10 Visually Stunning Anime Movies With Amazing Animation – CBR – Comic Book Resources

There are some absolutely revelatory cinematic anime experiences that feature astounding animation that must be seen to be believed.
Audiences continue to return to anime because it’s a medium where anything seems possible. Every year there are hundreds of new anime series that hit television, which can be a daunting experience to keep up with and figure out what’s worth the investment of time. Alternatively, anime feature films can deliver more standalone stories in a fraction of the time and often with a larger budget to bring their worlds to life.
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The anime movies that connect with audiences are usually some of the biggest triumphs of the medium. That being said, there are plenty of different factors that lead to an anime movie’s success, such as a compelling story and characters, or visuals that blow minds. There are some absolutely revelatory cinematic anime experiences that feature astounding animation that must be seen to be believed.
Studio TRIGGER has built a prolific reputation within the anime industry and audiences equate the animation studio with stunning visual spectacles. TRIGGER has established a strong roster of anime series, but Promare marks their feature film debut and it does not disappoint. The kinetic action movie turns firefighter-like individuals into superheroes as a deadly race of combustible renegades threaten society. Promare’s characters occasionally get lost in stereotypes, but the animation never slacks. A unique color palette, creative uses of fire effects, and endless action sequences that never slow down fill every frame. Promare’s ambitious animation is almost exhausting due to how hard it works.
Mamoru Hosoda is one of the biggest names in anime feature films. Hosoda’s works, while diverse, tackle comparable themes and he’s a storyteller who loves to use digital worlds and artifice to deconstruct identity. The majority of Hosoda’s works that visit fantastical worlds, such as Summer Wars and The Boy and the Beast, would be appropriate inclusions here. However, Hosoda’s most recent film, Belle, might be his greatest visual achievement. Belle is a clever subversion of the Beauty and the Beast narrative, except in the digital age of avatars. Belle’s first voyage to its virtual world, U, is staggering in its meticulous attention to detail.
Satoshi Kon is a true anime auteur and all of his films — Perfect Blue, Millennium Actress, Tokyo Godfathers — are revered as classics. Paprika is sadly Kon’s fourth and final film, but it also acts as a superlative culmination of the many themes that occupy his stories.
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Paprika is like an anime Inception, but before Inception, as it explores a futuristic world where temperamental technology that allows individuals to view and enter others’ dreams gets in the wrong hands. Paprika is rich with enlightening conversations and a prescient message, but its depiction of its various dream worlds are truly sights to behold. It’s Inception, but with an even Lynchier vibe.
Water can be one of the most difficult elements to animate, but when it’s done properly it’s unlike anything else. Studio 4°C creates a bewildering piece of art in Children of the Sea, a moody tone poem on grief and the pursuit of freedom. Children of the Sea often looks like an impressionist painting and there’s so much work that’s on display that it requires several viewings to properly appreciate it all. There are plenty of anime that are cases of style over substance and while Children of the Sea’s visuals are certainly its most impressive element, the story that it tells still connects and feels important.
Masaaki Yuasa is someone who always thinks outside of the box and every single one of his anime series and movies are true spectacles where it feels like a sin to blink and miss a single frame. Lu Over the Wall is the perfect mix of innocence, fantasy, and music as a boy befriends an odd mermaid who loves to sing. Lu Over the Wall also bears a lot in common with Yuasa’s follow-up film, Ride Your Wave, but the heightened nature of Lu and the constant awe that she experiences as she views the world makes Lu the most artistically impressive movie.
Hayao Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli have achieved a legendary status in the anime industry and it’s almost as if Ghibli has become its own genre and mark of high quality. Accordingly, all of Miyazaki’s films are narratively and visually complex and mandatory viewing.
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Spirited Awayhas progressively grown into Miyazaki’s most popular picture and it’s certainly the busiest in a visual sense. Spirited Away bombards the audience with diverse demons and spirits, which makes it feel like the standard Ghibli experience, but turned up to the extreme.
Katsuhiro Otomo’s Akira is a totemic piece of animation that’s still considered by many to be one of the greatest anime movies of all time. Akira presents a timely dystopian story where corruption and body horror reign supreme. Akira is from the ‘80s, but there’s such precise effort put into the movie’s hand-drawn animation that’s just impossible in the industry today. Akira remains such a triumph of animation that there are still hidden details and extra nuances that are just being discovered by fans now — more than three decades after its release.
Fast-paced races are naturally packed with thrilling visuals, but animated races have an even greater level of control and the opportunity to escalate the stakes. Redline focuses on a dangerous intergalactic race that contains a tempting prize and deadly competitors. Redline showcases a wide range of racers and vehicles that are evocative of the best moments from The Phantom Race’s podracing, but even more ridiculous. Redline’s plot and art deliver a non-stop adrenaline boost that’s gorgeous right up to the moment that the finish line is crossed.
There are some excellent anime anthology movies, many of which combine the efforts of diverse visionary storytellers to create thematic masterpieces. Memories, Robot Carnival, and The Animatrix are all excellent anime anthologies, but there’s such unpredictable and playful mayhem that comes out of Mind Game. The experimental anthology exercise tells one continuous story that visits increasingly unbelievable places, but its visual style continually morphs as different storytellers take over. Masaaki Yuasa masterminds the ambitious project and the energy that it taps into is in a league of its own. Experimental projects like this are necessary for the medium to continue to evolve.
Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba is one of the most popular shonen anime series of the decade, but its first feature film foray broke box office records in Japan and catapulted the franchise to unprecedented success. Ufotable is responsible for the gorgeous, stylized aesthetic that accompanies Demon Slayer’s intense sword fights. Mugen Train presents a condensed story that largely revolves around an exaggerated showdown with a dream-invading demon. Mugen Train’s visuals are pure art and it’s a movie that deserves all of the praise that it’s received.
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Daniel Kurland is a freelance writer, comedian, and critic, who lives in the cultural mosaic that is Brooklyn, New York. Daniel’s work can be read on ScreenRant, Splitsider, Bloody Disgusting, Den of Geek, and across the Internet. Daniel recently completed work on a noir anthology graphic novel titled, “Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Noir: A Rag of Bizarre Noir and Hard Boiled Tales” and he’s currently toiling away on his first novel. Daniel’s extra musings can be found @DanielKurlansky on Twitter.
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