8 Anime With Visuals Way Ahead Of Their Time
1. Kobutori (1929)
Directed by Yasuji Murata, this pre-war 1929 short cartoon is one of the earliest anime films in existence. When compared to American animated films from the same period (compare to Bosko, Mickey Mouse and Felix the Cat for reference) the detail is absolutely incredible.
2. Macross: Do You Remember Love? (1984)
If it comes down to a function of animation quality versus time period, I don't think anything can beat Do You Remember Love. For a mid-1980s movie, the art is gorgeous, and Mikimoto Haruhiko's designs are far truer and more lush in this movie than the TV series, which is saying quite a bit. To this day, some anime fans still have movie posters for this, especially with Lynn Minmay.
3. Memories (1995)
Produced by Katsuhiro Otomo, and based on some of his short manga stories, Memories is an anthology of three films. Despite the diverging themes and differing visual styles of the three chapters, there is an undeniably high standard of production throughout. The visuals are still distinctly 90's, much like the first Ghost in the Shell movie which also came out in 1995. Similarly, there's also a level of CGI present in Memories that blends really well with the hand-drawn cell animation.
4. Ghost In The Shell (1995)
One of the most influential anime films of all time, Mamoru Oshii‘s Ghost in the Shell changed not only the look and feel of animated sci-fi but also had an impact on Hollywood; most notably in the distinct visual style of the Matrix franchise.
5. Royal Space Force: The Wings Of Honneamise (1987)
The feature film debut of legendary studio Gainax, Royal Space Force: The Wings of Honneamise is compelling and skillfully crafted. Not only is the film beautifully animated with some fantastically detailed background art, it is also has substantial depth in terms of it’s philosophical themes and characterization. As such it’s not one for the whole family, but remains an enthralling watch for anyone with an interest in what animation can truly achieve.
6. Akira (1988)
For many of us in the west, this is the one that started it all. Up until we first saw Katsuhiro Otomo‘s Akira, our only exposure to Japanese animation had been kiddies’ Saturday morning shows like Speed Racer and Battle of the Planets. Incredible animation (characters are walking and changing poses while talking, could you believe it?), and the anime still looks just great nearly 30 years later.
7. My Neighbor Totoro (1988)
There’s so many reasons as to why Hayao Miyazaki‘s masterpiece is such an enduring and perfect film. The way Miyazaki captures the energy and personalities of it’s two child protagonists, his never ending attention to detail, the beautifully simple score, and Kazuo Oga‘s immaculate and breath-taking background paintings make it a joy to watch over and over again.
8. Perfect Blue (1997)
The directorial debut of anime auteur Satoshi Kon, Perfect Blue‘s story about a J-Pop idol turned actress being stalked by a obsessive fan was originally meant to be a live action drama, only scrapped due to the 1995 Kobe earthquake. At first it’s contemporary setting and often mundane situations are certainly reminiscent of a well-shot J-Horror movie, but in Kon’s skilled hands the script slowly changes into something that could only be depicted by animation. As a starting point for his re-occurring themes of disconnected realities and psychological fantasy it is subtler than his later works such as Paranoia Agent and Paprika, and as a result somehow creepier.
Have I missed a visual masterpiece? Hit up the comments below with your thoughts!