When starting a list of the top ten anime films, it doesn’t take long to realise to that Studio Ghibli take up a considerable amount. So, for fairness’ sake, UCD Film Society count down the top five Studio Ghibli films, and the top five non-Studio Ghibli anime films
Top five Studio Ghibli Films
1) Spirited Away (2001)
Directed by Hayao Miyazaki, Spirited Away is an anime fantasy that tells the touching tale of a young girl, Chihiro, being thrust into a world of spirits and magic, struggling to save her parents from a witch. The animation is breath-taking; one of the many justifications for Studio Ghibli’s enormous success in the west. The score is perfect, complementing Chihiro’s journey as it is littered with a host of memorable scenes and characters. Miyazaki creates a surreal and wonderful fantasy world that is iconic. This is a must see for any fan of anime, animation or film in general.
2) My Neighbour Totoro. (1988)
My Neighbour Totoro is a charming and heart-warming tale about two young girls, Satsuki and Mei, as they become friends with a lovable spirit named Totoro. Miyazaki’s near-perfect direction brings a larger than life character to the audience with beautiful animation and a well-balanced score. The titular character is simply wonderful, and his interaction with the children can be endearing and awe-inspiring. The story, while being simple and without much conflict, is still a delight to watch. My Neighbour Totoro, sets the bar very high for future Studio Ghibli works.
3) Grave of the Fireflies (1988)
Coming in a close fifth place is Grave of the Fireflies, another ‘Studio Ghibli’ anime. Set just at the end of the second World War, it is a grim, yet oddly hopeful opening. The story follows Seita and his younger sister Setsuko. Its harsh retelling of the events of World War II grip the audience and convey the experience of living in an active danger zone. The use of music is similarly tear-jerking. The soundtrack is gloomy, yet beautiful, and still retains the ability to pluck on heartstrings. All-in-all: a glorious piece with powerful imagery, and a powerful persuasive soundtrack. It is guaranteed to bring tears to eyes that have yet to weep.
4) Princess Mononoke (1997)
When this film was released in Japan in 1997, it grossed an close to 150 million Euro (¥11.3 billion), so it’s no wonder it had to be included in this list. The stunning animation is balanced perfectly with the never-ending adventure and action. The story of mythical animal Gods battling medieval humans becomes an epic story of adventure, enchantment and nature. As in Miyazaki’s other tales, the monsters and ghosts introduced are awesome and horrifying. This is a film that deserves a spot on the list and deserves a spot in your ‘watch next’ list.
5) Nausicaa Valley of the Wind (1984)
Once again Miyazaki’s masterpiece is nothing short of spectacular. As one of the first solo opportunities that Miyazaki attempted, this makes for interesting viewing. The world he paints is limitless. The plot itself is mainly centered around the race to save the valley of the wind. It whooshes along to a thrilling climax and never lets the viewer drop. While Nausicaä Valley of the Wind is one of the weaker entries by Miyazaki, it still trumps many of the modern animations that are out today. It is dark but thrilling, and shouldn’t be missed.
1) Akira (1988)
The film is set in the neo future of Tokyo 2019. Delinquent bikers are on the rampage and the city is plagued with terrorism and revolutionaries, only made worse by the army and the government. Lurking somewhere within this urban warzone is a strange and extremely powerful entity named Akira. Katsuhiro Otomo’s ground breaking film influenced many a science fiction film including the matrix and stands on the shoulders of the likes of Blade Runner and 2001: A Space Odyssey. Akira has extremely powerful visuals and energy throughout the mesmerizing action sequences. This is the movie which introduced anime to the general western audience and led the way for all anime movies to come.
2) The Girl Who Leapt Through Time (2006)
Directed by Mamoru Hosoda, this movie will have you initially laughing at the antics of Makoto Konno and her two friends, Chiaki and Kosuke, but the film may leave you in tears by its end. The film follows a girl who attempts to use her newfound ability of time travel for her own personal gain. Honestly, when was that ever a good idea?
3) Perfect Blue (1997)
Pop idol turned actor, Mima escapes the life of a pop idol and enters the struggles of a dramatic actor, portraying racy gory scenes which leave her pondering her career choices. It becomes a psychological suspense thriller that branches out into a hyped-up gore fest with an insane plot based on the novel of the same name by Yoshikazu Takeuchi. The twists and coils in the plot demand the attention of the audience, and keep the storyline thrilling and gripping. It is a must see for fans of psychological thrillers (and not just anime).
4) Ghost in the Shell (1995)
Set in the dystopian future of Japan, this film features a band of anti-terrorist police led by a cyborg named Kusanagi who must seek out the computer hacking Puppet master before it can alter the world as we know it. The continuous and thrilling action sequences and an astounding production which looks as if it as pulled straight out of Blade Runner is what puts this anime film a cut above most. With its sense assaulting production and wonderful artwork this was the one of the first anime films which really rival the visuals of Akira.
5) Paprika (2006)
A scientist by day, a dream detective by night. That is the story of Dr. Atsuko Chiba, also known to some by her codename, Paprika. Things spiral out of control when the DC Mini, a device the Dr and her colleagues are working on to help psychiatric patients, falls into the wrong hands who use its capability to destroy people’s minds. Satoshi Kon did a wonderful job creating this dream-like movie and you’re sure to be swept into the magically colourful world.