We're all familiar with the "anime" look, but not every production in Japan adheres to that style. Last time, I talked about how anime has gone from hand-painted cels to digital inking and CGI and included a few titles that pushed the medium to its artistic limits. This time, I've selected 20 titles that colored "outside the lines" to create remarkable visual effects and storytelling.
Afro Samurai – The animation practically swaggers in this East-West fusion with a muted color palette that's nearly monochromatic until something explodes bright yellow or blood flows crimson red.
Bakemonogatari – While the characters have standard designs, the Monogatari series revels in CGI as another visual effect to convey other-worldliness.
Dead Leaves – I can only describe Dead Leaves as an acid trip to the moon brought to life.
Flip Flappers – The basic designs of the girls contrast with and highlight the colorful, imaginative visuals of the world of "Pure Illusion."
Flowers of Evil – Rotoscoped animation, flat coloring, and detailed backgrounds all aid in not only bringing Flowers of Evil's disturbing vibe to the small screen but intensifying it.
Gankutsuou – Gankutsuou eschews "normal" coloring in favor of moving patterns and textures that make stills look like carefully crafted collages.
Kaiba – Criminally overlooked, Kaiba harkens back to the character designs of the '70s with visuals that look like a shifting dreamscape.
Katanagatari – Simplified character designs remind the viewer of Japanese storytelling before the West invaded and combine with lush backgrounds to create a fairy-tale effect.
Mind Game – Mind Game resembles a big-budget student film with all the experimentation and mixing of styles that implies.
Mononoke – An ukiyo-e print come to life, Mononoke dives into the world of Japanese monsters and spirits with vibrant patterns and designs that evoke a mythical era.
Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt – Anime meets Cartoon Network's Adult Swim in the bold, crude stylings of Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt.
Ping Pong – Ping Pong gets about as far away from "anime face" as it's possible to get and feels all the more authentic for it.
Redline – It took seven years and the combined efforts of Madhouse and Gainax to bring the spectacle of Redline to life, and every bit of that effort shows in the fluid animation and lovingly detailed vehicles.
Revolutionary Girl Utena – Utena distills "anime style" into its most perfect, concentrated form and in the process creates a unique style layered with meaning.
Space Dandy – Multiple directors under the guidance of Watanabe Shinichiro showcase their idea of a colorful, '50s inspired future in Space Dandy.
Spirited Away – The spirit world and its inhabitants are Studio Ghibli at the top of their game.
Tatami Galaxy – Tatami Galaxy's animation is fluid, surreal, and vibrant and paired with character designs you won't soon forget.
Tekkon Kinkreet – Studio 4°C worked with American director Michael Arias and his signature cel-shading CGI to bring Treasure Town to glorious life.
Tweeny Witches – If you ever wondered what an anime by Henry Selick and Tim Burton would look like, here's your chance to find out.
xxxHOLiC: A Midsummer Night's Dream – The lanky figures of the TV series become even more elongated and Gumby-like for the movie as Clamp's signature style is brought to life as creepily as possible.