So, I’m a huge anime fan. I love to binge-watching series. But, sometimes, I don’t feel like committing myself to 12, 24, or 100+ episodes (depending on the show). At those times, an anime movie just what I’m looking for!
If you’re like me and want an anime film to pass the time for an hour or two, then check out my list below. Just a quick disclaimer, however. While we all love Miyazaki, I’m going to exclude him from this list (with one exception). This is not because I don’t love him (I think he’s amazing!) but because I want to give some of the other films in our collection their chance to shine.
So, remember how I just said that there would only be one Miyazaki film on this list? Well, this is it. The Castle of Cagliostro remains not only one of my favorite Miyazaki films, but also my favorite Lupin film, as well. For those of you not familiar with the series, Lupin III is an international thief, and the grandson of the original Arsène Lupin. The anime and movies are all about him going on adventures and carrying out awesome heists. This film, however, works as a great standalone, and viewers do not need to be familiar with Lupin and his gang to enjoy it. The tone is a little more serious and mellow than normal (for Lupin, anyway), but there are still plenty of laughs, and some gorgeous animation.
In Children Who Chase Lost Voices, Asuna spends most of her time alone, trying to catch snatches of signal with the old radio her late father left for her. One day, she’s attacked by some sort of monster, and saved by a mysterious boy named Shun who claims to be from another world. Not long after, Shun dies, and accompanied by her teacher and another young man who claims to be Shun’s brother, Asuna ventures into the land of Agartha, which is said to contain the secrets for bringing the dead back to life. Of course, everything comes at a price, and for these three, that cost could be more than they can afford.
Sounds super-basic, right? Wrong! This is such a fascinating movie with so many twists and turns. If you love Miyazaki films like Castle in the Sky or Princess Mononoke, you’ll love this film.
What’s that? You just asked me what’s my favorite sword fight in all of anime? Because you know I love anime about samurai? Well, I’m so glad you asked! (Wait, you didn’t ask? Well, I’ll tell you anyway). Sword of the Stranger is hands-down one of the best animated films I’ve ever seen (honestly, one of the best films, period). And yes, it has what I would consider the best sword fight in anime. So, the premise: a young Japanese boy is being chased by Chinese mercenaries, who believe that his blood is pivotal in completing a ritual to give their emperor eternal life. The mercenaries are accompanied by a tall, blonde, and incredibly vicious white man (everyone thinks he’s a demon). In order to protect himself, boy recruits a masterless samurai with no name and a mysterious past to be his bodyguard.
The Boy and the Beast is by one of my favorite Japanese directors: Mamoru Hosada. And while I love everything I’ve seen by him, this is definitely one of my favorites. After his mother’s death, Ren runs away from his legal guardians and attempts to make a new life for himself on the streets of Shibuya. He follows a couple of strangers into an alley and finds himself in the world of beasts, where he’s picked up by Kumatetsu, a surly bear-beast who needs an apprentice in order to become the next grandmaster. Despite some initial hostility, the two become close. But, when Ren (now called Kyuta) finds his way back into the human world, he finds himself torn between two identities, and two lives.
Tokyo Godfathers is a story of redemption and love. Three homeless individuals (a middle-aged alcoholic, a washed-up drag queen, and a teenage runaway) discover a baby in a garbage dump on Christmas Eve and try to decide what to do with her. They finally decide to track down the child’s mother so that she can be reunited with her family. Their only clue is a key found with the baby. Along the way, these three deeply broken individuals are forced to confront their own inner demons and save themselves before they can hope to save the child in their care.