Wings of Honneamise
One of my favorite Japanese animated films -- OK, favorite films, period -- is The Wings of Honneamise. It's a beautifully drawn and imaginatively conceived film about a ragtag group of would-be astronauts on an alternate Earth. As two great kingdoms prepare to go to war, the aging engineers and hot-shot pilots of a peripheral space program race to complete their first space rocket. One pilot meets a religious woman who teaches him some important lessons. The detail with which this familiar-yet-different world is brought to life is one of its best selling points, but the real joy is the characters and their stories.
I can't say anything better than this review can, so you should just go and read it.
The character interaction also brings another another level of meaning to the story; in the course of his journey from drop-out to the emotional leader of a grand adventure Shiro is asked some difficult questions about human nature and the state of modern society. There are no easy answers to these questions, and this movie doesn't attempt to provide any--it isn't preachy and there are characters on both ends of the spectrum who have reasonable opinions. But Shiro's attempts to come to grips with love, sin, and the place of grand adventures in a world filled with war and poverty do provide a quiet illustration of the value of dreams and ambition. If nothing else, this is a story that is realistic enough to provoke a lot of thought, and a movie that doesn't shy away from bringing the hard issues to the fore.Then rent the movie. You won't be disappointed.
Remind me sometime to tell y'all about Bubblegum Crisis -- an anime series (actually three series: BG Crisis, BG Crash, and BGC 2040) about hot babes in battle suits in near-future Tokyo knocking heads with over-sized and bad-tempered out-of-control genetically engineered androids! Woo-hoo!! A leader who may not be human; a team-member who is a lesbian rock and roll singer and biker chick; a too-cool-for-you cop; the ruthless corporate executive; head-thumping action. Very stylish and sort of a cross between Batman and Blade Runner. Also highly recommended. Don't let the title fool you.