By Camille S. Fernandez
Anime can be many things. It can be weird and creepy, but it can also be beautiful and heartwarming. Hell, there are a lot of occasions where it’s both beautiful and creepy. One thing is for sure is that the animation is top notch, especially when it comes to films. The Japanese are not afraid to be experimental with their animated films, and it is this bold approach that has led to fantastic animations that not only contain mind blowing visuals, but powerful stories as well.
I know Hayao Miyazaki has a special place in people’s hearts but he’s definitely not the only guy who’s made amazing films. That being said, check out these five films from other studios and directors that have pushed the limits of animation.
1. Akira (1988)
This sci-fi thriller came out during the ‘80s and was known to be a mind-blowing example of just how versatile animation can be to convey stories. Directed by the same guy who wrote the manga, Katsuhiro Otomo was able to make a film that was the first of its kind back in the day. It’s bloody and gruesome, yet oddly captivating to watch.
The film is set in a cyberpunk dystopian Japan in a city called Neo-Tokyo. A local biker gang and a government experiment collide on an unfortunate night leading to a chain reaction of disastrous proportions for everyone within the city. Bold and harsh in its depictions of just how far humans are willing push for scientific discovery and power, Akira is not only an amazing example of anime movies but a cautionary tale of the power of science.
Just a small warning: please don’t watch this film while eating.
2. Paprika (2006)
Almost everyone should be familiar with Christopher Nolan’s Inception. However, great as it may be, it’s not the first movie to tackle the subject of dreams. Plus, there are a bunch of eerie similarities between the two films. This is the last film that Satoshi Kon created before his death, and besides Miyazaki, he’s one of the greatest animators that Japan has to offer.
Set in a world where dreams can now be accessed with a flip of a switch for the purpose of helping the mentally ill, an unknown psychopath starts to hijack dreams causing the potential end of reality itself. With the help of members of her team as well as her alter ego, Paprika, psychologist Atsuka Chiba must find the culprit before it’s too late. Not only is it fun to watch, but it’s also pretty trippy.
3. Millennium Actress (2001)
Known as one of Satoshi Kon’s earlier works, this film celebrates Japanese cinema through the life of the film’s main character Chiyoko Fujiwara, an esteemed actress who has long since been in retirement. After the studio that made her famous goes into bankruptcy, a filmmaker seeks her out in the hopes of learning about her life and the factors that made her one of the most famous actresses in the Japanese film industry. The animation is so smooth you won’t know if it’s her actual life or one of her films. It’s a heartwarming movie to watch and a perfect introduction to Satoshi Kon’s work.
4. The Boy and the Beast (2015)
It’s a common trope to see a young boy adopt a frightened beast off the streets, but what if it was reversed? In Mamoru Hasoda’s latest film, a disgruntled beast from another world adopts a human child in the hopes of having a martial arts apprentice of his own. It’s a tale of friendship, family, and coming of age. By far the only child friendly film on the list, it is a delightful and heartwarming movie that’s bound to be memorable for everyone.
5. Wolf Children (2012)
Another film produced by Mamoru Hasoda, this film revolves around the life of a single mother who takes care of her werewolf children. Now, I don’t want to hear anything about furries and whatnot because this film will kick you hard in the feels. It’s a touching film about the strength of mothers and finding your own path in life while growing up. Don’t watch this film alone because you’ll need someone to hug you after for sure.