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  1. Mary and the Witch's Flower (Blu-ray + Digital Copy) (English Subtitled) (Japan Version) Mary and the Witch's Flower (Blu-ray + Digital Copy) (English Subtitled) (Japan Version) Yonebayashi Hiromasa (Director) | Amami Yuki | Mitsushima Hikari | Sugisaki Hana
    Almost Ghibli
    July 27, 2018 Picked By Sanwei See all this editor's picks
    After Studio Ghibli shuttered its filmmaking arm in 2014, veteran producer Nishimura Yoshiaki founded the new animation house Studio Ponoc with the help of other key Ghibli alumni, most notably Yonebayashi Hiromasa. In its thirty-year history, besides Miyazaki Hayao and Takahata Isao, Studio Ghibli has only had two other in-house directors with more than one feature film credit: Yonebayashi and Miyazaki Goro. As the rare Miyazaki protégé to gain directing reins, Yonebayashi seemed to be Studio Ghibli's future when he stepped out with The Borrower Arrietty in 2010. Though Nishimura and Yonebayashi are no longer with Studio Ghibli, they have brought the themes and aesthetics that they spent... [read more]
  2. A Silent Voice (Blu-ray) (Normal Edition) (Japan Version) A Silent Voice (Blu-ray) (Normal Edition) (Japan Version) Oima Yoshitoki | Yuki Aoi | Nishiya Taishi | Irino Miyu
    A painful journey of redemption and self-discovery
    June 9, 2017 Picked By Pisces See all this editor's picks
    In November 2016, the case of a 13-year-old Japanese boy being bullied by classmates was revealed. An evacuee from the 2011 nuclear disaster in Fukushima, the young victim was called "germ" at school and beaten by classmates who extorted money from him. However, this case is just the tip of the iceberg. Bullying happens everywhere and it has become a common theme in manga. Dealing with the issues of bullying and disability, Oima Yoshitoki allows audience to listen to the inner voices of both the bullies and their victims in her award-winning manga A Silent Voice, which has been adapted into an anime film by K-On! director Yamada Naoko and studio Kyoto Animation. A Silent Voice is a... [read more]
  3. Seoul Station (DVD) (Korea Version) Seoul Station (DVD) (Korea Version) Yeon Sang Ho (Director) | Shim Eun Kyung | Lee Joon | Ryu Seung Ryong
    People are scarier than zombies
    December 8, 2016 Picked By Sanwei See all this editor's picks
    With Train to Busan, arthouse animation darling Yeon Sang Ho proved resoundingly that not only is he perfectly capable of directing mainstream and live-action cinema, he's almost too good at hitting all the required action and emotional notes for commercial success. Meanwhile, Seoul Station, the animated companion piece to Train to Busan, still bears all the bleak, incisive markers that make it seem so unlikely that Yeon could be a ten-million-admissions blockbuster director. Made before Train to Busan but released after, Seoul Station depicts the beginning of the zombie virus outbreak. While Train is bright, glossy and attractive even as it's hurling full speed into gory zombie apocalypse,... [read more]
  4. Stand by Me Doraemon (DVD) (English Subtitled) (Korea Version) Stand by Me Doraemon (DVD) (English Subtitled) (Korea Version) Yagi Ryuichi (Director) | Japanese Animation | Yamazaki Takashi (Director)
    New Animation, Same Doraemon
    September 30, 2015 Picked By Sanwei See all this editor's picks
    It's no exaggeration to say that Doraemon embodies the childhoods of multiple generations of people who grew up in East Asia. Since it began serialization in 1969, the manga series, about a magical robotic cat from the future sent back in time to help hapless grade schooler Nobita, has grown into a massive and massively beloved media franchise of comics, anime, movies, toys and licensed products. The manga series ran for 27 years from 1969 until 1996, the anime series has accumulated over 2000 episodes, and every year there is a new Doraemon movie for the whole family to enjoy. In 2014, audiences got two Doraemon movies: New Nobita's Great Demon – Peko and the Exploration Party of Five, the... [read more]
  5. STAND BY ME Doraemon (Blu-ray) (Normal Edition)(Japan Version) STAND BY ME Doraemon (Blu-ray) (Normal Edition)(Japan Version) Kakazu Yumi | Sato Naoki | Fujiko F. Fujio | Yagi Ryuichi (Director)
    Farewell, Doraemon
    March 31, 2015 Picked By Rockman See all this editor's picks
    Made entirely of short episodes, the original Doraemon manga is virtually impossible to adapt as a standalone film. The Doraemon story has a beginning, but the episodic structure means that there’s no middle and no real definitive ending (contrary to the rumored endings out on the internet). This is why Doraemon feature films are usually based on special one-off episodes spun off from the manga instead. Thanks to Yamazaki Takashi and Yagi Ryuichi (Friends – Naki on the Monster Island), that standalone film finally exists. Produced for the 80th anniversary of the birth of original authors Fujiko F. Fuijo, Stand By Me Doraemon attempts to fit the story of an ordinary kid named Nobita and his... [read more]
