Recently, I’ve started to go back and watch some older anime serials that I passed up on years ago either due to the hype surrounding them, or merely from not being in the mood for that specific type of show. I still had an interest in checking them out eventually, so they ended up on my never-ending watchlist. A couple of the older anime I’ve turned to within the past week are also re-watches for me, the urge to revisit them based purely on nostalgia. Of these older stack of series—and the highlight of most of today’s posting it seems—was Rideback, which came out approximately ten years ago.
For being a decade old, it still has some of the very best visuals in animation that I’ve ever experienced, especially where scenery is concerned. Because I’ve been positively fanhumaning about the aesthetics, I thought it would be neat to share with you some of the anime I have seen throughout my otaku years that still have some of the loveliest scenic animation. If you’re like me and enjoy sweeping details or unique artistic elements to the background of whatever the hell is taking place, then you may want to add a couple of these titles to your watchlist, if you haven’t already seen them!
Flying Witch (2016)
Flying Witch is a slice-of-life contemporary fantasy anime that is so beautifully breath-taking with its scenery and character designs. It uses a combination of sketch and watercolour aesthetics for the background visuals, particularly the ones that involve great distances, and it doesn’t shy away from splashes of vibrant, vivid colours that are a lovely reminder of spring and summer seasons.
After the Rain (2018)
After the Rain is a contemporary romance title and had to be on this list for me because I am a pluviophile and this anime has beautiful rain visuals. Since I’m sticking with scenery specific focuses that’s what I’ve shown, but the rain element can be seen throughout the anime from beginning to end. It’s in the special effects that surround our characters as they dance around romance; it’s reflected so masterfully in the main character’s big, bright purple eyes as allegory for certain aspects, and much more. It was exceptionally pleasant to see rain being used so uniquely as the narrative’s driving force and that really complements the more feminine and dainty animation style rather perfectly.
Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress (2016)
Kabaneri is a steampunk dark fantasy show that is also a fierce feat of violent badassry. Wit Studios really worked hard to show crisp and sharp visuals with this series whether the characters are fighting hordes of monsters with exquisitely sharp swords or deafeningly powerful guns, or whether they are meticulously portraying the sweeping scenery, most of which has an air of grittiness to it given the dark and fucked-up ambiance of the story’s atmosphere. The detail-work in this series is phenomenal and something I like to re-watch every now and again to retain my appreciation for how much the industry has evolved over the decades. I only wish the story was as fleshed out as the looks.
A Lull in the Sea (2013)
A Lull in the Sea was a romance drama anime that resonated with my Polynesian soul. It is set in a small coastal town that has an entire city beneath the ocean. As such the visuals involving the sea, that underwater town, and the different seasons between the two of them is stunning. The palettes consist of cooler colours that complement the coastal aspects of the environments, as well as the fine lines of the character design and foundation artistry. When put together, it creates something that is unbelievably satisfying to the eye. Because of its craftsmanship and the unique story premise, it has easily become one of my favourite shows in the medium.
Rideback, if it hasn’t become obvious after today, is one of my favourite anime, so much so that it’s a top ten pick for me. Recently while re-watching it, I came to appreciate the visual cinematography on a whole new level. Madhouse is known for being the quintessential studio of the medium and this series truly cements the reasons behind that reputation. Look at the scenery in the screengrabs down below. They are so gorgeous. If I didn’t know anything about this series and if you told me it was a Shinkai work or Hosoda creation, I would believe you without a moment’s hesitation. It was one of the first shows I watched the implemented 3D graphics into its creation so fluidly. There are some instances where the computer-supported aspects were a bit awkward, yet for the vast majority of the anime, it’s practically flawless. That integration when combined with the lush scenery and the lovely Japanese aesthetics of cherry blossoms and tropical rain is utterly marvellous.
I purposely avoided anything from the more popular creators, such as Makoto Shinkai for example, because I wanted to bring some attention and love to serials that some folks may not have heard of (granted the titles on this list are somewhat popular ones). I also made a point to stick to serials because films tend to have larger budgets and more flexibility with what they can create and the limits they can push visually.
What are some anime series that you love and appreciate the visuals for? Please drop them in the comments! I’d love to check out more beautifully rendered titles from the medium!
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