A popular pastime of anime fans is to peg American animation projects as "American anime." This title is generally reserved for anything that isn't by Disney and tries to appeal to someone older than 12. While the applicability of the term is usually questionable, the intent is clear. Anime fans want to see animated films that have good direction, developed characters, and stories that appeal to people past puberty.
During the summer, Warner Brothers Studios released an animated film called The Iron Giant. While it isn't "American anime," it is an excellent movie. The story, set in the late 1950s, involves a young boy, Hogarth, who befriends a 50-foot robot from outer space. Hogarth teaches the child-like Giant about life on Earth while keeping him away from an overzealous government agent who is convinced that the Giant is a threat to national security. The movie is well animated, has an engaging story, and has a good blend of humor and emotion. Better still for those critical of Disney films, there's not a single musical number or comic sidekick. For those of you wondering, it isn't a rip-off of Japanese big robot movies, either.
The Iron Giant is a kid's movie, but there are many nuances that would appeal more to adults than to children. Much of this can be credited to director and screenplay writer, Brad Bird, who also directed episodes of The Simpsons. The film received overwhelmingly positive reviews for all of its aspects: its story, its message, its animation, and its direction. And yet, it totally flopped at the box office. Why? If the first time you've heard of this movie is from this article, then it's a pretty good chance that's why. The film will likely end its run in theaters soon and if you're a fan of good movies, animated or otherwise, you should try to see it.
For more information, you can visit the official website at http://www.irongiant.com/.
For more reviews, try http://www.rotten-tomatoes.com/iron_giant.asp.