When we think of anime, we generally tend to think of the many long-running shows that fans have come to love over the years. But the genre isn’t exclusive to episodic series or shows, and there are a number of brilliant movies that have come out of the years.
Many of these movies are often extensions to the original shows, or are stand-alone films that were created and directed by independent teams. These are some of the best anime films that are worth watching.
1. Akira – 1988
First revealed to fans in an iconic trailer from 1988, the story of Akira is one that has resonated with fans for decades, and remains a classic in the genre. Set in the distant future, the movie sees a secret military project that turns a member of a biker gang into a powerful psychic with murderous tendencies.
Its animation still holds up today, the story telling is bold and sometimes quite harsh, and it’s an excellent starting point for those that are new to the genre. The creators of the film have explained that it’s an allegory for the nuclear attacks on Japan in the 1940s, as well as the ever-present shadow of the Cold War that followed.
2. Ghost In The Shell – 1995
Ghost in The Shell is a title that even non-anime fans may have heard of or even watched, and it’s not surprising, as it’s one of the most popular franchises of all time. Starting out as a manga in 1989, the film is a direct theatrical adaption of that anime.
It’s set in a dystopian future where a cyborg policewoman is on the hunt for a hacker known as the Puppet Master. The classic, noir theme of the film mixed with the cyberpunk technology and cynical storytelling makes for a unique experience that mixes elements of some of the biggest names in sci-fi, ranging from The Matrix to Avatar. It’s also a brilliant series worth watching between Australian bingo games.
3. Perfect Blue – 1997
Perfect Blue is different from the others in this list as its not set in a futuristic dystopia or space, and instead focuses more on the human aspects of storytelling. The film was originally written as a live action movie, but was later changed to animation when the production team lost their funding. The story revolves around a retired music star who decides to try out acting before they become a target of privacy invasion.
Focusing on the main actress’ battle against stalkers, her own past, and plenty of humiliation, it’s a great allegory of the obsessions that many famous people have to deal with in today’s world, and how it can slowly begin to tear their lives apart.
4. Ghost Hunter D – 1985
While the thematic premise of a post-apocalyptic future set in the 1980s is by no means a new one, Vampire Hunter D does enough to make it unique.
This horror and science fiction hybrid follows the daughter of a werewolf hunter who sets tasks the Vampire Hunter with finding the vampire that bit her. It’s set in the year 12000 AD, and offers bold storytelling with plenty of action to keep viewers enthralled throughout.