Since its inception in the late 1990s, Mamoru Hosoda has been one of the most exciting anime creators. Before making the leap to the director’s chair, Hosoda was the key host of series like Dragon Ball Z and slam dunk, as well as some films such as Sailor Moon Super S: The Movie and Yu Yu Hakusho the Movie: Poltergeist Report. Hosoda then led the 1999s Digimon Adventure short, which turned out to be just the beginning of the director’s long career in fantasy anime.
Hosoda’s latest feature, Beautiful, debuted in July 2021 in Japan and film festivals, but North American audiences had to wait until January 2022 to see the anime in theaters. Inspired by Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont The beauty and the Beast, Beautiful features many elements that define Hosoda’s style, but how does it compare to the filmmaker’s other projects? What are the Mamoru Hosoda’s Best Animated Movies?
8 Digimon: the movie and our war game!
Japanese title: Digimon Adventure Movie & Digimon Adventure: Bokura No War Game!
Most people’s introduction to Mamoru Hosoda, the director, was probably his Digimon short films, two films that combined last approximately one hour. These outings are arguably the filmmaker’s most well-known, at least to those who grew up with late ’90s anime. Digimon: the movie shows Tai and Hikari’s first encounter with the digital world, telling a fascinating story that almost has Kaiju-esque vibes.
Sequel to the original series, Digimon Adventure: our war game! is a fun ride from start to finish that offers impressive animation considering its scope. While certainly light on plot or character development, Our war game! nevertheless manages to introduce a memorable antagonist into Diablomon (or Diaboromon). As entertaining as these films are, they don’t hold much value for non-fans of Digimon.
Japanese title: Mirai not Mirai
Released in 2018, Mirai is a coming-of-age story about a young boy who struggles to adjust to the arrival of his baby brother. Kun, the frustrated child, goes through a number of fantastic adventures that seek to teach him to better accept this new change that has occurred in his life.
Mirai has a sweet message and a number of imaginative and jaw-dropping sequences, however, the film consists mostly of vignettes that effectively find Kun learning a variation of the same lesson over and over again. Taken in itself, each experience is charming; seen as a whole, Mirai feels static, the repetition isn’t helped by Kun’s unkind nature that lingers in the story for too long. Mirai is an enjoyable animated children’s film, although it might have worked better as a series.
6 One Piece: Baron Omatsuri and the Secret Island
Japanese title: One Piece Movie 6: Omatsuri Danshaku to Himitsu no Shima
A piece celebrated its 1000th installment in 2021. The franchise has produced 14 feature films, with another project, One Piece Movie: Red, is expected to decline in the summer of 2022. As a result, One Piece: Baron Omatsuri and the Secret IslandThe value of is entirely dependent on someone’s investment in the series.
Hosoda’s non-canon film plays with a number of manga and anime tropes. While not a deconstruction, the film is more interested in exploring its themes than indulging in action sequences, although the latter are also present. The animation is sleek and unlike anything else related to A piece.
Japanese title: Ryuu in Sobakasu no Hime
Throughout his career, Hosoda has frequently immersed himself in virtual worlds, exploring the freedom and dangers they present. Beautiful finds Hosoda revisiting this concept through a (loose) homage to The beauty and the Beast. In this universe, people turn to “U”, an online utopia, to be themselves. Although she struggles with insecurities and anxiety in real life, Suzu feels liberated when she becomes her avatar, Belle, and enters “U”. She gains so much confidence in this virtual world, Belle becomes a J-Pop star.
Beautiful has gorgeous art and extremely detailed animation. “U” is bursting with life, personality and color; the virtual world brings out the best in the film’s protagonist, not only narratively but also in terms of entertainment value.
In terms of shortcomings, BeautifulThe story suffers from some pacing issues, particularly in its second half, and the supporting characters aren’t particularly memorable. Although not The best animated movie of Hosoda, Beautiful is still quite large.
4 The boy and the beast
Japanese title: Bakemono no Ko
The boy and the beast is an isekai anime about Ren, an orphan who follows a beast, Kumatetsu, to a fantasy realm just outside of human sight. Ren finds himself in the irresponsible care of Kumatetsu as they form an unorthodox mentor + student dynamic. One of Hosoda’s most popular projects, The boy and the beast is a film in two parts:
The first hour revolves around Ren and Kumatetsu’s tumultuous relationship, showing how these hard-headed, defensive characters bring out the best and the worst in each other.
The second half focuses on Ren’s reintegration into the human world, ending with an action game that comes out of nowhere.
These two halves both engage in their own right, however, it makes it look like a middle section has been cut from the film. Although this transition is quite shocking, The boy and the beastIts strengths outweigh its flaws. Rena and Kumatetsu go well together, the action sequences are smooth as butter, and the world building is well done.
3 summer wars
the Digimon movies crawled so that summer wars could run. Released in 2009, summer wars finds Hosoda thoroughly investigating the concept of virtual reality, while crafting an irresistibly entertaining blockbuster with plenty of heart.
A clumsy teenager who moderates a virtual world called “OZ”, Kenji is invited by Natsuki to spend a few days with her family. Meanwhile, Kenji is tricked by an AI seeking to take over “OZ”, prompting the protagonist, Natsuki, and his family to work together to defeat him.
2 The girl who crossed time
Japanese title: Toki wo Kakeru Shoujo
Hosoda’s films tend to mix reality and fantasy, sometimes quite literally. While this is also the case for The girl who crossed time, the 2006 film tells a more understated story than something like summer wars Where The boy and the beast. Makoto Konno, a directionless high school student, gains the ability to reverse time; naturally, she uses it for innocuous stuff and to avoid a confession from her best friend. Eventually, Makoto must face the consequences of his action (or inaction).
The girl who crossed time starts out as a sci-fi comedy, and funny to boot, but the anime gradually evolves into a thought-provoking character study that analyzes the reasons for Makoto’s behavior.
1 Wolf children
Japanese title: Ookami Kodomo no Ame to Yuki
Mamoru Hosoda’s anime masterpiece, Wolf children tells a powerful story about family, parenthood and growing up. Hana falls in love with a wolf man and they start a family. Unfortunately, Hana becomes a single mother and must raise two children destined to experience challenges and changes she cannot understand.
Wolf children gives a slice of life by following this unique family through a number of years, showing moments of joy, tragedy and confusion. This anime takes familiar themes and puts a new spin on them.
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