Animation and Anime

AICN Anime: Sky Crawlers -You know what they say about movies with cute kids and dogs? This is the Oshii film with both...

Published at: May 26, 2009, 12:46 p.m. CST by scottgreen

Logo handmade by Bannister Column by Scott Green

Anime Spotlight: The Sky Crawlers Released by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment on Blu-ray and DVD May 26th

Buzz has it that the Sky Crawlers is one of Mamoru Oshii's more accessible movies. Compared to his other works in recent years, it is certainly less cofoundingly referential than Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence. This isn't AS wordy as some Oshii films - there's A Camus reference, A Shakespeare reference, a few short conversations with speakers not looking at each other. At the same time, its Battle of Britain dog-fought over a hyper-Europe is certainly more internationally ready than Tachiguishi Retsuden: The Amazing Lives of the Fast Food Grifters - a pseudohistory documentary of dine and dash con-artists from his Kerbero Panzer Cops alternate time line. It might be helpful to think of the Sky Crawlers as Oshii's Hayao Miyazaki film (the two anime directors have exchanged barbs over the years), considering its idealized European setting, its concern with flight and its sentiment that there is a less than genuine character to modern living. In that final regard, the Sky Crawlers specifically sets its sights on long standing anime fans. In its targeting of arrested development, not only does it feature a story that concerns patterns in the lives of perpetual teen-agers, screening press notes explicitly drew the comparison to hikikomori - the Japanese term for shut-ins who completely withdraw from social interaction. The movie's hook is obsessively detailed propeller aircraft, painstakingly rendered through their flight into lethal duels. At the same time, it's using recognizable character types and personality traits to engage and critique an audience who's seen more than their share of anime, who might wish to envision themselves in the cockpit of those fighters. For even a casual student of the medium, The Sky Crawlers is inseparable from its director. Mamoru Oshii is a phenomenon. He came to prominence in the field directing a bit over a hundred episodes of the anime adaptation of the zany comedy Urusei Yatsura. The first mega-adaptation of the first mega-work from Rumiko Takahashi (InuYasha, Ranma 1/2), the series followed the hijinks of congenitally unlucky, chronic girl chaser Ataru and Lum, an alien green haired girl with tiny horns, clad in a tiger striped bikini, modeled after the look of Japan's traditional oni-ogres. It's an early example of anime's pairing of a hapless guy and exotic girl, charmingly animated by a director who rose to the challenge of keeping quirky slapstick funny episode after episode. Despite the inclusion of a few sci-fi tropes, it's not the kind of story associated with Oshii. Brian Ruh's Stray Dog of Anime notes Oshii has said "I had to struggle with the ideas and views of the original writer. I only met with Takahashi a few times - there is no friendship between us." After kicking off the direct to video OVA market with the sci-fi Dallos, Oshii began popularizing his trademark themes and vision with works like his retelling of the Japanese Rip Van Winkle story Urashima Taro in the second Urusei Yatsura movie, Beautiful Dreamer. In the movie, Ataru, Lum and their gang of friends began spending long hours together preparing a "Third Reich Decadent Coffee Shop" for their school festival (militarism, and especially fascist militarism being one of Oshii's reoccurring themes). Eventually, the group realized that the long day that they've spent together is the same one, played over-and-over again in someone's dream. Many of the themes and motifs of this movie would also begin reoccurring. Along with the military hardware, these dreams, and distorted, seeking gazes into the nature of reality would occur throughout Oshii's body of work. Oshii's popularity in North America has been powerful, but unconventional. Lum was once one of the primary mascots for anime in North America (though that credit would probably have to be pinned to Takahashi rather than Oshii). His political, initially goofy, police robot series Patlabor attracted the attention of early sci-fi minded anime fans. Later, Oshii hit big in the opening strike of the anime boom with his adaptation of Masamune Shirow's cyborg elite law enforcement team in Ghost in the Shell. While the original movie wasn't a smash in Japan, its international popularity became an enabling feather in Oshii's cap. As Brian Ruh said in Stray Dog of Anime "At the time, it garnered more attention in the western media than any previous anime film, save perhaps Akira. Ghost in the Shell has become one of the most analyzed anime films by Western Academics. For better or for worse it has become an ambassador abroad for Japanese animated film." It was a template for the