in this touching little anime.
  5. Princess Mononoke: Where Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind shows Hayao Miyazaki at the beginning of his career, Princess Mononoke shows him at its height. The story is breath-taking, the world creation perfect, and the animation never better. While Spirited Away is the film with earned Miyazaki his first Oscar, Princess Mononoke helped break through to dense American audiences about that special thing called Japanese anime.
Derek Molata
Derek Molata was born in Ontario Canada at the forefront of the disco revolution, which may explain his affinity for v-necks and velour. As adolescence decended, Derek gave up the velour for Vuarnet and firmly took hold of all the 1980s had to offer–including Blade Runner. He hasn’t let go since. When he’s not buried beneath laundry or spending time with his wife and 3 daughters, he jumps down the rabbit hole and writes.

Any Top-n list is a hard thing to tackle. Naturally exclusion will take place during the process and things will land on the cutting room floor. This task was no exception. I’ve had my favorite anime film in top spot for the better part of 15 years even though the rest seem to shuffle around. But after thinking long and hard, my top 5 settled into the below list, none of which really surprised me–they’re all special in their own way and have been a huge influence on my writing.

I tried to limit these to “films” and not series or compilations, but truth be told, most anime is manga-driven and episodic by nature.

  1. Battle Angel
  2. Akira
  3. Vampire Hunter D
  4. Ghost In The Shell
  5. Bubblegum Crisis

Honorable mention: Ergo Proxy

Jason Thompson
Jason Thompson is the author of “Manga: The Complete Guide” and the Del Rey graphic novel series “King of RPGs.” (www.kingofrpgs.com) He writes regularly on anime and manga for Otaku USA Magazine, io9.com and comixology.com, and he also draws comics at www.mockman.com.

Urusei Yatsura: Beautiful Dreamer

A 1984 movie adaptation of Urusei Yatsura, Rumiko Takahashi’s classic nerdy manga series about an obnoxious teenage boy and the hot alien girl in a tiger-striped bikini who is in love with him. Weirdness ensues. There were several Urusei Yatsura movies, but this is the only great one, because of the script by Mamoru Oshii which starts out a bit like Groundhog’s Day (the local high school students notice that the same day keeps endlessly repeating) and then blossoms into big themes of love and illusion and reality. Takahashi was apparently not a fan of the script, feeling that it went too far from the slapstick love comedy she had intended. But it’s a sweet film, and it’s one of Oshii’s most accessible movies; I find most of his films (Ghost in the Shell, Patlabor) to be simply too cold, heavy and emotionally disengaged to keep my attention, despite their nice animation and hard sci-fi crunchiness.

Spirited Away

My favorite Hayao Miyazaki film is the Tintin-esque steampunk tale Laputa: The Castle in the Sky. Princess Mononoke has a confused message and succumbs to the easy apocalyptic “blow everything up” ending; Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind is good but just not my favorite. However, Spirited Away combines a charming, classical plot — a girl captured and enslaved in fairyland, forced to work in a sort of bathhouse for mythological gods and monsters — with incredible animation which updates Miyazaki’s character designs with gorgeous digital colors and sparing use of CG. Basically, a lovely film.

Night on the Galactic Railroad

A beautiful adaptation of a beautiful novella by Kenji Miyazawa (1896-1933), a Japanese fabulist whose work reminds me a bit of Franz Kafka’s. Two young boys stray away from the village festival one starlit night and end up on a mystic train which passes through all the wonders and darkness of the cosmos, on an allegorical journey expressing Miyazawa’s Christian-Buddhist religious beliefs as well as his scientific fascination with astronomy, geology and everything in between. All the characters are drawn as cats, since it was based on the designs of manga artist Hiroshi Masumura, who drew a manga adaptation of the same novella. The colors evoke early 20th century painting, and the symphonic score is also great; this is an anime which is a coherent, engrossing artistic statement.

Perfect Blue

I love Satoshi Kon’s films for daring to use animation to replicate reality. This may seem like a weird statement, but one of the things I always liked about anime is that it *doesn’t* insist that, simply because something is drawn, it must be exaggerated into a cartoon. Animation is still the ultimate control-freak medium — every line and image in Kon’s film is deliberate — but he manages to make it look real and effortless, so that the moments of unreality stand out. As for Perfect Blue, its giallo-esque slasher-movie plot (based on the novel by Yoshikazu Takeuchi) reminds me of the works of Dario Argento, and paved the way for the more elaborate psychological fantasies of movies like Kon’s Paprika.

Royal Space Force: The Wings of Honneamise

Most of Studio Gainax’s best work has been TV series and OAVs: Otaku no Video, Gurren Lagann, Neon Genesis Evangelion (the movies don’t stand on their own unless you watch the TV series too). But this great big 1987 extravaganza, their most serious film, is still great. In brief, it’s the story of the first manned space flight on another planet, another world inhabited by apparently human beings but with a different religion, different cultures, different technology. The level of science-fiction worldbuilding is impressive, but the personal story of the very human and flawed astronaut — and his connection to those on the ground — is what really makes this movie stick in your mind.

