I promised myself I would take some time to admire anime on technical merits and then promptly forgot all about it. It’s not that I don’t want to. I just started watching these really fun and endearing shows (Gurren Lagann and Cells at Work), that slowly develop characters by giving them benevolent but challenging foils and… Sorry , I did it again…
For my first celebration of production values in animes, I’ve decided to talk about 5 shows that have gorgeous movements. I’ve omitted movies because reasons. These are all series that had me gawking at the marvel of animation while detailed characters flew around the screen. Of course the list is subjective and limited to my personal experience. So please let me know your picks. Especially if it’s shows you didn’t necessarily like but still admired on a technical level. I did like all of mine….a lot…..
5 The Saga of Tanya the Evil
I was a bit hard on Tanya when I first watched/reviewed her. She was one of the first shows I sat through after ending my very long anime hiatus and starting this blog. At the time I longed for a little extra polish on the animation. To be honest, I’m not even sure what I wanted. It’s not as if there was a dramatic loss of detailing or the action looked sluggish. I think I just wanted to be a *serious critic*. Don’t worry, I got over it.
Since then, I’ve come to realize that for a random single cour anime, Tanya looked fantastic and moved like a dancer. To this day I can picture those high speed aerial battles with wild explosions blooming across the screen. The action was rapid and responsive. What more can you ask for. In a show that needed the the tension of combat to come across yet remain light and entertaining, the fighting animation was key. And it was great.
4 Rurouni Kenshin
Kenshin is over 20 years old now… And let me tell you boys and girls, it holds up! I am biased. I do know about the author’s personal issues and I am also very conflicted. That’s a different post.
I’ve rewatched Kenshin more recently for various reasons and I caught myself just staring slack jawed at the sword play on display. Forget good for the time. Kenshin would have no problem competing with a brand new anime when it comes to choreography. Now that’s really impressive for a senior citizen.
3. World Conquest Plot Zvezda
Why do I pick shows with such long titles? Ok they don’t really compare to light novel titles but still… I’m typing this on a phone… Anywhose, I’ve been annoying you all with my newly discovered love of Zvezda for a minute now. Seems I use any possible excuse I can find to sneak in a reference to this show. However, it really has earned its spot on this list. I mean as much as anything can earn it’s spot on these arbitrary and subjective top lists…
Wait no, ignore nitpicky Irina. She’s probably drunk anyway. Zvezda has earned a spot because some of those fights were pure visual delight. The more cartoonish design of the characters might have helped in keeping them so beautifully consistent throughout high speed confrontations and impressive super powers. Mind you this is exactly the type of aesthetic I particularly like.
Haikyuu was always a very well made show but season 2 featured an impressive animation boost. And boy was that a good thing. Watching those boys scramble around the volleyball court was like ballet. Just breathtaking. The animation would also speed up or slow down to convey emotion and keep you vested in the match.
I’ve watched other volleyball anime since, heck, I’ve even watched actual volleyball. Neither quite lives up to the enjoyment of taking in a Haikyuu match. It was just such a pleasure to see all the separate moving pieces unfold on the screen and reminded me of the simple joy of animation. The are a few beautiful looking sports anime out there, but as far as animation goes, I’ve yet to see Haikyuu’s match.
1. Kill la Kill
I feel like this is self-explanatory. Nevertheless, I’m going to explain it. Kill la Kill is stylish AF. You’re not cool enough to hang out with Kill la Kill, that’s how stylish it is. And that stone cold flair extends to actual movement in the series.
Everything is exaggerated. Breasts don’t bounce, they bound. A simple flick of one’s hair is a veritable performance. This sheer mastery of hyperbolic animation kept me riveted to the screen… as if there wasn’t enough to hold my interest already.
Kill la Kill is far from photorealistic in either art or animation but that’s part of what I like so much about it. Despite obvious budget constraints, it decided to parray loss of detailing by doubling down on rag doll metrics. This show really makes the most of not being limited by physics. When you compare it to the admittedly beautiful Your Name that had more than one scene where characters would have torn ligaments if they actually moved that way, I found this over the top approach way more satisfying.
There you have it. There are definitely many more shows out there with absolutely stunning animation. And as usual, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Do you have a favourite?