Movies to break you into Anime

Forgive my absence! Sickness & blogging sadly do not go together, especially when one is at work during said sickness. Anyhoo, enough whining from me:

Wired did an interesting piece on movies for anime n00bs which presents some great descriptions of the staple pieces for newcomers. These are the ones that every otaku has seen and will watch time and time again regardless of age. The only one that I would note as conspicuously missing is Hotaru no Haka (Grave of the Fireflies), though I do know many people who purposely exclude it because it’s just so damn depressing.

However, as usual all of these movies are oldish (I know Spirited Away wasn’t released here until 2001, but still), aimed at the young’uns, and primarily very neutral. The piece got me thinking about what  current movies could be used to jumpstart non-otaku into current or recent anime franchises. Without further ado, I give you my quick list of modern movies:

1. Akira

Okay, okay. I’m starting out with an ancient one on my list of current titles, I know, I’m a hypocrite. But how can one skip Akira? Although it isn’t current, Akira serves as a backdrop for everything that anime is. The plot is deep and enthralling even to non-otaku, and the influence on modern anime is clear. This movie is a key primer to modern anime!

2. Ghost in the Shell (and Innocence)

I often say that Ghost in the Shell is a great way to show adults that anime isn’t just abstract, slapstick nonsense. In fact, if you don’t have a decent attention span and a head for philosophy, you’ll be lost within the first half-hour of this movie. But get a group of liberal arts majors together and you’ll end up with a rousing discussion about humanity and the future of mankind. Plus it’s a great segue into one of the best action/sci-fi animes out there (definitely worth noting how different the anime, manga, and movies are from each other to whoever you’re showing it to, lest they be sorely disappointed).

3. Cowboy Bebop: Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door

Perhaps this is extra poignant given the abortion of a Keanu Reeves’ nightmare that is currently in production in the US (am I obsessed? I think I sound obsessed). Although the movie is set in the timeline between two of the episodes of the show, it is definitely watchable by a non-viewer and gives them a great taste for what the series is about. It has enough action and heart to convince a non-otaku to give the show a chance.

4. Perfect Blue

Another oldie, I know! But this is the film to convert your horror fanatic friend to the dark side, so to speak. A very Hitchcock-esque piece about a former idol whose change of careers provokes some obsessive fans with horrifying results.

In any case, this is just my short list. Feel free to add your own recommendations in the comments!

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