Anime has emerged as an incredibly successful form of visual entertainment worldwide. Each season, fans eagerly anticipate series boasting exquisite animations and creatively crafted characters. An array of genres, from romance to horror and Moe to Shonen, caters to diverse tastes.
Nonetheless, anime often defies conventional art styles, surprising its audience with daring and distinctive visuals that set certain shows apart. Amid the overall high quality, some anime boldly take risks, employing unconventional art styles to enhance their uniqueness and possibly add profound depth. Here, we explore a selection of such anime with the most remarkable and unparalleled artistry.
16. Japanese Tales Of The Macabre
Japanese Tales of the Macabre, an anthology anime by renowned horror author Junji Ito, delves into the darkest and most disturbing tales from his illustrious career. Each episode weaves a twisted and unsettling narrative, boasting Ito’s signature jaw-dropping and bizarre horror designs that captivate the senses.
Brace yourself for shocking visuals and gruesome storytelling that will haunt your thoughts long after each chilling tale unfolds.
15. Big O
In Paradigm City, a mysterious amnesia plague has wiped out humanity’s past, leaving them to rebuild without any knowledge of their history. Roger Smith, the brave negotiator, now commands a powerful Megadeus, a giant robot, to protect the city from resurfacing lost technologies.
With malicious forces seeking to exploit the forgotten memories for power, Roger stands as the last line of defense to safeguard the fragile future of mankind.
NANA, a captivating romance anime by Ai Yazawa and animated by Madhouse, is available on Hulu. It delves into the journeys of two young girls navigating life’s struggles, self-discovery, and the complexities of love.
The art style beautifully weaves between muted and vibrant, complementing the diverse facets of the story. Drawing inspiration from the kawaii aesthetic, NANA captivates with its enchanting visuals and heartfelt narrative.
13. One Piece
One Piece, the phenomenal creation of Eiichiro Oda, stands as a juggernaut series with over a thousand episodes. Renowned as one of the greatest anime of all time, its vibrant and eccentric art style sets it apart from mainstream shows.
Its vivid colors and unique character designs make it a visual delight, streaming on Crunchyroll and Netflix.
12. Cyborg 009
In the futuristic world of Cyborg 009, technology propels humanity forward, but a malevolent terrorist organization aims to profit from chaos and trigger a devastating war between nations. To achieve their sinister goals, they deploy super-powered cyborgs as weapons of mass destruction, spreading panic and conflict.
Created by renowned artist Shotaro Ishinomori, Cyborg 009 masterfully blends classic animation styles like Gigantor and Astro Boy with cutting-edge visuals, featuring a rich tapestry of diverse characters. This highly popular series stands as a testament to Ishinomori’s creativity and enduring legacy in the anime world.
11. Kill La Kill
Kill La Kill, a wild and energetic series, burst onto the scene with its highly charismatic characters and high-octane action. The animation style is a perfect blend of grounded yet flamboyant sequences, captivating viewers with its unique and playful motions.
Created by Trigger animation studio and led by the renowned Hiroyuki Imaishi, known for works like Gurren Lagann and Star Wars Visions, Kill La Kill is available for streaming on Funimation, Crunchyroll, and Hulu with a subscription.
10. Panty And Stocking
Panty and Stocking, a decade-old animated series, wowed audiences with its dynamic and humorous style. Spearheaded by artists from Gurren Lagann, including Hiroyuki Imaishi of Gainax studio, the show blended adult humor and high-speed action.
Inspired by western animation like Drawn Together, it became a massive hit, boasting vibrant colors and eye-catching character designs. You can now watch Panty and Stocking on Crunchyroll.
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9. Mob Psycho
Mob Psycho, a masterpiece by manga artist ONE and animated by Bones, boasts a unique art style that leaves a lasting impact. With radical animation and intense fight scenes, it stands alongside top-tier anime like Demon Slayer and Blood Blockade Battlefront.
Its recent second season on Crunchyroll and the continuation of the story from the original creators ensure its place in anime history.
Katanagatari, a creation of Nisio Isin, follows Yasuri, a young swordsman with a unique exile life. He teams up with Togame, an attractive strategist, to retrieve legendary weapons.
Facing wielders and rivals with the same goal, the action-packed series features a distinct art style with bold colors and extravagant character designs.
7. Gankutsuou: The Count Of Monte Cristo
Gankutsuou is a remarkable series, a unique adaptation of Alexandre Dumas’ famous novel, The Count of Monte Cristo. Produced by Gonzo and skillfully written and directed by Shoichi Kouyama and Mahiro Maeda, the show blends captivating storytelling with stunning visual effects, including innovative 3D rendering.
Originally inspired by Alfred Bester’s The Stars of My Destination, the series took a different path due to litigation issues, but its beauty and popularity remained unrivaled.
6. Devilman: Crybaby
The Devilman franchise, created by Go Nagai in the late 1970s, is renowned for its legacy alongside classics like Mazinger Z and Violence Jack. Devilman: Crybaby.
A successful Netflix original series, helmed by director Masaaki Yuasa (Ping Pong the Animation) and writer Ichirō Ōkouchi (Code Geass), breathed new life into the anime with its intense storytelling and captivating art, reflecting Masaaki’s visionary direction.
xxxHolic, a popular anime from the early 2000s, captivated a devoted cult following with its gothic themes.
Created by the renowned manga group Clamp, known for Tokyo Babylon and X, the series was animated by Production I.G. Its distinct art style, featuring Victorian clothing, somber imagery, and striking facial expressions, left a lasting impact on viewers.
4. Afro Samurai
“Afro Samurai, a creation of Takashi Okazaki and animated by Studio Gonzo, is a visceral and bloody action epic set in a world where the strongest samurai are awarded headbands by number.
Following Afro, the fearsome wielder of the number-one headband, the series gained popularity for its urban cultural themes, exceptional voice casting, intense action, and gripping storyline. With a deep, gritty tone, Afro Samurai immerses viewers in a world of relentless carnage.”
Mononoke boasts a truly unique art style and is written by renowned Japanese writers, including Chiaki Konaka, known for works like Air Gear and Hellsing.
The story follows the enigmatic medicine seller, Kusuriuri, who is, in fact, a hunter of dangerous evil spirits known as “Mononoke.” Set in feudal Japan, Kusuriuri encounters a pregnant woman haunted by these malevolent entities and must swiftly uncover their origins to save her life. With breathtaking colors and exceptional design, Mononoke captivates viewers with its artistic brilliance.
2. Angels Egg
Angels Egg, a mesmerizing animated film, weaves a haunting tale in a desolate post-apocalyptic world. Written by the esteemed Mamoru Oshii, known for Patalabor and Beautiful Dreamer, the movie captivates with its philosophical storytelling.
The enigmatic journey of a young girl and the mysterious egg she carries will leave audiences spellbound, evoking a profound sense of wonder and contemplation. Though facing a challenging release, Angels Egg remains one of Oshii’s finest works, leaving viewers with more questions than answers – a deliberate and thought-provoking artistic choice.
1. The Tale Of Princess Kaguya
Isao Takahata, renowned for his work with Studio Ghibli, beautifully directs “The Tale of Princess Kaguya.” Loosely based on “The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter,” the film follows a girl found by a bamboo cutter, believed to be a heavenly princess.
This emotionally rich masterpiece delves into themes of responsibility, parenthood, and women’s rights within the community, presented in a melancholic and visually stunning oil painting style. Highly acclaimed as one of Takahata’s finest works.