Anime Review: The 5 Best Anime Movies

I’m now continuing the series of ‘The 5 Best Anime…’ with the list of anime movies which have influeced me the most.

1. The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya (涼宮ハルヒの消失, Suzumiya Haruhi no Shōshitsu)

‘The Disapperance of Haruhi Suzumiya’ is a sequel to the ‘The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya’ anime series. It is based on the 4th light novel by Nagaru Tanikawa, and again produced by Kyoto Animation in 2010. The storyline starts where the series ended, with Haruhi and friends making preparations for their upcoming Christmas party. But when arriving at school on the morning of December 18, Kyon discovers that everything has changed, including the fact that Haruhi has seemingly disappeared completely.

Technically, the quality of the animation is the best Kyoto Animation has ever done, which is a lot. The colors used deliver perfectly the feeling of early winter in Japan. The musical score is also good; it starts with a style derived from the series, but gradually changes to more movie-like score.

The movie is over 2,5 h long, but it doesn’t feel like it; at the first screening I thought ‘Oh, it ended already?’. The storyline really works and holds one’s interest to the end; that, of course, may greatly depend on whether you have seen the series or not.

My favourite scene in the film is the heart-wrenching moment when Kyon finally finds the disappered Haruhi…

2. Ghost in the Shell II: Innocence (イノセンス, Innocence)

‘Ghost in the Shell II: Innocence’, or just ‘Innocence’ for short, is a film made by Production I.G. in 2004, and directed by Mamoru Oshii. It is a sequel to Oshii’s 1995 masterpiece ‘Ghost in the Shell’ (which, incidentally, just failed to enter this list; it would have been number 6.)

Major Motoko Kusanagi disappeared at the end of the first movie, so Batou has now teamed up with Togusa. They start to investigate a series of killings made by robots, manufactured by a corporation named Locus Solus.

The film beautifully blends modern CGI animation with the traditional cel animation. The musical score is really something incredible, a real masterpiece by Kenji Kawai. If cyberpunk is not your cup of tea, just watch the movie because of the music.

3. Millenium Actress (千年女優, Sennen Joyū)

‘Millenium Actress’ is a film directed by recently deceased Satoshi Kon in 2001. It tells the story of a documentary filmmaker investigating the life of an elderly actress in which the boundary between reality and cinema become somewhat blurred.

The film gives an interesting insight to life in Japan from the 30s onwards, and also to the early days of filmmaking and film studios. Also, I find the multi-layered storytelling very fascinating.

4. The Sky Crawlers (スカイ·クロラ, Sukai Kurora)

‘The Sky Crawlers’ is a film directed by Mamoru Oshii and produced by Production I.G. in 2008. The film is set in an alternate history where private corporations contract fighter pilots to engage in actual combat operations against each other, for the entertainment of normal people, although the world itself is in peace.

I love Mamoru Oshii’s films; they have much deeper content inside than is apparent at first look. Also, I love aeroplanes; I spent my youth (ages of ~10-15) building plastic models of WWII aircrafts, so this film is perfect for me. The aerial combat sequences are incredible, you really get the feeling like sitting in the planes yourself.

It is a shame that the quality of the Finnish DVD release of this film was so bad it was nearly unwatchable… Do we have other ‘interlaced video’-haters here?

5. Whisper of the Heart (耳をすませば, Mimi o Sumaseba)

I would probably be killed if I fail to include here at least one film from the Ghibli studio… So here’s my favourite from their production lineup:

‘Whisper of the Heart’ is a 1995 Studio Ghibli film directed, surprisingly not by Hayao Miyazaki himself, but by Yoshifumi Kondō, who died in 1998. The story tells about the schoolgirl Shizuku Tsukishima, who is a bookworm and an aspiring writer. One day she finds a cat riding a train. She follows the cat, and discovers an antique shop… Well, I’m not going to reveal the whole (love) story here.

I first saw the film in the ‘Animen Yö’ (Anime Night) arranged by the Movie Club Niagara of Tampere, Finland, in 2010. I think it is the finest possible way to watch anime: a traditional analog film shown in a real movie theater.

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