Matrix, it rekindled the popularity of anime for the VHS tape buying audience of sci-fi fans, and it made Oshii an internationally recognized name. Yet, while Ghost in the Shell showcased complex, painstakingly rendered locales with action that sprung off the potential of the medium, the on screen dialectics and slow moments of simply working with the perception of an environment made Oshii the object of plenty of ambivalence. This reaction would become a hallmark of his work. Urusei Yatsura and Patlabor still have enthusiastic fans, but other Oshii works seem to be admired rather than embraced. While he is still one of the most recognizable names among the anime conscious in North America, the announcement of a new Oshii work is often greeted with intrigued trepidation. As with other recent Oshii films, the premise connected to an adaptation of Hiroshi Mori's Sky Crawlers novels offers equal potential for blistering action and disappearing down a philosophical rabbit hole. For some bearings, Mori is best known as a writer of rikei (novels that present puzzles of mathematics and other sciences). Though the Sky Crawler books represent something of an outlier in Mori's genre allegiances, they were published out of chronological order, tasking the reader with piecing together information about what is being presented. In that vein, it's been said to think of the Sky Crawlers movie like a mystery. Teenage Yuichi Kannami (voiced by Letters from Iwo Jima's Ryo Kase) drops down on an idyllic airfield. The veteran mechanic at the installation informs him that, on orders from higher ups, Yuichi is to exchange the fighter that he flew in on with one from the base. He'll be replacing one of the base's former pilots, but no one will tell him why the outgoing pilot is not present for a handoff, or even the plane's former pilot's fate. The Sky Crawlers use of anime's common conceit of teenage warriors is given an explanation. Yuichi, his cheery, slightly hedonistic wing man Naofumi Tokino and their commanding officer Suito Kusanagi (voice by live action star Rinko Kikuchi - Babel, the Brothers Bloom; Kill Bill/Battle Royale's Chiaki Kuriyama also has a supporting role) are Kildren: unaging eternal teenagers tasked with fighting aerial battles in their assigned "theatre" of a war between corporations. They drink, they smoke, they visit the local brothel, and they sortie off into fights with squads from the opposing company. Sometimes they die, and when that happens it's often at the hands of the "Teacher:" an ace of aces, recognized by the black leopard painted on the nose of his plane. You know what they say about movies with cute kids and dogs? This is the Oshii film with both... Given that it's one of his trademarks, it shouldn't be surprising that The Sky Crawlers features a basset hound trailing the characters and barking at launching and landing planes. In addition that mascot, this might only the Oshii film with a moe character; a cute younger sister who expresses wonder at the sparks set off during welding repairs on a plane or gives the heroes earnest looks. A precious innocent adopting the lead as a surrogate big brother does lend credence to the suggestion that hard-core geek otaku culture is the Rosetta Stone to Oshii's intentions for The Sky Crawlers. There's a rationalization articulated in places like black geek comedy Welcome to the NHK in which a 2D girlfriend is said to be superior to a real one. Where as a living person has their own flaws, needs and priorities, the girl of the dating sim game or anime is an idealized reflection of what the consumer is looking for. The Sky Crawlers presents the 2D girlfriend version of war. It takes the need for aggression and productizes it into a refined, repeatable package. Like the otaku looking to vicariously capture some affection with iteration after iteration of the bland guy, finding love in a sea of colorful girls, The Sky Crawlers is set in a world in which a chronicle of a well demarked war isn't just in the newspapers and TV, but accessible via tours of the bases. (Unlike the Japanese named, Japanese looking Kildren, these tourists look Western and speak English - shades of Akihabara?) So, the audience of the war might weep and rend at the sight of a loss, but the conflict does not actually have a direct impact on their lives or the potential to endanger them. The not-quite past of The Sky Crawlers doesn't have the machinery and scale of post World War II military industrial complex. Instead, there's plenty of remora business. It's a model not unlike sports. The Kildren pilots/star talent lives well, if not safely. This parallel even extends to the hard to quantify mix of self interest and philanthropic outreach, as demonstrated in a scene where an ace questions whether a party scheduled for the eve of a major offensive will be cancelled, sitting that the event is thrown for the local kids on a regular basis. The teams/leagues seems to be doing fine. Then, there's all the auxiliary