I occasionally watch animated films, but am rather unfamiliar with Japanese anime.  I recently viewed a film available through the Alameda County Library System entitled “Millennium Actress.”  This film was named the “Best Animation Film” at the Fantasia Film Festival in Montreal in 2003 and awarded the Grand Prize at the Japan Agency of Cultural Affairs Media Arts Festival. 

“Millennium Actress,” directed by Satoshi Kon, deals with the career of a fictional actress named Chiyoko Fujiwara.  Extremely successful in romantic and action films during the 1930s through the 1950s, she disappeared from the set of a space film right after being rescued by a camera technician during an earthquake.  Decades later, she is being interviewed by a documentary filmmaker and a cameraman in her home in a mountain village. 

The action of the film shifts to different periods of Chiyoko’s life and the films she starred in.  The interviewing filmmaker and cameraman find themselves part of these different realities either as participants in the action or as onlookers.  The other constant in the film is Chiyoko’s attempt to find a political activist / artist she rescued from the police in the late 1930s. 

This film, and anime in general, shifts between realities in a way that would be expensive or next to impossible to shoot in live-action films.  Fans of typical anime films might be surprised to find they can enjoy a melodramatic love story in anime.  I would recommend this film to adults who are curious about Japanese animated films. 

Millennium actress [videorecording] = Sennen joyu / Go Fish Pictures presents a Chiyoko Committee production , Genco Inc. ; producer, Taro Maki ; writers, Satoshi Kon, Sadayaki Murai ; directed by Satoshi Kon

Universal City, CA : DreamWorks Home Entertainment, 2001    DVD Fiction MILLENNIUM 

Other selected anime films I’d recommend are:

Spirited away [videorecording] / Buena Vista Home Entertainment, Tohokushinsha Film and Mitsubishi present a Tokuma Shoten, Studio Ghibli, Nippon Television Network and Dentsu ; producer, Toshio Suzuki ; written & directed by Hayao Miyazaki

[United States] : Walt Disney Home Entertainment ; Burbank, CA : Buena vista Home Entertainment, [2003], c2001                                              DVD Fiction SPIRITED

Cowboy bebop. Session 1 [videorecording] / [directed by Shinichiro Watanabe ; a production of Sunrise, Inc. & Bandai Visual Co. Ltd  (There are 6 sessions of this series.)

[S.l.] : Bandai Entertainment, c1999         DVD Fiction COWBOY

Ghost in the shell : Stand alone complex. Vol. 01 [videorecording] / Shirow Masamune-Production I.G/Kodansha ; producers, Yuichiro Matsuka, Tsutomu Sugita, Charles McCarter, Kaoru Mfaume ; director, Kenji Kamiyama ; English adaptation produced by Bandai Entertainment, Inc    (There are 7 volumes in this series.)

[S.l.] : Bandai Entertainment : Manga Video, c2003-2004               DVD Fiction GHOST

Tokyo Godfathers [videorecording] / Mad House Ltd. ; producer, Masao Maruyama ; screenplay, Satoshi Kon, Keiko Nobumoto ; directors, Shôgo Furuya, Satoshi Kon

Culver City, Calif. : Distributed by Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment, [2004]    DVD Fiction TOKYO