“私たちを過小評価しないでください！それは時間、空間、または代替現実になるかどうか、彼らは私たちに何も意味しない。私たちはピアスを、選択したパスとメソッドをします！それは我々が誰であるか!” – Dai-Gurren Brigade
Brought in by Japanese ingenuity, Anime is short for “Animation”, the concept was developed since 1917 where it sheds light on a two-minute clip that resonated from the same techniques inspired and used in other countries as well! The precursor of these stories were made into fruition by no other than Ozamu Tezuka hailed as the “godfather of anime”, his roots involve the same precedence from the success of Walt Disney! Notice how Mickey Mouse and Astroboy resemble each other?
As time passed, anime began to spread like wild-fire even beating the Western hemisphere’s cartoons! From Mecha, “giant robots” they have contributed epic works like Shin Getter Robo, Voltes V Mazinger Z and Gundam. From sci-fi greats and tremendous feats of Akira by Writer and Director Katsuhiro Otomo and Ghost in the Shell creator Shirow Masamune these pioneers served the public’s interests generating legions of fans as it made its way into culture phenomenon!
And now we present our countdown!
- Film: 5 Centimeters per Second (2007); Director: Makoto Shinkai; Created by: Makoto Shinkai; Origin: novel (2007)
Three interlocking stories that document the life of two childhood friends who became lovers lost in their pre-destined different paths. A love story painfully longing for another chance.
Takaki Tono and Akari Shinohara were often teased by their classmates for being close with each other in that certain age. They can never understand what they felt; they soon find themselves writing each other as they separated ways after their graduation. Letters that keep that hope alive knowing they will see each other soon! Time passed and each character moved on with their separate lives, Takaki was enamoured by another girl in his class Kanae, they had moments but the boy still longs for something or someone beyond the stars they see at night! The final episode is the culmination of all three, now a programmer in Tokyo he still longs for the feelings he had with Akari, heartbroken he left his job, he still wanted to see her as they addressed the same letter carefully threading the lines as if they were still young watching the cherry blossoms fall to the ground from a cold day in the train station…
Breathe taking animation, detailed and sublime garnered by Chief Animation Director Takayo Nishimura and spectacular BG Art by Takumi Tanji and Ryoko Majima. The emotions depicted in the film were so heartfelt for the characters as they stride through time hoping to see each other one more time…
- Film: Ninja Scroll (1993); Director: Yoshiaki Kawajiri; Created by: Futaro Yamada; Origin: novel (1959)
Set in the era of feudal Japan, a conspiracy of a gold mine founded by the Yamashiro Clan Retainers (also known as Vassal Lords at that time) was full of greed that they wanted the located wealth for themselves. Himuro Gemma was head of the ninja team who was instructed to assassinate everyone who can be witness, even for two friends Jubei Kibagami, the ninja who was created to pay homage to the folk hero Yagyu Jubei Mitsuyoshi and Shinkuro who were forced to kill each other, but the former survived and beheaded their leader as revenge in an ambush…
Now the journey begins for the wandering ninja!
Finding the same path which led to the feudal lords, an entity who controls a band of ninjas with supernatural powers came into town and placed a plague to cover-up their laid out plans. They are the Devils of Kimon who works for the Shogun of the Dark that wants the gold brought back to their masters and only Jubei with his new allies Kagero, a recently surviving Tokugawa ninja from one of the assailants and Dakuan an old spy from the same administration. Both have their own purpose to conceal the plot against the government and they will need all the strength they have to fight these evil forces!
Full of suspense and samurai action, it won the Citizen’s Award at the 1993 Yubari International fantastic Film Festival! Highly regarded with the same accolades as Akira and Ghost in the Shell. In 1995, it was distributed outside of Japan in partnership with Manga Entertainment.
- Film: Cowboy Bebop: Knockin on Heaven’s Door (1995); Director: Shinchiro Watanabe; Created by: Hajime Yatate; Origin: anime series (1988)
A well-rounded series that combines sci-fi, comedy, adventure, jazz music and kick ass action!
It is 2071; the capital city of Mars is under attack by a terrorist simply known as Vincent! A bounty was placed for 300 million woolong for his capture and the hunter crew would not let this good thing come to pass!
