You know, as much as I love watching episodes upon episodes of random anime go by, there is something really special about a stand-alone anime movie. Usually, they are both higher budget and more intricate due to them being less time-consuming than a full season of some anime by a studio. And more often than not, they are absolute blockbusters that deserve as many accolades as any live-action movie would. But do anime movies count as anime at all? Or is it a breed unto its own?
I think this is a no-brainer. Anime movies are obviously anime themselves because anime isn’t a piece of media, it’s an animation style. Anything that is animated and in Japan, is automatically deemed an anime. Like, Disney’s Encanto would be considered an anime there. That’s just how things work and trying to discern between what does and doesn’t make an anime is too broad of an argument.
But anime movies do count, considering that a lot of them are actually connected to a pre-existing anime. Sure, you have your Studio Ghibli movies, and your Makoto Shinkai features that are separate entities on their own. But then you have franchises like One Piece and Demon Slayer, which have both anime episodes and subsequent movie releases. Like, anime movies can exist without having anime seasons connected to them.
Like, I get being confused if you’re a new weeb or whatever. But this isn’t a hard concept to understand. Anime is a medium, movies, and shows are included in said medium. The only real difference between anime shows and anime movies is time duration. Otherwise, the two are practically the same. However, then you also have the confusion about what an OVA is and everything is all over the place. So, let’s clear out the confusion between all things anime! Let’s jump right in!
Anime Movies VS Anime Shows: What’s The Difference?
So, the thing about anime shows is that they are usually more compressed because of how long they take to develop. An anime season can span upwards of multiple hours whereas an anime movie can be done in under 2 hours or less.
That means you don’t have the time to be extremely detailed in the multiple episodes a show can have. Yes, you could take your time telling the story, but not portray it as best as you could. Unless that show has a really good budget, you’re likely getting a decent anime show but not a visual masterpiece.
In a lot of anime movies, the visual part is much more important. An animation studio will spend a lot of time adjusting and detailing the movie so that it’s visually stunning, alongside a good story because they have the time to do so. It’s less content, so you can take more liberties and present it how you prefer.
With anime shows, you don’t have a lot of time and effort to spare for detailing, considering how many hours of animation will go into it.
How Anime Movie Elevates Anime On A Whole:
However, the intense work required to make an anime movie stand out is exactly why they’ve become such classics over the years. There’s a reason why Spirited Away won an Academy award. It wasn’t just because the story was good.
The hand-drawn animation style of early 2000s Ghibli movies was so painstakingly intricate and whimsical, nothing like it was on the market. The same audience was being thrown CGI movie after CGI movie, so something like Ponyo felt like a fresh breath of air. It’s why the industry got revolutionized and anime grew much bigger than just some ‘children’s show’.
It’s why movies like Kimi No Nawa and Weathering With You are considered masterpieces in their own right. Their animation style is so genuinely gorgeous and polished that you can’t look away. Again, nothing like it exists in the movie business right now. This is why a lot of anime movies now have theatre screenings and red carpets.
Anime movies have elevated what anime itself could be and that’s why they are considered an important part of the medium itself.