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Halex

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Animes with Incredible Art

Most of the time I just care about the story and rarely pay attention to the visuals or sound quality, but every once in a while I come across some anime that just may be worth watching because of the incredible art they have! I tried to group them by similar style as much as possible.
1 Gankutsuou: The Count of Monte Cristo

Gankutsuou: The Count of Monte Cristo

Every frame in Gankutsuou feels like it belongs in a museum of art, with a unique style using elaborate textures and a sophisticated color palette.

'The anime's art style blended Western Impressionism and Japanese Ukiyo-e styles. Fashion designer Anna Sui collaborated on costume designs. Original music was co-composed by Jean-Jacques Burnel of British band The Stranglers, who also composed and sang the main themes. The series was praised by Western critics and received multiple international accolades.' -Wikipedia

2 Mushishi

Mushishi

Imagination and dreams become reality and blend together with music and sound effects to create a truly unique style that characterizes this anime & manga. It's a feast to the senses!

3 Mononoke

Mononoke

Somehow similar art to Mushishi, but enough to make it its own style with colors and textures.

4 Ayakashi: Japanese Classic Horror

Ayakashi: Japanese Classic Horror

This contains the first instance of Mononoke, which is pretty good.

5 Spirited Away

Spirited Away

Studio Ghibli always creates amazing art, but I really think they went all out when they created this world!

6 Texhnolyze

Texhnolyze

Grim & Gritty style with an interesting color palette, with use of muted almost washed-out colors with strong dark overtones and perfect music and sound to accompany the style! The story is told visually rather than with dialog most of the time.

And there is much more to be said about this show (spoilers).

Finally, the ending is explained through the final song, perfectly syncing frame by frame with the lyrics (if you can understand the lyrics, that is, lol)

7 Ergo Proxy

Ergo Proxy

Also Grim & Gritty style similar to Texhnolyze

8 Casshern Sins

Casshern Sins

'The art style succeeds in creation of depressive post-apocalyptic world, filled with ruin, hatred and destruction. Most of the time we are able to see simple but excellent sceneries...' -HDeer

'the colour scheme was earthy and dark, the environment was harsh and withered, I really felt the apocalyptic feel they were trying to portray' -Zangetsu92

9 Trava: Fist Planet

Trava: Fist Planet

Crazy art style, characters, and high contrast colors. You could also say that the dialog its an art in itself!

10 Hells Angels

Hells Angels

Crazy style for the animation, full of color, contrast, wild camera angles and good music & sound effects. Gothic style for the characters and the world.

11 Redline

Redline

Another crazy art style with lots of movement that will take hold of your eyes and won't let go until the end!

12 Kill La Kill

Kill La Kill

Crazy over the top style with wild camera angles, colors, and movement.

13 Dead Leaves

Dead Leaves

'This unique style of animation was made up of giant slabs of colors that were all stuck together to make very colorful and unusual characters and scenes. Everything looked *very* 2-dimensional, almost like stained glass in a way. Even though it wasn't my thing, again, I can still admit that it was well done and interesting' -sothis

14 Cat Soup

Cat Soup

'Incredibly unique and disturbing on basically every level. The artwork combines really cute characters (like the pig, and the cats), with flat out gore and twisted scenery, making for an interesting mix in a matter of seconds... the character designs, as mentioned above, are strangely grotesque and also cute at the same time, and the overall look and feel is appealing. Colors used tended to stay dark and moody, with metallic objects and the occasional bright scenery to contrast with the dark mood...' -sothis

15 Memories

Memories

3 stories, each with its own animation style. I'm particularly fond of Episode three 'Cannon Fodder' where character designs & color palette is just superb.

16 Megalo Box

Megalo Box

The animation is of excellent quality, with a style that is reminiscent of the '80s using hard black ink lines but done with current technology. There are a lot of details in every frame, often adorned with ink lines. It is not just visually pleasant but quite impressive as well. I would love to see this style in more shows!

