Introduction to Japanese Anime Films
Anime is a term for cartoons originating from Japan. A different word is used so it wouldn’t be confused with Western animated shows. Unlike in the West, where cartoons are mainly made for children, Japanese anime can target any age group; furthermore, some shows are intended for adults only.
Anime is a visual medium that gives a lot of freedom for artists to express themselves. Some animes may be heavily stylized, while others take more realistic approaches. They are also known to mix CG effects with traditional hand-drawn animation successfully.
Now that we’ve established that anime can be a medium for any kind of story – not only shows for kids – let’s talk about anime movies. Much like Western producers of animated movies, such as Toy Story or Finding Nemo, Japan has its own anime film industry. However, even though Japanese animation is becoming more popular overseas, not many people are familiar with the more impressive anime works. It’s mostly commercialized and overhyped shows like Digimon or Naruto that are the most popular.
So if you’ve got your first impression of anime through low-quality dubbed kid shows you saw on TV, that’s not enough of a reason to decide that all anime is bad. You should watch some of the best anime movies instead – such as “Spirited Away” by the Japanese anime genius Hayao Miyazaki. This animated movie has won an Oscar, and is also the first (and so far, also the only) non-English animated work to win an Academy award.
Movies by Hayao Miyazaki (such as Howl’s Moving Castle, Princess Mononoke, and so on) are always a good bet when looking for great anime films to watch. There also are other classics like Grave of the Fireflies, Ghost in the Shell or Akira. Most of these movies are translated and dubbed so you will have no trouble acquiring the DVDs and enjoying the fantastic journey.