business. The tours of the bases and eateries around them, not to mention all the media coverage on TV and in the papers. As products and participants of this idealized version of war, the Kildren are divorced from anything other than filling a niche in the war's pattern. They aren't cared for and don't take care of family. They don't have friends, lovers, or even really enemies - The Teacher is more of a nemesis. They smoke with no regard for health concerns. For that matter, they don't seem to regard time like it counts for much either. Even in regards to the war, they're more often than not just going through the motions. When a tourist asks Yuichi if he marks his plane to record enemies he's shot down, he responds that some pilots do, but that he's never been interested. Another time, he spots a squad of enemy bombers flying towards the base. He phones in a report, then begins heading back. He's passed on his scooter by the pair of prostitutes that he and Naofumi frequent as they zip towards the base in their convertible to watch the happenings. They stop and ask if Yuichi wants a ride, but he declines, mentioning that the scooter needs to be brought back since it's a loaner. Oshii's anime movies are gorgeous, often punctuated by dynamic, sharply crafted action sequences. However, the direction is rarely intent on exciting the audience. Patlaborís fun, almost fan-service, scene of the team gearing up for battle is rare in a filmography full of professionals laboring to get the job done. A lack of visceral excitement is imprinted into the genetics of The Sky Crawlers. I'm reminded of "Shaking Tokyo," Joon-ho Bong's hikikimori segment of the triptych Tokyo! As that short opens, its apartment bound hero is so apathetic that he struggles to cause himself to react to physical stimuli. The Sky Crawlers' heroes are naturalistically distant. Especially compared to characters like Gundam's emotionally disturbed Amuro Ray or Zeta Gundam's possibly autistic Kamille Bidan, it's more an internalized detachment than anything showy. There's a scene in Sky Crawlers in which Naofumi bowls a strike and spins into a pirouette victory dance. Like the depicted move, the fluid animation itself is quite an achievement, but the film immediately levels the mood. Kusanagi doesn't turn to face Naofumi , and simply exhales a puff of smoke from her cigarette. Yuichi holds his beer and looks past Naofumi, towards the wall at the end of the bowling lane. Sky Crawlers itself is more in the spirit of Yuichi rather than Naofumi. There's little self congratulatory exhibitionism in its achievements. Interiors shots are lavish, from the baroque design of the base HQ to the motorsport ephemera on the wall of the local road side eatery frequented by Yuichi, Naofumi and their escorts. Location shots are similarly travel programming beautiful. The flight and aerial combat spectacularly mix Oshii's interest in bending perception as the pilots exchange up for down and back in their mid-air turning with a sense of logical mechanism in solid reality of the planes. Filtered through the Kildren's lithium soaked view, the Sky Crawlers does not sell the excitement of seeing the places or the mid-air feats. The movie is rarely actively negative. If you bring your own enthusiasm for aerial combat to the movie, the film will not actually try to dissuade you. However, whether it is beauty or exhilaration, The Sky Crawlers applies its coating of malaise. In statements about the movie Oshii explicitly points the finger at the modern, first world where "In our peaceful country, there is no more starvation, revolution, or war. We have a society where we can live out our allotted spans of lives without ever having to feel deprived of food, clothing, or shelter...Isn't this comfortable life that we have achieved, a monotonous purgatory that doesn't end until we die?" This is a "media is the message" social critique. There are hundreds of anime series produced in a year (288 in 2008), but anime movies that aren't annual franchise products (the Pokemon movies, the Dragon Ball movies and so on), are actually few and far between. Like many of these movies, Sky Crawlers is a gem of a technical achievement. However, it's also an expression of dissatisfaction with the whole business of anime. It's probably no accident that most of the movies voice actors and its writer (Chihiro Ito) aren't from the field. If the anime-fan viewer identifies with the Kildren, The Sky Crawlers places them as a party to an unproductive, false system. If the viewer isn't an anime fan, The Sky Crawlers puts them into the seat of the gawking tourist, eyeballing a struggle that they helped to stage, but in which they don't have a real stake. If the film leaves you feeling a bit empty, irritated or disquieted, that was probably a mark of the its success. By the way, watch the Sky Crawlers past its credits. I'm not convinced its necessary, but the solution to the mystery and the message are emphasized in a final scene.

