2019 Film Ranking
by Rakka • Tags: anime film lists
Update 2020-01-19: added Colorful to the list
Weathering With You (「天気の子」 / Tenki no Ko)
I want to be what “all right” means to you.
MAKOTO SHINKAI BREAK MY HEART AGAIN
Honestly, I can see why people think why this doesn’t live up to 2016’s Kimi no na wa (「君の名は」 / Your Name), but haters gonna hate, I love this movie more, even with its messes and plot holes. Shinkai did himself a disservice by sticking to similar themes as Kimi no na wa, which makes it harder for this film to stand on its own, especially as it’s a little more ambitious (and leaves more questions hanging as a result). What resonates with me more in Weathering With You is that it’s not so much of a fairytale as Your Name—in the end, the characters can’t change fate, fix the weather, or save everyone; they can only save themselves. And that’s ok—as long as they’re together, they can face anything.
Also see: my first impressions from AnimeNYC 2019.
I never really cared for superhero movies, but anime, y’know? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ Plus the fact that it takes place in New York City (in Brooklyn!), and it has the amazing message that you, too can be Spider-Man. Not just your typical 1950’s American.
Also: Spider-Man takes the Q train.
Yes, I only saw this for the first time in 2019. While people worship Ghibli/Miyazaki movies, and they certainly deserve to be considered classics, they’re still not my favorites. I guess I’d put it this way: Weathering With You is the movie I’d watch and rewatch and think about, but Spirited Away is probably the one I’d preserve for future generations.
I Want to Eat Your Pancreas (君の膵臓を食べたい / Kimi no suizou wo tabetai)
Ok, first, let’s explain the title and get that out of the way. There’s (supposedly) folklore that says that if part of your body is ill, then eating that same part from an animal helps. And the your pancreas part comes from extrapolating that and being cute with your friend. Because, y’know, when your friend knows she’s going to die, a bit of morbid humor takes the edge off. (Not spoilers—the very first scene is Sakura’s funeral.) Maybe I’m just broken? It seems the title is so bad that people don’t even want to read the story and need to blame its popularity on, IDK, “cultural differences”?
Anyways: the story is wish fulfillment for lonely dudes, unfortunately (“loner meets cute girl and gets along really well with her for inexplicable reasons”), but is still sweet and emotional. Having read the book helps, because then you do at least get the (unnamed until the end) main character’s inner monologue and can watch them both develop, instead of the movie where you have a dude who occupies 90% of the screen time and 5% of the dialogue. If you liked Your Lie in April, this is about the same.
Despite the name, this children’s anime film is mostly not about penguins or highways, and instead about the precocious main character’s crush on his dental hygienist. I’m only slightly kidding. Don’t worry: you do still get lots of cute penguins. The movie does start to drag in the middle, but ends on a high note.
Flavors of Youth (肆式青春 / Sìshì qīngchūn ; 詩季織々 / Shikioriori)
One of apparently two Shinkai inspired films (the other being Crystal Sky of Youth) released in the past couple years from China, this film comes from a partnership between Haoliners and Shinkai’s studio (CoMix Wave Films), and consists of three short films. The quality is a little uneven—animation is solid, but characters are a little plain, and one character is almost an exact clone of Mitsuha from Kimi no na wa.
The first and third films are the best; the middle one kind of wanders around plot-wise. The first is a reflection more than a story: the narrator reminisces about the rice noodle soup of his youth, and the changes his hometown—and he himself—went through via that lens of food. The last is a romance, where the main character discovers a recorded tape from his high school crush that he never listened to, which sets off a flashback that slowly catches up to present day. I’d evaluate this story much better if it had committed to the story it starts to tell—unrequited love and past mistakes—instead of suddenly jerking the wheel all the way to “happy ending” at the end.
Puella Magi Madoka Magica the Movie: Rebellion
Another confession: I hadn’t seen Madoka Magica until this year. Honestly, the artstyle and animation in this series interests me more than the actual plot, which still managed to surprise me (having avoided any of the shows it inspired in subsequent years), but still isn’t quite my thing.
White Snake (白蛇 / Báishé)
It looks kind of like Frozen or How To Train Your Dragon but really isn’t. It’s both stunningly animated and something that looks straight out of a League of Legends cutscene. This film is interesting more in terms of what it promises for the future: that Chinese animation can stand with its Japanese and American peers on its own merits.
Pokemon: Detective Pikachu
Ok, I watched this on a plane, so I probably can’t give it a fair review, but it was cute enough.
Spider-Man: Far From Home
So I said I didn’t really care for superhero movies, and ones like this are why—the entire thing was mostly a setup for the next film with a bunch of references to other bits of the canon and lots of in-jokes and awkward teenager humor. (Ok, that last point is probably specific to this iteration of Spider-Man.) This film is basically junk food—the characters are likable, but not particularly complicated; the plot has twists, but doesn’t really say anything; the special effects look good, but don’t really blow you away1.
Star Wars: Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker
I never cared about Star Wars, and this movie didn’t help. There’s no subtlety or surprises; everything is just explosions followed by bigger explosions, dramatic fights followed by even more dramatic fights, every problem solved not by the heroes, but by a well placed deus ex machina. It felt like the characters could have walked into the final fight at anytime and the end result wouldn’t have changed.
Decent premise, weird execution: the soul of someone who committed suicide is offered a second chance at life and redemption. But unlike Haibane Renmei (with which it shares a lot of plot/thematic elements), Colorful just stumbles around and then ends.
A Dog’s Journey
It’s really, really weird to see an Asian dude in the lead (sort of) romantic position. While I didn’t particularly care for this movie otherwise, hopefully that’s a sign of a trend.
It doesn’t help that 1) I’m not five 2) I never saw the original Aladdin.
But of course, I’m biased towards animation being able to impress me more than film/CGI. ↩