It’s okay if you missed it, we’ll watch it again!
The world of Japanese animation is one of vast proportion, intoxicating with its vibrant cinematography and boundary-pushing story-telling, providing international audiences with a spotlight on some of cinema’s most gifted filmmakers of all time.
There is but one job each film sets out to do when released into theaters around the world, and that is to fill seats to meet opening weekend projections. But a film’s rewatchability is contained within its traits that lie beyond entertainment value and run through the layers of themes and provocations that, even after a single two-hour viewing, leave the viewer asking questions and wanting more.
A bomb is about to be dropped on 1988 Neo-Tokyo after ESP experiments performed on children go south. But our story takes place thirty-one years after the explosion when biker gang member Kaneda struggles to rescue his friend, Tetsuo after he’s captured by the government and becomes the subject of a mysterious and twisted experiment.
It takes no more than a brilliantly executed opening sequence containing almost no words of dialogue to inform the viewer they’re in for a treat when Akira begins, and the ride doesn’t stop until it reaches its true maximum potential, which is astronomically high. Through groundbreaking hand-drawn cell animation, the world of Akira is richer and full of more character than its stripped-down reputation gives it credit for.
Taku Morisaki journeys back to Tokyo to attend an intimate High School Reunion as he recounts memories of his High School days, focusing on one summer that spurred a love triangle between him and his two closest friends.
Ocean Waves reflects on the naivety of the High School experience through the memory of a weathered adult, with characters who are as full of life as they are frustrating to spend time with. Through a soft color palette and eighties gloom, Ocean Waves retells a timeless tale of a young man torn between desire and anger while navigating a friendship in the process.
When two teenagers find themselves tied together through a cosmic bond, their mundane lives become infinitely complicated when they decide to meet.
There have been few animated achievements in recent memory that brought fans of the anime director together similar to what Makato Shinkai accomplished in Your Name, which takes the delicate beauty of hand-drawn cell animation to a whole new level. But the awe-inspiring cinematography is only the canvass on which this emotionally complex and truly epic story is painted.
When fourteen-year-old Tetsuko moves into a new school, she’s bullied after being given the seat of a student who was murdered and sets out on a quiet investigation into her mysterious death.
The Cast of Hana and Alice could be an excellent gateway into the slice-of-life genre through its small in-passing moments that make the film stand out in the genre. The watercolour-esque palette aligns with the rest of the film's eccentric qualities and is beautifully reflected onto the two main characters who embark on an emotional and at times very comedic journey.
When famous singer Mima abruptly ends her career to pursue acting full time, the lines between reality and fiction start to blur as she’s followed a grotesque stalker.
Fiction and reality are indeed separated by an increasingly blurry distinction, even after the credits roll on Perfect Blue. A masterclass in modern horror and the vicious relationship between Hollywood and its leading talent, Perfect Blue is as gorgeous as it is truly disturbing and creepy and takes the viewer on a ride that only gets more horrifying with every watch.
When a goldfish princess escapes her exclusion from the outside world and befriends little boy Sosuke, who gives her the name Ponyo, the two become inseparable as Ponyo’s desire to become human quickly grows.
One watch isn’t enough to take in the true scope of Ponyo, whether through its environmental commentary on ocean pollution or the sheer accomplishment of hand-drawn animation that is infinitely rich with detail. Ponyo is as artistically profound as it is almost tear-jerkingly adorable.
When the thirteen-year-old witch-in-training Kiki, along with her talking cat Jiji move to a new harbor town in accordance with her village's training traditions, she finds her purpose in an unfamiliar place by using her flying abilities to deliver for a local bakery that gives her a place to live.
Upon multiple watches, the true heartbeat of Kiki’s Delivery Service can be found in the timeless struggle of artistic liberation and the journey of finding yourself in order to find your purpose in the world you live in. And this world is laid out in brilliant detail by writer/director Hayao Miyazaki, who proves, yet again, his status as a master of storytelling through an endless supply of fleshed-out characters and an animation style that never ceases to impress.
NEXT:Terrifying Japanese Horror Films That Will Make You Sleep With The Lights On
Ezra is a writer, filmmaker and musician based in Vancouver.
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7 Greatest Anime Films Worth Watching Twice – Collider
It’s okay if you missed it, we’ll watch it again!