I’ve been sitting on this list for months because I didn’t think I’d seen enough anime movies to warrant the creation of a list. Turns out I was wrong. When I did a bit of searching, I discovered I’d seen quite a lot of anime films, many of them viewed at 1 AM on some random satellite station my grandma had a decade ago. I still don’t know which station played anime at 1 AM, nor do I remember all of the films I saw (Black Magic M-66, which does not appear on the list below because it’s not that great, is one for which I am particularly nostalgic).
Little Nemo: Adventures in Slumberland (Yutaka Fujioka)
Flying beds, nightmare kings, magic scepters, flying squirrels, and dreams!
The Place Promised in Our Lonely Days (Makoto Shinkai)
Alternate realities, Cold War analogues, rebellion, and homemade jets!
And I’m presenting a paper on it at the 2014 International Conference on the Fantastic in the Arts in Orlando! *dances*
Howl’s Moving Castle (Hayao Miyazaki)
Talking flames, animalistic transformations, mystical castles, and Miyazaki’s classic genius.
Princess Mononoke (Hayao Miyazaki)
Mythology, modernity vs. the old world, giant spirit animals, and muskets!
The Cat Returns (Hayao Miyazaki)
Talking cats in tophats, kitty kingdoms, and magic transformations!
Oh, and the English-dubbed edition, which is surprisingly good, features Cary Elwes, Anne Hathaway, Kristen Bell, Rene Auberjonois (from DS9!), Peter Boyle, Elliot Gould, and many more. That’s one hell of a cast, no?
Akira (Katsuhiro Otomo)
Do I really need to explain this one? It’s a beautiful, mess-with-your-head kind of film. And it’s a classic. At this point, you should have seen it already…
Ghost in the Shell (Mamoru Oshii)
What happens if a human mind merges with an artificial one? And are cyborgs still human? A cyberpunk classic.
Ghost in the Shell 2 (Mamoru Oshii)
Can you really trust cyborgs when their ability to exert free will is always in question? Nothing like a little cyberpunk to tackle the tough questions!
Macross Plus (Shoji Kawamori & Shinichiro Watanabe)
Jet battles, artificial intelligence, mass hypnosis, and Robotech! Yeah!
Patlabor (Mamoru Oshii)
Mecha in everyday society + hackers + mecha police = greatness.
P.S.: I really wanted to include the OVAs for Samurai X in this list, but they are technically episodic in format, rather than proper films like the ones listed above. That means I’m going to have to write a whole new list about my favorite SF/F anime series!