List of anime series/movies with unique art styles.
For my friends on tumblr, in case you guys want something to watch, here’s a quick list of anime series/movies with unusual/unique art styles that you may or may not know.
With an artstyle reminiscent of the original Astro Boy, Kaiba has a very simplistic (yet stylized) and fluid style of animation and art. The story revolves around the titular character, who wakes up with a hole in his chest with no idea of who he is. I enjoyed this a lot for the art, music and characters, who all have realistic motivations and ideals, as well as the themes handled in it; such as what defines “being human” when bodies and memories are as disposable as plastic.
Genre: Sci-Fi, Psychological Drama
In terms of sheer action and excitement I got from watching a movie, I’ve got to say that Redline is one of the best ever in those departments. With a highly stylized comic-book-esque art style with a high influence from Western comics like Dick Tracy (with the emphasis on black shadows on solid colours and thick black outlines), this show is extremely fluidly animated, the movie is said to consist of 120 000 hand-drawn frames, taking seven years to complete. The movie follows the story of racer JP (aka “Sweet” JP, because of his refusal to use weaponry while racing) trying to win (and survive) the titular Redline, a race consisting of multiple racers from multiple different galaxies and planets.
Genre: Racing, Sci-Fi, Action
Every frame of this anime could be screencapped and slapped onto someone’s dashboard for their aesthetic. That is how distinct the art style and character design of this show is. The show uses a form of “plaid animation”, where something will be animated over a still color or object as it moves, creating most of the time a jarring effect that is usually the sign of a lazy animator, however in Mononoke, the show utilizes the art to create a sense of a surreal, dream-like environment, intentionally focusing on the jarring effect. The art and design of the environment is also extremely ornate and beautiful.
The show focuses on the story of the unknown Medicine Seller and his travels through Japan (in an unknown time period), killing spirits and creatures known as Mononoke. However, he cannot do so until he learns their Form, Truth and Reasoning/Regret, which leads to some very interesting lessons at the end of each story.
Genre: Mystery, Horror
Another comic-influenced movie, and just barely under an hour too; Dead Leaves is an extremely fun, hyper-action-packed movie with amazing character design (almost EVERY good character in this movie has a unique design, barring the civilains and generic bad guy cannon fodder), driven by slapstick, humor (usually of the sexual kind) and more pop culture references than you can digest within the time span they’re thrown at you. The story focuses on criminals Retro and Pandy; Retro having a TV instead of a head, and Pandy having a panda-like marking on her eye, who, shortly after waking up on the moon and causing havoc on a nearby planet, are imprisoned in a super-jail.
Genre: Action, Comedy, Sci-Fi
Kuuchuu Buranko / Welcome to Irabu’s Office
Combining rotoscoped 3D, 2D animation and live action elements, Kuuchuu Buranko is an extremely surreal look into the world of psychiatry. The art and designs were created by the lead artist of Mononoke, Kenji Nakamura. But whereas Mononoke had some subtlety to its art, this show is bright, colourful and neon as all hell. The show focuses on Dr. Ichiro Irabu and how he helps his patients with their problems, who are all connected in some way or the other.
Genre: Comedy, Psychological Drama
The Tatami Galaxy
With a bright visual style that also manages to be subtle at the same time, The Tatami Galaxy also utilizes not just its art as a device for story telling, but the form of the show itself to convey its messages. I can’t spoil too much about the show, but I can give you this: if you enjoy the first episode, please watch it to completion, as this show basically requires the viewer to watch the show in its entirety. The story focuses on an unnamed protagonist, commonly referred to as Watashi by the show’s fans, who tries to attain the “rose-tinted” college life style he has desired for his whole life, as well as all the challenges he faces on the way. With fast-paced dialogue, a lot of humor, interesting character and background designs, as well as the various forms of “characterization”, and also the themes tackled by this show, I’d say it’s one of my favorite shows of all time.
Genre: Slice of Life, Comedy, Drama, Psychological, Sci-Fi
Mind Game. Directed by Masaaki Yuasa (also the director behind The Tatami Galaxy, Kaiba and Ping-Pong). I don’t think words can do this movie justice, but I’ll try. Imagine a combination of 3D-morphing-into-2D, sketches, animated photo images of (presumably) the voice actor’s for talking, extremely smooth and fluid movement, plus an insane amount of exaggeration,all coupled with a huge range of bright and dark colours and you’ve got Mind Game’s animation style down somewhat. Go look up more GIFs, they’ll help you understand the range of styles this surreal (and extremely fun) movie goes through. The plot follows Nishi, a down-on-his-luck, 20-years-old manga writer, running into his childhood crush Myon. He discovers she’s getting married soon while they’re talking inside her father’s restaurant. After that (plus another key event), the craziness in the movie begins; Nishi having a new-found desire to live life.
Genre: Comedy, Surrealism,
Tekkonkinkreet, although similar in appearance to some Masaaki Yuasa works, was not made by the man himself (although, it was made by the company,
Studio 4°C, that helped produce Mind Game). This movie has incredibly detailed backgrounds, similar to a Studio Ghibli film, with amazing usage of lighting, camera shots and motion blur as well as a wide variety of colours and shades. The story follows Black and White, two street orphans who call themselves “The Cats”, trying to keep control of their town from dangerous enemies. Although vastly different in personalities, they support each other emotionally, mentally and physically very well.