The music plays a big role in this show from beginning to end, helping to establish it's own style & pacing, with the scene transitions & crucial moments perfectly matching the rhythm.

17 Tekkon Kinkreet

Tekkon Kinkreet

Environments are exceptionally detailed and atmospheric and the camera creates a unique flow of movement as it flies through the world following the action.

18 Paprika

Paprika

'Some stories can only be enjoyed through understanding, while others must be enjoyed through experiencingPaprika, for one, firmly falls in the second category. Comprehending Paprika on an intellectual level is comparable to nailing Jell-O to a wall: the harder a person tries, the more hopelessly confused he’ll become.

That is not to say that Paprika’s story is meaningless or brainless. On the contrary, it’s a wickedly funny, incisively intelligent, and thoroughly absorbing work. Paprika’s central focus is the tenuous border between dreams and reality, which is certainly not new in anime (or any other medium, for that matter). However, the sheer brilliance of the film’s execution prevents the show from ever drifting into clichéd territory. There is something exhilarating about the way the film slowly weaves reality and illusion together to eventually form a cohesive, turbulent whole.' -vivafruit

19 Afro Samurai

Afro Samurai

This anime strive hard to create its own style with detail, fast-paced and creative camera angles and movement all mixed together with witty dialog and rap music.

20 Kaiba

Kaiba

Simplistic and minimalistic psychedelic art with some cute characters drawn almost childish to contrast the darkness of their world. It just works very well for the way the story is presented, which by the way is very good!

21 Hakaba Kitarou

Hakaba Kitarou

This is a feast for the eyes with muted colors that create a gloomy creepy atmosphere, way different than the original series or any of its remakes. The music and sound effects are in par with the visuals.

'a gloriously gloomy visual feast waiting for me. The show boasts a muted colour palette full of mid and dark tones that not only reflects the series’ creepy vibe but also mirrors the monotony of everyday life...' -cassiesheepgirl

22 Demon Prince Enma

Demon Prince Enma

Similar to Hakaba Kitaro, the animation creates a dark creepy style different from its original series.

23 Comedy

Comedy

'Vividly composed and superbly animated, the short would be worth watching for the visuals alone. Mostly drenched in soft blacks and whites with a mixture of grey, other colours may rear their head for excellent contrasts - particularly, and most strikingly, red. It's langurously gloomy in a very elegant sort of way.

Sound: The whisper-like voice of the girl narrator is memorable, as is the swordsman's detached tone, the use of classical music is also appropriate. The excellent sense of aesthetics shown in the animation carries over to the audio.' -valondar

24 The House of Small Cubes

The House of Small Cubes

I'll have to say that its an art in itself to be able to tell a compelling story in such a short amount of time! But the visual style of this anime is just superb, using a carefully muted color palette to create a warm, attention-grabbing and unique style pair with beautiful music.

25 Angel's Egg

Angel's Egg

Plotless, confusing and even boring story, but nobody can dispute that this anime is pure visual art! Especially considering the time this was made, the animation and designs are superb and a feast for the eyes and your imagination.

26 The Red Turtle

The Red Turtle

'This is a  fantasy drama film co-written and directed by Dutch animator Michaël Dudok de Wit and produced by Toshio Suzuki from Japan. The film is a co-production between Wild Bunch and Studio Ghibli, and tells the story of a man who becomes shipwrecked on a deserted island and meets a giant red female turtle.' -Wikipedia

The film has no dialogue, but that is not to say it is silent, as there are plenty of sounds from nature, music, and voices without words. This is pure visual storytelling that manages to blur the line between reality & fantasy in the most artistic way. There is a lot of symbolism, you can't be sure if what happens is an illusion or reality, as the events can be interpreted from different points of view, bringing you to different conclusions depending on what you choose to focus. There is no absolute answer. The closest thing I can think of is The Life of Pi, which shares the sea and a shipwreck as their common elements.