  6. Gudetama Anime (DVD+CD)(Japan Version) Gudetama Anime (DVD+CD)(Japan Version) Animation
    This is one lazy egg
    March 31, 2015 Picked By Frood See all this editor's picks
    Eggs – you can boil them, you can fry them and you can even leave them as they are, but one thing you can't change about them is their laziness. That's right. We now have proof that eggs are incredibly, unrelentingly lazy, thanks to Sanrio. In 2013, Sanrio ran a competition for food-based characters, and Gudetama, the aforementioned lazy egg, came in second (coming in first was a salmon filet called KIRIMI-chan). Since then, Gudetama's popularity has been on an unstoppable climb, due in no small part to its starring in anime shorts that air during the TBS morning program Morning Chance. Now, to the delight of lovers of the lethargic egg everywhere, the first 126 episodes of the series of... [read more]
  7. Gekkan Shojo Nozaki-kun Vol.1 (Blu-ray)(Japan Version) Gekkan Shojo Nozaki-kun Vol.1 (Blu-ray)(Japan Version) Tsubaki Izumi | Hashimoto Yukari | Nakamura Yuichi | Okamoto Nobuhiko
    A standout comedic anime/manga series
    September 26, 2014 Picked By Frood See all this editor's picks
    Sakura Chiyo is a normal high school girl. She has a crush on a slightly stern-looking boy named Nozaki Umetaro. One day, she works up the courage to tell him that she likes him, and he responds by...giving her his autograph? This is the beginning of Gekkan Shojo Nozaki-kun. Written by Tsubaki Izumi, the manga series has been serialized in Gangan Online since 2011, and an anime adaptation began airing in July 2014. Lest you think this is a romance series about a girl who likes a guy with seriously high self-esteem, Gekkan Shojo Nozaki-kun is actually a four-panel comedy series about a male shojo manga artist (Nozaki) and the schoolmates he ropes in to help him (Sakura and others). The... [read more]
  8. The Fake (DVD) (Korea Version) The Fake (DVD) (Korea Version) Animation | Yeon Sang Ho (Director)
    Ignorance is bliss?
    April 28, 2014 Picked By Rockman See all this editor's picks
    Throughout the course of history, we've seen the devastating effects of religious fanaticism, from the Crusades to modern-day terrorist attacks. After showing us that high school is hell in King of Pigs, director Yeon Sang Ho takes his aim at organized religion in The Fake, a bleak, nihilistic social drama that will surely attract many angry detractors. A small village in South Korea is about to be flooded for the construction of a new hydroelectric dam. Taking advantage of the villagers' vulnerable state of mind, a new church led by a charismatic pastor has taken the hearts and minds of the people, who have been promised a spot in heaven for following him. Newly arriving in town to join... [read more]
  9. Padak (DVD) (First Press Limited Edition) (Korea Version) Padak (DVD) (First Press Limited Edition) (Korea Version) Animation
    Free the fish
    August 30, 2013 Picked By Sanwei See all this editor's picks
    Padak is an animated film about a fish who has lost its way, but Finding Nemo this is most emphatically not. The title refers to the sound of fish flopping on the ground, the only desperate escape route for a restaurant fish trying to escape back to the sea. What does the world look like from the eyes of a fish in danger of being devoured? Terrifying. Directed by Lee Dae Hee, Padak follows a mackerel who finds herself in the aquarium of a seaside seafood restaurant. She desperately tries to break past the "invisible wall" to no avail. The other denizens of her tank are jaded fish farm species that survive by playing dead when potential customers peer in and by pouncing and feeding on weak... [read more]
  10. The Garden of Words (Blu-ray + CD) (Multi-Language Subtitles) (Japan Version) The Garden of Words (Blu-ray + CD) (Multi-Language Subtitles) (Japan Version) Shinkai Makoto (Director) | Irino Miyu | Hanazawa Kana
    Longing and loneliness in the big city can be animated, too
    June 5, 2013 Picked By Rockman See all this editor's picks
    I'm not an anime fan, but I'm a huge fan of Shinkai Makoto's 5 Centimeters per Second. Combining poignant observations about unrequited love, regrets and longing with sublime imageries, Centimeter would be equally good in live-action. Shinkai's follow-up, Children Who Chase Lost Voices From Deep Below, explored similar themes, but its fantastical story and visuals made it a film that would appeal more to traditional anime fans. Two years later, Shinkai has returned to reality with Garden of Words, based on his own novel. Running just 45 minutes, this subtle drama depicts an unlikely romance between two lonely urbanites. With a free spirit mother and an older brother who can't be bothered to... [read more]
  11. My Neighbor Totoro (Blu-ray) (Multi-Language & Subtitled) (Region Free) (Japan Version) My Neighbor Totoro (Blu-ray) (Multi-Language & Subtitled) (Region Free) (Japan Version) Sakamoto Chika | Itoi Shigesato | Shimamoto Sumi | Hidaka Noriko
