With the release of Star Wars: Visions, an interest in anime anthologies is sure to be generated. The scope is very wide when it comes to anime anthology movies and series, as they incorporate themes from science fiction, horror and local Japanese folklore. Apart from some American productions like Love, death and robots, most of these anime anthologies are the result of Japanese animation, but they are considered cult classics around the world.
The fluid actions and rich environments behind such anthologies make for a perfect frenzy shoot. The short duration of the episodes and movie segments makes the viewing experience more user-friendly.
ten Star Wars: Visions (2021) – Available on Disney +
From samurai-style lightsaber duels to musical performances by Jabba the Hutt, Star Wars: Visions has a lot of new experiences to offer dedicated fans of the franchise. The animation varies from realistic to cartoon, but the Japanese roots of the anime remain intact.
During the time when George Lucas was making the first Star Wars movie, the BBC reports that he was inspired by Akira Kurosawa’s iconic samurai films as Hidden fortress. And now, this Lucasfilm production seems like the perfect homage to Japanese culture and anime.
9 Flavors of Youth (2018) – Available on Netflix
Flavors of youth is a set of three stories set in China, using food as a metaphor. Each character evokes a certain memory of youth as the film celebrates beauty in the everyday monotony of life.
If viewers want to kick back and watch an anthology of aesthetic anime, Flavors of youth would be a perfect choice. Its segments can even be compared to an emotional Studio Ghibli cinematic experience, except for the fact that the narrative is devoid of any fantastic elements. Instead, he brings out humor and romance in mundane experiences of love, friendship, and family.
8 Love, Death and Robots (2019-) – Available on Netflix
The short segments of the two seasons of Love, Death & Robots serve as bizarre and surreal tributes to the sci-fi genre as a whole. Even though the original Netflix sci-fi show also uses other animation formats such as cel-shaded and CGI, a few major episodes are heavily influenced by the aesthetic of cyberpunk anime.
“Good Hunting” is a great example because it incorporates the steampunk genre to tell the story of the friendship of a young inventor with a fox spirit. “The Witness” is another episode that unfolds like a new age 3D anime, filled with chaotic energy and adrenaline-charged chase sequences.
7 Souvenirs (1995) – Available on Peacock
Three science fiction stories make up this cult classic of an anthology film. Each of the films is directly inspired by new manga from executive producer Katsuhiro Otomo. The themes that Memories coverage include artificial intelligence and the downsides of nuclear weapons. While one chapter deals with a simulated world built from a woman’s memories, the other deals with a city that daily fires cannons at an unknown enemy.
The animation and the general philosophy of Memories have aged well. In terms of anthology cinema, Memories can be watched as an accompanying film with other Otamo compilations like Neo-Tokyo and Robot Carnival.
6 Theater of Darkness: Yamishibai (2013) – Available on Crunchyroll
Yamishibai is an anthology horror TV show that features extremely short and twisted supernatural tales. Since each story is a little over 3 to 5 minutes long, it’s easy to binge on all at once. But despite the short duration of each episode, the third act of each leaves an impact on the viewer.
For non-Japanese viewers, it is also a portal to the country’s local culture as most of the stories are derived from Japanese folklore and urban myths. With 91 episodes, Yamishibai is the perfect portal for animated Japanese horror.
5 Genius Party (2019) – Available on Kanopy
4 Short Peace (2013) – Available on HiDive
Worlds collide with four short stories set in different periods of Japan. In Short Peace, a polar bear defends a feudal royal family while soldiers confront a robot in a futuristic dystopia. Such premises make it a perfect blend of science fiction and fantasy.
Short Peace is a pretty unique entry on this list as it not only includes four anime shorts, but also a video game. Anime fans might also check it out for the fact that it was produced by Sunrise, the legendary anime studio behind it. Cowboy Bebop and Gundam.
3 Modest Heroes (2018) – Available on Netflix
Modest heroes switch between fantasy and real life with three stories worthy of frenzy. The first deals with crab siblings who are forced to live on their own while the second film centers around a boy with an egg allergy. In the last segment, an introvert begins to lose his identity and even his physical body.
In all three cases, a common element is loneliness. Even though the characters live in animated environments, they all share a sense of loneliness and yearn to find solace in their own way. Overall, it’s a family anthology with upbeat messages.
2 Batman: Gotham Knight (2008) – Available on HBO Max
There have been a lot of Batman animated films but Gotham Knight was the first attempt to adapt the caped crusader to the anime format. Interestingly, the film doesn’t even set in the continuity of the DC Animated Universe, but serves as an intermediate chapter between Christopher Nolan Batman begins and The black Knight.
Each of the six adventures incorporates a dark and mature approach that befits the Batman mythos as legendary voice actor Kevin Conroy returns to his role as the titular hero. Animation studios like Madhouse and Production IG handled the elegant and detailed animation of the anthology.
1 Robot Carnival (1987) – Available on Peacock
Horror novel. Science fiction. The transition to adulthood. Such genres are explored in very different storylines in the 1987 classic Robot Carnival. As the title suggests, each of these arcs is united by a common theme of robots. An android can be good, bad, or even both, depending on each case.
Since multiple directors were involved in the segments, it’s fascinating to see their ’80s take on robotics. While it has its philosophical moments, the robot-centric stories also have a lot of heart, unlike their emotionless subjects.
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