Although the story has slow pacing, there is never a dull moment in the film. The silence makes your mind wander in the themes it presents: What do we really need in order to have a happy fulfilled life? The cycle of life, the place of humans in nature, the need for civilization and social interaction, etc.

The art style is completely different from other Ghibli works, it's more realistic in the forms and shapes of the characters & backgrounds, but has kind of a watercolor texture, it feels like you are looking at the story moving in a painting.

This is a film that I would recommend to everyone to give it a try, although it is probably not for kids due to the lack of comedy and I doubt they'll understand the story, but who knows? With no dialog at all, it also breaks apart all language barriers.

27 Children of the Sea

Children of the Sea

This is a surrealist film with incredible graphics and artistry, even the movement of the characters serves to portray that surrealist feeling. It's also a very subjective film and as such, open to different interpretations depending on your point of view and what catches your attention. So if you don't like those types of films then you may be better moving into something more "conventional", although you'll miss some incredible graphics.

The story is both mysterious and philosophical, but the philosophical part is downplayed, at the end, they just lay out the meaning through the dialog, so it's not one of those films that leave you pondering about the meaning of life, it's more of a story that attempts to awe, and lets you contemplate our place in the world as part of a larger system that goes into the universe and conception of life, trying to show you how everything is interconnected. Just as the film states itself, "words cannot capture the full meaning", through art, music, and graphics they try to convey the meaning that words cannot reach.

The sound effects are amazing, they really let you feel like you are in the water while the music sets the atmosphere for the story.

28 The Tale of the Princess Kaguya

The Tale of the Princess Kaguya

This one is definitely not for everyone, it will appeal to those who can appreciate its art, both visually and dramatically, as it's an adaptation of a classic tale from the 10th century 'The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter', also know by the name of the movie.

The story is long, slow and can get boring at times (I had to watch it in two seatings), but as the story progress, you can see it hides several interpretations and themes that seem very advanced for its time; Is it a social critique for how we complicate our lives with useless customs? Can happiness be defined by the social status of our lives? Is this a historic tale of ancient aliens that visited earth several centuries ago? LoL

The level of enjoyment of this movie is certainly attached to what you can get out of it in terms of 'a message' if you enjoy letting your mind wander and get lost in the philosophy of life, then you are in the right track. That is probably why this film has found critical acclaim while performing badly financially, this is not really a film for kids as it requires a more analytical mind to understand the story, in my opinion.

'Ok so this film is art. There are few that I have seen that can truely be called art but the tale of the princess kaguya is one of them. After watching this I thought what the hell was this film about? And thinking about it, I believe that rather then the film just being about life being shit. It was about how expectations of others wiegh on a person over time. How wealth doesn't mean happiness,and that in life well there isn't always a happy ending. And when we expect to much from others well we may indeed lose the ones we love. The movie was somewhat painful to watch but that's life in a nutshell...

That being said I both loved and hated this film. I loved it for it's moments of playful joy and the animation is quite honestly amazing and that doesn't really even do it justice. But I hated it for the pain. It was a painful film for me to watch...' -Toothygrin

The dub is great.

29 The Diary of Tortov Roddle

The Diary of Tortov Roddle

'Truly, Diary of Tortov Roddle is one of the most interesting and beautiful things I've seen, largely in part because of the unique and interesting art style. Imagine Tim Burton, Cat Soup and a dash of color combined and you can probably imagine the art. Characters are spindly, tall or overgrown, with mild expressions. Backgrounds and scenery are beautiful and comprise the majority of the anime' -sothis

30 The Color Eater

The Color Eater

Excellent animation short that goes through a lot of different art styles, accompanied by piano music, and manages to tell a little bit of a story; all within one minute of existence!

31 Iblard Jikan

Iblard Jikan

Another feast for the eyes, is all about the animation, as there is basically no story or plot. It's more like watching a sunset while drinking coffee! It has incredible details and the world is like a dream.