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  • May 26, 2009, 12:46 p.m. CST

    first

    by simondark

    fuckers

  • May 26, 2009, 12:47 p.m. CST

    hahahhahahahah

    by simondark

    I have no idea what the article is about but whatever...

  • May 26, 2009, 1 p.m. CST

    WOW...

    by Deandome

    I didn't know it was possible to literally smell the unique, compound-odor of virginity, awkwardness, parent's basement mustiness and bad hygiene over the internet. Color me 'proven wrong'! "Monotonous purgatory" GOOD GOD, it's a fricken cartoon (sits back...waits for geek-brain explosion). I MIGHT have had an interest in seeing this, but this thesis has convinced me I'm not worthy. Besides, he didn't tell me how good the English dubbing is (wait...for...it......KABLOOEY!!!).

  • May 26, 2009, 1:45 p.m. CST

    It's off-topic

    by seppukudkurosawa

    but I'd just like to extend a HUGE thanks to Scott for recommending Miyazaki's Future Boy Conan in one of his columns the other day. I finished the twenty-sixth episode a few days ago and I'm still reeling from what a great program that was. I'd highly recommend it to any Miyazaki fan who might be reading this- although make sure you scout down a fan-subbed version (one search for "Conan Future Boy" on Google Video should do the trick), as the official subs are Godawful. I'd put it up there with the Nausicaa mangas and Spirited Away as my favourite thing he's ever done.<p> Oh, and a great review. Especially considering I saw GOTS: Innocence for the first time only yesterday.

  • May 26, 2009, 5:22 p.m. CST

    seppukudkurosawa...dammit!!!

    by FlickaPoo

    ...I've been preaching FUTURE BOY CONAN every other anime or animation talkback forever. I don't ask for riches...or fame...all I want is credit!!!!!!!!ok, I'm done now.

  • May 26, 2009, 5:26 p.m. CST

    Oshii

    by Tobiwise

    Needs to move on, if you're familiar with his previous work, the twist is completely predictable, the movie's boring thanks to it's "heroes" "naturalistically distant" "internalized detachment than anything showy" it's fancy words for emo kids, that's what they come across as, I had enough of that crap from Evangelion, I really wanted to like this movie, and from a visual stand point it's a treat, the music is haunting, but even then I wouldn't recommend it.

  • May 26, 2009, 5:28 p.m. CST

    Isn't this a Sony film?

    by Harry Weinstein

    I thought nothing good ever came from the Internet. Why carry their water?

  • May 26, 2009, 5:47 p.m. CST

    Downloaded the trailer on PSN

    by Johnno

    Film looks nice in HD. However I don't like how they're emphasizing all the action scenes in the trailer as they're trying to make it look like an action packed spectacle and Sky Crawlers is really a slow deliberate movie where the action fills up about 30% of the film. I did a review of it here for AICN somewhere, but anyway the trailer comes off as false advertising. Also as an afterthought, Oshii says he's targeting this film's message for a young audience, but the pacing of the film if anything will turn off most younger viewers.

  • May 26, 2009, 5:53 p.m. CST

    Who are the ad wizards...

    by wampa 1

    ...that came up with this one?

  • May 26, 2009, 6 p.m. CST

    You have to be kidding...

    by Cutter99

    An anime movie that's ultimately about how mad the director is at anime movies? If the point of the movie is to show both fans and newcomers how they've helped to create schlock like this - the message is clear: don't ever purchase or watch this film, it's a trick.

  • May 26, 2009, 6:16 p.m. CST

    I'll never understand the love for anime

    by bullet3

    Just watching 30 seconds of horribly written stilted dialog in the trailer for this reconfirms my suspicions. If these movies were live action, they would be laughed out of theatres, but because they're animated people seem to just let all these problems slide.

  • May 26, 2009, 6:25 p.m. CST

    Bullet3

    by StrokerX

    There's good anime and bad anime. You just have to look around. Watch Sword of the Stranger and then get back to me.

  • May 26, 2009, 6:34 p.m. CST

    There is even a Wii game about it

    by Roderich

    which looks very interesting. But to my knowledge, both the movie and the game bombed in Japan, so there is not much hope that either comes to Europe. USA at leats get's the movie it seems.

  • May 26, 2009, 7:59 p.m. CST

    Thanks Scott

    by the zapper

    The more I read your work the more I am convinced you are the best columnist here at AICN (even thogh I scan through alot of your anime reports to try and find Evangelion info =p ). "The Stry Dog of Anime" was a great insight into Oshii's work. Have you read "Anime from A-z" by Susan Napier by any chance?

