They’re the best Anime that 2002 has to offer! We counts down the best anime to come out this year, including the likes of Doraemon Movie 23: Nobita to Robot Kingdom, Pokemon Movie 05: Mizu no Miyako no Mamorigami Latias to Latios, InuYasha Movie 2: Kagami no Naka no Mugenjo, and more!
5: Doraemon Movie 23: Nobita to Robot Kingdom
English: Doraemon the Movie: Nobita in the Robot Kingdom
Japanese: 映画 ドラえもん のび太とロボット王国[キングダム]
MAL Score: 7.15
Doraemon and friends travels into another world via the time machine; where humans and robots are living together. However they soon find out that the Empress of Robot Kingdom was trying to capture robots there and turn them emotionless. As the situation goes tense, our heroes sets out to stop the Empress and her plan.
4: Pokemon Movie 05: Mizu no Miyako no Mamorigami Latias to Latios
English: Pokemon Heroes
Japanese: ポケットモンスター 水の都の護神 ラティアスとラティオス
MAL Score: 7.16
As they continue their journey through the Johto region, Satoshi and his friends visit Altomare, an island city that hosts an annual racing event called the Pokémon Water Race. While Takeshi and Kasumi are enjoying themselves, strange things seem to be happening to Satoshi—he somehow loses the water race, sees some women attack a girl with their Pokémon, and despite them saving her, the girl later denies ever seeing Satoshi and Pikachu before!
Fortunately for Satoshi, his confusion clears up as he learns that the girl he and Pikachu saved earlier was actually a Pokémon named Latias, who likes to disguise herself as her human friend, Kanon. Latias and another Pokémon, Latios, are known as the Eon Pokémon, as they inhabit and guard Altomare along with a mystical blue sphere called the Soul Dew. An ancient legend of Altomare is highly connected to the Eon Pokémon and the Soul Dew, and is well known among the locals—as well as among Latias’ earlier assailants, the thief sisters Zanner and Lyon. As the thieves attempt to capture both the Eon Pokémon and the Soul Dew, Satoshi is forced to act in order to stop them from bringing disaster to Altomare.
I just love the story, the music, the art. The storyline is very nice written, the characters are ofc what we are used to 🙂 I prefer the “older” pokemon storyline, and i think this was the last one which made me whatch it without going away from it in the middle.
I think this is a pretty good one, although the ending is kind of expected. I like this pair of legendary pokemons and I personally like Latios more than Latias. I love the way he protects his sister. Moreover, this pair of pokemons are really loyal to the city. They will sacrifice themselves to protect the city and it’s really beautiful to see this kind of loyalty. And it’s kind of sad too because it somehow makes me feel that they were born to protect the city. =(
Lets get the bad over with first. Continuing in the grand tradition of rushed and poorly thought out plots, here we have a machine which lacks any real gounding in the real world and is bound only by the power of plot necessity. There are two big questions which arise from watching the movie – How did ancients build a mech-pod with a VR interface and magic cameras all over the city? How do infinite prison bars materialize all over the place? Both of these are answered with the power of Latios and Latias, of course. To give credit where it’s due, I can swallow the two Eon pokemons being very smart and sight sharing could be utilized as a camera. The rest of it just isn’t tought out, at all.
On the brighter side of things, the town looks lovely and Venice, the city this film was modeled on, can only wish to be this beautiful. Locations in this film are amazing and ooze with atmosphere, arguably more so than any Pokemon film since. Coupled with a really great soundtrack to complement it, the film becomes an unforgetable cozy experience. As a stand out song, I have to mention Mistery Girl, Again – a great example of music being synced with a scene in an intricate way.
Since the plot is paper thin, the film has to rely on something beyond the drive towards a distinct goal. While some later films utilized daily life in Ash’s journey to pad out the running time, this one embraces that reality and shapes itself into an intriguing character piece.
