Anime is well known for its striking art and varying styles, but these select anime have some of the more unique art styles out there.
- Anime series like Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure and Beastars stand out with their unique and unconventional art styles, featuring bright colors and distinct character designs.
- Ping-Pong The Animation successfully brings the pages of its manga source material to life through its art and direction, creating a visually engaging and dynamic series.
- The Big O combines classic animation with noir themes, offering a visually appealing art style to fans of the genre.
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Anime is one of the most successful forms of visual entertainment globally. Fans flock to series with beautiful animations and uniquely designed characters every season upon new releases. There are many genres of anime for fans to browse, from romance to horror and Moe to Shonen, but anime does not always adhere to the recognizable art styles that fans have come to expect.
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While, for a time, there were many styles that were used to make up anime, there has been a certain level of quality that all shows now maintain. However, there are still some anime that go the extra mile and do something risky, using an unconventional art style to make the series stand out and possibly add depth. Here are some anime with the most unique art styles.
Updated on February 12, 2024, by C.M Edwards: Anime is one of the most unique art forms that allows bringing incredible stories from incredible artists to life in a special way that almost makes them feel real. There are dozens of talented animation studios that put their all into making great and impactful series, and some of them bring fascinating styles to the table when charged with adapting a manga or light novel. A unique art style can make or break a series, but it can always succeed in making a show stand out and step away from the sea of series that populate the anime world. Some series defy anatomy and create characters that are more cartoonish, while others dare to bring hyper detail to the table.
19 Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure
Bright And Flashy Clashing Colors And Designs
JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure
Creator Hirohiko Araki Release Date October 6, 2012 Number of Episodes 190 Streaming Service(s) Crunchyroll , Hulu , Netflix , Tubi , Amazon Prime Video
Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure is a cult classic in the anime community and is a wild and chaotic series that has a dedicated following around the world. Packed full of no-stop gags and an over-the-top plot, Jojo’s Bizzare Adventure also has a distinct visual style that not many other series come close to.
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On the surface, the early seasons of Jojo’s are very late 90s in style, but it has always had a flamboyant theme with bright colors and over-the-top character designs that fit the show perfectly.
Unique Combination Of Different Artistic Avenues
Creator Paru Itagaki Release Date October 10, 2019
Beastars is a very unique anime set in a world where animals such as wolves, dogs, and rabbits are the dominant race, and it follows a sort of slice-of-life theme focusing on a number of characters. Within the anthro-society, there are high tensions between species; Legoshi, a wolf student, comes under fire when he begins to befriend others outside his species.
The art style of Beastars is very different from most anime and seems to have a computer-generated 3D art style mixed with traditional 2D.
17 Ping-Pong The Animation
Strong Resemblance To Source Material
Ping Pong The Animation
Creator Taiyō Matsumoto Release Date April 11, 2014 Number of Episodes 11 Streaming Service(s) Crunchyroll
Ping-Pong the Animation is a unique anime by itself without considering its art style, as it focuses on a very niche sport but does not fail to make it interesting. Ping-Pong the Animation is a widely celebrated animated series that pulls a deep story to the surface from beneath manga-esque dynamic scenes between players engaged in intense competition.
The art and direction of Ping Pong the Animation seem to bring the pages from the story itself to life by taking panels directly from the manga and repurposing them.
16 The Big O
Classic Animation Mixed With Noir Themes
The Big O
Creator Hitoshi Ariga Release Date October 13, 1999 Number of Episodes 26
Roger Smith is the negotiator of Paradigm City. In a world that has been afflicted with a mass wave of amnesia about the past, humanity now tries to move forward while not knowing what caused the event.
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Unfortunately, ghosts of the past return in the form of lost technology that seeks to throw humanity back into chaos, as those with ill intent seek to take advantage and grasp power. Roger Smith stands to prevent the lost memories from being found and used as a Megadeus who pilots a giant robot to save the day. Those who enjoy the noir genre are sure to like the art style and themes on offer in The Big O.
15 Japanese Tales Of The Macabre
Bizarre And Horrifically Detailed Nightmares Come To Life
Junji Ito Collection
Creator Junji Ito Release Date January 5, 2018 Number of Episodes 12 Streaming Service(s) Crunchyroll , Funimation
Japanese Tales of the Macabre is an anthology anime series by the famed horror author Junji Ito. The series is a collection of some of the most gruesome and horrifying tales that Ito has created over his long career. Each episode of the series tells a bizarre and twisted story sure to unsettle the strongest of stomachs.
The shocking visuals of the series come from Ito’s mind itself, and he is known for some of the most strange and jaw-dropping horror designs in the manga community.
14 Cyborg 009
Classic Artistry With Exaggerated Anatomy
- Creator: Shotaro Ishinomori
- Release Year: 2001
- Number Of Episodes: 51
Cyborg 009 is a classic anime that takes place in a future timeline where technology has spearheaded humanity forward. A terrorist organization seeks to profit off of chaos and spark the next great war between nations by using super-powered cyborgs as weapons of mass destruction to sew panic and conflict.