Lakisha Spletzer
Lakisha Spletzer is a single mother of two who loves to watch animes ever since she saw the Escaflowne series air on Fox Kids TV way back in the day.

Top 5 Anime Films:

  1. Howl’s Moving Castle
  2. Princess Monoke
  3. Any of the Inuyasha movies
  4. Escaflowne: The Movie
  5. Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children
Marc-Anthony Taylor
Marc-Anthony Taylor had his first short story published in the December issue of Estronomicon eZine and is currently doing his civic duty by volunteering to run the TTA Facebook page. To see some of his flash fiction you can go to: http://gileadslostson.blogspot.com

First would have to be Akira. I think it was probably the first anime I ever saw and it completely blew me away. The post-WWIII Japan is wonderfully thought out with a vivid back-story barely hiding behind the action.

Next would be Ghost in the Shell. A cyberpunk classic, with beautiful visuals, set in a world where the line between man and machine is getting thinner all the time. Believable characters and some deep questions on humanity. Oh and BIG guns =D

The next three can come in any order. So, Oedo_808 is another cyberpunk about three criminals allowed to work off their sentences by combating computer crime. Each of the three has their own, very individual chapter. Really just an action anime, but a good one.

Devilman offers great action in a horror/demonic/superhero mix which is just brilliant. The series is from the 70’s which is notable in the animation, but not really a detriment.

Last but not least would be .hack//SIGN a must for anyone who like MMORPGs. Not nearly as much action in this one but a lot of good dialogue. This series is definitely has the slowest pace of the five and you really need to be in for the long haul (26 episodes). In a world where every computer system not running a certain OS is destroyed by a virus people play an online game called The World. The story centres around a boy who is trapped in the game. (actually let’s make this an honorary number 2 ;) )

Karl Schroeder
Having wracked his brains to be innovative in the novels Ventus, Permanence, and Lady of Mazes, Karl Schroeder decided to relax for a while and write pirate stories, starting with Sun of Suns and continuing with Queen of Candesce, Pirate Sun, and The Sunless Counries. Of course, these novels are pirate stories set in a world without gravity — but hey, swashes are still buckled, swords unsheathed, and boarding parties formed in the far-future world of Virga. He’s currently thinking about how to hammer science fiction into some new shapes based on current research into cognitive science. When he occasionally pokes his head out of the trenches, he blogs about this stuff at www.kschroeder.com.

My list is of necessity not that of a connoisseur; I’m sure there are many fine Anime films that I’ve yet to see. Of those I have, these are the ones that have made the biggest impression on me, in no particular order:

  1. Spirited Away (Hiyao Miyazaki, director, 2001) Just unbelievably charming. Few films can transport you to another world like this one.
  2. Tekkon Kinkreet (Michael Arias, director, 2006) Based on the popular manga Black and White, innovative in its storytelling and use of 3d in cell-shaded animation.
  3. Akira (Katsuhiro Otomo, director, 1988) Violent, dark, and trend-setting. Has to be included.
  4. Ghost in the Shell (Mamoro Oshii, director, 1998) A perfect piece of cyberpunk. It hits all the notes, and suffers only from bad voice acting in the English translation.
  5. Castle in the Sky (Hiyao Miyazaki, director, 1986) I can’t defend this choice. I just like it.
Madeline Ashby
Madeline Ashby is a science fiction writer, graduate student, and otaku. She blogs for WorldChanging Canada and Frames Per Second Magazine, and swears that she is revising her novel. She did a Master’s on anime, fan studies and cyborg theory at York University, and is now a student in the Strategic Foresight and Innovation program at the Ontario College of Art and Design. Her fiction has been published in FLURB, Nature and Escape Pod. You can follow her tweets @madelineashby.

Madeline’s Top 5 Anime Films

Note: To narrow my focus, I tried to pick my favourite SF anime films. I also tried to avoid too many films that were context-dependent on television series. But one look at the release dates of each of these films will inform you of my bias: my education in the “old school” anime canon is pitifully lacking. You won’t find Belladonna of Sadness on my list, or even Katsuhiro Otomo’s Memories. Now that I’ve explained myself, here is my list. As you’ll see, I broke all the rules I set.

  1. Princess Mononoke (Miyazaki, 1997)

    With all the hype surrounding James Cameron’s Avatar (not the animated series Avatar: The Last Airbender, which despite a few failings was still miles better than the film of the same name), it might be hard to recall that there was another, finer film that told the same story with more thorough characterization and worldbuilding and far deeper drama. This is one of Miyazaki’s most mature films, more violent and disturbing than the child-oriented films that followed it, or the beloved classics that preceded it.

