Eight Animated Movies To Watch That Aren’t From Studio Ghibli
What are your favorite animated films? Taken away as if by magic? Princess Mononoke? My Neighbor Totoro? Hey, I could see that coming. These Studio Ghibli films are masterpieces. These aren’t the only animated films available either. Crazy, right?
This story has been updated since it originally appeared in April 2017.
It’s safe to say that Ghibli corners the market for 90-minute breakout anime that makes you feel very good and good at the end. But there are psychological heights that some Ghibli movies don’t reach. Below are my top picks for non-Ghibli movies. Many are quite disturbing. All are awesome.
After seeing perfect blue, I walked out onto my porch, buried my head in my hands, and smoked like five cigarettes. I sat for almost an hour. If you’re the kind of person who dug Requiem for a dream, perfect blue is your driveway. Really, Requiem director Darren Aronofsky has bought the rights to perfect blue so that he can reproduce a scene there.
perfect blue is about a pop idol and her stalker. To make the leap from average idol to remarkable actress, she is offered to film a rape scene that could compromise her pure and gentle image. The more famous she becomes, the more the borders are crossed. Eventually, the boundaries of reality itself melt away.
your name is a bright, tender film about teenagers who swap bodies. It is the highest-grossing animated film of all time. And, if you’re quick, you can probably still catch his US tour at your local theater.
Mitsuha, attendant at the rural shrine, is tired of her boring life. One day, she screams that she wants to be a handsome boy from Tokyo. And, in her dreams, she becomes one. Occasionally, her mind wanders to the body of Taki, a hard-headed boy from Tokyo, whom she controls for a day.
He also swaps bodies with her and awkwardly takes on the role of a teenage girl. Soon they fall in love with each other through their swapped lives. Then, a catastrophe threatens to take everything away.
This film is a masterpiece. It goes from a sweet slice of life to a high-stakes battle for survival. You will be invested in every moment.
Ghost in the Shell (1995)
Skip the live action movie. the original ghost in the shell the film is a classic for a reason. Its world-building is superb, and paints a picture of a bombed-out, ecologically unstable Japanese city where any concept of “nature” is overshadowed by technology. Long, thoughtful pans of the set break up thrilling action scenes. He has rhythm.
Protagonist Motoko has a cybernetic body, but a human brain that has been erased from her memories. She is a major in her city’s public safety section and possesses combat abilities beyond human. But when cybernetic hacker Puppet Master threatens the town, Motoko struggles to stay on the mission. She and her enemy have too much in common.
Probably you have seen Akira. Even if that’s the case, it’s the kind of movie you have to watch twice. Its plot is a bit difficult to understand the first time. And it helps that Akira has one of the best anime soundtracks in history. Its action scenes are so grotesque and so well animated that they will stay with you for years.
Akira is iconic. It’s about a teenage biker gang in 2019’s “Neo-Tokyo” (remember – it was made in 1988). When one of the more unstable gang members develops ESP-like powers, he attempts to free Akira, a psychic force that once destroyed Tokyo. It is kept in a storage unit under the Olympic yard in Tokyo. Drunk with power. he threatens to destroy everything he has known and experienced in the process.
Where have you seen director Masaaki Yuasa’s animation style before? Maybe this episode of “Food Chain” from adventure time? Or some of the more psychedelic space dandy episodes? It is unmistakable. It mixes stripped-down character designs with real-life textures and weird, undulating environments. There is no such thing.
Psychological game is about a loser named Nishi. One day, stumbles upon his childhood crush, who is about to get married. They go to a bar together, where the crush’s bride is. There, Nishi fights with gangsters. And, after the fight, he transcends into a strange spirit world where his bodily form is liquid.
This movie is an acid trip. If you’re looking for 100 minutes of unforgettable animation, there aren’t many films that top Psychological game.
Paprika is not for everyone. It’s a bit hard to understand and its animation really, really busy. This is possibly my favorite animated film.
Paprika takes place in the near future, when psychologists have developed technology to enter patients’ dreams. This way they can modify and process their subconscious thoughts from within. Paprika is a kind of dream doctor, a funny and mysterious woman who guides patients through their innermost thoughts. His practice looks promising until the dream diving technology is stolen by terrorists. Then the nightmares make their way into the waking world.
You can’t beat this plot. And the animation sequences are mad with fever. The dialogues are fantastic and the characters are well written. My warning: you don’t stray from Paprika awesome feeling. You will feel disturbed, moved and inspired.
A silent voice is a film about a deaf girl and her elementary school bully who try to find common ground years after they ruin each other’s lives. As they try to understand each other and overcome years of guilt, the two protagonists fight evil demons that end up bringing them closer together. A silent voice depicts the cruelty that people with disabilities can face and how children can act unconsciously when they don’t understand something.
This movie will screw you up. Male. I cried, like, twice.
A silent voice won half a dozen “anime of the year” awards in 2017, although its hits weren’t as widely sung as your name‘s. His animation is simply stunning. Its climactic moment is conveyed through a series of spastic emotional vignettes, from an egg yolk splashing around a bowl to Ishida’s mother with a stack of pancakes to an explosion of fireworks.
In this corner of the world
The Second World War creeps into the mundane life of Hiroshima-born protagonist Suzu in this haunting film about dealing with forces beyond your control. Suzu marries a quasi-stranger in a distant town and takes on duties as a wife that she is not naturally accustomed to. As the war escalates, Suzu’s focus shifts from mastering cooking to mastering rice rationing.
In this corner of the world ping-pong between slice of life and disaster film, always centered on the human victims of war. Still, it’s fun to watch. It’s whimsical, despite its stronger and more emotional moments. Its animation has a vintage feel, but breaks new ground in ways I’ve never seen before, like melting bombs into paint splatters.