5 films to discover Japanese animation cinema

My Neighbor Totoro (1988) – Netflix

Two little girls, Mei, 4, and Satsuki, 10, move into a big house in the countryside with their father to be closer to the hospital where their mother is staying. They discover nature all around the house and, above all, the existence of marvelous creatures, the Totoros, with whom they will quickly create very strong friendships.

How not to start this top with the master of the genre. Miyazaki’s legacy is such that we could have made an entire top just with his films. We hesitated for a long time but if we had to release one, it would be my neighbor Totoro. A true masterpiece of the genre, this film is breathtakingly beautiful and poetic. Immerse yourself with these mysterious creatures in the wonderful world of Miyazaki. From 6 years old, go see it you won’t be on it!

Arriety the little world of pilferers (2010) – Netflix

In the suburbs of Tokyo, under the floor of an old house lost in the heart of a huge garden, the tiny Arrietty lives in secret with her family. They are Pilfers. Arrietty knows the rules: you only borrow what you need, in such small quantities that the inhabitants of the house do not notice it.

This production from Ghibli studios is a marvel of beauty and poetry. A fable in tune with the times that intelligently speaks of difference and the poor. If we feel the touch of the magician Miyazaki, author of the script, we recognize the director Hiromasa Yonebayashi’s talent for drawing characters and quivering nature. With its subtle graphics and constant poetry, this cartoon brings a breath of fresh air that will delight young and old alike. From the age of 8.

The Tale of Princess Kaguya (2014) – Netflix

On a foggy day, Okina, an old bamboo cutter, discovers a tiny sleeping creature inside a cane. He takes her home. Raised by Okina and his wife, this creature very quickly becomes a magnificent young girl…

Inspired and adapted from a famous Japanese tale, this film is a simply marvelous poetic and visual delight of sensitivity, delicacy and pure beauty! Indeed, the visual result is so high that it transcends the characters, their actions and their words to magnify them and enchant this story, alternately joyful and melancholic. We are amazed in front of so much grace, harmony, research in the tones, the shapes, the nuances that make up animated pictures whose dominants even vary according to the mood and the state of mind of the princess! From 10 years old.

Akira (1988) – Netflix

Tetsuo, a teenager who lived through a difficult childhood, is the victim of experiments aimed at developing the psychic abilities that lie dormant in all of us. Thus endowed with a power that he himself cannot imagine, Tetsuo decides to go to war against the world that has oppressed him. From then on, he finds himself at the heart of a popular legend which announces the imminent return of Akira, a child with extra-ordinary powers supposed to deliver Tokyo from chaos…

We enter into themes that are a little darker but just as striking. What is even more striking in this film than its gloomy futurism, its unforgettable atmosphere or the quality of the animation, is its impressive creativity, its ability to reinvent itself with each scene. The imagery full of strange beings, children, monsters really create something timeless: something dark and fascinating, from the first minute to the last. From 13 years old.

Ghost in the Shell (1995) – My Canal

In the near future, the Major is one of a kind: human saved from a terrible accident, his body with cybernetic abilities allows him to fight against the most dangerous criminals. Faced with a new kind of threat that allows hacking and mind control, the Major is the only one who can fight this enemy.

There, we clearly fall into a category for adults. Here is a true masterpiece of science fiction which has suffered the prejudices which weigh heavily on Japanese animation, and which consequently does not know the notoriety that it should know. Far from being limited to a simple very edgy action film as we are often content to perceive it, “Ghost in the Shell” is above all a splendid philosophical fable with unimaginable richness. From 16 years old.

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5 films to discover Japanese animation cinema

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