They’re the best Anime that 2004 has to offer! We counts down the best anime to come out this year, including the likes of Dead Leaves, Doraemon Movie 25: Nobita no Wan Nyan Jikuuden, InuYasha Movie 4: Guren no Houraijima, and more!
5: Dead Leaves
English: Dead Leaves
Japanese: デッド リーブス
MAL Score: 7.22
Pandy and Retro awaken naked on Earth with no recollection of their past. They embark on a devastating crime spree in search of food, clothing and transportation, but are captured by authorities and sent to the infamous lunar penitentiary named Dead Leaves. While incarcerated, they quickly discover that Dead Leaves is also a top-secret cloning facility, occupied by villainous guards and deformed genetic experiments. Ultra-manic chaos and hyper-violent bedlam ensue as they organize a prison break with the aid of their fellow mutant inmates.
The story for Dead Leaves is as nutty as you might expect. A couple find themselves naked and without memories and turn to a crime spree in which they are eventually caught and sent the moon’s prison called Dead Leaves for life. They soon manage to free themselves and the other prisoners and find themselves in a life or death struggle to escape, and to recover their own memories that seem to be related with the prison. It’s not incredibly deep but the action is furious and nonstop. Don’t blink or let your attention wander because you’re bound to miss something and become confused.
A word of warning for anyone who is going to watch this. This one is not for the small kids. The humor is perverse, highly sexual, graphic and gory. The body count and level of death is shockingly high. I have railed against violent humor before in the past but Dead Leaves is one in which this actually works. Dismemberment has never been so much fun or humorous.
Characters are a real strong point as this movie features some of the most enjoyable I have seen to date. The two protagonists are Pandy and Retro. They are both drawn in a very bizarre style like everything else in the show. The first thing that will probably strike you is why does Retro have a TV for a head? There is good chemistry between the pair and I can’t see anyone not liking these two from the start. There is a plethora of supporting characters, many of them are quite hilarious. Most noticeably “Dick Drill” and the Doctor. I’m not sure if it’s even possible for me to describe these two to someone who hasn’t seen this anime. Just watch it, if you don’t think they are hilarious then check your pulse because you’re dead.
The animation, well it’s unique. I would say that it is a masterpiece really but I can’t really justify it. It is so odd and so bizarre that it is sure to not appeal to everyone. I thought it was perfect because it set the tone so well for both the story and the characters personalities. It all really fits together well. Like I said before those who have seen Furi Kuri are going to find a lot of similarities here. The acting is also top notch. With so many crazy personalities the cast does a wonderful job of bringing out all these quirky and insane people and giving them life.
I really recommend this movie highly to everyone. If you like zany, graphic, and wild comedy then this show is definitely for you. FLCL fans should also check this out without fail. I would also recommend another series called Trava which is very similar in art style and story pacing. Dead Leaves isn’t for everyone, but I think everyone should give it at least a try.
Anime: Dead Leaves is a 55 minute OAV that was created by Imaitoonz (who also did work on the 3D mechanical designs on Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann), was produced by Production IG (known for their work on Azumanga Daioh and the Ghost in the Shell series), and directed by Hiroyuki Imaishi (who also directed Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann and FLCL). It was released in Japan on January 17th, 2004, and was licensed Stateside by Manga Entertainment, who released it on September 28th, 2004.
Story: Retro, a guy with a TV screen for a head, and Pandy, a girl with a panda-esque mutation mark over her eye, wake up naked on Earth with no idea of who they are or how they got there. They promptly decide to go on a crime spree to get food, clothes, and transportation in Tokyo, and are promptly captured and sentenced to time on the lunar prison known as Dead Leaves. Little do they know what awaits them there.
There is but one thing you need to know abotu this OAV: It is cracktastic. No other word for it. Utterly cracktastic. And when you look at the director’s previous works, it’s not all that surprising.
There is no real overarching plot and character development is minimal. The OAV moves along very quickly from sequence to sequence, sprinkled liberally with sex and mayhem and violence and insanity.
