So what’s your favorite anime? That always seems to be one of the most asked questions whenever you get into a conversation about anime. Don’t get me wrong. That’s a very valid question and depending on your answer, can lead to quite a range of discussions. First of all, there are so many ways to answer that question. I can break down my favorites into many different sub genres that my list of favorites can go on almost forever. If you think about it, there is pretty much an anime for just about everything. You looking for an show about mechanical robots? There’s at least 50 types for you. Swimming? Done. Magical creatures, Sci-fi, video games, and westerns. Yes to all of those. You can even find an anime to learn about ancient history (although it may not be totally accurate and you can bet there’s gonna be some fan service to it). Here’s a link to a great resource to find out what anime type might be good for you: http://anilistings.webs.com/typesofanime.htm.
All in all, anime is a big subject now and has even gone mainstream here in America with shows imported from Japan on Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim line up. It is even incorporated in shows like South Park using the drawing style for a few of their episodes and having a big influence on the entire show like Avatar: the Last Air Bender. There are even collaborations of both East and West like Afro Samurai or the Animatrix which combine aspects and styles from both sides.
So what’s my favorite anime? My list is pretty deep and I can sit down and talk forever about what constitutes as my favorites. For now, let me tell you about my top 5 favorite anime movies of all time.
5) Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children
Final Fantasy VII……. one of the best video games ever. What has Japan done that Hollywood can’t? Make a movie based on a video game and make it the most awesome thing ever scene. That’s right Hollywood, watch and learn. This is one video game movie that retains most of the elements of the game and doesn’t lose sight of story versus filler. I can’t begin to describe how awesome watching this movie is, especially if you are a fan of the game and the characters and spent hours finishing every quest and leveling up every aspect in the game. Taking place two years after the events of the game (even if the ending made it seem like no one was left but Red XIII), the world is healing after the events, but the people are trying to rebuild. There seems to be an infection affecting the population with no known cure. The story revolves around Cloud, but also focuses on three newcomers who have similar traits to Sephiroth. Lines are divided and old enemies now seem to want to help with old friends and companions assisting when they are needed most. Inevitably, you know there has to be a show down between Cloud and Sephiroth which is all I hoped it would be animated. Plus there’s an awesome fight seen between Tifa and one of the villains that literally blew my mind. There’s plenty here for any fan of Final Fantasy VII and you’ll notice lots of scenes and tidbits from the video game that will make you nostalgic.
4) Macross Plus
Always been a fan of Robotech. Loved watching it on tv as a kid. So it was a huge surprise to me when I learned later on that it was a re-hash of a few series in japan and was actually called Macross. There have been a number of other series involving Macross, but not all of them followed a specific timeline or similar characters. Macross Plus was actually one that was in the same timeline as the original Macross. Although this was originally a four part OVA it was combined into a movie. Usually when I think of Macross I think of a few standing themes: love triangle, good music/soundtrack, elements of war through alien invaders, and of course awesome freaking transforming mechs!! Besides a great love story and the story of friends who grew up together only to grow up and apart due to a shady past event, Macross Plus has some of the greatest veritech fighters created. For those of you that don’t know, these veritech fighters are jet planes that transform into three modes: fighter, guardian mode (half fighter, half robot), and robot mode). A mix of stunning visuals, great music, and awesome mech battles even if the battles are between two veritech plane designs vying for a contract to be the new model for the military. The climatic ending itself was enough to make me jump out of my chair and wish I could actually fly one of these planes.
3) Ghost in the Shell
This anime is definitely a thinking anime. A very complex story that makes you think and question all sorts of philosophical themes. In the future the world has become one giant internet connection and most of humanity is connected to it constantly. Cybernetics is the norm and ranges from simple body parts to full cybernetic bodies. This leads to all sorts of mayhem in which our movie follows a government division called section 9 and their main leader Major Kusanagi in an attempt to solve a crime involving a hacker called the “puppet master”. Visually this movie is stunning and no less considering it was directed my the legendary Mamoru Oshii and was based on a manga by the also legendary Masamune Shirow. Debating on themes of what constitutes a “human” conscious and do cybernetic bodies carry these as they are now shells of their former human bodies. Hence the name Ghost in the Shell.
2) Galaxy 999
One of the first anime’s I ever saw and for some reason I remember seeing it on HBO as a kid and definitely remember how terrible the dub was. This anime got me into a bunch of other shows created by Leiji Matsumoto like Captain Herlock. The story follows an orphan kid named Tetsuro who wants a mechanized body to get revenge on the machines that killed his mother. Of course these bodies are expensive and requires that you travel to a distant planet to get one. Our protagonist hears of a planet that gives them for free, but requires a space train to take you there that comes only once a year, the Galaxy Express 999. By fate, Tetsuro runs into a woman named Maetel who is also going on this train and offers to take him along with her if he agrees to be her traveling companion. Of course he agrees, in which they depart on the space train and explore the many stops of the train route meeting and befriending all sorts of new people along his journey but also learning about himself and doing a little growing up of his own. I don’t wanna ruin a good story , but I will say Tetsuro an epiphany later in the story and with the help of other Leiji universe characters (Captain Herlock) saves the day. This was a pretty long show for its time, but was definitely worth it and hardly dragged at all. This is a seriously hard anime to find, especially on blu-ray and almost certainly needs to be imported to see. It is worth it nonetheless!!
I still can’t believe this movie was made in 1988 and can still hold a candle to almost any anime today. It is based on a manga by Katsuhiro Otomo who also directed the film. This anime has pretty much everything. Dystopian city in the future, biker gangs with cool bikes, adolescent love, hidden political agendas, conspiracies, anarchy, and of course psychic super powers. It’s a pretty deep movie and for the length of the movie actually rounds out and ends without confusing you even more. Just the detail alone in this anime make it a visual wonder. So much attention to detail. Every scene looks like it was made with precision which coming from 1988 was pretty awesome considering the way they animated then compared to now. Besides the power battles, both political and psychic, there’s the bike that has got to be the coolest thing ever animated. If you’re looking for a gateway anime, this is it. Although the movie diverges from the source manga, mostly because Otomo wasn’t near finished with it, this turned out to be a great story, even if the story of who exactly Akira is and how he relates to the story isn’t fully explained. This was actually in recent years released in blu-ray format in HD quality and sound and is definitely a must have in any anime collection.
Truthfully there are so many other movies that I can plug in and out of this list, but these are movies I can definitely watch over and over. I hope to be able to introduce you or reintroduce you to some of my favorite or newly discovered anime with these posts. With so many options to view anime nowadays it’s as easy as a click of the button or search on the internet to find a show that suits you.
Everyone has their favorites, let us know yours in the comments below!
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