Written by Keiko Nobumoto, the film generates the very same theme of the original series which was developed and produced by Sunrise! Expressing smooth movements while integrating the thrill of straight shooting guns and martial arts courtesy of main protagonist Spike Spiegel, a bounty hunter always ready to help with a compassionate demeanour but also can take it to the level of being cold just to take down his opponent. He is partnered with Jet Black a former investigator for ISSP (Intra Solar System Police) and owns the ship Bebop! Later additions were Faye Valentine, a woman who went into cryogenic freeze for fifty years after pulling a crime in one of the episodes. Ed and Ein, the last members is a genius kid, a hacker and her dog a Pembroke Welsh Corgi who was named after Einstein.
The Director even made slight changes on the set piece making it Arabesque since it was seldom used while maintaining the Western feel of the premise. Music was still provided by The Seatbelts sleek and full of energy! The long time favourite Cowboy Bebop was great to watch, it even garnered a nomination for Best Animated Feature in 2004’s Online film Critic Society!
- Film: Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust (2000); Director: Yoishiaki Kawajiri; Created by: Hideyuki Kikuchi; Origin: novel (1983)
A woman named Charlotte was kidnapped by a vampire Baron Meier! Enter D, a dark; brooding hunter was given the task to bring her back dead or alive! Cursed to walk the earth without a life not being accepted from humans nor the creatures of the night for he is a dunpeal a half-breed from both races!
Based on the novel D-Death Deathchase the film captures the intensity of two ill-fated lovers on the run from both The Vampire Hunter and the Markus Brothers. The story is captivating, beautiful and fast paced at the same time as it sees through the life of a loner trying to end another abomination from happening again! Trapped in his sense of justice from duty to hunt down the monsters of his own kind or realize the true meaning of compassion. Excellent visual entertainment coming from character designer Yoishitake Amano as he instilled his work with Madhouse as they collaborated both on story, animation and distribution!
Bloodlust gives fans and movie goers alike the thrill of the chase, action and supernatural gore with lore as one of the best vampire anime films ever made!
- Film: Princess Mononoke (1997); Director: Hayao Miyazaki; Created by: Hayao Miyazaki; Origin: manga (1983)
From Studio Ghibli comes this epic tale filled with myth, fantasy, supernatural elements and a lesson!
Set in the Muromachi Period of Japan, the story starts off with Ashitaka a young warrior who was gravely injured after killing a giant boar. But take heed, the boar was not only a mere animal but a demon god whose wrath is not going to rest until vengeance was served to the villagers…
The hero’s journey led him to a village of Iron Town where people use the same metal in making weapons of destruction. From the point, a girl called San who was raised by giant wolves attacked the village to gain redemption for the atrocities done to their land and forest dwellers. It narrows down to environment awareness and how we should contribute to make Earth our home a better place to live in!
It took the creator 16 years to fully develop the epic tale derived from the Journey of Shuna. Combining hand drawings and cel animation it made pretty hefty on the price tag costing $23.5 million to encompass every single detail of the project. Produced by the talented staff of Mr. Miyazaki and Distributed by Toho in Japan with Miramax, a Disney subsidiary for the international market.
- Film: Death Note: Relight (2007-2008); Director: Tetsuro Araki; Created by: Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata; Origin: manga (2006)
The two films were made to capture the whole story of the Death Note series and make it more concise for the fans and especially to those who have not watched the anime.
The first chapter was titled Visions of a God where it tells the origin story of a Shinigami (Death god) bored of his life in the world they live in, he searched for Ryuk who was offered an apple for a story. A world field with chaos was a bit condescending for Light who recently found a black notebook in his school yard upon which he learned how to kill people to serve his plight for injustice and as he became insanely obsessed with his new found dominion. So it begins!
The second chapter was named L’s Successor’s it encapsulates and bridges what transpired from the last film. Here we see L making an introduction from the grave, breaking the 4th wall to let the audience take another crack on the case with the help of his replacements Near and Mello from the same orphanage he grew up in!
The two films not only generated mass hysteria especially coming from China, Belgium and the US all countries has incidents of students giving in to the “surreal” world of the anime. Yes, it is thought provoking and seriously being considered if children should be watching these types of shows!
Despite the given situation, Death Note is definitely regarded to have a real smart storytelling and characters that brings to life true depictions of good and evil!
- Film: Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann (2008-2009); Director: Hiroyuki Imaishi; Created by: Kazuki Nakashima; Origin: anime series (2007)
Another two part adventure but from another genre called Mecha!
