Miyazaki and Howl's Moving Castle
Talking about animation. Anyone who isn't familiar with Studio Ghibli and Hayao Miyazaki should become familiar. He is often called the "Japanese Walt Disney", which pretty much sums up the kind of influence and stature he is given in Japan and among animation circles. I don't like that term because I think Miyazaki is on par with the best Disney.
Most people know him from Mononoke Himé (Princess Mononoke), however as amazing as that film is (and it is one of my favourites of all time) it's by far the most "adult" of Miyazaki's films. I highly encourage everyone to go watch Sen to Chihiro no Kamikakushi (Spirited Away), Majo no Takkyubin (Kiki's Delivery Service), and Tonari no Totoro (My Neighbor Totoro) because the man has a gift for creating amazingly whimsical, child-like films that at the same time are beautiful works of art.
The reason I mention Miyazaki is that his new film Huaru no ugoku shiro (Howl's Moving Castle) is set to come to N. American this year. I'm excited as Spirited Away was one of my favourite films of 2002. You can watch a preview (in Japanese) at this site here.