Anime Adventure Movies: Take a Journey into the World of Fantasy

Saturday, September 10 by Travis Petersen

Japanese animation differs from American animation in that it is not predominantly geared towards children, so the best anime adventure movies may be too violent or intense for general audiences. Various anime adventure movies feature similar quests to those found in other animated adventure films, but with a particularly Japanese sensibility, often focusing on a mystical version of Japan's past. Here are some of the best anime adventure movies to hit screens in past years.

"Ninja Scroll." The story of a ninja, Jubei fighting off a group of demons connected to his past nemesis, with the help of a sultry female assassin whose touch may be deadly, is one of the best anime adventure movies ever made, combining the adult nature of Japan's gritty animated films—plenty of blood, gore, and sex for any action fan—with the fantasy stylings of other quest films. "Ninja Scroll" is a truly unique cinematic experience, a great intro to anime adventure movies for any fan of exciting film.

"Vampire Hunter D." This film takes place in a far future time reminiscent of the past, where the mystical and supernatural reign supreme, and the title character is hired by a young girl to kill the vampire who has bitten her in order to prevent her from becoming a vampire herself. This was a trendsetting and groundbreaking film among anime adventure movies for introducing the horror element to the typical fantasy, and remains a popular favorite to this day.

"Princess Mononoke." In what might seem like a typical quest story, the hero of this film is searching for the cure to a long-standing curse. What sets this apart from other fantasy films, and other anime adventure movies, is the lush visual style of director Hayao Miyazaki, who has elevated anime adventure movies to the realm of high cinematic art.

"Akira." The film that crossed anime over to a worldwide audience is also one of the best anime adventure films. The mystical story of a teenager falling victim to a secret military project, then rampaging throughout a post-apocalyptic neo-Tokyo, it has many of the touchstones of the best Japanese animation, with strange storytelling alongside beautiful cinematic visuals. This is a film that changed animation for the better; it is essential among anime adventure movies.

"Spirited Away." One of the anime adventure movies more geared toward kids is this film. In it, a little girl wanders into an alternate universe populated by gods and monsters the likes of which few film audiences have seen.

"Ghost in the Shell." A cyberpunk classic, "Ghost in the Shell" helped to revitalize anime adventure movies in 1995. It's a buddy cop film with a twist: one of the buddies is a cyborg.

"Cowboy Bebop." Bounty hunter characters popularized in a TV show of the same name hunt a terrorist in this action-adventure instant classic. The kinetic animation makes it an above average entry in the canon of anime adventure movies.

"The Animatrix." An anthology of anime adventure movies to accompany "The Matrix" sequels provides better filmmaking than those sequels did. In particular, the portion by "Aeon Flux" creator Peter Chung, "World Record," is a masterpiece.

"Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence." The sequel almost matches the original, with improved, cutting-edge animation. This time, our cyborg detective hero takes on the case of a pleasure robot who slaughtered her owner.

-Travis Petersen