An Unexpected Look at the Influential Japanese Anime Series of All Time

4 min

Japanese Anime
Japanese Anime

For example, there is the classic Akira (1988), directed by Otomo Katsuhiro. It was the first animated movie to be rolled out in Western theaters and with it came a fundamental shift in how people viewed anime / animation. The same happens with Miyazaki Hayao’s My Neighbor Totoro (1988), an incredibly touching story that helped introduce many people to Japan’s mythologies and folklore. Urusei Yatsura: Only You (1983) has also done a lot to popularize anime / animation worldwide, transgressing cultural barriers and putting Japanese animation on the global stage. Therefore, all of these films played an important role in establishing both editorial and commercial success for current projects related to the genre. Without them, we can only imagine how differently today’s film industry would look.

The Importance of SAILOR MOON: A pioneer for female lead films


In the pool of Japanese anime/animation, female-centric projects have traditionally been few and far between. Sailor Moon broke open the door for equality in 1992 with a dynamic cast of mostly female characters, setting off a craze that has inspired millions of female viewers since. With its iconic team of “sailors’ guild” protecting Usagi and working to bring justice to the world, Sailor Moon quickly skyrocketed from obscurity to international sensation. It also paved the way for similar projects like Card Leader or Revolutionary Girl Utena that had an action/mythological slant with strong women at the helm. Long after it first aired, Sailor Moon has grown into an iconic example of animation that empowers viewers everywhere.

The Legacy of Akira: How the Movie Changed Film and Pop Culture Forever


Cyberpunk is a genre of art products set in far-flung futuristic landscapes, where technology and science are advanced enough to shape the way people live. The seminal film Akira was the first Japanese animated feature to demonstrate this modern vision, and its phenomenal success propelled it beyond Japan, sparking immense popularity with Western viewers. From graphic novels to video games, Akira played a key role in breaking down the long-held stereotype that “Japanese anime/animation is only for children,”as it explored several mature themes and featured action sequences that were incredibly captivating. Clearly, many can see why Akira continues to be regarded as one of the greatest works of animation ever made.

Gundam – the “grandfather” of the armor / machine movie series


In 1979, the debut of Gundam brought something entirely new to its audience – the concept of armored robots placed alongside human characters. With a range of models and power systems, Gundam quickly gained attention and admiration, eventually leading to merchandise such as toy publications. Many associate Gundam’s journey to adulthood with that of Japan’s unique “Superman brothers” movie series or Electro-Optical Superman. Although these franchises also had robotic characters, none ever attained the same level of fame as Gundam. After over 40 years in the spotlight, Gundam is still considered one of Japan’s most iconic anime properties.

Pokémon – a series of film adaptations of the game spread around the world


The 1997 film adaptation of the beloved Pokémon game stunned audiences around the world. Despite the difficulties of turning a video game into a film, the movie perfectly captured the spirit and magic of its source material. The Pokémon series has been warmly embraced by fans and critics alike, proving to be quite successful in international markets – something that was quite unheard of at the time. Furthermore, it also played an integral part in introducing worldwide audiences to Japanese media and animation, paving the way for many future successes in both industries. All things considered, it is no wonder that this is one of the most beloved films across multiple generations.

The Princess of the Valley of the Wind – the birth of the legendary Ghibli

The Princess of the Valley of the Wind

The Princess in the Valley of the Wind, an animated film released before the formation of Studio Ghibli, depicts a world set in post-apocalypse where humanity lives encapsulated in the Valley of the Wind. Our protagonist is a princess named Nausicaa, who embarks upon a noble mission to protect people from evil forces and natural disasters. Seen as Ghibli’s “opening” film, it reached international acclaim and was honoured with the highest spot in a Japan Culture Agency survey of 2007. A thrilling watch for all ages, this movie serves as an enduring reminder that even from dire circumstances can sprout courageous heroes befitting to inspire us all.

Dragon Balls – the beginning of the whole anime market


Japanese animation for teenagers, commonly referred to as “shounen,” remains the most popular and most influential genre of anime today. In recent years, numerous series have taken inspiration from the wildly successful Dragon Ball saga which is largely credited with pioneering this genre and helping it gain mass appeal. Goku’s journey to acquire the titular seven dragon balls, become the greatest fighter in the universe, and ultimately retrieve eternal youth was an inspiring story that inspired countless other manga and anime works in later years. Even today, Seven Dragon Ball is still remembered as one of three timeless masterpieces of Japanense animation.

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With over a decade of writing obituaries for the local paper, Jane has a uniquely wry voice that shines through in her newest collection of essays, which explore the importance we place on legacy.


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