    Ghibli goes Blu
    October 26, 2012 Picked By Rockman See all this editor's picks
    I fear the arrival of any new video format on the market. Just a decade ago, DVD changed the way I saw movies, taking the luxurious LaserDisc experience into a much smaller, more affordable product that raised the bar on how people watch movies at home. Over the years, I had built a respectable collection of my favorite films in the best possible format available to normal consumers. A few years later, Blu-ray arrived. With nearly four times the capacity of a dual-layer DVD, a Blu-ray offers more than double the video resolution of a DVD. Ever since Blu-ray beat HD-DVD and became the prevalent high-definition video format, film companies have taken advantage of new remastering technologies... [read more]
  12. My Neighbors the Yamadas (Blu-ray) (Multi Audio & Subtitled) (Region Free) (Japan Version) My Neighbors the Yamadas (Blu-ray) (Multi Audio & Subtitled) (Region Free) (Japan Version) Takahata Isao (Director) | Yanagiya Kosanji | Asaoka Yukiji | Masako Araki
    Scenes from a family through the eyes of Studio Ghibli
    August 25, 2011 Picked By Rockman See all this editor's picks
    My Neighbor the Yamadas is in some ways the black sheep of the Studio Ghibli family. Not only was it a financial failure for the studio, there were also stories about newspaper headlines lying about its success and company employees ordered to fill in as audiences at one of the film's promotional events. While My Neighbor the Yamadas is a charming film that does the Ghibli tradition proud, it's also easy to understand why it was a box office failure. More a series of short episodes than a coherent story, the film would've worked perfectly as a weekly television series. As a 105-minute theatrical presentation, the film's lack of a narrative will cause the viewing experience to drag by its... [read more]
  13. ONE PIECE Film: Strong World (Blu-ray) (Normal Edition) (Japan Version) ONE PIECE Film: Strong World (Blu-ray) (Normal Edition) (Japan Version) Okamura Akemi | Tanaka Mayumi | Sakai Munehisa (Director) | Nakai Kazuya
    It's a Strong World After All
    August 30, 2010 Picked By Kozo See all this editor's picks
    The frequent complaint about manga-based anime "filler" arcs and theatrical features is that they're not canon. Well, no such complaints can be levied at One Piece: Strong World. The tenth film based on the hit manga from creator Oda Eiichiro, Strong World was conceived and supervised by Oda himself, with new characters, relationships and details neatly fitting into established One Piece continuity. Not that it matters that much; this is your standard One Piece adventure, meaning equal parts stirring friendship, over-the-top action, offhand coolness and pronounced wackiness. One Piece fans, this is your One Piece movie dream. Strong World details the Straw Hat Pirates' conflict with Golden... [read more]
  14. Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind (Normal Edition) (Japan Version - English Subtitles) Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind (Normal Edition) (Japan Version - English Subtitles) Shimamoto Sumi | Tsujimura Masato | Sakakibara Ryoko | Nagai Ichiro
    Doomsday tale meets anime
    September 30, 2008 Picked By A-Xiang Joe See all this editor's picks
    Miyazaki Hayao's Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind presents an apocalyptic fantasy tale admonishing the horrors of war and the continued pollution of the environment by ignorant human behavior. In his second feature-length animation released in spring 1984, Japan's master director and animator warns of how mankind may finally bring about their own destruction through senseless warring activities and ignorant use of advanced technology, turning originally fertile land into one filled with toxic elements. At the center of Miyazaki's film is the relentless fight against all odds of a peaceful boundary nation living in the remote Valley of the Wind, as nature turns against them and... [read more]
  15. My Neighbor Totoro (Japan Version - English Subtitles) My Neighbor Totoro (Japan Version - English Subtitles) Kitabayashi Tanie | Shimamoto Sumi | Hidaka Noriko | Sakamoto Chika
    Of Cat Buses and other things
    June 4, 2008 Picked By A-Xiang Joe See all this editor's picks
    My Neighbor Totoro takes viewers on another ride into a world where fantasy never sleeps. The magical elements of storytelling wizard Miyazaki Hayao take the upper hand again in his classic anime My Neighbor Totoro, primarily revolving around the adventures of Kusakabe Satsuki, her younger sister Mei, and their family in rural Japan. Totoro is a mammoth chinchilla-like creature among whose favorite pastimes are sleeping and traveling around in the unique Cat Bus which takes him to wherever he likes. Harmless in spite of his gigantic proportions, Totoro and his family and friends are not only rare sights to observe, but are also very useful to have around as the protagonists of this anime... [read more]