It’s a hell of an OAV to watch, and definitely worth it, in my opinion. Just don’t expect much in this department, and just let the crazy wash over you.
WARNING: Very crude (one character has a drill for a dick), sexual acts/references, over the top violence, and some nudity.
Art: The art on this is absolutely insane. And I love it. The entire OAV is animated smoothly, which makes the freneticness of the entire thing that much more awesome to watch. There are very sharp contrasts in this, along with striking color choices, which I absolutely love. The character designs also score major points for originality; all the designs are just as crazy as Retro, Pandy, and drill-dick guy’s.
Music: Nothing that stood out too much here.
Voice Actors: I watched this dubbed, which is pretty unusual for me. The VA work on this was excellent, and I’m amazed at their ability to keep up with the speed of the lines that was required.
Dub: Not covered here, as I don’t have much to compare it to.
Length: Seeing as I am convinced this is crack in a pure, distilled form, this was about all that I could take; any longer, and my brain would have exploded, any shorter, and it wouldn’t have made a bit of sense.
Overall: Cracktastic. Definitely worth a watch, if you can stand a lack of sense, and crudeness.
Voice Actors: 9/10
Overall: 40/50; 80% (B)
In terms of art design the film has a highly stylized look that is fabulous to look at, it’s very sharp full of bright block colours that help the animation stand out greatly and when the animation moves hold on to your seat because this film just moves like a crazy carnival ride. The animation is completely consistent and never lets up and there are points when so many things are happening at once while the screen moves from place to place you may up incapacitated.
The sound in the film is very nice, the choice of music is very upbeat and helps amplify the chaotic action and while it’s not really memorable in any kind of way it works for the film itself. The characters in this film are cool, Retro is just a madman who knows how take care of things in a crazy fashion and the fact that he’s voiced by Kappei Yamaguchi just adds to the character too. Panda is hot chick who is packing heat when the action starts, she seems to be calm in every situation she’s in and is almost the opposite of Retro outside of the battlefield. The villain of the film isn’t half bad and the supporting characters are really funny bunch of people.
To be honest I totally loved Dead Leaves, I thought it was great, while the story wasn’t ever going to be really engaging it had a unique concept behind it and was good for what it was. I recommend this highly for anyone looking for a little epicness in their lives. And lastly if there are any people who have watched Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann should give this a go for sure.
4: Doraemon Movie 25: Nobita no Wan Nyan Jikuuden
English: Doraemon the Movie: Nobita in the Wan-Nyan Spacetime Odyssey
Japanese: 映画 ドラえもん のび太のワンニャン時空伝
MAL Score: 7.32
One day, Nobita finds a stray dog drowning in a river while playing by the river side. Feeling sorry for the dog, he decides to take it home by hiding it in a “kennel on the wall” and names it Ichi (originated from “One”, which sounds similar to “wan”, the sound a dog makes according to the Japanese language), and secretly feeds it and plays with Ichi with his Kendama to find. Soon after, he also adopts a stray cat named Zubu (or wet in Japanese, due to the discovery of it in a rainstorm)… and many other stray cats and dogs. With so many stray cats and dogs, Nobita, along with his friends, decide to send them back in time, 300 million years ago, where there was no other living beings around. After using the Ray of Evolution to allow them to operate a food-making machine, they depart, with a promise to return to the present.
However, when they try to visit them the next day (from their point of view), they encountered a time-space anomaly, sending them crash landing 1,000 years before their original time-destination— to their surprise, They found out the dogs and cats have evolved enough to form a civilized society that rivaled those of Future Society. As the time machine is broken, they try to find help to repair it so they can continue their chrono-journey, only to learn of a bigger issue — a cluster of asteroids are going to Collide with Earth.
Will Nobita finally reunite with Ichi, as he promised? More over, what’s with Hachi, a dog who resembles Ichi greatly? The 300 million years of time and space adventure begins.