After we’re treated to an engaging and visually creative opening through a pokemon race, film lets us soak in the atmosphere of the city for a few minutes. Not overstaying its welcome, we’re soon introduced to a mute girl, Latias in disguise. After a few fun adventures, Ash finds himself in direct contact with two siblings, Latios & Latias.
What makes the movie tick are the regular interactions between Ash, Latias and Latios. Unlike questionable relationships Ash had with others in pervious and future films, you can really feel the connection between the trio here.
Eventually a duo of thieves steal the Soul Dew, a jewl which grants its wielder control of the city’s defense systems. This leads to a tragic sacrafice. While the aformentioned machine is a lazy plot McGuffin, it’s used to steer character interactions into an arc and give them a sense of purpose. While certainly a thorn in the side of this movie, it doesn’t detract from the overall experience much. It’s probable that the film would be better were it not for villains and the the perilous event was instead triggered by a timed cycle.
At the very end of the film, we get to witness Ash’s first kiss. Latias in her human form thanks him for everything he’s done for her, cementing this as the weirdest Pokemon film yet.
Guardian Gods of the Capital of Water: Latias and Latios is a comfy cartoon about a special day in Ash’s life. Its B plot is kind of a mistake in itself, but it’s easily glanced over. Beyond that, the film is a very enjoyable experience. I doubt we’ll get something like it ever again, so even if it ain’t the greatest thing since baked bread, it should still be cherished.
3: InuYasha Movie 2: Kagami no Naka no Mugenjo
English: InuYasha the Movie 2: The Castle Beyond the Looking Glass
Japanese: 犬夜叉 鏡の中の夢幻城
MAL Score: 7.67
Inuyasha and company have finally destroyed Naraku. And each start to go in their separate ways. Sango going to find her younger brother Kohaku; Miroku back to his old home; Inuyasha, Kagome and Shippou go to gather the rest of the Shikon shards. Unfortunately this peace is not to last. Shortly afterwards the full moon rises, and just keeps rising each night bringing with it the promise of danger. Kagura and Kanna go in search of a mirror, where locked inside is the ruler of the eternal night, Kaguya. To set her free they must gather five items and drop them into the five lakes of Fuji. Setting her free means the worst danger for Inuyasha and the others. Who are forced to face this new threat.
An interesting thing about this movie as well is the use of poetry. In the process of releasing Kaguya. I found that superb. There were several moments in the movie where I would get chills even having seen it two other times. That’s how exciting and intense this movie was to me. Of all the movies, this is definitely the one worth the watch. I give a 9/10! It’s great!
On the other hand, this is definitely a good movie to watch when you approach “An Ancestor of Kagome” episode, since it gives more insight in Akitoki Hojo’s character.
The movie was good! I wouldn’t say it was thought-provoking, but more like an extra long episode. It was fun to watch since the anime doesn’t show funny stuff in midst of battles like the movies do, so it’s a bit different to watch. Would recommend everyone give it a chance.
The type of the movie you can watch with non-Inuyasha watchers! So family and friends 🙂
2: Neko no Ongaeshi
English: The Cat Returns
MAL Score: 7.76
High school student Haru Yoshioka is bored with the monotony of life. One day, she saves Prince Lune of the Cat Kingdom from being run over by a truck. As a token of gratitude, the Cat King sends her “presents” and invites her to the Cat Kingdom to become Lune’s wife. Haru’s inability to properly communicate with the cats leads to the misunderstanding that she has accepted the proposal.
As Haru ponders on ways to escape the predicament, a mysterious voice instructs her to search for the Cat Bureau. However, not long after she finally arrives at the bureau, a horde of cats swarms in and forcibly takes her to the Cat Kingdom, along with a member of the Cat Bureau. Concerned for their safety, owner of the Cat Bureau, Baron Humbert von Gikkingen, follows close behind.
The more Haru immerses herself in the activities of the Cat Kingdom, the more cat-like she becomes. To her dismay, she soon learns that, unless she can find her true self, she may become a cat permanently. Haru’s adventures in the world of cats lead her down a path to self-discovery, allowing her to return as a more confident person.
