There are so many great animations from Japan. Here are 5 that are a little under the radar.
#1. Mushishi - 2005 (Yuki Urushibara)
Beautiful and quiet. This animation series is set in a semi-fictional Japanese countryside. It follows the journeys of Ginko a cool-headed shamanistic vagabond that cures and informs the people living among the "Mushi" or insect-like expression of a mystical life-force that is all around the characters.
#2. Paprika - 2006 (Yasutaka Tustsui)
Light hearted science fiction story about a popular psychologist that helps her patients by entering their dreams. It is a fast paced whimsical animation filled with great personalities and thought-provoking story line. Bold colors and great transforming figures, this is a really fun one.
#3. Tekkon kinkreet - 2006 (Taiyo Matsumoto)
An animation about super natural homeless children set in a city loosely based on Osaka, Japan. The city is informally ruled by children that jump buildings and fight against gangster adults. The main characters are two small boys named Shiro and Kuro and the story follows their trials and eventual separation, employing some esoteric themes and really amazing animation.
#4. Shigurui - 2007 (Takayuki Yamaguchi)
Not for the light-hearted Shigurui (translated "Death Frenzy") is brutal and graphic. The animation is incredible and the story is very serious. It tells of a martial arts dojo that faces challenges as the master is quite insane most of the time and rogue fighters challenge and threaten the dojo. It is very artistic and gruesome at the same time.
#5. Summer Wars - 2009 (Mamoru Hosoda)
Fantastic animation that examines the cyber world in a fun new way. A pair of teenagers travel together to spend the summer in the countryside and end up fighting against a global cyber attack. Light hearted and colorful. The characters are endearing and the storyline can be enjoyable for a wide audience. Great laugh for those involved regularly on internet social media sites.