3: InuYasha Movie 4: Guren no Houraijima
English: InuYasha the Movie 4: Fire on the Mystic Island
Japanese: 犬夜叉 紅蓮の蓬莱島
MAL Score: 7.54
The mysterious island of Houraijima has reappeared after 50 years, and with its reappearance has brought the attack of four gods, the Shitoushin, who have their eyes set on the powers that protect and sustain the island. Now it’s up to Inuyasha and his friends, along with Sesshoumaru, to find a way to defeat the powerful Shitoushin.
The scenario is very weak and most unimpressive even for the tv standards. So far they had being fighting top level demons who could take over the world, control time, and even raise hell. Now they deal with… four convicts??? Surely, where is the excitement in that? Four nobody demons that are trapped on an island and just lure other demons in order to eat them and stay alive. Another annoying feature is the little kids in this movie. You would expect token kids begging for the shounen hero to save them in a Naruto or a One Piece film, but in Inu Yasha it just feels stupid. I guess so many years past that by now the franchise had turned to just another silly show about teenagers saving kids.
The plot is not something great either. All they do is fighting one demon at a time before the last one fuses with the rest to form a last moment big boss. That’s it, nothing more. The previous movies had the decency to try to deal with some sort of drama or romance from the various themes of the main story. This one here does absolutely NOTHING! You could replace the characters with those from any other shounen show and you wouldn’t even know the difference.
Not even the action is something good, since by now Inu Yasha had enough firepower to take on the Devil himself and the enemy demons were just generic bad guys without any backdrop or interesting battle strategies. Not even the setting is good either. It is just a sort of tropical island that appeared on the sea; nothing nightmarish or complicating.
In all, this is a completely pointless movie that has no point in existing. I don’t recommend it one bit.
2: Mind Game
Japanese: マインド ゲーム
MAL Score: 7.79
After seeing her jump onto a subway at the last second and getting her ankle crushed between the doors, Nishi reconnects with his high school sweetheart, Myon. Nishi is still very much in love with Myon, but is shocked to learn that she is engaged to another man. Nishi agrees to meet Myon’s fiancé at her family’s Yakitori restaurant, but members of the Yakuza storm the joint and murder Nishi when he tries to stop them from raping Myon.
Nishi, now dead, wakes up and meets a constantly shapeshifting god, who mocks him for dying. The god tells Nishi to walk into a portal and disappear from existence, which Nishi rejects, choosing instead to sprint past the god and reanimate. With a new outlook on life and knowledge of how the Yakuza are going to attack him, Nishi kills one of the Yakuza with his own gun, fleeing in a stolen car with Myon and her sister.
Acclaimed director Masaaki Yuasa’s debut film, Mind Game’s constantly shifting visuals tell a story about living one’s life without regrets that is unlike any other.
Produced by one of the most innovative animation studios around, Mind Game takes an abstract approach to a theme that a lot of mainstream anime has been promoting to viewers for decades: Don’t give up, live life.
You see it everywhere, from Naruto to Mobile Suit Gundam to Ghibli. Anime is always reminding you of how short life is; encouraging you to stop watching it and go outside. Stop being self-conscious, act freely, chase your dreams, jump into the melting pot of humanity!
Mind Game’s humorous approach is through a breezy kind of animation style that isn’t afraid to become inconsistent at random moments. The most striking moments are when characters’ faces are replaced by actual real life actors, which gives a surreal charm to the whole thing. A reason why I keep thinking of obscure quirky live action Japanese films, like Survive Style Five+, instead of other anime, because that’s where Mind Game’s sensibilities lie.
It is both aware and ignorant of the fact that it’s animated, taking full advantage of the medium to show us wonderfully insane visuals, and ignoring it to use a narrative template that is underused in anime-land which is obsessed with plot driving the characters rather than the other way around, and whenever it is the other way around its labelled as ‘slice of life’.
Not so much slice of life in Mind Game as it is a gigantic bite. We follow Nishi as he hooks up with a childhood sweetheart, we laugh at a violently ugly encounter in a restaurant, we grin stupidly at a loony action scene and spend the long remainder of the film captivated by a couple humans stripped bare, their hearts naked for all to see, and with that freedom enforced on them they’re truly able to live life like they never were before.
