Well, the decade of the 2000’s have left us and now it’s time to reflect on the anime series and films that given us so much enjoyment over these last ten years. So, in this first post I’ll be listing what I feel are my top ten anime films of the past decade. When I first started working on this list I thought it would be a pretty difficult process but the movie list turned out to be pretty easy because cream raises to the top and I feel the cream was pretty easy to spot.
#10 Card Captor Sakura Movie 2 (2000)
For lovers of Cardcaptor Sakura, and the magic girl genre in general, there was no greater movie treat than the sealed card movie. This film featured top notch animation, a great story, good music, and the beloved cast from Cardcaptor Sakura. The cherry on top of this great cake is that Sakura is finally able to come to terms with, and communicate her true feelings for Syaoran.
#9 Voices of a Distant Star (2002)
A short 25 minute in length movie created, directed, produced, and animated entirely by Shinaki Makoto on his Macintosh computer. Makoto and his girlfriend also provided the voices for the two main characters. This small film is a beautiful meditation on love and how it’s affected by the time and the distance of separation caused by war.
“We’re born alone, we live alone, we die alone. Only through our love and friendship can we create the illusion for the moment that we’re not alone.” Orson Welles
#8 5cm per Second (2007)
This film by Shinaki Makoto is a must see for anyone who loves a good romance or drama, it has it all, great animation, great story, and great dialogue. This film demonstrates more quality in its 90 minutes than other anime do in 100 episodes.
This film is another meditation on first loves, distance and separation, and features the relationship between Takaki and Akira featuring the concept of mono no aware, which is often translated to mean the Ah-ness of things, or the sadness of all things. Meaning that Takaki and Akari love is extremely sweet, and sad at the same time, just like the cherry blossoms, while beautiful and awe inspiring, they only last a short time. Short but sweet, with just a little taste of bitterness and pain, just like teenage love, while that love may not be the one to last a lifetime, you’ll always remember it.
#7 The Place Promised in Our Early Days (2004)
Another Shinaki Makoto film set in an alternate reality Japan where the country is divided with the south being protected by the United Sates and the northern part being controlled by the Soviet Union, and features the relationship and childhood promises made between childhood friends Takuya and Hiroki, and a girl named Sayuri. After Sayuri disappears each boy takes a different path, but years later each boy must come to terms with their loyalties and decide whether or not they need to honor a promise they made to Sayuri years ago.
#6 Cowboy Bebop, the movie (2001)
As a great lover of the Cowboy Bebop series, this film was just like a Cowboy Bebop episode with the exception that it was bigger, better, and more bad assed than even, enough said.
#5 Metropolis, the Movie (2001)
Metropolis is an anime based on Osamu Tezuka’s manga with influences from the German film of the same name. This film was directed by Rintaro, with Akira’s creator Katsuhiro Otomo doing the script writing. This film is a great work of creative art and has some of the best animation I’ve ever seen, and is a must see for any fan of film.
#4 The Girl Who Leapt Through Time (2006)
This film is a very touching human tale of friendship, love, and learning to grow up. The film is also a cautionary about the lure of changing the future, and all the unintended consequences that those decisions entail.
#3 Tokyo Godfathers (2003)
The plot of Tokyo Godfathers revolves around three homeless people finding a newborn baby in the trash on Christmas Eve and their quest to find the baby’s parents. Throughout the trio’s quest to return the baby to its parents we come to learn about each of the homeless person’s background. This film is a tale of miscommunications, regrets, and ultimately, a tale of the search individual redemption.
#2 Millennium Actress (2001)
A film within a film, Millennium Actress is the story of a film director named Genya working on docutmary film about a famous aging actress named Chiyoko. While interviewing Chiyoko, the director slowly gets Chiyoko to reveal her life story to the audience, and that story is told in the form of flashbacks using famous moments of Japanese history and filmmaking. This movie is for those who love storytelling at its finest, compare to Cinema Paradiso.
#1 Spirited Away (2001)
Spirited Away begins with the simple premise of a ten year old socially withdrawn girl named Chihiro getting sucked into an Alice in Wonderland type of adventure in an attempt to save her parents and regain her identity, and takes us on an adventure of visual and emotional wonder. Many, including me consider this film to be Hayao Miyazaki’s masterwork, while many non-Japanese enjoy and appreciate anime, this film made many people not familiar with the art form stop and take notice. All, I can say is that if you haven’t seen Spirited Away then you haven’t seen anime.
If you think I’m over stating Spirited Away’s impact or power, here’s a list of where respected critics and magazines have placed Spirited Away in their best films of the decade lists (these lists include all films, not just animated features).
#8 Spirited Away (Film School Rejects)
#21 Spirited Away (Film Comment)
#22 Spirited Away (Cinematical)
#4 Spirited Away (The Hurst Review)
#3 Spirited Away (Jeff Meyers, editor Metromode)
#2 Spirited Away (Vanity Fair)
Borrowed from the Vanity Fair review.
“You may have a noticed surprising absence of Pixar work on this list despite the fact that no company has made more money, impressed more critics, and pleased more audiences than the bastard love child of Steve Jobs and John Lasseter. True, each Pixar film is a gem in its own right, and it’s widely rumored that the devil has gross points on Lasseter’s soul. However, if you’re talking animation with an unparalleled power to provoke pure wonder and wide-eyed enchantment, even Lasseter would gladly bow down to Hayao Miyazaki. Watching this film is not only to feel like a child again, it’s to dream like a child again.”