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We are all looking for new things to try while social distancing. It could be cooking pretend food, playing tabletop role-playing game, or getting into models. If you are trying anime for the first time (or after a long break) has been on your list, we have a collection of charming, complex and influential characters to discover.
I didn’t get into anime until my mid-twenties” by which time some fans had told me that I was already way late. But it’s never too late to embark on a new form of storytellingand anime is one that has only flourished and prospered over the decades. Keep in mind these are my movie recommendations as someone who got into anime a bit later than most, so feel free to add your own personal picks in the comments.
If there’s one anime to remember from this list, it’s Your name. This fantasy romance from Netflix.
Hayao Miyazaki is one of the best creators around and chances are you’ve heard of his work, even if you’ve never seen anime. You can’t go wrong with any of his films, so I’ll recommend my favorite: Castle in THE sky. This story combines Gulliver’s Travels with the legend of Atlantis, resulting in a story about a young girl named Sheeta who has an intimate connection to a lost kingdom named Laputa. After escaping some government agents, Sheeta meets a boy named Pazu, who agrees to help her find the lost city and protect it from those who would harm her. The English dub features Mark Hamill as the villain, and he jokes about it so well. Castle in THE sky is available on netflix.
Led by the late Satoshi Kon, Paprika is a visual feast on the power of dreams and metamorphosis. A group of researchers has created a device called “DC Mini” that allows people to access other people’s dreams. Doctor Atsuko Chiba begins using the device (illegally) to help some of her patients, assuming the identity of “Paprika”, a fun pixie who represents everything Atsuko is not. Things start to go wrong, and soon the dream world and the real world begin to intertwine. Atsuko must embrace both parts of her personality to save the world and restore order. Paprika is available for rent or purchase on Youtube.
This 2010 Studio Ghibli film was the debut of Hiromasa Yonebayashi, who had some very big shoes to fill after Miyazaki. He nailed it with The Secret World of Arrietya lovely adaptation of by Mary Norton Borrowers series on one very a small family that lives secretly inside the walls of a large house, “borrowing” from the family what they need to survive.
In this version, the young borrower, Shida, befriends a human boy named ShÅ while trying to keep her world a secret from other humans. It’s a sweet slice-of-life story about an unconventional family and their struggles to survive. And unlike Catscough cough, The Secret World of Arriety did a good job shrinking his world to fit Shida and the rest of his family. You’ll love all the clever ways they bring Arriety’s home to life. The Secret World of Arriety is available on netflix.
The girl who crossed time (2006)
This 2006 anime is a special gem because of how it showcases the psychology of suddenly having a superpower. A lot of times we see people who develop abilities go into ‘hero mode’ quickly, but Makoto is much easier to understand. After discovering that she has the ability to time jump, she spends much of the film using it for stupid bullshit to better her life. Take tests, avoid fights with friends, even relive a fantastic karaoke song over and over and over again. It’s only when she realizes her powers have a limit that she tries to work things out with her loved ones. It’s a sweet love story and a powerful emotional journey told through a distinctly sci-fi lens. The girl who crossed time does not appear to be available online in Australia, but can be purchased at DVD or Blu-ray.
It’s worth seeing this film if only for the achievement of the number of other films it influenced. Akira is a fantastic science fiction film from 1988 (with a redo on the way) which takes place several decades after a singularity destroys Tokyo, with a new city and a new way of life emerging in its place. A young man named Tetsuo literally collides with fate, awakening psychic powers that signal his eventual transcendence into another plane of existence.
The story is blade runner meets 2001: A Space Odysseywith some of the most groundbreaking animation of the period” and its legacy is felt across the industry, in everything from stellar anime like cowboy bebop and Serial Experiments Lain for The matrix movies, Kill Bill, and The black Knight. Same star wars owes part of its continued success to Akira. The story and style alone are enough to warrant seeing this film, but that goes double for anyone wanting a glimpse of one of the most influential films of our generation. Akira does not appear to be available for streaming in Australia, but is available for purchase on DVD or Blu-ray.
Wolf children is the story of a mother who learns to let her children go, with one caveat: they can turn into wolves. wolf children, of the director of The girl who crossed time, is about a human named Hana who falls in love with a shapeshifter and has two children with him. Unfortunately, he dies soon after and Hana has to raise her two shapeshifting children on her own.
It may be a classic “fish out of water” story, but what makes it unique is that it is as much about the mother as it is about the children. As Yuki and Ame debate whether to hide or embrace their animal selves, Hana must work to keep their identities a secret without making them feel like their wolf sides are something they’re ashamed of. Ultimately, each child chooses their own path and Hana must tell her story as best she can. Wolf children is available for purchase at Youtube.
Speaking of influential films, ghost in the shell is one of the staples of the cyberpunk genre, drawing on the approaches of Akira and blade runner and take them to new heights of visual storytelling. ghost in the shell takes place in a world where the human body or even the mind can be augmented with cybernetic parts. It centers on Major Motoko Kusanagi, who is on the hunt for the Puppet Master, a super-hacker who can take control of an augmented person’s body without their knowledge or consent” but there is a greater truth. dark on the true origins and purpose of the puppet master.The film has influenced everything since The matrix movies at Avatarand even got his own live remake…which we won’t talk about anymore. the ghost in the shell the reissue is available at DVDs and Blu-rays.