    Like Cameron’s recent film, Princess Mononoke revolves around a disfigured man, Ashitaka, who journeys to a distant land populated by sentient forest spirits and falls in love with their princess, San, while simultaneously running interference between the old gods of the land and the new economic realities of a nearby mining town. These events are painted on a backdrop of shifting political fortunes in medieval Japan. The story offers no easy answers: San is little better than a terrorist, constantly bombing the mining town, and Lady Eboshi, the miners’ employer, is a progressive who offers secure jobs to lepers and former prostitutes. Ashitaka, mortally wounded by a demi-god driven mad by one of Eboshi’s bullets, struggles to reconcile both women’s competing values while defending the observable-but-unknowable Forest Spirit (Daidarabocchi) that Eboshi wants to kill so she can expand her mining operation. While the story is ultimately a triumph of the human spirit, it first interrogates the value of humanity itself. Moral and ethical ambiguity pervades the film; its most evil figure is the distant and nameless shogun who instigates the armed conflict that ends the story, and its kindest characters are the tiny, creepy kodama whose rattling skulls guide lost travelers through the woods. The tensions at play still come through in the English translation, which was adapted by none other than Neil Gaiman.

    In terms of animation, Princess Mononoke is neither Miyazaki’s most epic effort nor his most imaginative. His restraint is deliberate and masterful: this is not the explosion of colour or characters that defined Spirited Away or Ponyo. The gods of this film are both majestic and dirty, divine and bloodthirsty. The animation renders them as what they are: terrifying intrusions of an ineffable force into an irredeemable world. While the film doesn’t feel like a stretch of the animation medium, it does exactly what animation does best: seamlessly integrating the unknown into worlds we think we understand. If you haven’t yet, watch it soon.

  2. The Girl Who Leapt Through Time (Hosoda, 2006)

    Makoto Konno is in the middle of an idyllic high school life: she has two male friends who act as her loyal yojimbo, meeting her every afternoon for a game of baseball; an artist aunt who acts as her mentor; parents who give her a full fridge and no criticism, and no particular aspirations whatsoever for life after graduation. Then, on the same day that she finds a strange walnut-like object, Makoto somehow avoids being killed by a train that was about to hit her. After waking up from her near-death experience on the morning of the day that she has just survived, Makoto determines that she has the ability to leap through time. She then uses her ability on frivolous pursuits: she cheats on tests, she lives through the same karaoke session for hours on end, she eats the same dessert over and over. Granted the ability to move through time, Makoto continually chooses to adjust the timeline back toward the mean — to preserve her perfect present, rather than improve her ambiguous future.

    Naturally, it all falls apart.

    In SF and fantasy, it’s easy (and common) to use time travel as a metaphor for coming of age. As Makoto’s aunt says of the time leap, “This kind of thing happens at your age.” In high school, every mis-step feels like a life-or-death scenario, and in Makoto’s case it’s true. Each time she leaps backward to the start of her own personal Groundhog Day, Makoto finds a new detail to change that she hopes will maintain the carefree lifestyle she’s enjoyed so far. But each time, the inevitable happens anyway: there’s an awkward confession of love, her friends move on, and in one version, people die. In many ways, Makoto’s stubborn refusal to mature is her (and her friends’) undoing. The film brings this point home powerfully when we learn that not only are the time leaps limited, they belong to someone else. Makoto has been closing the door on another’s future by forestalling her own.

    This may sound like a bleak portrait of one person’s inane use of revolutionary technology, but the film is anything but. It’s a sun-dappled love letter to youthful indiscretion that pulses with all the verve and passion of that time. Yoshiyuki Sadamoto’s character designs have never been more finely composed, and the animation makes us believe that every breath Makoto takes draws her closer to somewhere special and new. We feel it, each time she runs or cries or skins her knee. Anime specializes in coming of age stories, but Hosoda’s film cuts deep into the scar tissue covering the wounds we earn in youth, and forces us to recall those first and most painful lessons.

  3. Tokyo Godfathers (Kon, 2003)

    It’s difficult to imagine Satoshi Kon, the master of suspense and surrealism who brought us Perfect Blue and Paprika and Paranoia Agent, making a Christmas dramedy. But in 2003 he did, and the canon is better for it. Until this moment in his career, Kon was known primarily for cerebral films that focused on the subjective nature of reality through the lens of the mediated woman: both Perfect Blue and Millennium Actress are about actresses who maintain their personal identities in the face of trauma by claiming greater control over their mediated images. And after Tokyo Godfathers, Kon further explored humanity’s inability to deal with reality — the villains of his latter pieces are dreams and wishes made real, with all the horror that possibility entails.

    But in the middle, he teamed with Keiko Nobumoto for a Christmas story about three homeless Tokyo-jin who find an infant thrown in the garbage and decide to locate her parents. It is Kon’s most understated film, his least surreal, and in many ways his most affecting for its lack of affectation. The film follows Miyuki, a surly teenage girl, Hana, a transvestite and former club entertainer, and Gin, a gruff alcoholic on their quest to place their adoptee Kiyoko with her “real” family. Along the way, the lies each of them has told each other about why they live on the street are exposed. The process is slow, painful, comic and at points even transcendent. None of the characters ever dissolve into self-pity, and eventually all three fully acknowledge the decisions which brought them to an old (but cozily Gibsonian) shipping container covered in blue tarp. Above all else, the film is an ode to the families we choose deliberately, and to the potential for love and connection in the direst of circumstances. For screenwriter Nobumoto, whose prior experience includes Cowboy Bebop, this was a triumphant return to those themes.

