Thursday, February 18, 2010

Top 5 Anime Movies

The Oscars are coming soon, now double-sized with 10 Best Picture Nominees. That's inflation for ya.

We're sticking to our guns here and giving you the
Top 5 Anime Movies.

[Our criteria: Has to be an original motion picture typically well over an hour in length; no OAVs, OVAs, or whatever folks like to call them.]

#5 - Cowboy Bebop: The Movie--Knockin' on Heaven's Door

Now THIS is how you make a movie based on a hit anime series. Rather than cramming dozens of episodes into two hours, celebrate the show by creating what is essentially an extra-long episode with all its goodies.

With Cowboy Bebop, we get to enjoy our favorite bounty hunters--Spike, Jet, Faye, Ed, and Ein--in yet another cool and quirky adventure. For good measure, toss in a few cameos and nods to elements that make Bebop one of the best series ever. Add some of the finest martial arts fighting and aerial combat sequences--accompanied by the matchless musical styles of Yoko Kanno--and you've got the greatest example of a series-based anime movie.

#4 - The End of Evangelion

And THIS is how you make a movie to finish a 26-plus episode anime series. (Take note, Fullmetal Alchemist.)

End of Evangelion may not wrap up the plot with a tight bow--more like an explosion of silly string--but this movie does provide the absolute, ultimate anime ending of mind-melting apocalyptic ambiguity.

#3 - Interstella 5555

And then there was space opera--literally. This entire movie tells a story through music videos based on music by French technopop duo Daft Punk and animation by Leiji Matsumoto (Space Battleship Yamato, Captain Harlock, Galaxy Express 999).

Not only is the music superb (rock, pop, soulfoul, and more), but the story told through animation alone--no dialogue--is riveting and endearing as we follow the adventures of a kidnapped intergalactic rock band.

#2 - Millennium Actress
Don't let the subtitles scare you. This movie is a love story for filmmaking and anyone in pursuit of a lost longing. If that's not enough, the reality blending sequences are sometimes heart-breaking and other times hilarious.

#1 - (Nearly) Every Studio Ghibli Ever Made

Sure, call it a copout. Or call it a sell-out. We can take it. But we just couldn't figure out which Ghibli film was the best--they're all great*. So to honor Miyazaki and Co.'s masterworks, we're throwing them out here with full honors.

(*Almost all. We're still not overwhelmed with Pom Poko and Porco Rosso--although the latter may just be due to Michael Keaton's dull voice acting dub.)

We're not alone, of course. The Academy awarded Spirited Away with the Oscar for Best Animated Film in 2002:

And here's the trailer for perhaps the best Miyazaki film out there--Princess Mononoke:

And those are the winners.

Keep the speeches short, folks.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

NOT the Top 5 Anime Movies

The Razzie Award Nominations are out for "Dis-honoring Hollywood's Worst" in movies of 2009 and the past decade. Check them out at HERE.

Until the winners (losers?) are announced, let's share our

NOT the Top 5 Anime Movies

We're not saying these are the worst Anime movies out there; just NOT the Top 5. (Nowhere close)

#5 - Tie--Escaflowne: The Movie
Rahxephon: Pluralitas Concentio
These two movies tie because they both take excellent TV series and leave us with a bad taste in our mouth.

Escaflowne's movie drops the chivalrous European fantasy flavor of the TV show and dons a more Asian/Eastern feel. The movie makers also overhauled character designs--making some almost unrecognizable--on its mission to make it more of an action flick rather than the fantasy mecha romance drama that made the series unique.

RahXephon's movie DOES provide additional exposition and explanation for some of the key character relationships and events. For that, we give it props. But it also tries to adult up the story by including an unnecessary sex scene. Even worse, the film creators commit the cardinal sin of anime movies based on television series--cramming 26 episodes of a show into 2 measly hours.

The creators call it an encore. But if that's what we get for applauding a series, then we should've just stayed in our seats.

#4 - Pom Poko

Far be it from us to criticize any production from Studio Ghibli (Spirited Away, My Neighbor Totoro, Kiki's Delivery Service), but we just can't stomach shape-shifting tanuki ("raccoon dogs") with their--ahem--"pouches" bouncing along while the hijinks abound.

There are much better movies by Ghibli (Princess Mononoke, Nausicaa) that entertain and inspire us to protect the environment. All Pom Poko does is beckon us to the garbage can.

#3 - Robotech II: The Sentinels

Robotech: Macross was a masterpiece of Americanized anime for 36 episodes. And in the mid-1980s, Harmony Gold tried to capitalize on the first Robotech series to make a brand new sequel series. The project lasted long enough to finish only 3 episodes, though, so the creators worked their mixmaster magic and out popped a feature-length film.

The movie is rather forgettable, as it shows an impending danger that never gets resolved in a couple of hours. But Sentinels does show us the wedding of star-crossed lovers Rick Hunter and Lisa Hayes, so for that we won't rank it worse. (You'll always have your music career, Lynn Minmei.)

#2 - Akira

We can hear the "boos" from otaku everywhere. Suck on your inhaler, boys. And rewatch the film and you'll notice that despite it's revolutionary impact on anime, Akira is not that great a movie.

Sure, it's got post-apocalyptic sci-fi action and a sweet motorcycle. But it's also got some hints of misogyny and tired techno-Rambo warfare. Plus, it's guilty of the cardinal sin for anime movies, this time by cramming 2,182 pages of manga into one movie. Out go several subplots and most of the manga's second half. And out goes any second viewing for us, unless Leonardo DiCaprio can ever get the live-action Akira off the ground. (Leo's just that dreamy.)

#1 - M.D. Geist

No controversy here. Every anime viewer knows this movie blows. M.D. Geist is an ultraviolent, poorly animated blend of Mad Max and Universal Soldier without the morality.

Somehow this movie inspired a sequel, which defied all laws of physics and sucked more than the original. The end result was an Akira-like black hole somewhere over Midtown Manhattan.
(Oh wait. That was licensor Central Park Media's bankruptcy.)

Time for a brain cleansing.

And next time we'll look at the Top 5 BEST Anime movies!