As the live-action Ghost in the Shell remake drops teasers, the dialog about anime being at the cutting edge (and movies years being behind that edge?) ignites anew. Of course, when appraising how ahead-of-its-time a ’95 flick was, it’s easy to forget that the anime revolution had already been spinning for decades prior to Ghost in the Shell‘s original release. The flicks listed below were big hits in the 70s, 60s, and 50s–lavish productions with striking style and innovative techniques– yet they’re almost never get brought up anymore. And that’s really a shame. Want to talk “classic” anime? Here are some true classics.
The Mystery of Mamo
An earlier Lupin III movie, over-shadowed by its sequel, The Castle of Cagilostro. While having your thunder stolen by Miyazaki is understandable, the irony is that this flick is devised by Monkey Punch, Lupin III’s creator, and therefore closer to the spirit of the manga. Mamo might not be as accessible as Cagilostro, but it’s the more intriguing of the two–weirder, creepier, and more fantastical. After faking his death, Lupin leads his criminal cohorts to steal the Philosopher’s Stone from the Necropolis of Giza (and this is long before Harry Potter, of course). The infamous thief does this at the request of his ever-unrequited love, Fujiko Mine, who in turn, serves the interests of a mysterious client, the titular Mamo.
Soon enough, the duo find themselves in Mamo’s secret lair in the Caribbean, and things get exponentially stranger from there. The deformed mastermind claims to be 10,000 years old–having a kind of immortality due to cloning–and now wants to claim Fujiko as his bride before enacting a godlike doomday plan. Obviously, Lupin’s having none of that, and their resultant chase somehow leads to brains in outer space. Fancy that. Despite the bizarrities, it’s actually Mamo‘s animation that truly makes it stand out, with a highly atmospheric, angular sense of design evocative of German expressionist films.