Genre: Action, Drama, Adventure
The Diary of Tortov Riddle
The Diary of Tortov Roddle, although very short (6 episodes all leading up to 14 minutes! Watch it here! It has three special episodes that are part of the DVD though), is an interesting adventure of a surreal world that seems almost like a moving/animated picture rather than a movie or series. It follows the journey of Tortov Roddle and his pig-steed throughout this world, with just his calm thoughts and experiences. There’s no dialogue in this series but it doesn’t really require any dialogue at all, the only dialogue being Tortov’s journal entries at the beginning and end of each episode. The music, lack of dialogue and artall contribute to a very interesting, mysterious atmosphere.
Genre: Fantasy, Surrealism, Adventure
The Tale of Princess Kaguya
Compton Studio Ghibli, The Tale of Princess Kaguya is an adaption of one of the staples of traditional Japanese folklore, The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter. This film adapts the ancient story of the young princess who grew out of a bamboo shoot and breathes fresh new life into it while still staying 100% true to the source material. The art can only be described as absolutely gorgeous, using a pale colour palette in a constantly shifting style that recalls the ancient Japanese watercolour paintings that the original story was recorded on.
Genre: Fantasy, Drama
Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei
Oh man this show.
Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei follows the story of Nozomu Itoshiki, an overdramatic teacher so pessismistic about everything that he would try committing suicide over pretty much the smallest inconvenience (his name, when its Japanese characters are read horizontally, also translates into “Despair”) and his bizarre homeroom students’ antics. The series parodies almost everything there is to satrize in Japanese culture (the show even parodies itself from time to time with casual 4th wall-breaking from every show), as well as the general media and politics of the world, as well as having an insane amount of references to various things regardless of fame; from Gundam, Evangelion and Gurren Lagann, to Franz Kafka, Edward Gorey and South Park. The art’s very minimal (which itself gets parodied later on in the series), but it, uh, changes a lot, to put it simply.
Genre: Comedy, Parody
(gotta lot of requests to list this one)
Sports anime tends to always get a bad rep amongst anime fans for various reasons, whether it be that the viewer gets tired of seeing another Dempsey Roll, or the amount of reused frames in the series, they’re all understandable.
And so comes Ping-Pong to shatter those preconceptions of what a sports anime can be. Focusing rather on the characters, their emotions and development rather than the titular game that the anime’s based on (unlike most sports anime), this coming-of-age show following two boys as they (one actually) strive to become the best table tennis players in the world, is directed by none other than Masaaki Yuasa, who has directed a lot of the shows and movies on this list actually, with his trademark style of not having a trademark artstyle (other than wobbly simple lines and psychedelic colours).
Genre: Psychological, Drama, Coming-Of-Age, Sports
Gankutsuou: The Count of Monte Cristo
(im still in the process of watching Gankutusou and Ping-Pong (thanks school) hence why they weren’t in the original post)
Gankutsuou is what most people would call “art porn”, as it uses various still textures, colours and patterns within the character’s lineart, similar to Mononoke and Kuuchuu Buranko though to a much greater extent, while using 3D and 2D animation on the characters and backgrounds. The story is broadly based on the titular story of The Count of Monte Cristo, but with many differences, such as being set in the year 5053, plotlines and character endings being altered/removed, the pacing being changed from the original story, as well as the incorporation of many sci-fi themes. The general aesthetic of the show is that of 19th century France in a highly futuristic setting.
Genre: Drama, Sci-Fi, Thriller, Supernatural
Based off a popular gambling manga by Nobuyuki Fukumoto, Kaiji follows the story of the titular character, Kaiji Itou, an unemployed slacker who spends his days gambling (and always losing), stealing, drinking and being obsessed with money. He suddenly finds himself 3 million in debt, and is offered the chance to erase all of his debt, and maybe even earn some cash, in one night.
With thick bold lines, exaggerated expressions and hugely caricaturized faces that woul make more sense in a comedy that all serve as a plus to the show, Kaiji is an intense psychological thriller that always leaves you on the edge of your seat, with some of the most insane and dramatic gambles in any piece of fiction.
Genre: Psychological, Thriller, Gambling
Panty and Stocking With Garterbelt
Two angels, kicked out of Heaven, have been tasked with cleaning up the filthy sin-riddled Daten City, and can only return once they’ve gotten enough Heaven coins!
Not like that matters to Panty and Stocking anyways, whose only cares in the world are what tastes good, much to the chagrin of local priest Garterbelt.
With a ton of American pop culture references, humor that would make South Park seem like a kid’s show, action that is so bizarre it can’t even be explained, and an animation style that’s more akin to a cartoon on a huge drug trip than anything else, Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt shows that sometimes too much of a good thing is still a good thing.
Genre: Comedy, Action, Parody, Not something to play around Grandma
Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure
There really is no other gif that explains and summarizes Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure better than this one.
Based off the hugely popular manga by Araki Hirohiko, the show follows the story of the Joestar bloodline. Jojo is unique in that it doesn’t follow one group of characters or main character throughout the entire franchise, but rather a different cast in a different location throughout the world, ranging from 1930s New York, to 1980s Japan, to Egypt and much more.
If I’m being rather vague about describing this rather popular show, I apologize, but there really is no way to properly explain this bizarre series.
With proportions that look like it was ripped straight out of a bodybuilder’s magazine, poses that could probably break your spine if even just attempted, and fights that end up being some of the most hype as well as some of the most ridiculous you’ll have ever seen, as well as a bright, dramatic colour pallete, this is a show that truly lives up to its “Bizarre” title.
(also protip: start with the 2012 adaption first rather than the 90s OVA, and read the manga.)
Genre: Action, Comedy, Supernatural, Mystery