    This is not to say that Tokyo Godfathers is all sweetness and light. Kon’s signature depictions of creeping insanity and swift, brutal violence both appear. With the film is not nearly as bloody or disturbing as his other work, the veneer of fantasy protecting the audience from the film’s sharper edges is much thinner. Kon has never believed in pulling the camera away, and this is a Christmas story which involves madness, mugging, blood, and babies. You’ve been warned.

  4. Ghost in the Shell (Oshii, 1995)

    Mamoru Oshii’s 1995 contribution to the Ghost in the Shell canon looms large over all the other anime films, not least because it is the one anime film that audiences are most likely to have seen. It has dominated critical analysis for years, with scholars debating the film’s ambiguous feminist politics and obsession with simulacra. (Sidebar: can we get some analysis of Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, already? Kenji Kamiyama succeeds in all the ways that Oshii fails: characterization, dialogue, depicting the nitty-gritty lived experience of the future. Let’s give him the attention he deserves.) Oshii’s film is the 2001 of anime: a stately exploration of freedom and reality in a world where neither exist any longer. For many, especially those unfamiliar with Miyazaki’s earlier work, it proved what the medium was capable of.

    I won’t bother summarizing the plot. It’s derived from a few chapters of Masamune Shirow’s manga of the same name, and even a cursory examination of cyberpunk SF will grant you insight into its elements. What was landmark about the film was not its plot, but rather its tone. For a film with such flawlessly executed action scenes, the pace is surprisingly slow. It is also deeply felt: the soul of the film lies with the victims of a shadowy hacker figure who implants false memories in innocent cyberstanders to advance, of all things, a reproductive agenda. The main characters philosophize at length on the nature of sentience, humanity, memory, and individuality. There are long, beautiful pauses where the film’s fictional city becomes the star, and even if Oshii never explicitly addresses the poverty endemic to this particular future, he at least showcases it in shot after shot.

    Like Miyazaki and Kon, Oshii specializes in heroines who take total control of their destinies and make difficult choices about identity to in order to expand their power. I wish there were more of these women in English-language films. Motoko Kusanagi, the main character of Ghost in the Shell, is the leader of an anti-terrorist unit, a quick thinker who sets traps for her prey and executes them with grace and cunning. I had been watching SF for most of my life when I saw Ghost in the Shell in high school, but Kusanagi was the first woman in SF that I desperately wanted to be when I grew up. Similarly, this was my first real introduction to hard SF: the film is aggressively detailed, from a biotech sniper system that sets a default heartrate in the shooter to using GPS to anticipate a garbage pickup route. Oshii picks these details up and puts them down just as quickly, tossing away ideas that could be their own short stories with the proper treatment. Ten years after seeing the film for the first time, I still find things to love.

  5. Cowboy Bebop: Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door (Watanabe, 2001)

    If Ocean’s Eleven were about domestic terrorism, it would look a lot like this. Ironically (and quite luckily), Shinichiro Watanabe’s film based on his television series of the same name was released in Japan on September 1, 2001. For ten days, Japanese audiences could go see a movie wherein the World Trade Center still starred as architecture, the Muslim character was not a jihadi but a former government employee, and the terrorist was a white military reject without any particular ideology, just a lot of hurt feelings. By the time Watanabe’s film was screened in America, his television series had already been censored for American audiences — an episode about a mad bomber was taken off the air, as was an episode about the space shuttle Columbia. This is important to remember, given that the plot of the film closely mirrors the 1995 sarin gas attacks on the Tokyo subway system. Despite operating from what is essentially an action movie perspective, Watanabe is clearly in dialogue with an important moment in his nation’s history. And despite being one of the finest science fiction directors in Japan today, I doubt he intended to be so very prescient.

    Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door (or Cowboy Bebop: The Movie as it was known in its English language release) is where I break my context-dependency rule. I do so because one needn’t have watched the Cowboy Bebop series to fully grasp the film; one is not a sequel to the other. The film functions as an extended episode with enviably deft exposition in the first few minutes that makes the characters’ relationships clear, warts and all. In the television series, those relationships give the story its meat. In the film, they lend it seasoning. Bounty hunters Spike, Jet, Faye, Ed, and Ein (yes, Ein; the dog is invaluable) all know each other by this point, and the film highlights both their unwillingness to come together as a team and their unstoppable power when they finally do. They rant, tease, curse, and literally get on each other’s backs. Watching Cowboy Bebop is like hanging out with people you know, if the people you know happen to kick righteous amounts of ass.

