This post is part of The 30 Day Anime Challenge Series alongside the Cosmic Anvil Kickstarter campaign. Click here to read the introduction, and click here to check out and support the campaign to help us fund the printing and distribution of our first collected volume of our manga-inspired comic series, Age of Revolution.
For me this has to be something from the collection of Studio Ghibli films I’ve seen: Kiki’s Delivery Service, Spirited Away, My Neighbour Toroto and Princess Mononoke. I think that renowned director Hayao Miyazaki‘s animated films have some of the best animation in the industry, and I also think the fact that the animation is largely hand-drawn makes me appreciate the art and skill that goes into the creation of his works. I admire that his films’ stories are beautiful and symbolic.
I think out of all the Ghibli films though, I’m going to pick Spirited Away as the best in terms of animation, just for the attention to detail that was given, how colourful it is, and how diverse the characters designs are.
Like Jess, and probably every other anime fan in the world, I am a huge admirer of Hayao Miyazaki’s signature style of animation, and the fact that Studio Ghibli is known as the ‘Disney of the East’ tells you just how well-respected they are in the industry. In fact, you can see Disney/Pixar’s John Lasseter pay homage to Miyazaki by including a Totoro plushie in Toy Story 3:
However, I’m actually going to give my favourite animation pick on this occasion to a completely different anime – Soul Eater. It’s not because I think that the quality of the animation itself is superior, but because Soul Eater was one of the first anime series’ I watched that had such a dramatically different visual style to most others. The opening title sequence remains one of the best I’ve ever seen:
Quite often, when a manga gets adapted from page to screen, it loses the artists’ distinctive style in favour of something more mainstream and easier to animate – i.e. Death Note, Tokyo Goul, Gangsta, etc. – but Studio Bones (one of the best animation studios in my opinion) who picked up Soul Eater, thankfully decided to try and replicate Atsushi Okubo’s fantastic Tim Burton-esque style:
As the world of Soul Eater is so nutty and surreal, the style of the art really does marry itself completely into the feel of the story and the character of that world. It serves as far more than just an aesthetic flair – it’s a vital tool in Okubo’s storytelling technique and one of the reasons why Soul Eater has remained so popular after the anime series ended all too quickly.
Honourable mentions: Any Studio Ghibli film, Neon Genesis Evangelion (reboot films), End of Evangelion, Sword Art Online, Attack on Titan, Ghost in the Shell (film), One Piece, Final Fantasy XII, Metropolis (anime adaptation), Summer Wars, 5 Centimetres Per Second.
You know what’s the hardest thing to animate? WATER!
Ponyo has a load of water, and it looks freaking beautiful:
I’ve never seen the Ocean like this.
Damn straight! The water in Ponyo crashes, splashes, flows, swells, sprinkles, spreads, bulges, and foams. And the water in Ponyo has different textures as well, as well as just looking wet as you’d expect, it also looks weirdly gelatinous, hard, heavy, light, sharp… It’s crazy.
Not only is it beautiful, but this film was hard graft: The whole thing – like most Studio Ghibli films – was HAND-DRAWN.
In a canon of filmmaking that has made Miyazaki’s name synonomous with great anime in the same way that the Beatles’ name is synonomous with great music, Ponyo is probably the most impressive example of his immense talents.
Hayao Miyazaki stories are told with the precision of a master filmmaker. As a director, his visual vocabulary and specialized storytelling are like fellow stylistic auteurs Stanley Kubrick, Tim Burton or Quentin Tarantino — directors whose aesthetic sense is so strong and storytelling so unique that every film they make, even the small ones, are worth exploring.
Written by The Cosmic Anvil Team.
Check out our own Welsh-manga (or ‘Wanga’) series, AGE OF REVOLUTION on our official site and Comixology! And if you want to join the fight to get the AGE OF REVOLUTION Volume printed check out our Kickstarter page!