The entire point of anime as an art form is to entertain audiences by telling a story that can only be brought to life through animation. As such, an anime artist’s ambition isn’t just to finish the job at hand, but to do it excellently.
These anime may differ in terms of their legacies (or lack thereof) in pop culture and impacts on the industry, but they all share the ambition to push the medium of anime to new horizons or even change the way it works.
10 Gunsmith Cats’ Animators Went Out Of Their Way To Perfectly Recreate Chicago
Anime set in America aren’t anything new, but Gunsmith Cats took its setting very seriously. Instead of just imagining what the city of Chicago looked like, the animators at OLM, Inc. went to Chicago and scouted locations. In fact, the OVA’s animators captured Chicago so perfectly that it can be used as a time capsule of the city during the early ’90s.
While in America, director Takeshi Mori and his team studied firearms and recorded sounds (notably Rally’s signature 1967 Shelby Cobra GT-500) from their real-world sources. The result was one of the best-sounding anime ever made. Gunsmith Cats may not have the most original story, but it’s still a feat of animation to behold.
9 Cowboy Bebop Guaranteed Cinematic Quality On A Weekly Basis
When Cowboy Bebop first aired, it was advertised as a “new genre unto itself.” Though director Shinichiro Watanabe admitted that this was an exaggeration on his part, his magnum opus proved the hyperbolic boast right. Every episode of Cowboy Bebop was basically a short film, and each episode’s animation exceeded its story’s needs.
Sunrise brought each episode’s specific cinematic influences and goals to life and, to this day, few if any anime can match Cowboy Bebop in terms of artistic ambition and episodic quality. Watanabe boosted his team’s morale by saying that the animewould become a timeless hit, not knowing that his promise would come true decades later.
8th Mobile Suit Gundam: The 08th MS Team Was The Real Robot Anime At Its Most Realistic
To be fair, almost every Mobile Suit Gundam anime made after the original series boasts great animation (especially in scenes featuring the giant robots), but fans consider 08th MS Team as the best. This mostly has to do with the OVA’s grounded and realistic take on a mecha war, but this praise also stems from its ambitious animation and production.
08th MS Team has some of the most detailed and realistic robot animation ever seen in a gundam anime and real robot shows in general. What’s more, Sunrise’s ambition shone the most when they finished it even after the series’ director (Takeyuki Kanda) suddenly died during production. This caused a major delay in releasing new episodes, but the wait was worth it.
7 Attack On Titan Season 1 Put Wit Studio On The Map
Given its massive cultural footprint, it’s hard to remember the time when Attack On Titan what the underdog This was the case in 2013, when the newly founded Wit adapted Hajime Isayama’s manga as its debut. Wit’s stellar fight scenes were like nothing ever seen before, though the trade-off (ie barely animated conversations) was painfully obvious.
Fortunately, Wit Studio’s gamble paid off. Not only did Attack On Titan become a global phenomenon, but it helped Wit make its mark on the anime industry. Wit is currently known for stunning series like Ranking Of Kings other Vivy: Flourite Eye’s Song, and they wouldn’t be where they are right now without the Survey Corps’ saga.
6 One Punch Man Season 1 Was Made On An Average Budget
Part of the reason why One Punch Man’s second season failed as hard as it did was that it couldn’t live up to Madhouse’s legendary animation in Season 1. Given how amazing Saitama’s fights were, knowing that one episode cost $70 to $80,000 may sound reasonable. Believe it or not, this is the kind of budget an average anime would get.
For comparison’s sake, one equally well-animated episode of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure can cost up to $120,000. As it turns out, Madhouse’s staff really wanted to animate Saitama’s heroics, so they took a pay cut to get the job. The animators’ ambition and passion arguably worked too well, since they set impossible standards for JC Staff when they took over.
5 Post timeskip One Piece Outdoes Itself With Each New Episode
Toei Animation has been working on one piece ever since its debut, and it’s safe to say that the studio has come a long way. At first, one piece didn’t stand out from its action-packed peers. As its seasons went by, its animation (especially the fight scenes) improved in ways that no one would’ve thought possible way back in 1999.
Against all odds, Toei surpasses himself every week. This has been going on since the Sabaody Archipelago Arc, but it became more obvious after the time skip. Case in point, every new Wano Country episode is better than the last. one piece is the biggest anime in history, and Toei is determined to give their flagship the best animation up until the end.
4 Ocean Waves Gave Studio Ghibli’s Newcomers Their Chance To Shine
When it comes to Studio Ghibli’s movies, anything that isn’t directed by Hayao Miyazaki tends to get overlooked, regardless of its quality. One unfortunate example of this is the ode to high school nostalgia that is ocean waves, which was notable for being made by Ghibli’s relative newcomers and younger animators instead of the usual veterans.
While the movie lacks Ghibli’s usual bombast and grandiosity, it’s still an admirable effort by industry novices. ocean waves focal romance has its flaws, but it more than makes up for these with gorgeous backdrops and relaxing animation that deserves more credit — especially considering the movie’s tight budget and production woes.
3 The Animerama Trilogy Is A Collection Of Rare Avant-Garde Anime Movies
There are very few anime movies (or movies, in general) like Eichi Yamamoto’s Animerama trilogy, and it’s easy to see why. Not only were these dark and psychedelic erotica stories that were almost impossible to market, but their animation was anything but conventional. At best, the three movies’ visuals can be summarized as “avant-garde.”
The trilogy (which comprises A Thousand and One Nights, Cleopatra, other Belladonna of Sadness) features more expressionist backdrops and panning shots than animated sequences, which can be more of an acquired taste than anything. Even so, the Animerama Movies need to be seen at least once by those who admire and respect the animated art form.
2 Akira Pushed Traditional Animation To The Limit & Beyond
At the time of its making and release, Akira was the most expensive anime movie at the time, and every second of its 124-minute runtime showed where that money went. A lot has been said about Akira’s impressive numerical data such as the sheer number of individual cels and colors it needed, but focusing on these alone detracts from the movie’s artistic merit.
Akira is a jaw-dropping achievement of animation, and this is most evident in how detailed every shot is and how fluid every action moves. Despite this level of expert craftsmanship and the fact that it’s an epic in every sense of the word, Akira actually flopped in Japan, and was only financially redeemed and critically vindicated when it made it to the West.
1 Paprika Was Satoshi Kon’s Final Animated Masterpiece
Satoshi Kon’s passing is one of animation’s greatest losses, and paprika may very well be his magnum opus. Shortly after finishing PerfectBlue in 1997, Kon started working on Paprika, and wouldn’t finish until almost a decade later. Kon hoped to make paprika his ultimate surrealist expression and, needless to say, he did just that.
paprika blurred the line between imagination and reality more than any Kon work did, and this wouldn’t be possible without Madhouse’s breathtakingly detailed and fluid animation. To this day, no anime has come close to achieving even a bit of peppers dreamlike wonder and terror, and it’s safe to say that it’ll stay that way for the foreseeable future.