Best anime with unique art styles
Animated is one of the most successful forms of visual entertainment in the world. Fans flock to series with beautiful animations and uniquely designed characters every season during new releases. There are many anime genres for fans to peruse, from romance to horror and from Moe to Shonen, but anime doesn’t always adhere to the recognizable art styles that fans have come to expect.
Although for a time many styles were used to create anime, there is a certain level of quality that all shows now maintain. However, there are still some anime that go the extra mile and do something risky, using an unconventional art style to make the series stand out and possibly add depth. Here is some anime with the most unique art styles.
Updated September 8, 2022 by CM Edwards: Art is a tool that makes anime stand out among a sea of creations. Every anime brings something unique to the table, whether it’s character elements or a unique perspective, but a unique art style engages fans on an unparalleled level. Although a very unique art style is rare among the releases of each anime season, sometimes hidden gems appear and are highly appreciated by fans around the world. Additionally, some series received more content in the form of a second season. Revitalizing a fan-favorite series can extend the legacy of shows that decided to try something different and create something truly special.
girl is a romance anime created by Ai Yazawa and animated by Madhouse, and available to watch on Hulu. The story follows two young girls on their journey to discover themselves, understand life’s difficulties, and face the trials and tribulations of finding love. The story is beautifully told in a very loosely detailed art style with vibrant colors and masking for incredible textures.
According to the characters present, girl can look very understated and flat or incredibly dynamic to complement both sides of the story. The anime mimics the manga appropriately as the original character art had a very kawaii-influenced style.
12 A play
A play is a juggernaut series that has spanned over a thousand episodes since its initial release. The series was created by Eiichiro Oda and was honored as one of the greatest anime series of all time. Besides its spectacular characters and action, A play shines because of its art style, which is very different from most mainstream anime.
Many modern series depict very grounded reality-based visuals. However, A play is a vibrant and eccentric spectacle with unique character designs and bright colors that explode off the screen. A play can be viewed on Crunchyroll and Netflix.
11 Crowd Psycho
As a series with a unique art style, Crowd Psycho needs no introduction. The radical animation scenes from this series will be some of the best to be created. Crowd Psycho was created by manga artist ONE and was animated by animation studio Bones. The series recently received a second season which premiered on Crunchyroll.
Crowd Psycho has a very robust and over-the-top art style that adds impact to its characters and sequences. The fight scenes alone are comparable to other anime such as demon slayer and Blood Blockade Battlefront. Recently, Crowd Psycho received a sequel to its story from the original creators.
ten kill her kill her
kill her kill her was a wild series that burst onto the scene with high-energy characters and high-octane action. Coupled with that was an incredibly unique animation style that fit the show perfectly. The artistic style of kill her kill her is a mix of grounded yet flamboyant and playful sequences that grab viewers’ attention with dramatic and sometimes goofy moves.
kill her kill her was created by animation studio Trigger and directed by Hiroyuki Imaishi, known for his distinctive style and notable works for Gurren Lagann and the highly acclaimed Star Wars visions. Funimation, Crunchyroll, and Hulu all have kill her kill her available to stream with a subscription.
9 panties and stockings
Panties and Stockings debuted a decade ago with a flashy, comedic style of animation. The series was directed by many artists who worked on Gurren Lagan, including Hiroyuki Imaishi as part of the animation studio Gainax. The series was a mix of adult innuendo and high-speed action. The creation of the show was dreamed up after an evening of heavy drinking following a celebration of the studio’s success.
Many members of the visual team see western animation, closeras a source of inspiration. Panties and Stockings garnered a lot of popularity due to its flashy character designs and vibrant colors that filled every scene. Panties and Stockings is available to watch on Crunchyroll.
8 Devilman: Crybaby
The evil man the franchise has a long heritage, having been created in the late 1970s by Go Nagai, best known for classic mecha Mazinger-Z and Abuse. Devilman: Crybaby is an original series directed by Masaaki Yuasa (Ping Pong Animation) and written by Ichirō Ōkouchi (Code Geass).
