@humanity: I'm curious if by Ghibli you mean all Ghibli or Miyazaki specifically? Isao Takahata's films are very different both from an art and a story standpoint. Outside of both directors making excellent films they don't really share much outside of general themes involving ecological conservation and peaceful solutions to conflict. I didn't include a single Miyazaki film in the main list. If it is the art you dislike then I maybe wouldn't recommend Arrietty as the director is also a lead artist for most of Miyazaki's films. But the others I mentioned are all visually distinct and don't have any of the fantastical backdrops that most of Miyazaki's films have. I can't think of anything else that all Ghibli films share.
Raven10's forum posts
Can't believe only one mention of Sweet Movie in this entire thread. Haven't seen A Serbian Film or Salo, but I would definitely rank Sweet Movie above Cannibal Holocaust, I Spit on Your Grave, Oldboy, May, Requiem For A Dream, any of David Lynch's films, Funny Games, or any American made torture porn. If I had to add a couple films to the ones mentioned I would say Calvaire, Black Moon, and Streets of the Crocodile.
Overall the two hardest scenes to watch for me were the turtle murder in Cannibal Holocaust and the never ending rape in I Spit on Your Grave. I've never even thought about turning a movie off due to how disturbing it was until that scene. But Sweet Movie is just an unending display of macabre, gross, and disgusting that by the end will make you just feel dirty.
@benpicko: It came out in theaters a couple months ago, but got a surprisingly limited release for a Miyazaki film. The closest theater to where I lived that was showing it was like 45 minutes away so I decided to just wait for the DVD which is not yet out in the USA.
@shalba: It's funny that in the end I put almost every Ghibli movie NOT directed by Hayao Miyazaki. Of course that means I listed less than half of the studio's total output, but people almost always mention Miyazaki when they bring up great anime films and never mention any of Ghibli's other films outside of Grave of the Fireflies. But I find that you have to like a very specific type of movie to like Miyazaki stuff and people who aren't into fantasy adventures often just don't enjoy them.
For most games I start at normal/medium and will bump it up to hard if there is a New Game+ mode I want to play. For some hard shooters I'll play on easy on consoles as I suck at console shooters. Also for some very complex strategy games I'll either start or eventually drop to easy. Like Europa Universalis I tried so many times to play on normal. Mostly ended up not making it more than 20 or 30 years before being reduced to a vassal if not outright defeated. Eventually I accepted I wasn't going to pull off anywhere close to a full campaign on anything but easy so I went with that. I very rarely start on hard. I honestly can't think of the last time I did that. I'll play the Halo games in co-op on Legendary with some great teammates but Halo is also one of the few games that actually changes enemy placement and behavior with increased difficulty.
EDIT: Also I always play Metal Gear Solid games on the easiest difficulty since I am only playing to see what hilarious(ly terrible) twist Kojima will come up with next and could care less about the actual gameplay.
@brackstone: Luckily for you in the Ghost in the Shell films (not the show) the Major is given black hair. The purple hair was exclusive to the much more light hearted show. Do a google image search if you want to see her in her movie form where she is much more realistically drawn. If you end up liking the films and the show I would recommend Serial Experiments Lain as a followup. It deals with similar themes albeit with less violence and lower quality animation than the GITS films. It's not a very long show. Some other worthwhile movies with similar plots include Paprika by Satoshi Kon, Summer Wars by Hosada, and Metropolis by Rintaro. There are quite a few shows with similar themes but I'll let others recommend their favorites there.
EDIT: Also, if you don't mind watching some films very heavy on Japanese mythology and pop culture, all of Isao Takahata's films feature art that is quite different from your standard anime. My Neighbors the Yamadas I feel loses almost all of its humor in translation but if you want something that looks nothing like your standard anime then at least watch the trailer. Pom Poko is a bit more standard but still I think quite distinct. Again, though, I feel like it loses a lot in translation. Both Only Yesterday and Grave of the Fireflies have anime face designs but the characters are all realistically drawn. No crazy costumes or colors and all the characters are realistically proportioned.
For everyone mentioning Death Note I thought I would say that it is probably one of the better shows for those who generally dislike anime but it does have a lot of the Japanese weirdness that a lot of anime haters dislike, and also involves a lot of Japanese mythology that isn't explained upfront.
I tried really hard to stay away from any film or show featuring heavy use of Japanese mythology, hence why I left off Spirited Away and Princess Mononoke. But if you have a friend who simply hates the crazy combat in anime but wouldn't mind strange Japanese stuff definitely take a look at Miyazaki and Satoshi Kon's films.
@xyzygy: You're welcome! If you haven't looked through the whole thread then be sure to check out the various films mentioned if you haven't. Ghost in the Shell and GITS: Innocence, Akira, every Studio Ghibli film, all of Satoshi Kon's films, all of Hosada's films, Metropolis, and many of the others mentioned. Also not mentioned is the short Voices of a Distant Star which is a personal favorite of mine. It's a short (like 30 minutes long or so) but is absolutely brilliant. As I said at the start, that list was for anime haters and wasn't a list of the best anime out there. But I think this thread has covered almost every worthwhile anime film.
@pimblycharles: I know several people who love Whisper of the Heart. I wouldn't place it at the top of my Ghibli film list but it's a great film. But, as mentioned, it is not a Miyazaki film. He produced and helped write it, but Kondo directed it.