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American Pop (1981)
One of Ralph Bakshi's Best
I picked this film up on a whim, as part of a double-feature DVD set with "Cowboy Bebop: The Movie" in the bargain bin at my local Best Buy. I figured, hey, I like "Cowboy Bebop: The Movie" (it's one of my favorite anime films), and I enjoy the works of Ralph Bakshi (who directed great films like "Fritz the Cat", "Heavy Traffic" and "Coonskin"), so it seemed like a win-win. And hey, if I didn't like "American Pop", then it wouldn't be wasted money, $5 and all.
As it turns out, "American Pop" has quickly become one of my favorite films, and one of Ralph Bakshi's strongest works. This surprisingly down-to-earth urban drama, set over a timespan of roughly 70 years, is a beautiful-looking, wonderful-sounding, exquisitely-written masterpiece. The characters are distinct (especially Pete), the music works wonderfully (I still can't get that cover of "Somebody to Love" outta my head), and the rotoscoped animation represents a world that is gritty and real, but at the same time fictionalized. Ralph Bakshi, if you're reading this, congratulations on a job well done. I'm not going to be parting with my "American Pop" DVD anytime soon.
Fainaru fantajî (1994)
Better than People Make it Out to Be
People tend to give this anime a lot of flack due to its simple art, simple story and lighthearted tone, saying it conflicts with Final Fantasy's "mature, serious" appearance. Thing is, this is based on Final Fantasy V, a game known for its humor, and it was released long before the series made a name for itself as being "mature and serious". The animation looks just like the game art come to life, and is bustling with action. The music is wonderful, equaling Nobuo Uematsu's game work. And the story is a simple-yet-engaging hack-and-slash fantasy adventure that is fun to watch. The characters are fun and inventive, the setting is gorgeous... this is one of those anime that should be considered a classic, but isn't due to a number of boneheaded reasons. If you run across this, PICK IT UP! It's a great story, and you won't be disappointed.