  • May 26, 2009, 8:21 p.m. CST

    seen it - VERRRY SLOW & BORING

    by quamb

    Bought this on DVD in hong kong. Have tried to watch it twice now, and both times have fallen asleep by the 30min mark. And I never fall asleep in films, infact I LOVE slow films. So yeah... take that as a warning.

  • May 26, 2009, 8:46 p.m. CST

    how about

    by frank cotton

    a condensed version of the review that dispenses with the history lesson for those of us who don't have all day?

  • May 26, 2009, 8:53 p.m. CST

    re: by the zapper

    by ScottGreen

    You mean Napier Anime from Akira to Howl's Moving Castle (formerly Princess Mononoke)? Yeah. Napier's a bit of a divisive figure, but for academic writing that and From Impressionism to Anime are certainly worth reading. As is the Mechadamia journal. If you have some extra cash, when I really recommend tracking down is "Little Boy: The Arts of Japan's Exploding Subculture" which was the hardcover book that accompanied Takashi Murakami's Superflat exhibition

  • May 26, 2009, 9:01 p.m. CST

    To me Oshii has always been about how he can

    by Amy Chasing

    push the technology of animation and filmmaking. The story and characters always seemed a bit alien and... sterile for lack of a better word, compared to the richness of eye-candy on display. <P> I would compare Oshii to Miyazaki like comparing perhaps Hans Zimmer to Trevor Jones, or something like that. Hard to describe really.

  • May 26, 2009, 10:44 p.m. CST

    bullet3

    by The Dark Shite

    I said the same thing the other week. Since then, I've been trying to educate myself in it, with varying success.<p> I've gone into it as open minded as possible & so far it's been a mixed bag. Some rubbish, some too weird for its own good & buried under too much forced abstract metaphysical jibberish, but also some really great, really imaginative stories. As a writer of sci-fi, whose stuff is so out there it would never be made as a film, I wish I'd gained an appreciation for a long time ago. As it is, I'm still learning/getting used to the conventions of it & I'm by no means an aficionado, but it's at least reached a point where I can judge it in the same way I would any movie.

  • May 27, 2009, midnight CST

    Scott

    by the zapper

    Yeh, that's the one I was talking about. Thanks for the recommendations

  • May 27, 2009, 1:39 a.m. CST

    The Dark Shite

    by bullet3

    Thanks for the advice, I might take a leap and seek out some of the higher regarded stuff in a few weeks when classes let out. Can anyone on the board recommend something somewhat mainstream and accessible? The less weird-stuff the better. I think the closest I've seen so far has been Cowboy Bebop and I enjoyed that (still haven't tried Samurai Champloo though).

  • May 27, 2009, 2:19 a.m. CST

    Actually, Flickapoo

    by seppukudkurosawa

    You're right, your Future Boy Conan campaign turned it from just another Japanglish anime title I knew nothing about into something I actually got off my arse to watch!<p> I wrote a mini-review in The Zone that I might as well repost here, just in case someone else here who hasn't heard of it is inspired to check it out. (Oh and sorry for hijacking the talkback, Scott!)<p> I've been watching one of Miyazaki's first projects, Future Boy Conan, after Scott Green name-dropped it in his column the other day. It's at least in my top 3 favourite things he's done, simply because of the sheer quantity of Miyazaki goodness: 26 half hour episodes.<p> This was written a little before Miyazaki started work on the Nausicaa movie and manga series of the same name (also in my Miyazaki top 3), so he's in his eco-friendly mode where it seems that the world is a character in itself. Technically it's an adaptation of a book written by the guy who wrote Escape to Witch Mountain, but from what I hear Miyazaki just used it as a launching pad to do his own thang. It's set in around 2008- which is to say 30 years in the "future" from when it first came out. The world got kinda fucked up. The blurb at the beginning of each episode reads something like: "A devastating war fought between two major nations with ultramagnetic weapons far greater than anything seen earlier brings about total chaos and destruction throughout the world, resulting in several earthquakes and tidal waves, the earth thrown off its axis, its crust being rocked by massive movements, and the five continents being torn completely apart and sinking deep below the sea."<p> It's pretty crazy to think that this is what kids were given for entertainment back in the late '70s. There's no pandering at all, a fair bit of swearing, and the main character, who must be about 10 or 11, gets beaten to a pulp at least five times throughout the series. But Miyazaki and crew inject so much life into these characters... Even the comic relief- a dopey sea-captain named Dyce and Conan's best friend, Jimsy, who kind of reminds me of a young Pigsy (from Monkey)- are written with empathy. Conan and the girl who washes up on his island, Lana, almost form a psychic connection as the series goes on. It's touching, eh?<p> I'm pretty sure Miyazaki cannibalized this work for a few ideas in his later movies. It most reminds me of Castle in the Sky. In fact, the two main characters in that one seem VERY similar to Lana and Conan. Except they didn't have 26 episodes in order to get fleshed out.<p> There's a bit of repetition, some there and back agains, and I guess some people might find the eco message a little preachy, as do a few detractors of Nausicaa... Also, the animation is a tiny bit more primitive than some of his later works (though he'll still drop the occasional backdrop that'll knock you out). However, Miyazaki's one of the masters of his medium and I don't see how any fan could pass up on the opportunity of seeing more of his work.

