I love, love, love animated films and TV, more than I like live action stuff actually. There's something about animation that lets me suspend my disbelief that much easier, and just enjoy what's on the screen. It's as if part of my mind cuts out and I can just watch without anything getting in the way, whereas the only way I can watch live action stuff these days, except in the cinema, is if I go into 'highly observant mode', looking for the choices the creators have made to support their creations through the sets, colours, and so on.
That's one reason I'm obsessed with the shoes are meant to signify in Pacific Rim, there's so much about them that they must be significant. It's also why I like Jaws and the original Wicker Man; nothing in either of those films is wasted.
I've put together a little list of my favourite Anime, most of it films. Next week, to keep the blog going, I'll do a similar thing with western animation.
1) Princess Mononoke
Easily my favourite Studio Ghibli film, Princess Mononoke is a bloody, epic saga addressing the nature of man's relationship with the natural world and the supernatural. It follows a young warrior who slays a demon, a boar god that's been consumed by fate, as he seeks a cure for the curse that's been laid upon him in the monster's final moments. His quest leads him to a mining town, where an ambitious plan to slay the forest god and, pardon my terminology, rape the land for the iron.
He also meets Princess Mononoke, a wild girl, who with the wolf gods and battles alongside them. It's a tale of civilisation and savagery, passion that's gone astray, and man's misplaced opinion of his place in the world. And it's beautiful.
2) Ghost in the Shell: Solid State Society
The last part of the Stand Alone Complex series, Solid State Society is probably my favourite Ghost in the Shell thing ever. It picks up the theme of the series, our relationship with technology, and explores it through the lens of Japan's problem with its ageing population and the social consequences of that.
It's good, solid SF, filled with fun moments, usually courtesy of the Tachikomas.
3) Fullmetal Alchemist
The only series on the list, Fullmetal Alchemist, is a really fun watch, featuring two alchemists as they seek a way to restore themselves after an attempt to bring their mother back from the dead goes horribly wrong. As they seek out the answers, they stumble onto a conspiracy surrounding the mysterious Philosopher's Stone, which is said to be able to do anything, cutting through the rules of alchemy like butter. Add in a serial killer from a country that viewed alchemy as heresy (before it was conquered by the Kaiser, and most of its population killed), the mystery of what happened to the boys' father and the nature of the mysterious black gate that haunts their dreams, and the series is replete with amazing potential which it largely lives up to.
4) Summer Wars
Imagine if Facebook wasn't just a social media site, but somewhere where every other piece of software goes through it, is accessed via it, and has become the basic operating system for the entire world. Now imagine that someone hijacks it, and holds the world to ransom.
That's the basis of Summer Wars. When a high schooler, dragged along to a family celebration of the heroine's grandmother at the family's ancestral castle, solves a mathematical puzzle, he appears to let an AI into Oz, and it starts to run riot. As the world falls into chaos, it's up to the family to stop the AI, bringing to bear a surprisingly wide and versatile set of skills as they battle it, through code, online beat 'em up gaming and even a game of Go Fish.
It's beautiful, as you might expect and also rich in the way it considers tradition and modernism, exploring whether the two are as much in opposition as they seem.
5) Vampire Hunter D Bloodlust
The sequel to Vampire Hunter D, Bloodlust takes the film world and expands it, playing with new concepts and catching up with modern ideas about vampires (which some might say weakens the monsters, as it humanises them,by making them capable of love rather than just hunger). In fact towards the end of the film, this is explored, as the man D is hunting, who's run off with a woman he has fallen in love with encounters an elder of his kind, who cares nothing for such frivolities. Beautiful, action packed and brutal in places, this is a science fantasy masterpiece,