Story: The Cat Returns is a side story to the Studio Ghibli film, "Whisper of the Heart’. In essence, it is a separate story within a story, which makes the concept quite clever. It brings back old characters from the original showing, into a plot that has a similar atmosphere to The Nutcracker or Alice in Wonderland. It is a fantasy, in a which a shy girl is carried off into another land, and in the process learns more about herself. The moral behind the story is a touching one, and it is delivered well. Perhaps the only drawback that someone might find, is that it all ends too happily [or that the story is too predictable].
Art: The art was decent, considering it came from a studio that is well known for its high quality animation. Yet I saw the film in a site where the movie had slightly lower quality then what might be seen on a dvd or television screen. There are some scenes in which the art is commendable. This includes anatomy of the animals, and the city scenes. Some scenes were very well detailed, although the color at times wasn’t as vibrant as it could be. [This could simply be a style presented in the film]. It can’t compare to some of the more vibrant shows of today, but it is still well done.
Sound: The sound was decent, although it could have been better. If there were any songs, they were not strong or memorable. It was straight forward sound that was good enough to deliver the show. The voice actor for the main character did a good job, making Haru [the girl] quite comical at times. Audio was not the strongest area in this film, but it was not bad.
Character: The character’s personalities were probably typical for a story such as this one. Yet there are many aspects that they portray in the film in order to help the story flow. There is also character development within the main character, Haru, although the change was rather sudden and short-lived. It still makes it all fit together nicely in the end. The characters themselves are not as strong as the story or the enjoyment, but they are quite comical.
Enjoyment: In my opinion, this is the strongest point of the film. There will always be a moment in which something ironic, or humorous occurs. They try their best to make the audience laugh. If it isn’t the witty or silly remarks made by the characters, then it is the very actions within the plot itself. I enjoyed the film very much, and haven’t felt so light-hearted in a while.
Overall, The Cat Returns, is a comical and sweet tale. It isn’t something meant to be taken seriously. It is an odd, wacky fantasy with jokes and general mischief at every corner. I feel that it is a must see for any Studio Ghibli fan. Yet even if you are unfamiliar with the other works in Studio Ghibli, I feel that this story will still leave you with a nice (if not wacky) impression.
The story, which involves Haru, an unlucky high school student, whisked away to the Cat Kingdom after saving a feline from being run over by a truck, is serviceable but uninspired and predictable in a Disney-ish sort of way–a trait that Miyazaki and Takahata’s works never shared, and that is a detriment to this film.
More problematic, however, is the "believe in yourself" message. Rather than allowing the viewer to watch the struggles of the protagonist and determine what she has to learn in order to return to her homeland, Haru is given this very message verbally about halfway through the movie. Not only does this undermine the theme, it makes the ultimate resolution less satisfactory than it should be.
The Cat Returns is not a bad film by any means. It has its preciously delightful moments (an adorable scene where we see a young girl feeding a small, filthy kitten fish crackers and a very charming ballroom dance sequence), a healthy share of comedy (mostly in the form of a grouchy fat furball named Muta), and one truly memorable character, a suave, splendidly dressed "aristocat" antique by the name of Baron (his presence carries the movie as a whole). But while unquestionably fine for children and families, the film is ultimately a weaker effort, both narratively and artistically (the artwork, although colorful and imaginative for the most part lacks the polish that we have come to expect from Ghibli), and consequently, is not especially memorable.
Aurally, The Cat Returns cannot be faulted. The musical score from Yuji Nomi (Whisper of the Heart) is pleasantly orchestral and charming, and the ending theme song which accompanies the closing credits is lovely and catching. And of course, Disney does yet another fabulous job of providing a top-notch cast to translate the movie into English. These include Tim Curry, Peter Boyle, and Elliot Gould. Special credit in particular goes to Cary Elwes (Donald Curtis in Porco Rosso), who is perfect as the suave, debonair Baron. On the other side of the spectrum, Anne Hathaway’s Haru, although good, sometimes comes across as too whiney. Granted, this is how she is supposed to be, but it does detract from the likeability of the character.