  16. Komaneko - The Curious Cat (DVD) (Special Edition) (Taiwan Version) Komaneko - The Curious Cat (DVD) (Special Edition) (Taiwan Version)
    Here kitty, kitty, kitty
    April 26, 2008 Picked By Sanwei See all this editor's picks
    Health is poor, spirits are low, work is piling, and rent remains blissfully unpaid. At least I still have Komaneko. Written, designed, and directed by Goda Tsuneo, Komaneko - The Curious Cat is a feature-length stop-motion animation starring a very cute, very cuddly, and very curious stuffed cat who happens to be an aspiring stop-motion animator herself. Clearly the paws-on type, Komaneko earnestly goes though the steps to make her very first stop-motion film, down to sewing little felt leads and creating sets and background art with paper and crayons. With everything in place, she starts snapping away with her 8mm, but that's when everything starts falling down... Komaneko's opening... [read more]
  17. Pinocchio (Limited Edition) (Japan Version) Pinocchio (Limited Edition) (Japan Version) Cliff Edwards | Jones Dick | Rusk Hamilton (Director)
    A puppet full of Disney magic
    February 14, 2008 Picked By A-Xiang Joe See all this editor's picks
    Walt Disney's animated version of Carlo Collodi's Pinocchio presents a classic in its own right. It's not difficult to like this 40s masterpiece that comes with unique narration by a cricket, namely Jiminy Cricket. The animation retells the familiar story of industrious toy inventor Geppetto who longs for a son of his own. As he is a kind and loving man, the Blue Fairy grants him his wish and bestows the gift of life to his latest invention, the wooden puppet Pinocchio. Arguably presenting the best animated adaptation of the story to date, Walt Disney's take on Pinocchio sparkles through its renditions of such memorable characters as Figaro the cat and the cute goldfish Cleo. As far as... [read more]
  18. Brave Story (DVD) (English Subtitled) (Hong Kong Version) Brave Story (DVD) (English Subtitled) (Hong Kong Version) Matsu Takako | Tokiwa Takako | Wentz Eiji | Imai Miki
    Better than Earthsea
    December 27, 2007 Picked By Kozo See all this editor's picks
    Anyone who's ever played an RPG should find the story of Brave Story familiar. A 10 year-old boy named Wataru follows mysterious friend Mitsuru through a strange portal, only to arrive in a fantastic medieval land called Vision, complete with dragons, anthropomorphic creatures, melee weapons, and armor. Once there, Wataru assembles a party of compatriots and treks across in the land in search of the "Goddess of Destiny", in order to fulfill some important quest involving fate, destiny, and the lives of untold innocents. Or something like that. Wataru's quest actually has acute real-world significance to him: his parents are estranged and his mother deathly ill, and Wataru wants the Goddess... [read more]
  19. Ocean Waves (Japan Version - English Subtitles) Ocean Waves (Japan Version - English Subtitles) Tobita Tetsuo | Seki Toshihiko | Midorikawa Hikaru | Araki Kae
    Disney doesn't own this one
    December 19, 2007 Picked By Kozo See all this editor's picks
    Not all great anime movies need giant robots, cyberpunk settings, or sweeping ecological themes. Sometimes they just need to elicit the right emotions, perishable though they may be. Ocean Waves (a.k.a. I Can Hear the Ocean) is a notable Studio Ghibli production for a few reasons, among them the fact that it's not included in the Disney-Tokuma licensing deal that gave Miramax the North American rights to the Ghibli catalog. Somehow, the powers-that-be over at Disney didn't think a sweet tale of gestating high school romance would be as big a hit as, say, Princess Mononoke. Judgement from the Mouse aside, fans of Ghibli may find plenty to enjoy in Ocean Waves. Even though it possesses none... [read more]
  20. Spirited Away (DVD) (English Subtitled) (Japan Version) Spirited Away (DVD) (English Subtitled) (Japan Version) Sugawara Bunta | Kamijyo Tsunehiko | Miyazaki Hayao (Producer) | Tatsuya Gashuin
    The Garden of Eden Among Fantasy Animations
    November 1, 2007 Picked By A-Xiang Joe See all this editor's picks
    Miyazaki Hayao's epic animation Spirited Away takes viewers on a fantastic roller coaster ride through Japan's land of make believe. Spirited Away is the tale of a seemingly ordinary ten-year-old girl, Ogino Chihiro, who gets drawn into a dangerous inhuman world full of bizarre happenings that is inhabited by the likes of phantoms and sorcerers. Presented as a spoiled brat at the outset of the movie, Chihiro's character sees a big change in attitude after she gets separated from her parents, proving that she can fend for herself if worst comes to worst. Even though Miyazaki's film also approaches some serious themes, including how the individual can be changed by the influence of a greedy... [read more]
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