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Cyborg 009 has been a highly popular series and comes from the acclaimed creator Shotaro Ishinomoro, known for works such as Super Sentai and Kamen Rider. The art style of Cyborg 009 highly resembles the classic animation styles of shows like Gigantor and Astro Boy but mixes the technological advances of today to create stunning imagery along with a vast cast of diverse characters.
Relaxed Dedication To Anatomy With Diverse Character Designs
Creator Ai Yazawa Release Date April 5, 2006 Number of Episodes 47 Streaming Service(s) HIDIVE , Hulu
NANA is a romance anime created by Ai Yazawa, animated by Madhouse, and is available to watch on Hulu. The story follows two young girls on their journey to discover themselves, figure out life’s struggles, and deal with the trials and tribulations of finding love. The story is beautifully told in a very loosely detailed art style with vibrant colors and masking for incredible-looking textures.
Depending on the characters present, NANA can look very muted and flat or incredibly vibrant to complement the two sides of the story. The anime mimics the manga appropriately as the original art for the characters had a very kawaii-influenced style.
12 One Piece
Striking Character Art With Polarizing Levels Of Detail
Creator Eiichiro Oda Release Date October 20, 1999 Number of Episodes 1082+ Streaming Service(s) Crunchyroll , Netflix , Hulu
One Piece is a juggernaut series that has spanned over one thousand episodes since its initial release. The series was created by Eiichiro Oda and has been honored as one of the greatest anime series of all time. Aside from its spectacular characters and action, One Piece shines because of its art style, which is vastly different from most mainstream anime.
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Many modern series portray very grounded visuals based on reality. However, One Piece is a vibrant and eccentric show with unique designs of characters and vivid colors that explode off the screen.
11 Mob Psycho
An Extravaganza Of Animatic Sequences
Mob Psycho 100
Creator One Release Date July 12, 2016 Number of Episodes 37 Streaming Service(s) Netflix , Hulu , Crunchyroll
As a series with a unique art style, Mob Psychoneeds no introduction. The radical animation scenes that have come from this series will go down as some of the best to be created. Mob Psycho was created by the manga artist ONE and was animated by the Bones animation studio. The series received its third season in 2022.
Mob Psycho has a very rugged and over-exaggerated art style that adds impact to its characters and sequences. The fight scenes alone are comparable to other anime such as Demon Slayer and Blood Blockade Battlefront.
10 Kill La Kill
Raunchy And Iconic Character Designs And Poses
Kill la Kill
Studio Trigger Release Date October 4, 2013 Number of Episodes 24 Streaming Service(s) Crunchyroll , Hulu
Kill La Kill was a wild series that burst on the scene with highly energetic characters and high-octane action. Paired with this was an incredibly unique animation style that fit the series perfectly. The art style of Kill La Kill is a mix of grounded yet flamboyant and playful sequences that catch viewers’ eyes with spectacular and sometimes wacky motions.
Kill La Kill was created by Trigger animation studio and headed by Hiroyuki Imaishi, known for his distinctive style and notable work for Gurren Lagann and the highly acclaimed Star Wars Visions.
9 Panty & Stocking With Garterbelt
A Magical Ride Of Color, Shapes, And Dynamic Scenes
- Creator: Hiroyuki Imaishi
- Release Year: 2010
- Number Of Episodes: 13
Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt debuted over a decade ago with a flashy and comical animation style. The series was spearheaded by many artists who worked on Gurren Lagan, including Hiroyuki Imaishi as a part of the Gainax animation studio. The series was a mix of adult innuendos and high-speed action. The creation of the show was thought up after an evening of heavy drinking after a celebration of the studio’s success.
Many members of the visual team cite the Western animation, Drawn Together, as inspiration. Panty and Stocking garnered a lot of popularity because of its flashy character designs and the vibrant colors that filled every scene.
8 Devilman: Crybaby
Drastically Exaggerated Chaos And Colors
Creator Go Nagai Release Date January 5, 2018 Number of Episodes 10 Streaming Service(s) Netflix
The Devilman franchise has a long legacy, having been created in the late 1970s by Go Nagai, best known for the mecha classic Mazinger Z and Violence Jack. Devilman: Crybaby is an original series directed by Masaaki Yuasa (Ping Pong the Animation) and written by Ichiro Okouchi (Code Geass).
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Devilman: Crybaby was essentially a reboot of the original anime that debuted on Netflix and met wide success for its intense story and dazzling art. Masaaki is known and celebrated for his directorial vision as well as his extravagant art style. This is blatantly present throughout the Devilman: Crybaby series and fits like a glove around the new direction the anime goes.