As mentioned, children will obviously enjoy The Cat Returns, but in contrast to the studio’s more memorable features, it falls disappointingly short. Although better than the worst animated features out there, The Cat Returns, so far, ranks as the weakest of the Studio Ghibli films. Ghibli completists will pick it up just for the sake of "owning the entire collection", but chances are it will not be among their top ten lists.
The story here is very similar to many other Ghibli movies. A character is thrust into a magical land, or sees something out of the ordinary. However unoriginal it may be, it’s well done. It’s well written, and it’s well paced.
The art style is a bit mediocre for a movie. The characters are drawn very simply, and lack shading to make them look more three-dimensional. The background paintings are very beautiful, though.
Soundwise, it is very well done. The music is high quality, and the stereo sound is mastered well. The English dub is done pretty well, no complains there really.
The character is very relatable, especially if you are a girl. My sister and one of her friends were watching this, and fell in love with the movie. I believe the reason for this was the central female protagonist. She is portrayed realistically and believably as a teenage high school girl.
Although a bit short for a Ghibli movie, it’s a concise, memorable and whimsical adventure into a fantasy world that is worth seeing. It is a good movie overall; if you like Miyazaki’s work, give this one a go.
You can watch my video review of this anime HERE.
1: Sennen Joyuu
English: Millennium Actress
MAL Score: 8.26
At the turn of the millennium, Ginei Studio’s dilapidated buildings are set to be demolished. Ex-employee and filmmaker Genya Tachibana decides to honor this occasion with a commemorative documentary about the company’s star actress: Chiyoko Fujiwara, the reclusive sweetheart of Shouwa Era cinema. Having finally obtained permission to interview the retired starlet, an enamored Genya drags along cynical cameraman Kyouji Ida to meet her, ready to put his lifelong idol back in the spotlight once more.
Hidden in this secluded mountain retreat is a thousand years of history condensed into one lifetime, waiting to be narrated. Chiyoko’s recollections take them on an illusionary journey through Japanese cinematic history that transcends the boundaries of reality; the saga of her acting career intertwines with her filmography, the actors in her life blend seamlessly with the characters on screen, and the present melds with the past. Though the actress may have retired at the height of her career 30 years ago, the curtain on her life’s stage has yet to fall.
The story follows a pair of filmmakers who are interviewing a famous actress who has been retired for many years to celebrate the studio’s 70th anniversary. Millennium Actress features one of the most original story telling methods I have seen. We see the majority of the movie told through the actresses various movie roles. We shift from feudal Japan, World War 2, and a futuristic moon base, amongst others. You are never actually sure what is real and what is the movie all the time. I also found it interesting that the two filmmakers were always observers during the entire process. Their presence provided an interesting way of narrating the story and kept the viewer from getting confused by the constantly changing scenery.
Though many will perhaps not be able to relate to Chiyoko’s devotion to a man that she hardly knew anything about, I still never felt as though it was too farfetched. Whether or not she truly loved him the way one might feel for a lover is beside the point. Her love is what shaped the remainder of her life and allowed her to accomplish the things she had. I think this is summed up best by her last lines from the film when she comments that finding him was not that important, because it was the chase that she loved the most.
The two filmmakers Genya and Kyoji provide a nice anchor for the viewer. Of the two Genya is the most important and as the story unfolds we learn about his past and why he idolizes Chiyoko. As for the object of Chiyoko’s devotion we really learn little about him other than has ultimate fate. I think it was a good decision from a storytelling standpoint because his mysterious nature was what kept her looking for him.
The art was really exceptional. There were sometimes that some of the backgrounds looked like actual photographs and perhaps they were but they seamlessly fit in with the rest of the animation. The film as does a wonderful job at portraying many different settings. Everything feels so authentic from the prewar Japan costumes and architecture to the 50s styling and fashions.
