Best Uses of Social Commentary in Anime Movies, Ranked

    anime It is a diversified mode that offers more than ninja battles and laser beam battles. The animated films that are produced are often an ideal vehicle for their creators to express social commentary and highlight issues in the world or in society. Animated films are an excellent format because you can seamlessly incorporate surreal or sci-fi elements into the story without feeling stressed or forced. These films have the advantage of allowing the audience to explore their imaginations further without being taken out of the experience by bad acting performances or bad special effects. Let’s take a look at some of the best examples of social commentary in animated films.

    10 Perfect Blue (1997)

    Blue perfection
    Rex Entertainment

    The first on the list is Perfect blue. Perfect blue It is an animated psychological thriller film released in 1997 and distributed by Rex Entertainment. It was mentored by Satoshi Kon and follows a Japanese idol who has become a victim of stalking. She retired from her high-profile music career to shift her fame to an acting career. However, her life is turned upside down by a series of gruesome murders. She also experiences a slow decline in her mental state and begins to lose her grip on reality.

    The show is an excellent example of social commentary in Anime. It deals with witty commentary on both the public and private aspects of being a celebrity. Mima Kirigoe’s decision to alter her career path is what drives the story, causing her self-titled fanbase to explode in anger. Everyone who interacts with Mima is either trying to suppress her, trying to make her own decisions, or exploiting her at their own game. Mima is subjected to sexual exploitation that takes a permanent psychological toll on her. Mima has nowhere to turn, her fans are toxic, and people in the industry are just trying to take advantage of her. The film meticulously examines the phenomenon of celebrity semi-social relationships and how clients view them as a product rather than a person. Anytime Mima steps outside of what others imagine her to be, they seek to punish her at every turn.

    9 Zeal Away (2001)


    Toho / Walt Disney Pictures

    kidnapped is a 2001 Toho-distributed fantasy animated film. It was directed by Hayao Miyazaki and follows the story of a young girl who enters the spirit world. These spirits are called kami and represent the spirits of Japanese folklore. Tragedy strikes when her parents are turned into pigs, and she must get a job in the spirit world to free herself and her parents and return to the human world. The film was a massive financial success, and became the most successful Japanese film in history for nearly 19 years. It grossed $395 million at the worldwide box office. It also won the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature, being the only non-English film to this day to win this award.

    The film is surreal, and many of its themes are subtle, but it uses social commentary as one of the primary ways in which it conveys its messages. It tells a coming-of-age story in a world where not many people care, where work turns people into workers without their own names. One of the spirits, Yubaba, steals the names of her staff and turns them into puppets that she can control. These employees gradually forget who they are and their motivations in life. The film tries to remind the viewer to never come to terms with their identity and the dreams they pursue in the midst of such a society. Names in Japanese society hold a special significance, with many anime linking one’s name to one’s memories. In animation, characters with amnesia often forget their names as well as their purpose in life. A name associates a person with their identity, and names in Anime often associate a character with an aspect of their personality and identity.

    Related: The best hand-drawn animated movies, ranked

    8 Paprika (2006)

    red pepper
    Sony Pictures Entertainment Japan

    red pepper is a 2006 science fiction anime film. It was distributed by Sony Pictures and directed by Satoshi Kon. The film takes place in a society where a device allows people to share their dreams in a dream world. A terrorist steals the device and uses it to give people nightmares. A dream detective named Paprika has started entering people’s dreams to help her solve cases. This anime film uses the premise of his dreams to make a social commentary on the duality of people and how they are composed of different identities that often clash. Paprika becomes unable to distinguish and reconcile her dream persona with her real self, leading to an identity crisis that ultimately leaves her unable to embrace reality. He also comments on the effects of alienating society and isolating people when their identity does not match a preconceived notion.

    7 Akira (1988)

    Warner Bros.

    Next is AkiraAnd Cyberpunk action film from 1988. The film was distributed by Toho and directed by Mitsuo Iwata, Nozomu Sasaki, and Mami Koyama. It follows the story of Shōtarō Kaneda, the leader of a biker gang that survives in the dystopian future of 2019. The scene includes the aftermath of a world war that caused the destruction of Tokyo. The new rebuilt Tokyo is full of corrupt politicians, criminals and terrorists, and the people’s anti-government sentiment is running high. The film takes a look at the raw and exposed version of human nature that takes place after the collapse of society. It also takes aim at the way armies often fail their own people and how easily government officials are corrupted when left to themselves.

    Related: 11 Delightfully Offbeat Animated Movies From the ’70s

    6 Silent Voice (2016)

    Silent Voice (1)
    Kyoto cartoon

    Silent voice is a drama film distributed by Shochiku and released in 2016. The film is directed by Naoko Yamada and follows the story of a deaf girl and her fanatics in a coming-of-age story featuring the possibility of redemption. It features themes of suicide and alienation in society based on people’s differences. Japanese culture strongly encourages people to conform and despises people who stand out from the norm. Silent voice This setting is used to provide social commentary and dispel myths about bullying, suicide, and mental health. The film won Best Animated Feature at the Japanese Academy Awards.

    5 Ghost in the Shell (1995)

    A scene from the movie Ghost in the Shell
    Production I.G

    Ghost in a bowl is a noir cyberpunk animated film distributed by Shochiku and released in 1995. The film follows a cyborg police agent who has to investigate a mysterious hacker who controls people with his cybernetic implants. The film explores the boundaries between humanity and machines, and how technology turns people into a mixture of both. The ghost is the soul of a person, and the shell is the body that can be completely transformed by cybernetics. It also contains social commentary about the nature of abuse and human trafficking and how this technological society mistreats robotic dolls.

    4 The Girl Who Leapt Through Time (2006)

    A scene from The Girl Who Leapt Through Time.
    Kadokawa Pictures

    Another anime movie that benefits greatly from social commentary is The Girl Who Leapt Through Time. This movie was distributed by Kadokawa Herald Pictures and released in 2006. It is based on the novel of the same name and tells the story of Makoto Konoo, who learns the ability to time travel. She frequently uses her powers to cause minor problems in her life, leading to complications whenever she returns to fix them. The movie suggests that we should embrace the imperfections in society and not shun things just not to try something new.

    3 Weathering With You (2019)

    Weathering (1)
    Comics Wave Movies

    weathering with you It is the next anime movie on the list, distributed by Toho. It was released in 2019 and directed by Makoto Shinkai. The plot follows a high school boy who has run away from his home in the country to live in Tokyo. While there, he meets an orphan girl who can control the weather. The film draws parallels with climate change and the nuclear disaster that devastated a region in Japan in 2011. It seeks to establish how man’s ability to control nature can lead to unexpected consequences.

    2 Grave of the Fireflies (1989)

    Seita says goodbye to Setsuko

    Grave of the Fireflies is a World War II animated film released in 1988 and distributed by Toho. It tells the story of two war-orphaned brothers trying to survive in 1945 near the end of the war. Their father is out fighting in the war, and their mother has recently died, leaving the siblings to fend for themselves. It is a tragic movie that details the civilian side of the war and how much people suffer far from the front lines. It is often considered one of the greatest war films ever made, thanks to the superb animation and desperate conflict depicted.

    1 Princess Mononoke (1997)

    1997 Japanese animated epic historical fantasy film Princess Mononoke

    At the top of the list, we have Prince Mononoke. Prince Mononoke It was released in 1997 and distributed by Toho. It tells the story of a young prince named Ashitaka who becomes involved in a conflict between humans and forest spirits. The film examines the relationship between human society and nature and how it creates social outcasts thanks to an endless cycle of hate.

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