6- The Best Anime Movies of All Time

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6- The Best Anime Movies of All Time

When Marnie Was There (2014)

David Foster Wallace once said that every love story was a ghost story. He easily could have have been describing the spirit of When Marnie Was There, the second film directed by Hiromasa Yonebayashi and the last Ghibli production before the studio’s hiatus following Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata’s retirement in 2013. Twelve-year-old Anna Sasaki is a melancholic introvert with a deep distrust of both other and herself. After collapsing at school from a fit of asthma

Anna’s foster parents send her to stay with her adoptive aunt and uncle at their idyllic rural seaside home adjourning Kushiro to help her condition. There she meets Marnie, a mysterious young girl whose friendship helps Anna to grow and open up and whose troubled story may in fact be inextricably linked with Anna’s own. Although its revelatory conclusion is overpacked with details that could have been better paced along the film’s prevailing mystery, When Marnie Was There is an emotionally affecting depiction of female friendship that cruises along patiently like a quiet boat trip across a moonlit lake

A Dog of Flanders (1997)

Yoshio Kuroda’s finest work is perhaps second only to Grave of the Fireflies as one of the saddest anime ever made. Based on the 1872 Flemish novel of the same name, A Dog of Flanders is the tale of a young boy, Nello, and his dog, Pastrache. The story is set in Belgium, and is episodic in nature—mostly concerning Nello’s struggles to rise above the poverty into which he was born, and his persecution by an upper-class member of his village, who wrongly accuses Nello of a terrible crime

The film is ultimately a simple class tragedy, but remains a compelling story that has stood the test of time. In adapting the feature from his TV series of the same name, Kuroda mostly restrains himself from going too “big” with animation flourishes, working carefully to recreate the feel of Industrial Age Antwerp, and servicing the story with quiet, beautiful artwork and scenes that take their time to unfold. The American release, from Pioneer, has an excellent dub for the time, but removed 10 minutes of story with some very choppy edits, so the subtitled version is preferable. Don’t expect a happy ending—this is a three-hanky classic. —J.D

Fullmetal Alchemist the Movie: The Conqueror of Shamballa (2005)

Hiromu Arakawa’s Fullmetal Alchemist is one of the most critically successful manga and anime series of the early 2000s. Premiering in 2001 and spawning two long-running television adaptations, Fullmetal Alchemist follows the adventures of Edward and Alphonse Elric, two prodigiously talented young men whose respective limbs and bodies are taken from them in a grisly alchemic accident

Becoming state-appointed alchemists, they search for the mythical philosopher’s stone as a means of restoring their bodies to their original state. Conqueror of Shamballa picks up from the conclusion of the 2003 anime series, with Alphonse’s body fully restored though his memory erased and Edward stranded on the other side of a portal leading to a strange yet familiar world teetering on the cusp of a world war

. With an intriguing alternative history story that intermingles key figures such as Karl Haushofer and Fritz Lang and events such as the infamous Beer Hall Putsch of 1923, as well as an impressive series of destructive final fight scenes storyboarded by Yutaka Nakamura, Conqueror of Shamballa is a satisfying if irresolute capstone to the original anime and far and away the best Fullmetal Alchemist film to date

The Restaurant of Many Orders (1991)

The Restaurant of Many Orders is remarkably unique compared to nearly every other film of its era that has gone on to shape the aesthetic template of Japanese animation. Created in 1990 by Tadanari Okamoto, who in the ’70s and ’80s established himself as one of Japan’s preeminent animators, the film was originally conceived as a warm up in preparation for his planned feature debut Hotarumomi. Unfortunately

Okamoto would pass away that year from liver cancer and the film was later finished by his close friend and fellow animator Kihachiro Kawamoto. Based on the short story of the same name by the much-adapted poet and children’s author Kenji Miyazawa, The Restaurant of Many Orders is story of two hunters who happen upon a mysterious inn deep in a secluded forest while stalking wild game. The two enter thinking that they’ll be treated to a decent meal and warm place to rest

only to later discover that this restaurant is anything but what it appears to be. Okamoto’s charcoal copper-plate aesthetic is the film’s most distinctive trait, emulating the artistry of veteran animator Reiko Okuyama and achieved through the use of acrylic gouache paint to render the foreground and background of each cell inseparable from one another. Winner of the prestigious Noburo Ofuji Award for Excellence and Innovation, The Restaurant of Many Orders is a beautiful parting gift from one of the most undersung innovators of Japanese animation

Golgo 13 The Professional (1983)

Directed by Osamu Dezaki, known as the innovator who created the now common “Postcard Memories” technique, Golgo 13: The Professional is both a remarkable time capsule of ’80s grimy crime fiction, and true to the manga from which it is drawn. Golgo, the titular assassin, is basically an evil character who exemplifies alpha male toughness to a ridiculous degree. He is, above all, a Professional. Think Lee Marvin in Point Blank, or Charles Bronson in The Mechanic, or Steve McQueen in

well, anything. Where Golgo charms is in the glorious, fluid animation, the sophisticated cinematic techniques used by Dezaki (including very early usage of CGI), and the tense and incredibly violent action sequences. Filled with gratuitous nudity, violence and rape, this unrated film is not for the faint of heart. Yet Golgo 13: The Professional presents a quintessential example of the Japanese alpha male character, and somehow we root for him, even as we know he’s nothing more than a killer. —J.D

Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust (2000)

The follow-up to Toyoo Ashida’s 1985 classic, Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust is lauded for its comparatively higher production values and exquisitely rendered set pieces courtesy of Yuji Ikehata and Madhouse’s host of talented in-house background artists. A loose adaptation of Demon Deathchase

the third installment in Hideyuki Kikuchi’s long-running Vampire Hunter D visual novel series, Bloodlust follows the titular half-human vampire hunter as he is hired to rescue the daughter of a wealthy benefactor after she’s abducted by Baron Meier Link, a powerful vampiric nobleman with shadowy intentions

The film comes across as a retread of sorts for Kawajiri, doing little to differentiate itself from the journeyman premise of his work on Ninja Scroll or to build on the mythology of Ashida’s original aside from emphasizing the series’ gothic western sci-fi aesthetic. Still, with character designs by series illustrator Yoshitaka Amano of Final Fantasy fame and a number of visually memorable and impressive settings and showdowns, Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust is a visually exhilarating action film that seldom fails to satisfy on a moment-to-moment level

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