One of the more interesting aspects of animation as a medium is the “world building” that creators can do, since everything is drawn and there are no limits to what can be shown other than the imagination. One series with a fascinating world-defining premise is the currently-running Noragami. It’s a mainstream anime about a supernatural “god” named Yato and a girl named Hiyori who gets stuck between the human world and the afterlife, resulting in her soul separating from her body at inconvenient times. As part of the story, it’s posited that there are invisible spirits called 妖 ayakashi living all around us. These creatures interact with us without our knowledge, sometimes perching on the shoulders of distraught people and encouraging them to commit suicide, and Yato and Hiyori must destroy them. In the romantic comedy dark maho shoujo anime Madoka Magica, we learn that when a girl goes missing without a trace, it usually means she was a magical girl who was defeated while inside the magical dimension. Another anime work that creates a totally believable world for us is the classic film Royal Space Force: Wings of Honneamise, which I recently re-watched. The first work done under the banner of Gainax, it’s a movie about a fictional country on an alternate Earth that’s trying to launch a rocket into space, and of the main hero Shitotsugh Lhadatt as he prepares for the mission. Virtually everything about the world being shown to us is re-imagined from scratch, from the shapes of the coins they use to the airplanes they fly to the religion of the people we meet. Another reason I’m a fan of Wings of Honneamise is because I’m a card-carrying soundtrack geek, and the BGM by Sakamoto Ryuichi (YouTube link) is extremely beautiful.
Anime is best when it creates unique worlds for us.