Still from Samurai Champloo (2004-2005).

From the twisted, hallucinatory genius of Shinichiro Watanabe comes another maddeningly well-made anime that pretends to be a simplistic entertainer with a penchant for reflecting the worst of human behavior but is actually a retro-pop satire of dazzling wit, armed with a soundtrack so cool it hurts; the writing and the detail and the layered metaphorical unveil of its plot is too brazenly awesome not to be overwhelmed by.

In non-geek English, I fucking love this show.


Still from 5 Centimeters Per Second (2007).

A repeatedly used gateway tool to turn naysayers into the obsessive fans of anime, Makoto Shinkai’s brutal look at loneliness and the un-perfect magic of love hindered by the cold mechanics of reality will leave anyone who’s ever been in love a sobbing trainwreck by the time it ends.

5 Centimeters Per Second broke my silly prejudice against anime as being a function of portraying hyperviolent frenzy in dystopian worlds. It taught me everything I needed to know about forgiveness, memory, separation, and soul-searching in three segments of tragic, interconnected stories. I think about this film every time someone mentions ‘childhood sweetheart’: not really understanding what it meant to juggle with love at the time, and never knowing what it could have been like.