There are plenty of folks who still equate Japanese animation with Pokemon and can't get used to the flat faces and weird storylines. But the plunge is worth taking. At their best, anime are as intelligent as the best feature films, and their daring plots can make the most jaded heads spin. Here are the best looking, most exciting anime DVDs.
Katsuhiro Otomo's 1988 classic is still the gold standard. An engaging plot and dazzling animation that has aged very little make this a must have. I watch it once a week. Look out for the two-disc special edition.
In Hayao Miyazaki's Alice-in-Wonderland tale, the wonders never stop. The beauty and inventiveness of the animation, coupled with the director's legendary humanity and warmth, make this one of my favorite films, animated or otherwise. A must-see spectacle.
The plot of this "Neuromancer"-influeced Sci-Fi spectacle is somewhat abortive, but don't let that bother you: the visuals are stunning, making this a very rewatchable DVD.
In Japan, Princess Mononoke
was the #1 grossing movie of all time until Titanic
dethroned it. Hayao Miyazaki's ecological fantasy is smart, touching, and offers a mature and balanced view of a complicated issue.
One of the most devastating war movies ever made, this classic tells the fate of two orphans after their city is firebombed.
The 1994 hit "Ninja Scroll" provides classic samuari action and involving adventure set in feudal Japan.
A TV series rather than a feature film, Cowboy Bebop
is good sci-fi fun with a hip edge and a sense of humor that's one step more sophisticated than the prevalent giggle-fests.
"Blood" is short, but it is oh-so-beautiful to behold. The digital animation is truly amazing. As the title suggests, the gore isn't bad either, for those who enjoy a bit of decapitation.
It was hard to pick only three of Miyazaki's films for this list. My Neighbor Tortoro
is his most innocent film, gorgous, sweet, and suitable for children yet wise and compelling for adults with a sense of wonder. All of his films are highly recommended, including Kiki's Delivery Service
and Castle in the Sky
A dark psychological thriller that's an excellent example of the genre's flexibility -- you will be scared witless for the main character, a pop singer who wants to start a movie career. Careful: may cause nightmares.