For fans of anima, manga, and fantasy in general, this list of the 5 best Japanese animation movies is sure to please. With a long history in Japan, animation has the capability to transport viewers to worlds unimaginable and tackle themes far too pedantic for ordinary live action drama. Still hard for some audiences to fully grasp, the following list is a sample of the some of the best Japan animation has to offer.
- “Akira” (1998). This epic Japanese animated film takes place in a future, post-apocalyptic Tokyo. Based on the manga series by the same name, this sprawling sci-fi, adventure film is filled with lab tech, urban explosions, and one of the coolest motorcycle chases ever shown. Additionally, the soundtrack is an amazing introduction to traditional Japanese drumming for those unfamiliar with it. Clearly one of the best anime films ever, this one became an instant classic.
- “Ghost in the Shell” (1991). A cyberpunk movie full of technology and geekery, “Ghost” is extremely entertaining. It details the exploits of a secret government counter-terrorist unit that specializes in technology related crimes. Cyborg’s and all this movie is sure to intrigue and possibly convert a few fans that are new to cyberpunk.
- “The Professional: Golgo 13” (1992). This has got to be one of the best animated Japanese movie ever made. Not necessarily for the quality of the animation but for the ambition of the action depicted within. Long before The Matrix and “Bullet Time,” this movie let the viewer ride on the titular character’s bullet for many a kill. Packed with amazing assassinations and some freaky erotic animated sex scenes, this one is sure to satisfy.
- “Spirited Away” (2001). Simply brilliant, this movie has the scope and character depth of a full-length feature film as opposed to being animated. In recognition of the story-telling possibilities of animated movies, it even won an Academy Award for Best Animated Feature. A huge box-office success in it’s native Japan the movie follows a young girl as she experiences a supernatural world, while on a journey to settle with her family. The narrative delivers the child-like wonder and fascination with the mystical perfectly.
- “Princess Mononoke” (1997). A sweeping historical narrative, this movie pushes the thematic bounds of what is translatable in animated films. One of Japan’s biggest blockbusters, it is a story of technology versus nature at its core. Similar in theme to the world-wide smash, Avatar, it details the conflicts between the forest inhabitants and the humans who have no regard for nature.