Anime as a sub-genre of nearly every other genre is pretty crazy in and of itself. The fact that there exists an anime somewhere covering just about every genre and subject that you can imagine is the product of a culture perhaps far more understanding and open to experimentation.
In the west we have very specific subjects for our animated films and very specific celebrity voices included in the attempt to include everyone and not offend anyone. In Japan….not so much.
The Anime market has changed a lot since the boom of the early 90s when Manga video was releasing all manner of craziness on to video and ramping up the language and the violence to generate love and word of mouth with teenage boys everywhere. At some point around 1997 however the well ran dry and all the back catalogue of crazy Japanese films from the late 80s and early 90s was used up so distributors went back to TV series from Japan.
Shows like Desert Punk, Gantz, Elfen Lied and Paranoia Agent are probably the craziest anime you could ever hope to see but they were made for TV and the vast quantities of it being released and the expense lead to the apparent anime fan now in his twenties to slink off elsewhere. The market subsequently dried up a bit with only really one or two anime films being released in the west a year.
To celebrate the release of 009 Re:Cyborg, the latest film from production I.G (Ghost in the Shell) which from all accounts is pretty ‘out there’, here is a list of the top ten craziest anime films I have ever seen.
I haven’t included Akira because its craziness is pretty much mainstream at this point, ditto for Ghost in the Shell. I would love to have some of what Hayao Miyazaki is smoking but his weirdness has been embraced by the mainstream massively in recent years so Spirited Away and Princess Mononoke also didn’t make the cut.
10. Summer Wars (2009)
The Girl Who Leapt Through Time director Mamoru Hosoda seems to be picking up where the late Satoshi Kon left off in terms of animation style but he has also been called the new Miyazaki. The least weird entry on this list blends two separate genres which shouldn’t really mix but here somehow come together really well.
Summer Wars is part Royal Tennenbaum’s-esque family drama and part cyberpunk thriller as a summer family get away turns into a fight for survival when Facebook like world dominating online social domain “Oz” is corrupted by some kind of artificial intelligence designed to protect mankind ‘at all costs’ and plunges the world into chaos. There are fight scenes with giant bunny rabbits and other weird avatars inside the virtual world and the whole thing is a mixture of the cool and the cute the likes of which is very rare.
It’s also very funny and the finale will have you on the edge of your seat.