Devilman: Crybaby was essentially a reboot of the original anime that debuted on Netflix and found wide acclaim for its intense story and dazzling art. Masaaki is known and celebrated for his directorial vision as well as his extravagant artistic vision. This is evidently present throughout the Devilman: Crybaby series and fits like a glove around the new direction the anime is taking.
Katanagatari is a creation of Nisio Isin, also creator of Monogatari. The series follows young swordsman Yasuri, who practices a unique style of swordsmanship while living in exile. He is hired by the handsome strategist, Togame, who wishes to recover a set of legendary weapons with his help. To do this, Yasuri must confront the wielders of these weapons and confront others for the same purpose. Katanagatari is an action-packed series that also uses a unique art style with contrasting colors and outlandish character designs.
6 Gankutsuou: The Count Of Monte Cristo
Few series go as far to create something as unique as Gankotsuouan adaptation of the famous novel by Alexandre Dumas, the count of Monte Cristo. The series was produced by Gonzo and written and directed by Shoichi Kouyama and Mahiro Maeda.
Although initially based on the story The stars of my destination, by Alfred Bester, due to litigation issues, the series was instead taken in a different direction. The series itself was beautifully produced, with a mix of several visual effects including 3D rendering, before it became so popular.
5 Afro samurai
Afro samurai is a series created by Tokashi Okazaki and animated by Studio Gonzo. The series itself was a visceral, gory action epic set in a world ruled by combat where the strongest were given headbands by number.
The story followed Afro, the toughest samurai who spawned the number one headband. Afro samurai gained a healthy dose of popularity for its urban cultural themes and creative talent in both voice casting, action and story. Afro samurai is filled with a deep, flat tone that amplifies the grit and carnage of the series’ action.
xxxHolic was a very popular anime when it was released in the early 2000s. The series adopted a very apparent gothic theme that echoed throughout the series in droves, which garnered a cult following. xxxHolic was created by the group of manga authors and illustrators Clamp, well known for their Tokyo Babylon and X series.
The series was animated by studio Production IG and was immediately recognized for its unique art and themes. XxxHolic stormed viewers with Victorian-style clothing, dark and gloomy imagery, and defined facial expressions.
3 angel egg
angel egg is not only a unique animated film, but a fascinating story that is sure to impress viewers. angel egg was written by Mamoru Oshii, known for his work with Patalabor and beautiful dreamerand respected for his philosophical way of telling stories. angel egg is highly regarded as one of the writer’s finest, though the film’s release was less than ideal.
angel egg takes place in a dismal post-apocalyptic world where a young girl tries to survive in an abandoned town. With her, she carries an egg of mysterious origin. The journey this young girl takes after meeting a strange young boy will blow fans away, leaving them with more questions than answers, which is apparently what the film is all about.
Mononoke has probably one of the most unique art styles on this list, written by several prolific Japanese writers, including Chiaki Konaka, known for the Air Gear and the Hellsing lively. Mononoke follows a character known as the drug salesman, Kusuriuri. However, this title is misleading because it is actually about a hunter of dangerous evil spirits called “Mononoke”.
While wandering in feudal Japan, Kusuriuri comes across a pregnant woman haunted by a band of evil spirits. Kusuriuri must investigate the source of the spirits and do it quickly in order to save the woman’s life. Visually, Mononoke is a masterpiece of color and design that will leave viewers in awe of its quality.
1 The Story of Princess Kaguya
Created and directed by the great Isao Takahata, former Studio Ghibli and writer for the Grave of the Fireflies and Kiki’s Delivery Service. The Story of Princess Kaguya is loosely based on the novel The story of the bamboo cutterwith the story following a young girl who is found by a local bamboo cutter believed to be a princess sent to heaven.
Recognized as one of Takahata’s finest works, the story shines as an in-depth story about responsibility, parenthood and, specifically, women’s rights within the community. The story of Princess Kaguya is a masterfully told story with strong visuals in a melancholy, almost oil-paint delivery style.
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