    And oh, the ass-kicking.

    As a television series, Bebop always had superior fight and stunt choreography. In the film, those elements are breathtaking. From Spike’s use of a broom handle to his piloting his aircraft, there is never an environment wherein he can’t weaponize the nearest available object. There are dogfights, gunfights, and fistfights. It’s a trifecta of fighting awesome. But at the core is a story about two men who can’t let go of the sense that they are dreaming their way through what might be an ultimately meaningless life. This shared sense of futility draws them together as enemies, culminating in a fight so hard that they each have to rest in the middle just to breathe. And although it’s clear that Spike feels no differently about his circumstances in the end, he has risked his life for the safety of others’ and obviously possesses that much more humanity than the thugs he regularly puts down. After watching Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door, it’s easy to understand that one of Watanabe’s favourite films was Dirty Harry. Watch it in that spirit, and you’ll be able to return to it as many times as I have with just as much enjoyment.


Because this is what I do for fun, I’ve taken the Anime titles listed above and tallied them. If any title received more than a single mention (No, it’s not very scientific) it made it onto the following list of…

The Top 14 Anime Films of All Time
  1. Ghost in the Shell (9 mentions)
  2. Akira ( 6 )
  3. Princess Mononoke ( 6 )
  4. Spirited Away ( 4 )
  5. My Neighbor Tototro ( 3 )
  6. Battle Angel OVA ( 2 )
  7. Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence ( 2 )
  8. Grave of the Fireflies ( 2 )
  9. Howl’s Moving Castle ( 2 )
  10. Serial Experiments Lain ( 2 )
  11. The Castle of Cagliostro ( 2 )
  12. The Girl Who Leapt Through Time ( 2 )
  13. Tokyo Godfathers ( 2 )
  14. Vampire Hunter D ( 2 )

Not a bad list for Anime newbies, eh?

50 thoughts on “MIND MELD: Anime Film Favorites (+ The Top 14 Anime Films of All Time!)”

  1. Now wait a second.  If we’re opening up the nominations to series as well as film, I’d like to include…

    Cowboy Bebop

    Berserk

    Now and Then, Here and There

    Infinite Ryvus

    Neon Genesis Evangelion

    GTO

    Kino’s Journey 

    Excel Saga

    Noir

    Rurouni Kenshin

    Samurai Champloo

    Revolutionary Girl Utena 

    …among others…

  2. Yes, if series were allowed, then a different story.

     

    Working out whether to pick a Patlabor was tricky.

    Neon Genesis Evangelion, definitely.

    Also Rah Xephon.

    Cowboy Bebop.

    Bubblegum Crisis.

     

  3. Thought there be more Royal Space Force: The Wings of Honneamise

    on a list like this. but no nausicaa come on!

  4. I  wish I could like Ghost In The Shell, but the first (and only) time I ever saw it, I was also handling some intensely unhappy personal issues, so whenever I see the cover of the thing, I’m reminded of that miserable time, and I can’t relax and enjoy the show. 

    But count me in on the adoration of Cowboy Bebop – bang!

     

  5. While I’m lenient towards the fact that the more SF-oriented contributors who comprise the majority of the panelists may not necessarily know which of these entries are and are not films, the fact that some of the more anime-oriented contributors didn’t make the distinction strikes me as curious. Were they perhaps not given the “film” guideline in their solicitation for a contribution? Some of the contributors even noted in their justifications that the item they submitted was a television or direct-to-video series. If the “film” guideline was in fact put forward, then that would be deeply troublesome as it would imply that the editor-in-chief of the anime academic journal Mechademia doesn’t even know the difference between a movie and an OAV despite all their stated credentials. Fortunately, most of the anime-focused contributors did stick to just films. But to answer Brian Ruh’s question (I can’t fit this into a Twitter post), while I enjoy Transformers: The Movie I would argue against considering it an “anime” title on the following grounds.

    As a result of decades worth of globalization and outsourcing of labor, where something is animated really doesn’t factor into things when determining point of origin. If it did, then pretty much all animation made today would be considered Korean or some other Southeast Asian nation. The simplest, cleanest, most reliably accurate mechanism I utilize for determining whether something is Japanese, American, French, etc. animation is to just ask “who comprises the majority of the key creative staff (directors, writers, etc)?” Using this question, it’s easy to understand why Mobile Suit Gundam is anime but Batman: The Animated Series is not despite both being animated in Japan by Sunrise. It works for co-productions as well, though those can be trickier: despite being originally recorded in English, things like Afro Samurai or Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust are Japanese cartoons because they were written and directed by predominantly Japanese staff.

  6. Anime is something I rarely watch but then love whenever I take the time to do so.  I really should make a more concerted effort to check out more this year, and this is a fantastic resource to know where to go next. 

    I’ve pretty much enjoyed all that I have watched:  Spirited Away, Howl’s Moving Castle, Princess Mononoke, Patlabor 2, Gunsmith Cats, Cowboy Bebop.  I watched some episodes of Bleach and Magical Shopping Arcade Abenobashi and found them to be fun. 