  • May 27, 2009, 3:18 a.m. CST

    bullet3

    by Wingnut1A

    Im glad that you are actually trying to find good material rather than just doing a drive-by bashing and then leaving. =) For a relatively normal title, I'd suggest one of my favorites: "Planetes." It is a sci-fi ensemble set in the near future, but there are no evil alien invaders, or mystical artifacts. It involves a group of people dealing with personal issues and reaching for their dreams, all while working as debris collectors in near Earth orbit. It takes 2 or 3 episodes to reach it's stride, but when it does it is definitely worth watching. Another thing I really like about this program is the scientific realism depicted about space travel. I get a real sense of the physics involved with working in a micro-G environment. I hope you give it a try.

  • May 27, 2009, 4:09 a.m. CST

    Want to educate yourself on anime?

    by timpig3k

    This is a good place to start: 10 anime films you should see before you die: http://timmaughanbooks.com/2009/04/25/ten-anime-films-you-should-see-before-you-die/

  • May 27, 2009, 4:11 a.m. CST

    Educate yourself on anime: short URL

    by timpig3k

    This is a good place to start: 10 anime films you should see before you die: http://tinyurl.com/pzyuk6 Edit button would be great ;)

  • May 27, 2009, 6:19 a.m. CST

    re: bullet3

    by ScottGreen

    If you're looking for something mainstream, and haven't watch much since Cowboy Bebop, I recommend Baccano http://tinyurl.com/6h27v8

  • May 27, 2009, 8:29 a.m. CST

    Since we're all suggesting classic anime to watch...

    by Amy Chasing

    and someone suggested Sword Of The Stranger. In that vein is Samurai X: Trust & Betrayal (Rurouni Kenshin: Tsuiokuhen (Recollection or Reminiscence)). Regarded by some to be one of the finest anime ever made. <P> I too recommend Baccano! It's a hoot.

  • May 27, 2009, 8:40 a.m. CST

    Baccano!

    by Projectedlight

    Lots of stock characters, and lots of Bebop-esque style. It's a lot of fun, but I felt the totally gratuitous gore detracts a bit from that (I seem to be in a bit of a minority on that). But don't expect to remember much of it six months down the line.

  • May 27, 2009, 8:40 a.m. CST

    Regarding the link to 10 anime films you should see...

    by Amy Chasing

    Check out that page not just for the films they have in the list, but for the films people mention in posts below. I would be editing that list to either include some of those people's suggestions, or make it a list of 20 at least. ;) <P> I mean seriously, Voices Of A Distant Star but no Grave Of The Fireflies... Porco Rosso over Princess Mononoke... c'mmooonnnn...

  • May 27, 2009, 10:19 a.m. CST

    As far as recommendations of films...

    by Johnno

    A lesser brought up one, but one I like a lot is 'Metropolis.' If you're new to anime it's definately a good one to pick up! Also if you like short films, check out 'Memories'! And let's not forget works such as 'Millenium Actress' & 'Tokyo Godfathers'!

