Anime for grown-ups

I didn’t want to write “for adults”…

A list of very interesting anime movie for grown-ups, from classics to now. I’m staying off Ghibli here, which imho are a must see, all of them. Including, of course When Marnie was There, a gem.

Many are of these are from Madhouse, a studio that has produced many fine films and may become the best studio if Ghibli ceases to produce films.


  • Akira (1988)
  • Blood The Last Vampire (2000)
  • Patlabor 2 (1993)

Keiichi Hara

Hiroyuki Okiura

Mamoru Hosoda

  • The Girl Who Leapt Through Time
  • Summer Wars
  • Wolf Children
  • Bakemono no Ko

Cowboy Bebop saga

  • Cowboy Bebop, TV series (1998)
  • Cowboy Bebop The Movie  — Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door
  • Samurai Champloo TV Series, also by Shinichirō Watanabe

NGE saga

  • Neon Genesis Evangelion. Original TV series.
  • Evangelion movies…

Ghost in the Shell saga

  • Ghost In The Shell (1995). Original TV series.
  • Ghost in the Shell Stand Alone Complex TV Series

Makoto Shinkai… sunsets galore

  • Hoshi No Koe (The Voices Of A Distant Star)
  • Kumo no Mukou, Yakusoku no Basho (The Place Promised in Our Early Days)
  • The Garden of Words (2013)
  • 5 Centimeters Per Second
  • Children Who Chase Lost Voices From Deep Below (2011)

Satoshi Kon

  • Paprika
  • Tokyo godfathers
  • Paranoia Agent, TV series
  • Millennium Actress

Others (unsorted yet)

  • Piano Forest – Piano no Mori (2007)
  • Tekkon Kinkreet (2006)
  • Time Of Eve
  • Persona 3 the Movie-1-Spring of Birth
  • Hotarubi no Mori e
  • The animatrix

A selection for smaller children:

  • Friends. (2011)
  • Mai Mai Miracle (2009)
  • Patema Inverted
  • Welcome to the Space Show
  • Ronja (ok, this one’s Ghibli, but it’s not so well known)

Beyond Ghibli

Sad because you finished with each and every Ghibli movie ever made? (and Borrower Arrietty is still unreleased in your country) (and you can’t afford a trip to their museum in Tokyo to watch the special shorts there).

Here is a list of Ghibliesque movies I have enjoyed:

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Top 50 animated films

Time Out’s list of the 50 greatest animated films, curated by Terry Gilliam, shows a large number of films from Studio Ghibli, including the top film! These are good times fo Ghibli, at least in Spain:

  • Ponyo on the cliff was broadly played during the summer an has just been released on DVD, as is Whisper of the Heart (#21).
  • Totoro (#1) is being shown in some cinemas (ok, only two in the city of Madrid), and the DVD is due on December 9th.

Ghibli movies in the list:

You can find the complete list below, with links to Time Out reviews (when provided by them).


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Dubbing – or dumbing? Miyazaki’s case.

I was recently quite shocked by Disney’s dubbing of  Hayao Miyazaki‘s movies, specially   (Castle in the Sky (Tenkû no shiro Rapyuta) and Kiki’s Delivery Service (Majo no takkyûbin). These are widely held as masterpieces in animation, so that they would seem to deserve special care. On the other hand, they fall in dangerous “children’s territory”. Some may be isolated in the dubbing process:

  • Translation, which is bound to introduce variations. Unfortunately, this will apply to subtitles also, unless they are used as visual aids to the listening. (In my case, this holds for English movies, certainly not for Japanese ones.)
  • Voice acting. For Miyazaki’s, and other movies from Studio Ghibli, this has been also criticized. In my opinion, the acting is usually excellent, and performed by top-notch actors: Anna Paquin, Elle and Dakota Fanning (cute to have sisters dubbing fictional sisters), Janeane Garofalo, Phil Hartman, Kirsten Dunst
  • Adaptation. This is the part where I was shocked.

Adaptation would concern the question of what to dub in order to adapt the movie to a different audience (also, the musical soundtrack). It seems in order to Westernize these movies:

  • completely new dialog is inserted, often to fill “empty” sequences (the usual Western horror vacui)
  • same with music score: just as in stores, it seems some music must be playing, or else we, poor Westerners, get bored
  • “foreign” features (humour, cultural references) are altered or eliminated
  • some characters acquire new personalities

Don’t be to quick about taking the easy way and blame Disney for it all.  Studio Ghibli has carefully supervised the dubbing, and Miyazaki himself seems to have approved it. My very personal (and perhaps wrong) explanation is that the Japanese are trying their best to adapt a product to a “new” market.

But, they are wrong: people, and very specially children, should be open to new ways of storytelling, and be exposed to a sensibility different to the predominant one. That’s what I think, at least, and that’s what I am trying to do, even if my kids have to endure the original Japanese and I have to do all the reading…

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