Anime is becoming more and more popular outside Japan. Distributors like Madman in Australia have realised this and are producing dubbed and subtitled versions anywhere from months to years after their release in Japanese. I still believe that it is best watched in Japanese (with English subtitles), as often the English voices don't match the characters particularly well.
Many bilingual anime fans will provide subtitles well before the distributors have their products ready. These days a large number of successful manga series are adapted for anime.
This page is a record of the anime that I have enjoyed, in alphabetical order (English titles). I make no promises that you will enjoy it, and I refuse to try to categorise these, as there are now so many variations used.
- Angel Heart
- Angel's Egg
- Appleseed, Shinji Aramaki
Based on Masamune Shirow's manga, Appleseed is set in the future, and follows the characters from the manga. Set in 2131AD, after the Third World War, Deunan Knute is brought to Olympus, a Utopian city of humans and bioroids, where she is reunited with her comrade and lover Briareos, now a mechanised cyborg in the ESWAT unit. Various factions in Olympus are warring, with many humans resenting the political control that the bioroids have. Deunan joins ESWAT, and with an elite strike force, searches for data that may restore the bioroids' life extension and reproductive abilities, after the bioroids' life extension facility was destroyed.
The animation feels a little old, but is still slick. The storyline is intense, action packed, and the characters are interesting. I actually preferred the movie over the manga (English version), unlike many of my friends. The music enhances the animation, and helps to give it a unique feel, distinguishing it from Masamune Shirow's Ghost in the Shell:Stand Alone Collection series, although there are many similarities.
The inspiration for the live action movie, Shinobi - Heart Under Blade.
- Black Lagoon
- Blood: The Last Vampire, Hiroyuki Kitakubo
Saya, the last remaining original vampire, works for a secret organisation on an American Air Base in post-WWWII Japan, just before the Vietnam War.
Short, with little plot development, this almost feels like one episode of a series. The blend of CG and hand drawn artwork uses light and shadow very well to enhance the action. It's a bit bloody at times, but I enjoyed it.
A live action version is planned to be release mid-2008.
- Carried by the Wind: Tsukikage Ran
- Elfen Lied
- Ergo Proxy
- Fate Stay Night
- Fate Zero
- Final Fantasy VII - Advent Children, Tetsuya Nomura and Takeshi Nozue
This CG movie is set two years after the events of the console game, Final Fantasy VII. Children are becoming sick with a new disease, geostigma, somehow related to the remains of Jenovah. Cloud Strife and friends search for a solution, while villians try to resurrect Sephiroth.
I had not played the game, so on the first viewing, the plot did not make much sense. The graphics and music were enough to get me hooked, so I read the background, familiarised myself with another Final Fantasy game to see how plots and characters develop, and then re-watched the movie. This time I enjoyed it a lot more. In many places the music drives the action beautifully.
- Final Fantasy - The Spirits Within, Hironobu Sakaguchi
- Final Fantasy Unlimited
- Full Metal Alchemist
- Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood
- Geneshaft, Kazuki Akane
While investigating a mysterious ring artifact that appeared between the Earth and the moon, a massive energy blast from the ring destroyed a space station and damaged Earth's surface. The genetically engineered human crew of the prototype mecha, Shaft, and the spaceship, Bilikis, search for the origins of the alien technology, and attempt to stop further destruction.
A little short for an anime series, the combination of CG and hand drawn animation is action packed. There is not much story or character development, but it was still enjoyable.
- The Cat Returns
- From up on Poppy Hill
- Howl's Moving Castle
- Kiki's Delivery Service
- Laputa: Castle in the Sky
- My Neighbor Totoro
- Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind
- Porco Rosso
- Princess Mononoke
- The Secret World of Arrietty
- Spirited Away (Chihiro)
- Tales of Earthsea
- Whisper of the Heart
- Ghost in the Shell 2.0
- Ghost in the Shell: Innocence
- Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Collection I and II
- .Hack movies and series
- Heroic Age
- House of Five Leaves
- Jigoku Shoujo (Hell Girl)
- Kaleido Star
- La Corda d'Oro (Music of the heart)
Set in a streamed high school of music students and general education (non-music) students, this series is based around the school music competition. A mischievous spirit gifts a general education student (Kahoko Hino) with a magic violin - allowing her to play beautifully and compete in the school competition.