32 Kakurenbo: Hide & Seek

Kakurenbo: Hide & Seek

'The animation for this short movie is quite good, utilizing CGI effects to create a dark and eerie city. Use of darkness and brightness, shadows and light, truly compliment the story and set up an atmosphere of dangerous and scary creepiness. The glowing eyes and somewhat stilted motion of the demons is well done, adding more suspense to the hunt and chase scenes when the demons are stalking their prey.' -Sianeka

33 The Old Crocodile

The Old Crocodile

Minimalistic & simple art with the excellent use of silhouettes and perhaps the storytelling is an art in itself!

34 Cuushe: Airy Me

Cuushe: Airy Me

This is a good music video with soft, mysterious music and animation sketch style with great use of camera movement that keeps changing the perspective over the short story.

35 The Girl From the Other Side: Siuil, a Run OVA

The Girl From the Other Side: Siuil, a Run OVA

This is an excellent short with no dialog and a strikingly expressionist style on its animation that looks closer to sketch art. The animation is very fluid and there is a simple story to tell. The music is a good companion mostly using the piano. There is a lot of mystery conveyed through this world & the character styles.

36 matryoshka: Monotonous Purgatory

matryoshka: Monotonous Purgatory

This is a good music video with intriguing music, sketchy visuals that perfectly match the ambiance and a short story to tell, if ever so ambiguous.

37 Midori-ko

Midori-ko

Similar to Angel's Egg, in the sense that this is a film to watch because of the art, as there is a story, and a message, but the storytelling is not well executed. It also gets pretty weird at times, especially towards the end, with some nasty parts, so it's not for everyone. I definitely enjoyed the beginning more than the end.

'The film was approximately 13 years and 30,000 drawings by Keita Kurosaka in production.' -IMDB

The art is monochromatic in Sephia tone and it's really something to behold, each frame is like an artistic sketch, paired with appropriate sound effects to bring the movement to life.

38 Bakemonogatari

Bakemonogatari

The Monogatari Series truly created its own unique style with visuals, witty dialog, music, smart camera angles, a bright color palette with lots of contrast at times and muted when appropriate for the scenes. Cue cards and quotes from the light novels complement the visual style and pace of the story. And the architectural backgrounds are the unsung hero that frames this world.

39 The Tatami Galaxy

The Tatami Galaxy

Similar to the Monogatari Series, this show has a lot of fast-paced dialogs/monologs and a unique art-style that sets it apart from the rest, by contrasting colored backgrounds against colorless characters and changing styles and color combinations within scenes to match or set the mood. The dialogs create its own rhythm and rhyme setting the pace for each scene and should be considered as part of its art form.  

40 Ping Pong The Animation

Ping Pong The Animation

This one has quite a unique nasty, minimalistic, exaggerated style with bright colors and excellent choice of music and sound effects. It's all about the style to the point that at times it forgets to show the story, yes for this one, the story is here to complement the style and not the other way around. At the very least it does for an experience outside the norm.

The team behind this show is:

41 Land of the Lustrous

Land of the Lustrous

The animation is superb, in this case, the decision to use 3d animation was made partially due to the difficulty in depicting translucent gemstones using hand-drawn animation, but they really took the time to create a unique style of 3d for this show and the crystal theme lends itself to the 3d environment.

'This indeed is an eye-catching anime among the others. Anime fully animated by CG?! Yes. And it does its job well unlike other shitty CG animations. Not only the animation, but the story, characters and the VAs are top notch. This really is a 'gem' ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°) among the ocean of anime...

The story setting itself was intriguing. People made of gems? No humans? and there is a lot more. It was just done brilliantly. Your brain will be constantly on the work decrypting the possible paths the story can go and how interesting it would be if it did. And believe me, the story won't fail to amaze you...' -Justhappydog

42 Onikiri Musume Saisen

Onikiri Musume Saisen

This is a good short with lots of action and an awesome art style & music.

43 Katanagatari

Katanagatari

Also from NisiOisiN, the same author of the Monogatari Series and similar in the sense that has its own unique art style (which is very different from any other series, including Monogatari) and makes use of heavy dialog to tell its story.