    I need to use Netflix more.  Anime is way too expensive to just blindly experiment with.

  7. I’m going to chime in with Mallozzi and Tyson here and say that Neon Genesis Evangelion should definitely be on that list if series are considered allowable.

     

    Cowboy Bebop and Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex probably deserve spots as well.

     

    Ooh, Now and Then, Here and There is amazing too.

     

    Mallozzi, I like your taste. Gold star for you. :)

  8. There are some great suggestions here, and some I haven’t seen yet but will be sure to check out.

    Since there are so few mecha titles getting mentioned, I’ll nominate Mobile Suit Gundam: Char’s Counterattack (1988), if for no other reason than that Gundam is about the only sf show to feature honest-to-goodness O’Neill cylinders. And The Super Dimension Fortress Macross: Do You Remember Love? (1984) just because it’s Macross — and for Minmay.

    More seriously, I’m surprised nobody mentioned Mamoru Oshii’s recent film, The Sky Crawlers (2008).  A great film with the characteristic Oshii touches. And I’d also vote for the chanbara anime, Sword of the Stranger (2008). It’s not sf, but it’s one of the best historical action films I’ve ever seen.

    As for series, I’ll give a nod to Planetes, which is a great hard sf anime.

  9. I’ll second Serial Experiments Lain and, while we’re at it, also put in votes for -

    Azumanga Daioh

    Boogiepop Phantom

    Last Exile

    And the greatest ever retelling of The Count of Monte Cristo: Gankutsou.

  10. I heartily agree with all of the nominations for Akira, Ghost in the Shell, Princess MononokeSpirited Away and Nausicaa. I’m very glad also to see someone mention Grave of the Fireflies, which I don’t watch often, but is still so deeply moving that it’s one of my favourites.

    But the top of my personal list is a tie between:

    Royal Space Force: The Wings of Honneamise (which has been previously mentioned). I love Shiro’s opening narration where he says something to the effect of “…so I wound up in the middle. In the Royal Space Force.”

    and

    Miyazaki’s truly inspired Porco Rosso. Barnstorming post-WWI aerial mercenaries duelling in the clouds, air pirates, secret lairs in hidden island coves, a Medditerranean saloon reminiscent of Rick’s from Casablanca except run by a beautiful singer, and a jaded ace pilot cursed with the head of a pig. This film’s got it all. And while it’s heavy on the action and silliness, it’s got a philosophical core.

  11. Ghost In The Shell is awesome, but different films were put forward, so maybe you should be a bit more specific about it in your all time list (only because I want to see Akira as number one…).Akira and Nausicaa were my introductions to anime, I watched Akira with no dubbing or subtitles and I had no clue as to what was going on but it was awesome!

    As for anime series, Death Note is amazing.

  12. i like the list most of ya’ll got, seen most of em, and own a couple,

    as far as movies go, Nausicaa for sure, and i’de have to vote in Jin-Roh as well.

    for series, FLCL is amazing, even if your not a fan of the style, it’s the underlying metaphor of the show that catches me, plus it’s only 6 episodes long, so makes for a great watch if your just in the mood for something weird and inspiring, but don’t wanna watch a movie.  Other series i found to be pretty damn good would be Noein, good depth, great story, and they actually did a good job of understanding the basic principles of phisics.

  13. I would recommend:

    Paprika(movie) – Great music, style and psycological elements.

    Voices of a distant star(OVA) – A short, sci-fi romantic tragedy that’s abstract.

    Ergo Proxy(Series) – A dark, futuristic story.

    Ef – A tale of memories(Series) – The best damn romantic tradegy ever ^^.

    Afro Samurai(Series) – A badass samurai voiced by Samuel Jackson. Need I say more?

    Trigun(series) – A funny western gunslinger, with a more serious developing plot.

    Code Geass – A student who obtains mind control powers and goes against the world, set in the future. Some mecca. My favorite of all time =D

     

    And obviously some on the list are great too, but there’s no point in repeating =P. I would also recommend this website:

    http://myanimelist.net/

    You save the anime you’ve watched, set things you plan to watch, read reviews and synopsis of animes and see your statistics of how much time you’ve wasted watching anime!! Mines 21.28 days Lol.

  14. Metropolis: the Anime

     

    Great japanese animated feature story based off the orignal classic. HIGHLY recomended!

  15. Hey Ash Frog, have you heard the expression, “to each his own?” I’m sure your definition of the greats is different from mine and that’s okay. And since we are on the subject, what are YOUR top 5 greats?

    Just curious to know.

  16. i didn’t see anyone mention Wizards (1977).  if you haven’t seen it you should definitely check it out.  again, idk if its exactly anime.  Not asian, but tripy and awesome.  Good story, tho kinda abstract.  2 cents.

  17. I do not think anyone has mentioned Samurai Seven. That is an excellent take off of Akira Kirusawa’s old black and white film.