The enforced freedom ultimately has to be taken away, which results in the film’s powerful climax which is basically a race for life. A metaphorical dash across the debris of 21st century living; a furious rush that takes everything in the characters to achieve a future full of life and possibilities.
Mind Game itself shows the future and possibilities of anime. Another accomplishment for Studio 4C.
Despite the title, this isn’t a movie that will mess with your head or challenge you to think. It has a very simple message, one that was clearly stated: Live Life. The characters go on a journey that, while being fantastic, ended up feeling like a hollow victory come the climax. You can either blame that on the "reset button" ending or on the fact they chose to send us on acid trips over fleshing out the story.
The characters themselves were very much the same as the story. Decent, with some depth, but you could feel as though there was a wealth more to be explored that simply wasn’t for one reason or another. Again, more time was given to the exploration of the art.
But what about the art? This movie is probably best known for its atypical style and beautifully executed animation. The problem though is its not a matter of execution, its a matter of content. Yes, the animation was expertly done, but the animation itself was a Wal-Mart bargain bin of good, bad, and indistinguishable. In this department, it really relies on the person watching and their preferences. Personally, I found it to be distracting and in some cases, absurd.
Basically it should come to this. If you’ve seen the movie or if you’re thinking of watching it, ask yourself this one question…"Did I enjoy it?" . No, don’t ask yourself if you ‘understood everything’ or if you ‘appreciated the art’…ask yourself if you truly and honestly ‘enjoyed’ it.
Personally, its not a movie I’ll watch again nor a movie I’ll forget. It wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t that one amazing movie that its hyped to be either. It falls in the middle of the road.
It was fair. Decent. Average. 6 out of 10.
Story: It’s a story that you cannot take seriously. There are essentially 3 different scenes in it. All three of them are beautifully executed. The pacing in this movie is also very nice, the few slow scenes are beautifully shown, there’s never a single moment of tediousness.
Art: " I think that Japanese animation fans today don’t necessarily demand something that’s so polished. You can throw different styles at them and they can still usually enjoy it." -Masaaki Yuasa (director) The art in this is so spaced out, to call it anime would be to really push the border of what anime is and can be. This free, wild form is both beautiful and also sometimes detrimental. There are some scenes that are not beautifully executed, they seem dull and boring, almost lifeless. Whereas others are beautiful, and some are quite hilarious. One of the best scenes involves God. However the best scene, is a love scene. It is worth it to watch the entire anime JUST for this one 3-4 minute scene. I cannot describe to you how beautiful this one scene was to me, you really need to see it for yourself.
Sound: The voice actors are magnificent, Niishi is especially great, he’s energetic and sounds absolutely crazy half the time. The sound effects are also amazing and the background music incredible as well.
Character: To fully get the characters, to fully understand all the relations and dreams of each character this anime needs to be watched at least twice. Almost every character has a detailed story and aspirations. Niishi’s dream of being a Manga artist leads to a cute little story. The characters at all time seem human, they seem pliable and three-dimensional. This aspect is so beautifully shown, it’s one of the many highlights of this series.
I was never let-down during this entire movie. However I would not recommend it to everyone. If you don’t have an open mind about what you believe anime is, then don’t watch this. This anime is incredibly unique. To use the word "weird" would be an insult to this. I have never seen anything like this, it’s an anime that really does a magnificent job at being a beautiful piece of art.
1: Detective Conan Movie 08: Magician of the Silver Sky
Japanese: 名探偵コナン 銀翼の奇術師[マジシャン]
MAL Score: 8.08
Once again, Kaitou Kid crosses swords with Conan Edogawa in this annual installment of the Detective Conan movie franchise. After receiving a letter from the thief, famous actress Juri Maki seeks the help of private detective Kogorou Mouri to protect the Star Sapphire—the “Jewel of Destiny,” said to represent faith, fate, and hope. Thinking he has deciphered Kid’s riddle, Kogorou personally shows up to the newly constructed space theater where Juri is acting in the play “Josephine” in order to catch Kid in the act.
