1) SPIRITED AWAY (2001)
The first time I saw Spirited Away was at the Secret Cinema where I was able to eat all the different foods they were eating on screen. This included yummy rice balls, sweets and all sort of sushi, this is what makes Spirited Away one for the foodies.
Directed by Hayao Miyazaki, this Stuido Ghibli film offers an equal balance between horror and humour. The beautiful composition of art and Miyazaki’s unique way of making the audience feel compassion and appreciation towards the characters makes him one my top storytellers.
This film follows a shy, grumpy young girl named Chihiro whose parents decide to move far out of the country. Whilst on their way to their new home they explore an abandoned theme park where she is approached by a boy who warns her to leave before nightfall. However, before she is able to escape night has fallen and she ends up stuck in a spirit world.
I’m not going to give away the rest as it’s a great start for those who have never seen any anime before. Miyazaki draws on pain, death and blood whilst still keeping a childlike atmosphere around. It can be said this film features many life lessons implying that with love, humour and stunning animation these life lessons are all worth while.
2) URUSEI YATSURA: BEAUTIFUL DREAMER (1984)
©AnimEigo ©MVM Films
Urusei Yatsura: Beautiful Dreamer is a long-running manga silly comedy series about a flirty schoolboy, his alien girlfriend, and their crazy classmates. This is the second Urusei Yatsura film for director Mamoru Oshii, and you can distinctively tell he made this film however and whatever he wanted. Although not being completely embraced by some Japanese, Western culture took a huge liking towards it as no previous manga knowledge is needed. Due to its cheeky innuendos and quirky humour this film makes it universal and fun despite your background.
3) PAPRIKA (2006)
©Madhouse ©Sony Pictures Entertainment Japan
This was he last of masterful director Satoshi Kon’s work before he sadly died. However, he still managed to convey (like all this other films) tales of dreamy exploration and manipulation.
It is basically a film about dreams, jumping from one to the other eventually loosely tying up at the end, and revolves around the manipulation of dreams and how they can be accessed even in real life. Kon perfectly depicts the shift between reality and the dreamworld. It should be enjoyed as an exciting ride with giant dolls and clowns entertaining you throughout.
Paprika draws you in and never lets you go. You may feel a little confused throughout but that is the whole point, it opens up your conscious to some out of this world imaginations. Its visual beauty and vibrant characters makes it a must see.
4) PRINCESS MONONOKE (1997)
Another Miyazaki film, Princess Mononoke is set in a medieval Japan where some men lived in coherence with nature and others were out to destroy it. It tells the story of how all humans, animals, and nature Gods will fight for their power and land they want.
It’s attention to such close details makes this film, for me, one of the most visually inventive films. Miyazaki also creates a deep sense of humanism which differs from many other Hollywood love stories. In one scene, Ashitaka and San confess their lvoe for each other but because of the different paths their lives take they have to let each other go. Overall, it’s a must see and sways from conventional animations.
5) GHOST IN THE SHELL (1995)
Ghost In The Shell, directed by Mamoru Oshii, was adapted from Masamune’s manga series. Set in its near-future world, humans co-exist with robots and cyborgs. This film is predominately aimed at a more mature audience because of its scenes filled with sex, violence and nudity, and displays women as being protagonists but completely in the nude.
It’s not a film which can be grasped immediately, but it you can get past it’s mind-altering storylines it’s an anime which Sci-Fi fans will thoroughly enjoy.