    Gantz, Gungrave, and Trinity Blood should have some sort of mention on this list as well.

  18. I have to say reading this I was extremely excited when I realized people DO know what things like The Place Promised in Our Early days is. So…going with that I have to add in Hoshi No Koe (Voices of a Distant Star) it’s amazing. Adding to the series..

    Last Exile..

    Witchblade..

    Kiddy Grade..

    Elfen Lied is really good if you can understand it..

    And of course I can’t forget to mention

    Peacemaker. It will assuredly leave you wanting for more.

  19. Thanxz anime brothers…my collection is growing with these advises !

    my favorites are the Ghibli’s :)

  20. Anyone remember Kiki’s Delivery Service? That was always one of my favourites growing up, and still is to this day.

    I’m happy that one person mentioned the Escaflowne movie… not as great as the episodes, but the movie definitely did justice to the series. Both the series and the movie had beautiful animation.

    I think another commenter mentioned Metropolis earlier– that’s a great anime film too :)

  21. Hayao Miyazaki is amazing <3<3 Studio Ghibli films are some of my favorites. If i’m not mistaken, there’s also a beautiful movie about a teenage boy and his younger sister trying to survive alone after a war. Something with fireflies…

  22. Great list, the only movie i think is a bit out of place is Akira, in my opinion its one of the most hyped anime movies ever. Technically it was really good considering the time it was made, but plot wise i didnt really think it had much to offer compared to later movies such as ghost in the shell. But that may just be me who missed something… The movie that moved me the most of all anime movies, was Princess Mononoke (anything written by Miyazaki, is usually beautifully created), everything in that movie was perfect, beautiful animation, breathtaking story, great characters, struggles, you name it, this movie has it all. 

    my list would prolly look like this:

    1. Princess Mononoke

    2. Spirited away

    3. Ghost in the Shell

    4. Lupin: Castle of Cagliostro

    5. Porco Rosso

    Speaking of series a lot of good ones exist out there, some of my favorites are:

    Cowboy Bebop

    Serial Experiments Lain

    Scryed

    Fullmetal Alchemist

    Last Exile

    Wolfs Rain

  23. 1- Tekkon Kinkreet (great Story about brotherhood, loyalty, inner conflicts)

    2- Fl-Cl (it never seizes to amaze me nomatter how often i watch it and a great soundtrack)

    3- Fullmetal Alchemist (Same as Tekkon Kinkreet)

    4- Akira (no comments)

    5- Aachi & Ssipak, Tokyo Godfathers, Wonderful Days, any Hayao Miyazaki, Evangelion, Pat Labor, Basilisk, Vopii (The Five Tailed Fox), Dragon Ball & Z (yes!), Saber Rider, Golden Boy.. can’t really make up my mind… anything is cool except BS like pokémon or Yugi-oh

  24. Grave of the Fireflies by Miyazaki.

    This film’s backdrop is actually supposed to be South Korea during/after the Korean war. You can tell because there are details to the setting and background, and the clothes.

    As someone who grew up with Miyazaki’s works….I can’t pinpoint any single work that’s the best. It jsut can’t be done.

  25. DEATH NOTE!  Hands down, best anime series ever!

    Not sure if the movie Vexille has been mentioned but it was very good.

  26. Vampire hunter D (both)

    Ninja Scroll

    Guyver

    Ranma 1/2

    Castle of Cagliostro

     

    then

    Bubblegum Crisis (and AD Police)

     

  27. top five just movies would have to be,

    1. Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind, hands down.  (In my opinion it’s Miyazaki’s true masterpiece, not spirited away, though mononoke and porco rosso are great films and deserving in there own right, something about Nausicaa just jumps at me)

    2. Porco Rosso, (speaking of which, this film is amazing, perfect mixe of action and romance, amazing story, and just that hint of mystery.  The perfect inspiring setting, and the story, well there’s nothing much i can say about the story other than it’s AMAZING.)

    3. Akira, (Honestly what could i really say bad about Akira, compared to todays standards the animation is out dated sure, but why let that be an influence on your opinion, you don’t watch an anime for the pretty color’s and special effects, you watch it for the story that you can’t find in traditional films.  That being said, Akira is perfect in it’s own rights, it vibrantly displays a world that could actually be not that far off from our own, we have the ability to wipe everyone off the face of the plantet, what makes people think we wont do it.)

    4. Jin-Roh: The Wold Brigade, (the time line is great, the story is amazing, visually… it’s terific, and well it’s just one of those anime i feel everyone should watch atleast once in there lifetime.)

    5. 5 Centimeters Per Second, (this film falls outside of my normal range but honestly it was a close call between this and Whisper of the heart, but in the end this calls out just a bit more, because it feels so real, it’s a feeling everyone has experiences at some point in there life, and everyone has watched as that one special person has walked away.)

     

    As for shows, i don’t think i can pick 5 best i’ll prolly settly at three mabye four.