The next day, Conan and the gang are invited by Juri to her holiday home, to celebrate the thwarting of Kid’s plan and the success of the play. However, their triumph crumbles when a murder occurs during the flight there. Although unintentional, this sets off a series of events that escalate to catastrophic results. Conan and Kid, unlikely allies that they are, must work together to save both their friends and every other passenger aboard the plane.
One of the movie’s most interesting aspects is how it takes three different scenarios and combines them into one, cohesive story where the elements in one part carry on into the next. While this is some very interesting story-writing, one could not help but wonder if more time went into writing one part more than the others. In 1995’s Goldeneye, the movie begins with an opening so great, that the rest of the movie fails to measure up to it. The same can be said for Magician of the Silver Sky. As fun as the other two parts are, the first part is and always will be the most memorable part of the whole movie. It’s kind of like eating a three-course meal, where the first dish is a juicy steak, the second is a PB&J sandwich, and the third is a bowel of chicken noodle soup. All are of varying quality, but none are better than the first dish.
One other thing that people do not like about this movie is how Kaito Kid always disguises himself as Shinichi. As genius as it was for him to do so, it sort of takes out the fun of figuring out who Kid is. Back then, I wouldn’t really have a problem with Kid disguising himself as Shinichi since it meant Conan can’t point him out without giving himself away. But after 15 years and 2 other movies where Kaito disguises himself as Shinichi (plus 1 if you count Fist of Blue Sapphire), I think now would be a good time for Kid to change up his Modus Operandi.
Despite my earlier analogy about chicken PB&J, Magcian of the Silver Sky is still a worth while watch. Everything that people love about Detective Conan is here and is still just as good. The story structure is interesting, the art and animation is pretty good, and the characters are still their usual lovable selves. Definitely a good watch.
Story-wise, it isn’t the typical Detetive Conan wherein the ending is usually when the culprit is caught. It somehow has a mix of other genres as well that made it unique in a way to the other movies so far. The mystery and detective-ness of the typical Detective Conan though was outshone by the scenes in the plane. In a way that made this a bit anti-climatic in terms of mysteriousness. It was however refreshing to see a different story from the typical series. There were also some scenes that had a bit of a bland after taste to it but still the good parts outweigh those. The story was good not the best one there is but it was good.
Every anime has its own unique art style. What sets Detective Conan apart from the others is that aside from the unique plot the art is also different so the author’s work can be easily distinguished for the others. Growing up with this anime makes my rating for it biased but I, for one, am content with the art.
The usual sound effects used in the series but there were a few added sound effects to make it sound new to the ears. Not complaining with the usual opening though, it just makes it even more exciting since it is the signature opening of Detectuve Conan so nostalgia from it isn’t lost to me.
The characters were okay though the culprit was predictable. The different sides of Kaitou Kid was seen here though his identity remains a mystery and that makes him all the more a character one can look forward to every time he appears. The kids however were a bit unnecessary in some scenes. Ran’s parents however made it refreshing. Everytime those two show up it’s really fun to watch. There were characters though that were a bit lacking in presence and sort of easily remained in the background. Conan though, is still the typical Conan we all know and love.
It was not what I had expected from the title and the movie poster though, so at the beginning I thought it was going to be a full on Kaitou Kid vs Conan movie but the unexpectedness of the plot all the more made it a good movie to me. There were some scenes that for me, were not needed and felt like they were just a few added scenes to make the movie longer. But other than that it was good. Not the best Detective Conan movie I’ve watched but nonetheless a good movie to watch.
If you want something a bit different from the typical Detective Conan, this is probably the way to go. There are a lot of mixed genres here that made it enjoyable to watch. It was a good movie. There were unexpected scenes and twists but that just made it even more fun to watch.
Did YOUR favorite anime make the cut? Let us know in the comments below!
1. Detective Conan Movie 08: Magician of the Silver Sky
2. Mind Game
3. InuYasha Movie 4: Guren no Houraijima
4. Doraemon Movie 25: Nobita no Wan Nyan Jikuuden
5. Dead Leaves