Overall I really can’t recommend this movie enough. I don’t think its appeal is limited to just shoujo and romance fans. Give this movie an hour and a half, you will be glad you did!
Millennium Actress is a film that can easily be called great. It is outwardly audacious and seemingly gorgeous in nature.
Though frankly, Millennium Actress comes across as something that would be praised as long as the aesthetics are nice, the plot is convoluted and that it is directed by Satoshi Kon. As ridiculous as it might sound, this is a genuine statement after coming to a conclusion: the movie’s fans are often completely oblivious of any criticisms, and their belief that this movie is a magnum opus will not change due to the mentioned reasons. Of course, about the said belief, I beg to differ.
The story is quite average. If I should be honest, this is the kind of plot that I would consider dreary and uninspiring for how frequent it is recycled in Hollywood, so I see no point in magnifying it. It’s just not special, but it has a heart, and that’s what matters. I can clearly see where they were trying to go with, and so the intention is clear and rightfully consistent throughout. Unfortunately, this also means the movie is predictable and has virtually nothing to anticipate other than “does the actress meet her love?”, which is kind of a dull two-sides-of-a-coin. Nevertheless, it is still a movie that feels complete and satisfying regardless. Also, paying homage to Japanese cinema is no good excuse for an average story, though it’s nice and somewhat exciting to feel such radiated, genuine affection of Kon towards the pridefully rich cinema history.
The execution, however, is arguably poor. As thin and uninspiring as the story is, the execution barely does anything to embrace it (unlike in, say, Tokyo Godfathers). To be fair, all the director does for the movie is dragging this nonexistent storyline for an hour and a half. And so coming upon the second problem, the expendable convoluted nature of the narrative. For a story with barely any philosophical weight or plot development, the messy confusing narrative is just absolutely pretentious. “Oh but it’s gorgeous, and it merges reality with memories…” well, fair enough. But this naturally would beg a question, “Why confusing, necessarily?”. While acknowledging that by the end of the actress’ life, she can recall the events so vividly and can’t differentiate what’s real and what isn’t; yet forasmuch as this whole sequence solely focuses on that concept itself without even bother to have a wider, or deeper reach, it gives the audience no insights or depth other than the actress’ very simplistically discernible state of mind. This would have been so much more thematically powerful if it had included an actual psychological emphasis, and that the acting career emergence didn’t just take up the whole second half for nothing. When an idea so superficial being told so grandiosely, it will inevitably give the impression of being overly self-indulgent. To me, the complexity (or just convoluted, not complex) in this movie has not much depth or thematic ideas.
The characters are fine. They are fun and likable enough to lead the audience till the end, but none of them were even remotely profound or memorable. Some parts of the scripts are honestly so corny. I could forgive everything these hombres verbalize throughout the movie, but for the last line, I simply couldn’t. It’s just melodramatic and corny and foreseeable. Unforgivable.
The tone is clearly a craft of dexterity by a truly talented director. Kon knows exactly how and when to implement comedic relief, or to build up our expectations for an emotional impact. And so, thanks to the tone, the story seems to flow much more seamlessly. Still, this is insufficient as a saving grace for an overall poorly-written and executed movie.
Nonetheless, taking all that aside, we actually have quite a fantastic audiovisual piece of art. The animation is flawless and the art is not your typical degenerate garbage (not trying to sound disrespectful, but it really does look mature and visually intriguing). The music is really good and generally well used. I have no major complaint about the production value and perhaps am even more than enthusiastic to praise this truly astounding audiovisual spectacle. I can rest assured anyone who watches this movie would concur.
That said, this movie, albeit aesthetically merited, is subpar in almost every way. Satoshi Kon is definitely not a hack, however refutably overrated, for he has demonstrated his genuine competence in composing his own coups such as Perfect Blue or Tokyo Godfathers, and even glimpses of greatness here and there in Millennium Actress. Nevertheless, the self-indulgent and bafflingly confusing narrative has made Millennium Actress his weakest work that I’ve experienced so far. Mind you, this movie used to hold a 10 on my list for quite some time, so I do understand all the unhinged worshipping. Yet have I verily changed to thus give my sincere final verdict upon this movie: How corny.