44 Mukougaoka Chisato Was Only Gazing

Mukougaoka Chisato Was Only Gazing

This is an excellent music video with instrumental music that perfectly matches the abstract story, the visuals are amazing and entertaining.

45 Da Hu Fa

Da Hu Fa

This is a hidden gem!

I was quite surprised at the quality of the animation, despite using something akin to Flash Animation, the backgrounds are really detailed, the movements fluid and they did a great job of conveying scale by showing the action from afar and then zooming in on the interesting parts. The style is unique & completely different from what we are used to in Anime, but works really well with the mood of the movie and looks very artistic. It's like a simplified watercolor painting with a palette that contrasts the muted colors of the pressed people vs the bright colors of the adventurers.

46 One Piece Movie 6: Baron Omatsuri and the Secret Island

One Piece Movie 6: Baron Omatsuri and the Secret Island

This One Piece Movie has its own unique style that really grabs your eyes and makes it extremely interesting to watch + it's a great story, especially if you like One Piece.

47 Penguindrum

Penguindrum

What's great about this series is the symbolism, which complements the story in a meaningful way. It mixes several styles from cute to over the top crazy. Answers to the plot are given through the symbols going through the background, sometimes even at the same time the characters ask questions through the dialog.

48 The Garden of Words

The Garden of Words

So this one deserves being in this list for the animation quality alone! From the drops of water, the movement of the air making the plants dance, the colorful tiles that make even the floor look interesting as a piece of art, the incredible detail architecture, this movie is a feast to the eyes that paints the moments of silence and transitions with awe. This work is in effect, better than real-life!

Ah, there is a story somewhere with a romance between the two main characters with a great age difference and the character's traits are used to demonstrate how awkwardly and disjointedly people mature in their lives.

'By now, the name Makoto Shinkai is synonymous with production values that are absolutely through the roof. I think we may have reached a point where the aesthetic quality of his work is no longer even rivaled by Studio Ghibli. But I was still completely blown away by what I saw. I was convinced that what I was looking at was a trailer for one of the most beautiful animations I had ever seen. I knew instantly that Garden of Words was a film that I had to get my hands on...

I applaud Garden for having the prudence to tell its story in a timely manner. And yet, part of me can't help but feel that it was all over too soon. I really can't remember the last time I was so thoroughly engrossed by a movie. It's not uncommon to get lost in a good film-- but that's not what happened to me while watching this one. I consciously absorbed every frame of this production, listening to the rainfall, paying attention to the way lighting is casted on the people and objects, appreciating the line art, and listening to the intonation of the characters' voices. I was enthralled from the very beginning, and became more so as the film progressed. And while I won't divulge how the film ends, it is not one that ever runs out of gas. It picks up steam the entire way, and ends strongly, which definitely counts for a lot.

I feel as though my praise for this film could not be made any clearer. I consider this to be a modern classic, and to be Makoto Shinkai's masterpiece. To grant context to my opinion: I view this as being on near-equal footing with films such as Princess Mononoke, and Ghost in the Shell.' -GermanDragon

The dub is awesome! And in this case, I'll recommend it so you can focus on the visuals instead of subtitles.

49 Someday's Dreamers II Sora

Someday's Dreamers II Sora

The blend of animation with 'real life', where do they begin and where do they end?

'The animation style is a strange mix of fantastic hand painted backgrounds, actual photos (which the series does not feel one bit ashamed of showing you half the background IS a photo); to nearly simplistic, child like renderings of the main characters.' -OnLittleFeet

50 Kung Fu Bunny

Kung Fu Bunny

This is a Tom & Jerry type of show but with only the characters and some objects being animated over the "real world". The quality of the animation is not what you usually expect from these short comedy sketches, but the quality is impeccable, they really blend the characters as if they belong in the "real world".

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chisayuki Jun 12, 2018

Nice list :) Just started watching Mononoke and the art is incredible..I can't describe in words how much I loved it from the start, Mushishi is amazing as well.