     

    1. FLCL, (OF COURSE, there isn’t a show in history anime or not that competes with this little 6 episode mini series. It’s weird, funny, quirky, serious, has a pirate(not in the traditional sense), and an alien (also not in the traditional sense) and is hands down the best metaphor i have ever in my life seen, seriously if you haven’t watched it yet, DO IT, it’s amazing, on par and higher with some if not all of Miyazaki’s work!)

    2. Soul Eater, (I can’t say much for this outside of it’s on my top 5 because of the type of show it is, ya it’s well done, action packed, and has those short hints of romance in it, (which in the anime turn into nothing, but the manga might be difrent, seeing as how it’s still publishing.)  but the main selling point is that this anime shows something that you don’t see much anymroe, heart, and courage, it took a step outside of the box, and did it perfectly.  Remember you have to know where the box is in order to avoid it!)

    3. Noein, (two reasons here, number one, this show is the first anime to ever take a step in the area of Quantum Mechanics, and actually get it right, seriously they knew what they where talking about in this show.  And number two, because of the meaning of the title of this show, and following through on it, Noein means “To my/ones other self”  and that’s what this show is about at heart, the pain that the main char went through over the course of this show in trying to follow every one of his past lives/dimensions.)

    As for a number four and five, i can’t very well name them right now, becuase i don’t know them, i will when i find them, but so far i’ve seen very few anime that deserve higher than a 10 rating on a 1-10 scale, and those are what i consider the best.

     

     

  28. I can’t see anything good about Akira. I can’t see why it’s here on this list. All the others are excellent though. Weird…

  29. Cant see anyhing good about . . . . hmm, I’m just gonna pretned no one said  that.

    Really surprised Patlabour 2 didn’t make it on any of the main lists, I know it’s kinda a rehash of the first one but all the extra detail they put into not only the plot and machinations of the films combatants but also their characterisation and the build up to the climax really makes it a film to get lost in. Would deffinately make it in my top 5 along with the usual Akira, GITS, Cowboy Bebop & Grave of the Fire Flies 

  30. My Top 10 Anime (in no real order)

    1. Demon City Shinjuku

    2. Wicked City

    3. Akira

    4. Nausicaa Of The Valley Of The Wind

    5. Tekkonkinkreet

    6. Darkside Blues

    7. Tokyo Godfathers

    8. Spirited Away

    9. Harmagedon

    10. Paprika

    There are more… much more

  31. What? Not even an honorable mention for “MindGame”, probably the most original, inspiring, fun and profound anime of this decade.

  32. I vote for Spirited Away! Although I’ve watched it 3 times, I’m still addicted to this anime. I never get bored watching it again and again. IMO, Spirited Away should be the best anime of all time ;)

  33. O.o  alot of those are amazing anime! My favorites are:

     

    Movie Wise

    1. Spirited Away

    2. Cowboy Beebop

    3. Princess Mononoke

    4. Akira

    5. Gosht In the Shell

     

    Series

    1. Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood (Clear distiction between FMA and FMAB not the same story line!)

    2. Death Note (A mind game between the world’s biggest manipulative serial killer and the best detectives ever born. L, Kira, Near and Melo are the world’s best minds and it was a 3-1 match! Kira… *swoon*)

    3. There she is

    This one needs a bit of explaining… it’s a serie by sambaksa (sorry for the spelling) picturing through songs the near impossible love between cats and bunnies. It’s the cutest anime I have ever seen! I even cry everytime I watch “Imagine” the last episode of the series…Even 200+ lbs grown mens have loved this series… Worth a look!

    4. Cowboy Beebop (Ed is h.i.l.l.a.r.i.o.u.s! She is who I secretly want to be!)

    5. Albator… Okay call me cheezy… It fueled so many of my childhood jokes I can’t even start to know where to begin… just the opening theme song was enough to make me start roaring with laughter! (btw I’m french… this might explain a couple of things… :S)

  34. Top Five Anime Films Of All Time

    1. Serial Experiments Lain

    2. Kino No Tabi

    3. Haibane Renmei

    4. The Girl Who Leapt Through Time

    5. Voices Of A Distant Star

     

  35. Metropolis … you guys need to dig up some gold and stop hitting the common grounds.

    Appleseed 1988 and 2003 – Vexille too

    Outlaw Star

    Hit up Daft Punk’s anime: Interstellar 5555 – I want to see the new Tron movie too!

    Just for shiz’n’giggles: Azumanga Diaoh.  Cause it is hilarious!

  36. guess it really depends what people are looking for. certainly things like Plague Dogs, Grave of the Fireflies, Tekon Kinkreet, Paprika, and Jin Roh have a different appeal than things like The Girl who Leapt Through Time, 5 Centimeters Per Second, Whisper’s of the Heart, Voices of a Distant Star or Kiki’s Delivery Service.

  37. Why hasn’t anyone said anything about Battle Angel OVA and Serial Experiments Lain not being movies or films?

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