STORY – Millennium Actress’s story is very simplistic and very sweet. I’m not usually a fan of unquestioning, devotional love, especially to such a crazed, obsessive extent, but the way this movie presents things makes it very easy to like. Just the extent of everything, the lengths to which Chiyoko had been willing to go; all of it was incredible. Even better still, was the idea that we in the audience could not know just how much of it was real and just how much of it was fantasy. The lines seem permanently blurred and any one scene might have just as easily been a memory or a dream, especially since all of the recollections are coming at an age where forgetfulness is common, making everything all the more tragic.
The use of movies to convey a fantasy was brilliant, especially considering the story’s form as a movie. The way people in the present are thrown into the past (or fantasy) was also a wonderfully creative way to tie the two times together, and there’s even a bit of tongue-in-cheek self-commentary on this way of handling things. Really, it’s Satoshi Kon’s phenomenal storytelling that transforms Millennium Actress’s exceedingly simple plotline into a masterpiece.
CHARACTERS – I have mixed feelings about the characters in this movie. I’ve said before that I’m not a fan of sudden, unquestioning love; thus, I definitely wasn’t a fan of the fact that Chiyoko essentially fell into eternal love with a man she’d met once, briefly, for several short hours. At the same time, the extent to which she took this infatuation seemed strangely realistic, despite how incredible it was. Indeed, people obsess over little things all the time, irrelevant people, incidental meetings; there are short moments that they will remember for the rest of their lives, so perhaps it isn’t so strange that Chiyoko should cling onto something like that. Besides, it wasn’t as if she had thrown her entire life away for the man, even if she did build up everything she had in order for him to see her. Aside from the obsession, I really enjoyed the way the elder Chiyoko was portrayed. It was very believable that she would become a recluse, and the way she told her story, the small revelations that came along with it — all of it was wonderfully interesting to watch and very touching in the end.
The other characters in the movie are all relatively minor and their characters subsequently less complex. Mostly, their personalities are sculpted so that they contribute directly to moving Chiyoko’s story along, whether by acting as antagonists or by wanting to discover more. In the end, I find them more to be tools to help Chiyoko along more than being characters of their own, but in a movie like this, I think that’s fine.
ARTSTYLE & ANIMATION – Millennium Actress has some absolutely gorgeous animation. The art style is rather typical of Satoshi Kon, and you’ll easily notice that many of his middle-aged and older male characters look startlingly similar across the movies and series he’s directed, but the same can be said with a number of other prominant artists and directors. What I loved about the animation itself was how smoothly scene transitions were handled, especially considering that we moved back and forth between present day and past recollection and between reality and movie fantasy constantly. The inclusion of the present day interviewers within flashbacks is one of my favorite touches and really helps weld everything together in the end. It was especially nice too, to see so many different kinds of scenes animated since they were just scenes within Chiyoko’s movies.
MUSIC – Maybe I was too wrapped up in the pretty animation and storytelling, but I didn’t note very astounding music, though nor did I note anything bad.
VOICE ACTING – I saw this movie subbed. The voices were pretty average for the most part, though I didn’t rather enjoy elder Chiyoko’s performance for some reason. Her emotion, especially near the end of the movie, was just very touching. :3
OVERALL – I really enjoyed this movie, though if I had just been given a synopsis, I probably wouldn’t have been very interested in the first place. Having Satoshi Kon’s name attached to it did help though, and I think this is one of the better examples of his works. The way the story was told just changed everything, including the fact that the plot itself was very simple.
Did YOUR favorite anime make the cut? Let us know in the comments below!
1. Sennen Joyuu
2. Neko no Ongaeshi
3. InuYasha Movie 2: Kagami no Naka no Mugenjo
4. Pokemon Movie 05: Mizu no Miyako no Mamorigami Latias to Latios
5. Doraemon Movie 23: Nobita to Robot Kingdom