Anime Movie Recommendations

As with animation in the U.S., Japanese animation is found in movie theaters as well as on television.  Some anime series find their way to the silver screen in movie format, often expanding the series or retelling it.  There are also many anime that are movie-only, and like Disney films, some do very big business.  In fact, Studio Ghibli films, some of which you’ll see below, are big motion picture events, with a good number among the largest grossing films in Japanese cinematic history.  A number of anime films also receive a select release in North America.

Below are our staff’s selections for anime movies that we recommend to Christian viewers.  The list is ever-growing, and we invite you to give your own recommendations in the comment section below.

Garden of Words (Kotona no Niwa)
The Secret World of Arrietty (Kari-gurashi no Arietti)
Summer Wars (Summer Wars)
Time of Eve (Eve no Jikan)
Tokyo Godfathers (Tokyo Godfathers)

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The Garden of Words
Art by m8 (Pixiv ID 36135872)

Garden of Words
Kotonoha no Niwa

The director of Garden of Words, Makoto Shinkai, has been known for his emphasis on emotional themes and beautiful art. Garden of Words is no exception to either of these. At only about 46 minutes in length, Garden of Words barely qualifies for a film (at least if you base films on being “feature length”), but sometimes a shorter runtime can serve to cut out any unnecessary fat. This film focuses essentially on two main characters. No more. No less. Although supporting roles are present, every last moment of Garden of Words serves to build the relationship of these two in a meaningful and effective way. Although it is not for everyone, its emphasis on art, both in its visuals and its soundtrack, have made it into one of the most beautiful animated films to date.

(2013 ~ CoMix Wave Films)

Watch if you:
(+) Like stories built on relationships and and maturity
(+) Appreciate stellar visuals
(+) Want something with the feel of a feature film without the length

Skip if you:
(-) Want any sort of action (there is none)
(-) Prefer films with more ambitious stories and/or a larger cast

Biblical Themes:
(+) Mature love (love not born out of lust)
(+) Good work ethic

Content to Look Out For:
(-) Themes involving a relationship between people of widely different ages
(-) Mild language

Read articles about The Garden of Words

Buy here (DVD/BluRay – Amazon)

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Secret World of Arrietty
Art by 矢毒蛙

The Secret World of Arrietty
Kari-gurashi no Arietti

Based Mary Norton’s beloved children’s book, The Borrowers, this Studio Ghibli release tells the tale of Arrietty, a needle pin-sized teenage girl who lives beneath the floorboards of a house owned by regular-sized “human beans.”  She is discovered during a nightly scavenge by the sickly boy Shawn/Sho, and though the boy is kind to her, the finding leads to danger for Arrietty and her family.

(2010 ~ Studio Ghibli)

Watch if you:
(+) Enjoy clean family movies
(+) Are a fan of children’s literature and entertainment
(+) Enjoy movies that are a throwback to older family films

Skip if you:
(-) Get bored easily
(-) Don’t enjoy children’s fantasy

Biblical Themes:
(+) Themes of sacrifice, family, and forgiveness
(+) Emphasis on demonstrating kindness and love to those who are unlike us

Content to Look Out For:
(-) Perilous situations and discussion about death

Read articles about The Secret World of Arrietty

Buy here (DVD/BluRay – Amazon)

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Summer Wars
Pixiv User 12640275

Summer Wars
Summer Wars

Kenji is a math whiz, but for all his smarts, he becomes anxious around the beautiful Natsuki, who invites him to take part in her great-grandmother’s 90th birthday celebration.  He gets more than he bargained for when he visits the loving, but extremely large Jinnouchi clan, especially when catastrophe hits both the family and Oz, the virtual reality network that has become widely integrated into society.  Now it’s up to Natsuki, her cousin Kazuma, and Kenji to rescue Oz from an ominous virus (visualized as an amazing game-type world) while handling a painful family situation.

(2009 ~ Madhouse)

Watch if you:
(+) Enjoy media about computers, gaming, and virtual reality
(+) Like a balance between action, comedy, and drama
(+) Enjoy quirky, large casts
(+) Like tales of adolescent romance

Skip if you:
(-) Sway toward heavy realism in your stories
(-) Find it hard to get emotional over gaming

Biblical Themes:
(+) Emphasis on the theme of redemption
(+) Open opportunity to discuss the ups and downs of life, the nature of love, and the consequences of sin or wrong-doing

Content to Look Out For:
(-) Brief, obscured nudity (not of sexual nature)
(-) Violence with some blood
(-) Brief language

Read articles about Summer Wars

Buy here (DVD/BluRay – Amazon)

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time of eve sammy
Art by vipqiv (Pixiv ID 42455779)

Time of Eve (Movie)
Eve no Jikan

Originally adapted from an ONA series (available on CrunchyRoll here), Time of Eve is the definitive anime AI philosophy study written in a peaceful time period (think iRobot, but replace Will Smith with a high school boy, and all of the mind-numbing action with discussions at a coffee shop). Based on Isaac Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics, Time of Eve works to provide an intelligent, but entertaining look at how human computers can be, and what that means for the human race in the future. Although, as mentioned before, Time of Eve is available in its original form for free streaming (as linked above), the movie is the definitive format of the work, as it ties all the ONA episodes together into one seamless story with additional scenes and content (as well as a new theme song).

(2010 ~ Studio Rikka)

Watch if you:
(+) Like philosophical quandaries
(+) Are intrigued by near future science fiction
(+) Value a small, but well-developed cast of characters
(+) Like dry humor

Skip if you:
(-) Get bored easily
(-) Prefer action sci-fi

Biblical Themes:
(+) The aspects of a person that make him human (the primary discussion of the film)
(+) Sacrificial love

Content to Look Out For:
(-) Suggestive themes and apparel
(-) Implied sexual themes
(-) Mild language

Buy here (Digital – iTunes)

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Satoshi Kon
Art by 三鳥(いけ) (Pixiv ID 22942931)

Tokyo Godfathers
Tokyo Godfathers

It’s Christmastime in Tokyo, but the most wonderful time of the year is anything but for some of the less fortunate, including Gin, an alcoholic; Hana, a drag queen; and Miyuki, a teen runaway, are among the city’s homeless.  But when the trio find an abandoned baby girl in the trash, they put away their difficulties to find the girl’s mother.  As they traverse the city, their journey demonstrates the harshness that might be all too common for the homeless, but it also provides hope, as the three experience miracles of their own as they seek to reunite mother and child in this harsh and vibrant film.

(2009 ~ Madhouse)

Watch if you:
(+) Enjoy gritty films
(+) Like protagonists that are anti-heroes
(+) Don’t mind some surrealistic or fantastical aspects in an otherwise realistic movie
(+) Prefer a heavy dose of comedy in your drama

Skip if you:
(-) Are sensitive to violence, cursing, and sexual content
(-) Have difficulty with homosexual and transgender content

Biblical Themes:
(+) Sin, forgiveness, and grace
(+) Underlying Christmas references
(+) Prodigal Son allusions

Content to Look Out For:
(-) Brief nudity (bare breasts in the context of breastfeeding)
(-) Violence
(-) Homosexual themes
(-) Crossdressing
(-) Coarse language

Read articles about Tokyo Godfathers

Buy here (DVD – Amazon)

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4 thoughts on “Anime Movie Recommendations

    1. Isn’t she both? I’m a novice when it comes to LGBT terminology, but aren’t drag queens associated with performance or really overtly demonstrating femininity? I think Hana qualifies as such. If not, please enlighten me – I need all the education on this topic that I can get.

      Like

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