The first film aptly named “Children’s End” begins with a certain boy named Simon; he is part of an underground community digging for their homes since it’s constantly destroyed by earthquakes caused by the Beastmen and their ruler The Spiral King! Together with his guardian and surrogate brother Kamina they venture together to fight the atrocities of these invaders!
After another attack, they were able to find a Gunman an abandoned head which he powered by the drill he found earlier while Kamina and they’re newfound ally Yoko, they hijacked a bigger robot and combine them to become Gurren Lagann!
The continuity courses through “The Light in the Sky are Stars” wherein life on Earth becomes better cities were constructed courtesy of the Dai-Gurren Brigade soldiers and diggers alike took part on being the top officials of the new city. Yes they have new lives but not without a cost! Seven years after the defeat of the Spiral King they managed to survive peacefully until a bigger threat comes back to haunt them…
Another treat for the mecha enthusiasts since it combines action, drama, comedy and a whole lot of fighting spirit! Kazuki’s influence was from the grandfather of giant robots “Getter Robo” which was co-created by Ken Ishikawa. The original series was animated by Gainax and Produced by Aniplex and Konami!
- Film: Summer Wars (2009); Director: Mamoru Hosada; Created by: Mamoru Hosada; Origin: cited from real life experiences of the creator (2006)
Based on actual places, events, people that the Director and Creator encountered all are imprinted to the masterpiece of Summer Wars!
It tells a tale of an 11th Grader Kenji Koiso who was invited by Natsuki Shinohara to celebrate her Great-Grandmother’s 90th Birthday! But there was a deal that he would come to pose as her fiancé. After meeting everyone, a unexpected visitor came by the name of Wabisuke Jinnouchi, her disgraced half-uncle who made a contract with the US Military to provide an AI for their operations.
Kenji is a genius in mathematics, when he received a numeric code from OZ, he delightedly solved it with ease! But it turned out to provide a catastrophic anomaly not only in the gaming world but also in the real life where it affected computer systems that controlled and linked emergency locations, traffic signals, bank transactions, GPS and many others. As they all race against time to fix these problems, they later they realized that out of the bickering and turmoil all they have to survive were each other…
All the problems were solved especially in falling debris from outer space, thanks to the unity and love brought forth by Sakae Jinnouchi (the celebrant) bottom-line, whatever faults, failures, achievements, sadness and happiness bring, family will always come first! The film won several awards both local and in the international front including the 2010 Japan’s Academy Prize for Animation of the Year.
- Film: Akira (1988); Director: Katsuhiro Otomo; Created by: Katsuhiro Otomo; Origin: manga (1982)
Monumental and a visionary take of the masterpiece by the renowned Director!
Two best friends are at the helm of the premise, orphans who grew up creating chaos for their lack of better judgment. Tetsuo Shima a boy made weak by childhood bullying, this inferiority complex will make him susceptible to a fate he will soon suffer! On the other hand, the main protagonist Shotaro Kaneda, a gang leader helps build a closer bond between the two but is not hesitant to show whose boss or better!
The story encompasses the title character where an apocalyptic event happened in 1988 and destroyed the city to ruins and now a boy, trapped in its vortex or make-believe visions a hidden power rises to consume its next victim. Amazing and spectacular sci-fi at its best! Akira garnered as one of the best films topping charts and records across the globe. With the help of Madman Productions and Pioneer Entertainment, it was distributed to more countries through unrelented marketing!
- Film: Ghost in the Shell (1995); Director: Mamoru Oshii; Created by: Shirow Masamune; Origin: manga (1991)
This is the future…
Derived from the stories of one of the best-selling manga, GITS tackles the counter-terrorism unit of Section 9 headed by Aramaki with his field leader Major Motoko Kusanagi and second in command Batou they will bring anyone to justice from robots to humans…either way it’s all business!
In the film, they focused more on the plot relating to “The Puppet Master” aka “Project 2501”, built by the Japanese Foreign Ministry Defence it was made to give more “personal” advantages to the given cabinet. But since it actualized sentience, the hacker AI found the Major interesting after fishing out all information gathered from the “sea of systems”!
Produced by Production I.G. and Distributed by Manga Entertainment! This is the next generation of incorporated anime, it set above the standards in using techniques of computer and cel animation to bring the film into fruition! This also inspired two Directors the Wachowski Brothers who made the perplexed world of The Matrix trilogy!