  • May 27, 2009, 10:44 a.m. CST

    Amy Chasing

    by timpig3k

    When I put that list together - like I say in the actual post - it was HARD not to make that nearly all Ghibli films. And it's a shame no Takahata works are in there. But the idea was to give people ten films they could pick to see, and with a selection of different styles and genres. Voices of a Distant Star is an amazing piece of short filmaking, and a brilliant, byte-sized introduction to what anime is capable of. I've showed that to a friends and in 25 minutes it's totally changed their opinion of the medium. And yeah, Princess Mononoke is an amazing film, near perfect - all Miyazaki's are...but I love Porco Rosso just that little bit more. And it's my list ;)

  • May 27, 2009, 12:38 p.m. CST

    Ten Anime Films You Should See Before You Die

    by Harry Weinstein

    No MINDGAME. Fail.

  • May 27, 2009, 2:15 p.m. CST

    Dark Shite and Bullet3 - Beginner's Guide to Anime

    by Prof_Ender

    Give this a shot. http://www.animeacademy.com/beginners_guide.php

  • May 27, 2009, 8:34 p.m. CST

    Thanks for the links!

    by The Dark Shite

    They're pretty useful. One problem with trying to learn this stuff is that it's time consuming & I've already made a few mistakes, watching stuff that was a waste of time. It helps to get tips from people who know about it.<p> I watched 2 movies last night by the way, both about as different from each other as they could be. They're both pretty famous (in as much as I'd heard of them before), & I thought it would be a good idea to start with well known stuff, when possible.:<p> 1: Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex. This was awesome! I'm not surprised I've heard of it. It was a bit dated, but to be fair, I don't think I could even count how many movies must have ripped it off!<p> 2: Howl's moving Castle: Again, pretty impressive! Really fun & full of imagination. I suppose the best way to describe it would be "Truly Cinematic". The only drawback was that I spent the whole time imagining what it would look like as a live action movie, which maybe goes against my Anime education thing. I should probably be looking at it as only an Anime & accepting it that way. I loved it though!

  • May 28, 2009, 12:11 a.m. CST

    Anime movies are only the beginning...

    by Amy Chasing

    don't forget the wonderful TV series and direct-to-DVD series and movies. Just google "best anime" for inspiration.

  • May 28, 2009, 1:23 a.m. CST

    But be wary of most anime's IMDB ratings

    by seppukudkurosawa

    which have all been jacked up by crazed tweenagers because, "OMG DIS IS DE BEST THING EVAR! SPECIALLY THE PART WHERE HE SLICEZ HIM UP WITH HIS SWORD AND THE BLOOD GOES ALL OVER THE SCREEN! WTFZERS!!! SO AWESOME."

  • May 28, 2009, 2:28 p.m. CST

    Ghost in the Shell

    by Wingnut1A

    That's one of my favorite Anime movies. Be sure to check out the TV Series "Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex." The plot is very complcated and you have to really pay attention to understand exactly what's going on. Even so, it is, in my opinion, one of the top 3 Anime series ever. The second season called "Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex 2nd gig" is just as good. Great action!

  • May 28, 2009, 8:24 p.m. CST

    There's a third Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex

    by Amy Chasing

    It's a direct-to-DVD movie I think.

  • May 29, 2009, 2:28 p.m. CST

    GITS

    by Johnno

    There's the first film 'Ghost in the Shell' by Mamoru Oshii. And the sequel 'INNOCENCE: Ghost in the Shell 2'.<br><br>The TV series is it's own thing not a part of the movies which is 'Ghost in the Shell: StandAlone Complex.' Followed by another season called 'Ghost in the Shell: StandAlone Complex - 2nd GiG.' And a follow-up movie 'Ghost in the Shell: StandAlone Complex - Solid State Society.'

  • May 29, 2009, 8:40 p.m. CST

    That's GITS:SAC-SSS for those who are paying attention.

    by Amy Chasing

    There's going to be a test.

  • May 31, 2009, 9:31 a.m. CST

    Ok, that's odd

    by The Dark Shite

    The Ghost in the Shell:Stand Alone Complex I watched was a movie, not a series. Although I saw it on a streaming site, so maybe it was wrongly titled or edited by a fan to be a movie? Just when I start learning everything gets confusing:-).

  • June 1, 2009, 6:25 a.m. CST

    Dark Shite

    by Wingnut1A

    Perhaps you saw "Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex - Solid State Society." I believe that was a feature length direct to video release, but in the timeline of the TV series. hehe I haven't seen that one yet.

  • Sept. 5, 2009, 9:07 p.m. CST

    Berserk and X were great series

    by bat725

    I was even able to get my wife to watch them with me. Unfortunately, I can't get her into GITS--she gets lost every time.