2022 Film Ranking
by Rakka • Tags: anime film lists
Will be updated throughout the year.
Everything Everywhere All at Once
There’s not really much I can say here other than watch it. As befitting its title, Everything manages to be…well, everything. It’s a hilarious action flick and yet a tender family drama. It’s full of zany sci-fi/supernatural plots but also down to earth and relatable. There’s really nothing to say here other than go watch it, right now.
Whisper of the Heart
A really adorable romance/slice-of-life probably best known for its rendition of “Country Roads”. Frankly, there’s nothing in particular that’s special about this film—but it’s still special nonetheless, because of how carefully everything has been executed. I do think it ties itself up a little too quickly/easily but that’s about right for the tone it has.
The Deer King
A fantasy epic that like Maquia before it, turns the table by focusing on those who live through conflict and war instead of those who wage it. The Deer King follows Van on his quest to find his adopted daughter Yuna, as well as several side characters waging political games and trying to find the cure for the mittsual, a mysterious curse—or ordinary disease—that only affects the conquerors, not the conquered. Already we have a very similar setup to Okada Mari’s epic, but other similar themes like conflicts between faith and technology appear. Where it differs is the scale of the passage of time—years, not decades—and taking more of a grounded, low fantasy with supernatural elements bent as opposed to Maquia’s more Tolkienesque, high fantasy tack. Think Mononoke’s aesthetics (but not its environmentalism) with Maquia’s themes.
The Cat Returns
A cute & fantastical adventure where an ordinary girl, Haru, saves a cat who unexpectedly can walk and talk, and promises to repay her. It’s kind of like a much less heavy, more charming version of A Whisker Away, and at only around an hour long, it’s an easy watch.
Part history lesson, part rock musical, Inu-Oh tells the tragic story of a legendary duo in 14th century Japan and their supernatural performing prowess. While as wild as you would expect from a Masaki Yuasa film, top-notch animation and music make this an interesting, if completely bewildering, experience.
Looking for Magical DoReMi (「魔女見習いをさがして」 Majo Minarai o Sagashite)
I enjoyed this film far more than I expected to. Yes, is a tie-in to an old magical girl series, Magical DoReMi, that I never saw and probably still have no intention of seeing, and you’ll probably enjoy this film more if you were a fan of the original series, and I’m sure there’s references that went completely over my head. But I don’t think you need to be a fan to have a good time with this film.
Magical DoReMi actually takes quite a clever direction: instead of continuing or rebooting the original series, it follows three grown-up fans of the series who happen to meet and bond through their shared love of the show. With that, it manages to be both your typical friendship-and-growing-up story, the same one you could write about a group of kids or teens, and yet also a story of adults facing new challenges by drawing courage from their friends and the shows they like. Whether it’s dealing with bad boyfriends or finding the nerve to confess, deciding what to do for university or a job or speaking up at the workplace, Magical DoReMi manages to take a hackneyed plot concept and freshen it by applying it to a cast we rarely see in anime.
It’s also nice to see this film essentially showing how not to be a toxic fan; these adults still like the show and find meaning in it, but don’t gatekeep it, judge others for liking it, or obsess over it.
Shoujo☆Kageki Revue Starlight Movie (「劇場版 少女☆歌劇 レヴュースタァライト」 Gekijouban Shoujo☆Kageki Revue Starlight)
I watched this without subtitles, so this is an incomplete review. Nevertheless: as with the main series, I didn’t (and couldn’t) really follow the plot, but the revues get taken up a notch here, with Maya/Claudine having the best fight (animation, choreography) and Futaba/Kaoruko having the best song (but a disappointing fight).
Update: I watched with subtitles! This is a rather fanservicey (in the plot sense, not in the ecchi sense) and anime-film-critic’s film, with a rather abstract plot and a lot of stylized visual flair. It’s still worth watching, unless you really disliked the original series (and even if you didn’t watch the main series). The film starts out with a bit too much exposition, but once it gets going with the revues it’s non-stop until the end.
A fairly relaxed slice-of-life about a city girl who yearns for the countryside, vacationing there to experience farm life. While passing the days with the family she’s staying with, she reminisces about her childhood. Truly not much even happens, and it is a bit long, but it’s got its funny moments and its cute moments.
Goodbye, Don Glees!
An unfortunately overly corny adventure featuring three teenage boys. They have great chemistry and the first half of the film is incredible (especially a particularly hilarious crossdressing/drag scene), but the ending was a little too over-the-top.
Macross Frontier: The False Songstress / Macross Frontier: The Wings of Farewell
Due to licensing hell, it took over a decade for this to come to America. It’s…frankly not that great, with lots of fanservice jolting you out of serious scenes, but it’s still pretty enjoyable and has a great soundtrack. As long as you enjoy mecha, love triangles, or idols, there’ll be something for you here.