As is relatively normal in high school anime, bullying and the pressure to succeed are common themes throughout, but are lightened with hints of romance.
I loved seeing a non-music student being drawn into the world of music, and not being able to give it up. Perfect inspiration to pick up a new instrument, or keep practicing.
- Last Exile
- Legend of the Galactic Heroes
- Macross Frontier
- The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya
- Neon Genesis Evangelion
- Nodame Cantabile I, II and Paris
Following the lives of talented music students studying first at a music university in Japan, then at a conservatory in Paris. Noda Megumi (Nodame) is a brilliant pianist, but unfocused and unmotivated. Her neighbour, Chiaki wants to become a world-famous conductor, and is the opposite of Nodame - a clean and neat perfectionist. Follow their friendship, and the musical lives around them as they develop their skills and personalities.
Nodame has been turned into a live-action drama (romantic comedy).
Along with Piano no Mori and La Corda d'Oro, this is one of my favourite anime series for motivating myself to keep practicing the piano - it is packed with fantastic classical music.
- Piano no Mori (The piano forest)
Also known as the Perfect world of Kai, this anime follows two young pianists through primary school and a local piano competition. It touches on many important themes - bullying, parental pressure and expectations, low versus high income families, and how friendships are affected by these issues.
Sprinkled with fantastic classical music and beautifully illustrated, this movie leaves a bitter-sweet, nostalgic taste. It is a good anime to inspire young musicians.
- Puella Magi Madoka Magica
- Record of the Lodoss Wars
- Sakura Wars
- Samurai Champloo
- Samurai Girls
- Serial Experiments Lain
In an isolated, small village, surrounded by forest, the dead are still buried and not cremated. Full of quirky and sometimes stereotypical characters, the plot becomes darker and more violent as more corpses are turned into vampires. It's clear that a town which protects against 'outsiders' is not necessarily a good thing. At times it reminded me of when I was teaching in Japan - bureaucracy, stereotypical behaviour, and even the layout of the offices was occasionally quite accurate. Beautiful animation and use of colour and good music, with a couple of cliff-hangers that keep you watching - highly recommended.
- Stein's Gate
- Sword Art Online
- Trinity Blood
- Vampire Hunter D
- Vampire Princess Miyu
- Vexille, Fumihiko Sori
10 years after implementing a complete isolationist policy, Japan is infiltrated by a black ops group called S.W.O.R.D. to discover information about Daiwa Industries. Daiwa Industries experimented with extreme cloning and bio-engineering 10 years ago, which caused Japan to be ejected from the U.N. One of the commando units, Vexille, joins up with a renegade gang and attempts to stop Daiwa implementing a plan that endangers the entire world.
Stunning animation, although a little less emphatic than others in this genre and human movement is still a little stilted and unreal. The storyline initially develops well, with loads of intrigue and drama. The Jags remind me of sandworms in Dune, and the whole animation nods in the direction of Masamune Shirow (Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Collection). Very enjoyable, but it felt too short and a little rushed at the end!
- Witchhunter Robin
- Wolf's Rain
A lightning paced, sci-fi anime, based on the first of three Xenosaga PS2 games. The story is too complex to fit into this short series, only 12 episodes in length, so you are left wanting to know more. It matches the game fairly closely, so gamers will have insider knowledge that can fill in some of the gaps in the plot. The outro music is fantastic, the characters are like-able, and the animation is smooth. I just wish they'd continued with the story for another 12 episodes!
In 2065, scientists Aki Ross and DoctorSid and a military squad attempt to free Earth from an invading race of phantom-like aliens who arrived within an asteroid. Humans have moved into protected cities because these phantoms are deadly when touched. Aki Ross rases for a peaceful solution against the General Hein who plans to destroy Earth along with the original meteor.
The CG animation is incredible, and as my first glimpse of the Final Fantasy franchise, it was a stunning treat. The plot is deeply philosophical and carried well by Elliot Goldenthal's score. After having seen more of the Final Fantasy franchise, this movie very obviously has a different feel, although the depth of characters and story is similar.