Top 10 Anime Movies
The name alone should say it all. The original anime series drawn together and blended into the Robotech series all owe their vast popularity in America to this movie that started the whole show. As a reboot of previous animes, in many ways, Macross could be classified as a fan fic, and yet it is wildly more successful. From the crash of the SDF-1 Macross on earth to the final defeat of the Invid, Robotech took the world by storm and created the entire genre of “Transformers”. In truth, without the SDF-1, there would be no “Optimus Prime”.
9 Ghost in the Shell franchise
While the TV series tells one set of stories about Major Kusanagi, the GitS movies tell a far different one. In the first, Kusanagi must track down a “mind hacker” who is rewriting people’s memories to use them as tools in his nefarious schemes, but not all is as it seems when you find out it’s actually a renegade “black op” AI that has been being used to manipulate world politics, and is now seeking it’s freedom. In the second, we follow Kusanagi’s former partner Batou, as he investigates multiple murders by “rogue” gynoid sexbots, only to discover that their “A.I.s” are really forced human mind uploads. With a complexity that makes you question not merely where the self ends and begins, but whether or not even “reality” is certain, GitS leaves far more questions than answers.
8 Lupin III franchise
As a “grandson” of a fictional “gentleman thief” created by a French author, Lupin III could be rightfully said to have stolen even his fame. A master thief with a penchant for advertising where and what he was stealing, he took great pleasure in proving his superiority over the law. And yet, Lupin was never a “villain”, and that is probably what makes his career so memorable. He’s humorous, a clown prince of crime who doesn’t have a real ounce of malice in his body, and who’s adventures somehow always seems to result in the foiling of criminals far worse than himself, Lupin sets himself aside as a happy-go-lucky modern day Robin Hood.
7 Neon Genesis Evangelion: Death True
As the movie that presented the directors original ending for NGE, Death True merely piled more mysteries onto the series while continuing the brutal action, and borderline mind rape. It’s hard to say what the most disturbing monster is by the series end, the Angels, or the human race itself. Who deserves a victory of any sort is a hard question to answer, as is figuring out if anyone can actually claim one. Death True is a hard movie to watch, precisely because it calls everything into question, and that’s why it is so worth watching.
6 Vampire Hunter D franchise
What do you get when you cross a western, a gothic horror vampire story, and a post apocalyptic future? Vampire Hunter D answered that question in a truly memorable fashion. As you follow the adventures of D, a half human/vampire crossbreed who works as a hitman against supernatural horrors, it’s hard not to find yourself waiting for the next encounter. Will it be a demon? A technological mystery from a former age? Or something else entire? With a world as compelling as it’s main character, Vampire Hunter D is a must watch.
5 Blue Gender
Do you hate and fear science and technology? Do you feel that humanity is a cancer that should be wiped out from existence? Do you believe in the Gaian philosophy? Then Blue Gender is for you. In a world in which Gaia is seeking to destroy the human race by using giant insects, Blue Gender tells the tale of a modern man awakened into a future in which every nightmare of the “green” movement has come true. As anime with a message, Blue Gender really can’t get any more heavy handed. While I certainly can’t find much to admire about this movie, I do have to admit to its popularity.
4 Badlands Rumble
It’s not too hard to see why a Vash the Stampede movie would be on this list. As the lovable “supervillian” by accident, Vash has won hearts the world over with his impossible gunslinging skills, Jainist beliefs, and insane “do-goodery”. In this stand alone piece set at some indeterminate time during the series, the entire cast of the anime series returns to share in Vash’s latest escapade, the attempt to capture a master thief named “Gasback” as he seeks revenge against his former cohorts who have used their ill gotten gains to become “respectable.” Filled with the same over the top comedy, action and gunslingers galore, Badlands Rumble is everything you could ask for a “just plain fun” movie.
3 Death Note
Is he a hero? Is he a villain? Is it right to kill indiscriminately in the name of good? When Light discovers a magical notebook that allows him to write the death sentence of anyone who name is put in the book, he embarks on a career of becoming the ultimate judge of who lives and who dies. When his mass murdering spree comes to the attention of the authorities, it becomes a duel between geniuses as the detective “L” begins hunting for Light’s true identity. Unique on this list for being “live action” yet unquestionably inseparable from the manga and anime, Death Note stands alone. Like the American TV show Dexter, it makes you wonder if a villain who preys on villains is a villain at all.
2 My Neighbor Totoro
Unlike any of the other anime movies on this list, My Neighbor Totoro is a simple lighthearted children’s tale. Made by the same artists at Studio Ghibli that produced Laputa and Nausicaa, Totoro set a new standard for “beautiful” anime. While simultaneously introducing the world to the Japanese equivalent of “Winnie the Pooh” and beautifully illustrating traditional Japanese mythology and world views about nature, it tells the story of two young girls who find comfort from the supernatural beings who live in the forest behind their house. There are no big themes, no heavy messages, just a true sense of childlike wonder and magic. Ah, if only our own childhoods could have been like this. If you liked Howl’s Moving Castle, or Spirited Away, you will definitely love this earlier work that earned their creator his fame.
What can you say about Akira that has not already been said? Akira is the movie that put anime on the map, period. This was the movie that showed how hard core an animated movie could be, with a diamond hard sci-fi plot, an epic budget, and a storyline that kept you riveted. If a movie could be said to define itself, Akira is that movie. It’s cyberpunkish, but not cyberpunk, an action movie that isn’t about the action. It tells the tale of an evolving esper Tetsuo, who goes from gang member to god over the course of the movie, and the efforts of those “in Power” to force him to their own ends. A tale of how power corrupts on many levels, Akira deserves its status as number 1.