In 2001, the Academy Awards created the category Best Animated Feature giving Hollywood animated movies the recognition that they deserved. However, animated movies don’t only come from the West. Japanese anime films are just as creative and well-made as their Western counterparts.
Despite the overwhelming popularity of anime movies outside of their home country, it’s quite difficult for these films to receive that same kind of acceptance and recognition from American film associations, like the Academy Awards. So, here are five anime movies that deserved an Oscar nomination.
The body-switching anime movie put Japan’s breathtaking scenery on display and the stunning animation was on another level. And although the premise is similar to Freaky Friday where the characters switch place and funny events ensue, Your Name goes beyond that. Makoto Shinkai’s work transforms the frivolous theme and brings the viewer to an unexpected yet beautiful emotional place.
The film covered many themes that are unfamiliar to people in the West. The anime looked at the contrast in Japan between those living in urban areas like Tokyo and those who live in the countryside. It also explored religion and traditions, and the way men and women from different ages perceive these.
These themes and the contrast that the film highlighted between them made Your Name one of the biggest anime in the world. It’s a shame that the Academy didn’t honor these perfectly executed ideas.
The Girl Who Leapt Through Time
The Girl Who Leapt Through Time is a warm and engaging anime movie that is suitable for not only teenagers but adults as well.
Loosely based on a 1967 novel of the same name, the movie follows a young girl who gains the power of time travel. Most of the time adaptations of books — or really any medium for that matter — don’t turn out as well as the original. But, The Girl Who Leapt Through Time proves this notion wrong. Even the author of the original 1967 novel noted that the anime movie is a true second-generation of his work. Doing such a fantastic job on not only the execution of the film but also continuing the story from its original source is a feat that few achieve.
The Girl Who Leapt Through Time won several awards, including Japan’s Best Animation Film Academy Award due to its vibrant Van Gogh-inspired animation and heartwarming storyline. But despite its praise for its amazing visuals and open-hearted tale, the Academy voters didn’t deem the movie good enough to receive a nomination for Best Animated Movie.
A Silent Voice
Yes, this year the Academy snubbed A Silent Voice in favor of Dreamworks’ The Boss Baby. And whether or not The Boss Baby is worthy of an Oscar, missing A Silent Voice is a definite and severe oversight.
Many Hollywood movies that receive a nomination for the prestigious award have a message that often comes in a beautifully wrapped box. But, A Silent Voice does the opposite. The anime film highlighted real-life problems that teenagers face, like bullying, depression, and self-hatred. The characters in the movie go on an emotional rollercoaster ranging from regret to guilt. Their struggles go on for years, with no easy solutions for their pain.
Through its storytelling, themes, and artwork, director Naoko Yamada and the animation staff went to great lengths to ensure that audiences understood the characters’ struggles and realistically depict how youths confront these issues. Yet, the Academy has once again failed to honor an anime movie for its rewarding experience.
What’s more of a model of a Hollywood movie than a beautiful Christmas story? And Tokyo Godfathers is just that — a fable of the holiday spirit.
The 2013 anime film follows three homeless people — the drunk Gin, teenage runaway Miyuki, and transgender former drag queen Hana — who find an abandoned infant in a pile of garbage on Christmas Eve. Hana refuses to part with the young child, forcing the trio to go out and find the baby’s parents. Without realizing it, on their journey, they each face their troubled past.
The anime movie is both harrowing and heartwarming. These three characters have given up on life, but survive as a de facto family. Throughout the film, director Satoshi Kon highlights several aspects of humanity, looking at homeless drifters who faced misfortune in their life and the way these people deal with adversity with kindness and compassion.
Tokyo Godfathers’ message resonated with wide audiences. However, the Academy felt it didn’t meet their standards, and instead nominated Disney’s forgettable Brother Bear.
In This Corner of the World
In This Corner of the World is a coming-of-age anime film that follows the story of the talented yet naive artist, Suzu and the sorrow she goes through during World War II. Despite the harrowing situation that she and the characters go through, director, Sunao Katabuchi, never loses the visual beauty of the film.
Katabuchi’s detailed recreation of WWII combined with the beauty of the landscape was influenced by his time at Studio Ghibli. His play with light colors, softness, and factual accuracy makes many of the scenes in this anime film all too powerful and utterly unforgettable. This is a film that’s meant to stay with you long after the final credits, and In This Corner of the World achieves this perfectly.
Not only does In This Corner of the World make the effort to carefully recreate the look and feel of Hiroshima before the bomb hit in 1945, but it also works as a reminder that we should never forget the catastrophic effects that war has on the human soul.
Despite the film winning countless awards, including Animation of the Year at the 40th Japan Academy Prize, it sadly didn’t receive an Oscar nomination.