Simplistic Yet Striking Colors And Designs
- Creator: Nisio Isin
- Release Year: 2010
- Number Of Episodes: 12
Katanagatari is a creation of Nisio Isin, also the creator of Monogatari. The series follows the young swordsman Yasuri, who practices a unique style of swordsmanship while living in exile. He is contracted by the strategist, Togame, who wishes to retrieve a set of legendary weapons with his help.
To do so, Yasuri must face the wielders of these weapons and take on others after the same goal. Katanagatari is an action-packed series that also wields a unique art style with opposing colors and extravagant character designs.
6 Gankutsuou: The Count Of Monte Cristo
A Mix Of 2D Animation And Water Color Paintings
- Creators: Alexandre Dumas and Mahiro Maeda
- Release Year: 2004
- Number Of Episodes: 24
Not many series go to such lengths to make something as unique as Gankotsuou, an adaptation of the famous novel by Alexandre Dumas, The Count of Monte Cristo. The series was produced by Gonzo and written and directed by Shoichi Kouyama and Mahiro Maeda.
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While initially based on the story The Stars of My Destination by Alfred Bester, because of litigation problems, the series was instead taken in another direction. The series itself was produced beautifully, having a mix of several visual effects, including 3D rendering, before it became so popular.
5 Afro Samurai
Grunge-Themed Anime With Layers Of Personality
Creator Takashi Okazaki Release Date May 3, 2007 Number of Episodes 5 Streaming Service(s) Crunchyroll , Hulu , Tubi
Afro Samurai is a series created by Takashi Okazaki and animated by Studio Gonzo. The series itself was a visceral and bloody action epic that took place in a world ruled by combat where the strongest were awarded headbands by number.
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The story followed Afro, the toughest samurai who dawned the number-one headband. Afro Samurai gained a fair amount of popularity for its urban cultural themes and talented creation in both voice casting, action, and story. Afro Samurai is filled with a deep, flat tone that amplifies the grit and carnage of the series’ action.
A Dark And Muted Style That Matches The Tone Perfectly
Creator Clamp Release Date April 7, 2006 Number of Episodes 37 Streaming Service(s) Crunchyroll , Funimation
xxxHolic was a very popular anime upon its release in the early 2000s. The series adopted a very apparent gothic theme that echoed throughout the anime in droves, which attracted a cult following. xxxHolic was created by the manga author and illustrator group Clamp, well known for their series Tokyo Babylon and X.
The series was animated by the studio Production I.G. and was instantly recognized for its unique art and themes. xxxHolic took viewers by storm with Victorian-style clothing, dark and dismal images, and defined facial expressions.
3 Angel’s Egg
Rough And Tragic Visuals That Elevate The Heartache Of The Story
- Release Year: 1985
- Director: Mamoru Oshii
Angel’s Egg is not only a uniquely animated film but a fascinating story sure to wow viewers. Angel’s Egg was written by Mamoru Oshii, known for his work with Patalabor and Beautiful Dreamer and respected for his philosophical way of storytelling. Angel’s Egg is highly praised as one of the writer’s best, even though the film’s release was less than ideal.
Angel’s Egg takes place in a dismal post-apocalyptic world where a young girl tries to survive in an abandoned city. With her, she carries an egg of mysterious origin. The journey this young girl embarks on after encountering a strange young boy will blow fans away, leaving them with more questions than answers, which is seemingly the point of the film. The movie features a distinctive art style and great attention to detail.
Extravagant And Loud With Vibrant Backgrounds
- Creator: Kenji Nakamura
- Release Year: 2007
- Number Of Episodes: 12
Mononoke probably has one of the most unique art styles out there, written by several prolific Japanese writers, including Chiaki Konaka, known for the Air Gear and the Hellsing anime. Mononoke follows a character known as the medicine seller, Kusuriuri. However, this title is misleading as he is actually a hunter of dangerous evil spirits called “Mononoke.”
While wandering in the time of feudal Japan, Kusuriuri happens upon a pregnant woman haunted by a band of evil spirits. Kusuriuri must investigate the source of the spirits and do so quickly in order to save the woman’s life. Visually, Mononoke is a masterpiece of color and design that will leave viewers in awe of its quality.
1 The Tale Of Princess Kaguya
Traditional Animation At It’s Finest With Simplistic Style
- Release Year: 2013
- Director: Isao Takahata
Created and Directed by the great Isao Takahata, formerly of Studio Ghibli and writer for Grave of the Fireflies and Kiki’s Delivery Service. The Tale of Princess Kaguya is loosely based on the novel The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter, with the story following a young girl who is found by a local bamboo cutter thought to be a princess sent down from heaven.
Highly acclaimed as one of Takahata’s best works, the story shines as an in-depth story about responsibility, parenthood, and, most notably, the rights of women within the community. The tale of Princess Kaguya is a masterfully told story with strong visuals in a melancholy, almost oil painting style of delivery.
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