There are hundreds of new anime hitting the market every year and much of the attention is focused on ongoing anime series that run year-round and rack up hundreds, if not thousands, of episodes. These programs represent a crucial pillar of the anime industry, but there is also a rich world of animated feature films to explore.
Anime movies may be connected to existing manga or anime series, but there are countless standalone stories that thrive on their focused storytelling and dazzling visual designs. Animated movies can garner critical acclaim and win prestigious awards, but that still doesn’t mean they’re universal hits that will connect with all audiences.
10/10 The night is short, stepping on the girl is cute, eccentric slice of life happiness
Each of Masaaki Yuasa’s creations, whether feature films or television series, is an expressive and unconventional work of art. The night is short, step on the girl is technically an expansion of The Tatami Galaxy lively. The humble character study depicts a wild night on the town.
The precocious protagonist lets her guard down, throws caution to the wind, and enjoys life’s many luxuries. Fluid character models, unconventional color palettes, and random musical interludes all add such personality to The night is short, step on the girl, but mainstream viewers may find it boring and not see what the fuss is about.
9/10 Millennium actress calculates the cost of an inheritance
Satoshi Kon passed away far too early in his prolific career and contributions to the anime industry, as Perfect Blue, Paprika, Godfathers of Tokyo, and paranoia agent are still considered masterpieces. Kon frequently engages in psychological thrillers that break down questions of identity and blur the lines between fantasy and reality.
Millennial Actress still uses a surreal sense of storytelling, but in a relatively understated way, it’s all in service of an acclaimed actress’ legacy. Millennial Actress uses a person’s entire career as a way to reflect on life and envision the future of society. It’s a great story, but the most “normal” of Kon’s films.
8/10 The Wind Rises is Hayao Miyazaki at his most serious and melancholy
Hayao Miyazaki’s contributions to Studio Ghibli are among the most popular animated films of all time. Many of Miyazaki’s stories indulge in a playful fantasy, but there is also a melancholic undertone to much of his work. The wind picks up is full of Miyazaki’s stereotypically impressive good looks, but it’s by far the most adult of his films and lacks the supernatural escapism and young protagonists of his other works.
The wind picks up explores the tragic story of an aircraft designer who struggles with the acceptance that his marvels of aviation are being used as tools of destruction. The wind picks up engages in mature and important conversation, but it’s also quite dry and mechanical.
7/10 Metropolis opens audiences to a brave new world of sci-fi
Metropolis is a groundbreaking anime film from Katsuhiro Otomo, Rintaro and Madhouse, the same team behind Akira and Steamboy. Metropolis is probably the toughest of Otomo’s feature films, and the upbeat sci-fi story borrows from both Osamu Tezuka’s original manga and Fritz Lang’s iconic black-and-white film.
The touching story of the coexistence of humans and robots is even more poignant two decades later and the detailed animation still amazes by modern standards. That being said, it’s easy to get lost in this barren universe and focus on the technology rather than the humanity behind it.
6/10 Promare offers explosive action and visuals at the expense of character
Anime audiences have become increasingly aware of the studios behind their favorite projects. This attitude has helped Studio TRIGGER become one of the most popular animation studios, and each of their series is guaranteed to be stunning. There were high expectations of what this team could do on a movie budget.
Aesthetically, Promare does not disappoint, and every frame of animation is a dizzying delight. That being said, the story that deals with superhero firefighters taking on combustible villains leaves a bit to be desired. Cliché characters and plot get in the way Promareambitious visuals.
5/10 Ghost In The Shell’s Cyberpunk Storytelling Is Too Cold For Some
At Mamoru Oshii’s ghost in the shell remains a high mark for subversive sci-fi and dystopian cyberpunk anime storytelling. the original ghost in the shell has morphed into myriad TV series and a deeply philosophical sequel, none of which have been able to recapture the artistry of the original.
ghost in the shell explores fascinating questions about identity and humanity’s increased reliance on artificial intelligence. It’s a brilliant crime story wrapped in hard sci-fi, but Motoko Kusanagi’s Terminator attitude doesn’t work for everyone. Others also get lost in the show’s copious fan service, which does a disservice to Ghost in the shell.
4/10 Bubble makes the most of a magical disaster
Bubble is a 2022 animated film that’s been making waves on Netflix thanks to its colorful visuals and aerial kinetic action sequences that defy gravity with parkour-like reflexes. Bubble is set in a fantasy dystopia where cheerful children try to make the most of their frayed world.
The emergence of a magical girl changes everyone’s existence. Bubble has endearing characters and a useful story, but for many it’s a matter of style rather than substance. The film’s use of color, choreography, and music will appease many, but it won’t appeal to everyone.
3/10 Redline is a grand race through space for unimaginable riches
2009 Red line is the more mature and out of control version of Madhouse speed racer that launches outrageous aliens, hordes of creepy criminals and a gigantic prize to the finish line. Takeshi Koike’s directorial debut shows extreme creativity, and he makes sure that a run of film length never drags on or seems gratuitous.
Red line is a testament to characterization and inventive action sequences, but a suspenseful run isn’t going to excite everyone. This is the type of story best suited for a long OVA or TV episode and not a movie.
2/10 Belle tells a coming-of-age story for the modern age of tech
Beautiful is Mamoru Hosoda’s latest fantasy-animated feature film, and it tops many anime fans’ lists for best film of 2021. Beautiful feels like the culmination of many of the ideas that fill Hosoda’s stories, like the power of virtual worlds and avatar alter egos, as it presents a modern narrative of The beauty and the Beast.
Belle is an undeniably beautiful film to watch, and the film’s many musical performances are a feat to behold. However, some may see Beautiful like Hosoda’s refusal to step out of his comfort zone. It’s a simplistic story of identity and empowerment. While touching, he won’t melt everyone’s icy heart.
1/10 Evangelion’s Rebuild Steps Out Of The Script With Its Re-creation Of An Anime Classic
Although it is actually a collection of four feature films released over a period of 14 years, the Rebuilding Evangelion the films collectively tell a single story. Originally intended as a more efficient reconstruction of Hideaki Anno Neon Genesis Evangelion existential mecha series, the Rebuild the films are gradually forging their own path.
It features an alternate reality that allows Anno to exorcise many of his demons and bid farewell to the evangelization universe on its own, in happy terms. The Rebuilding Evangelion the films are going to be difficult for those who disagree with some of the changes made in the last two films.
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