Winter 2019 Anime: Official Twitter Hashtags & Pages
2018 is almost out, guys and girls, and that means that another anime year is ready to take its place.
No one can really doubt if anime is an art form. Despite many people thinking otherwise, they are not just targeted to kids and they are also certainly not easy to make. The history of anime can be traced back to the early 1900s and according to the Japanese Ministry of Education it is among the most important forms of artistic expression in modern Japanese culture.
In the 1980s, anime became very mainstream in Japan, experiencing a boom in production with the rise in popularity of anime especially in genres focusing on space operas and cyberpunk. Then came the controversial anime Neon Genesis Evangelion that influenced the anime world in many ways and then in the 1990s we had Dragon Ball Z, Pokémon, One Piece, and Sailor Moon that started gaining international success. During the 2000s the otaku culture became very trendy and many manga and light novels started being adapted into anime. It was also during that time that anime feature films were nominated for and won major international film awards for the first time in the industry’s history.
It’s sad and unfortunate but anime has not kept a consistent quality as a medium. Finding a film or series that combine a good story and beautiful animation has become a rarity nowadays. So whether you recently got into anime or have been a fan for a while, MANGA.TOKYO is here with a list of essential anime films that you should definitely watch.
Akira is a rather controversial film that has stigmatized the anime industry. This movie’s production costed more than one billion yen and the price the industry paid surely succeeded in creating a timeless animation. In a post-WWIII Japan of a not-too-distant future stands a restored version of the city known as Neo-Tokyo, an area that is torn apart by biker gangs, violence, and terrorism against the current government. Shoutarou Kaneda, the leader of a gang called ‘the Capsules’, is in constant conflict with their rivals, ‘the Clowns’. During one of these battles, his best friend Tetsuo Shima crashes into a strange-looking boy and the military ends up taking him away. After this encounter, he begins to develop mysterious psychic abilities, and the government hunts him down in order to to prevent him from unleashing the destructive power that could once again ruin the city.
Akira is not easy to watch and you might have a hard time understanding its meaning, but it’s definitely worth it. Some people think of the movie as a shocking bloodbath but there is much more to it than its gore. The movie demonstrates a dystopic setting involving modern society abandoned to rot on its own, so obviously it contains immense amounts of graphic violence, action, drama, and horror elements. Nevertheless, if you are able to look deeper than that, there are many symbolisms behind it and it should definitely be watched and appreciated for its great cultural and historic value. On top of that, Akira is a masterpiece that definitely wins in the art department. Its animation has such fluid movements and the art detailing is just phenomenal. To this day I don’t think I have seen anything like it and I believe that it still strongly holds its position as one of the most influential titles in the history of anime.
The year is 2029 and people have advanced so far in Cybernetics that they can replace nearly all of their body parts and organs with robotics. A team of cyborgs, AIs, and humans that investigate cases of corruption and terrorism, must track down a mysterious new hacker known only as the ‘Puppet Master’ who threatens to create chaos, erasing and rewriting the memories of his victims.
Ghost in the Shell is another cyberpunk classic that is pretty famous for its philosophical and thought-provoking themes. It is also widely known as the anime that inspired the Matrix films, and unfortunately, it is not an easy film to get into. It has great action and intelligent narrative but if you are not into metaphysical discussions about the soul and the consequences of technological evolution, you might find this a bit too much for your brain.
However, with its striking visuals that can even compete current animation standards, well-detailed backgrounds and the overall amazing atmosphere of the film, you will surely understand why this is considered a masterpiece. A title that has aged very well and that will probably be more appealing to a mature audience, Ghost in the Shell is a combination of deep and meaningful conversations, dark and beautiful art style as well as entertaining combat that would please any science fiction fan out there.
This is a personal favorite and without any exaggeration, the best animated horror film I have ever watched. The story follows Mima, a pop idol that decides to retire from her group and become an actress. As her career changes, she is stalked by an obsessive fan who cannot accept her decisions and starts impersonating her life with intricate detail. After a series of disturbing developments, Mima becomes trapped in a nightmare she cannot escape and is unable to tell apart reality from fiction.
Satoshi Kon is an excellent director that really knows how to create an unsettling story. His name is strongly associated with the genre of psychological thriller and this movie can act as proof of his amazing work. What I usually say in order to describe his directing style is that he loves making the viewers experience glorious mindfucks and make little distinction of what is real and what is not. This film addresses the horrors of being an idol, having obsessive fandoms, and probably the scariest scenario out of them all, which is losing your own identity. It also contains many disturbing scenes with graphic nudity, violence, and sexual themes that are not for the fainthearted. His flawless directing takes the film to a whole different level, with its great environments and use of colors to enhance the character’s mental state, making this film a visual wonder. Trust me, if you are a fan of suspense, mystery, drama, and thriller you will love this.
If you are interested in an in-depth analysis of the film, you can should read What Makes Perfect Blue Utterly Terrifying?
Chihiro and her parents are on their way to their new house but as they mistakenly make a wrong turn, they discover something that looks like an abandoned amusement park. As they venture inside, she realizes that there is more to the place that meets the eye as strange things begin to happen once dusk falls. She finds out that they have crossed over into the spirit world and that her parents have been turned into pigs, leaving her trapped into that realm. She must now find a way to save her parents and return into the real world.
Spirited Away is like watching a very vivid dream. Hayao Miyazaki is, perhaps, the most famous Japanese director out there and along with Studio Ghibli, they have produced so many wonderful anime films that really showcase his mastery at storytelling. Every time this man decides to make a movie, there is no doubt that it will be a huge success. Spirited Away has won countless awards worldwide and is considered one of the greatest films of the 21st century. It’s a supernatural drama that has a quiet yet wonderful and subdued way of telling a simple story about a simple girl in a very strange world. The art and music are breathtaking. The colors are so rich and the fluidity of animation is just unbelievable. The characters are also very exciting since all of them have some kind of good and bad side which makes them quite realistic, in a way.
During World War II, Seita and his younger sister Setsuko lives’ are turned upside down when their mother suffers fatal wounds from a bombing in the city and are forced to go live with their cruel aunt. As she keeps maltreating them, they decide to leave and go to live in an abandoned bomb shelter. Having no adult to rely on and with food becoming scarcer than ever before, life is starting to become very hard for them.
Another Studio Ghibli classic and probably one of the saddest movies you will ever watch. Honestly, this movie will make you feel so bad that it will actually haunt you for days. It is a story about survival, the tragedy of war, the real catastrophes, the provoked damages, the victims and the ruined lives of the remained people. It shows the hopes and dreams of young kids as well as the cruel reality and the suffering they experience. This movie is powerful and heart-rending. The art is what you always get from Studio Ghibli, magnificent. The colors are very bright and vibrant; the backgrounds are beautifully drawn and the disturbing scenes are really disturbing. What makes this film ageless is that it features a gentle yet tear-jerking script that captures the most intimate portrait of war ever captured on film.
These are the movies I would suggest to someone that has never watched anime before or to someone that doesn’t have much experience with titles from older decades. It includes films that are timeless and really give you an insight on several genres of anime and what they have to offer.
Furthermore, I would like to add here that if you enjoy any of these movies, you should definitely check the rest of the films created by the same directors, because these people really know how to make good quality films with intriguing and thought-provoking storylines.