Boundaries continue to get pushed in unbelievable ways within the ever-evolving anime industry. The story an anime tells and the characters that drive it forward are crucial ingredients, but audiences have become increasingly savvy about animation and a series' unique visual language.
There's now just as much excitement surrounding which animation studios are involved with certain adaptations as there is with the series itself. It's exhilarating when an anime and animation studio turns into the perfect team, but there are also plenty of cases where poor visuals become a series' greatest claim to fame.
10 Yamishibai: Japanese Ghost Stories Erases Any Fear Through Its Lo-Fi Presentation Style
Anthology storytelling is able to thrive in anime and Yamishibai: Japanese Ghost Stories has become a tradition of the past decade with ten seasons under its belt. All the horror stories that Yami Shibai presents are inspired by Japanese urban legends and folklore and are all contained to only a few minutes in length.
Yamishibai is clearly going for a minimalist aesthetic, but the animation can be so limited that it removes any chance of genuine fear. The stories are so generic and predictable that a lackluster animation style turns Yamishibai into an even more pedestrian product, yet one that's found a dedicated audience.
9 His & Her Circumstances Neglects Its Visuals In Favor Of Stronger Themes
Hideaki Anno's unconventional storytelling approaches led to some fascinating visual experiments towards the end of Neon Genesis Evangelion. These artistic impulses are even more apparent in His and Her Circumstances. The humble romantic comedy turns into a surreal examination of human relationships where Anno prioritizes dialogue over visuals.
There are frequent occasions where storyboards, static shots, or even popsicle stick renditions of the characters are used in lieu of fluid animation. It's a jarring style that represents Anno's unique qualities, and it helps turn this series into a more memorable experiment, even if it's one that strays from its source material and isn't for everyone.
8 2016's Berserk Disgraces Kentaro Miura's Artwork With A Glossy CG Veneer
Kentaro Miura's Berserk manga is a dark fantasy masterpiece that's struggled to transition over to anime because it's difficult for fluid animation to replicate Miura's meticulous artwork. The 1990s Berserk anime, as well as the film trilogy that follows it, do a decent job with the source material.
However, the two-season 2016 series that follows Guts' years as the Black Swordsman and his growing conflict with God Hand and Griffith is a visual disappointment. The sterile and over-produced CG aesthetic that 2016's Berserk turns to feels so antithetical to Miura's manga, and it doesn't do the series justice.
7 Inferno Cop's Motion Comic Aesthetic Extinguishes The Series' Flame
Inferno Cop is pure excess and the absurdist revenge story centers around the titular hot-headed officer of the law who's basically a combination of Ghost Rider and the Punisher. Inferno Cop's vengeful adventures are confined to three-minute bursts, but there's still an infectious energy to this chaotic ONA series that's a unique burst of passion.
Inferno Cop comes from Studio TRIGGER, who are typically animation savants. Inferno Cop intentionally opts for a motion comic aesthetic, which many criticized over TRIGGER's standard style — despite how it fits with the project's tone.
6 2001's Fruits Basket Verges On Parody With Its Clumsy Character Designs
Fruits Basket is a revered shojo series that mixes awkward romance dynamics with a supernatural take on the animals of the Chinese Zodiac. 2001's Fruits Basket comes from Studio Deen, and it unsuccessfully attempts to cram the whole series into 26 episodes, which are additionally held back by a sterile art design.
2019's reboot of Fruits Basket is superior in every regard, especially since the manga's full story gets adapted across a significantly longer stretch of episodes. TMS Entertainment also excels with production and makes sure that Tohru's love story is as beautiful as it deserves to be.
5 One-Punch Man's Second Season Struggles To Establish A Visual Identity For Itself
One of the reasons that the shonen and superhero satire One-Punch Man resonated so much in its first season is because of the ambitious, experimental animated spectacles that Madhouse brought to life. It's never easy when an anime needs to switch studios, but the drop in quality experienced when J.C. Staff takes over for season two is drastic.
One-Punch Man's second season doesn't look bad, but it's still such a generic step down after season one's heights. A third season of One-Punch Man is on the way in 2022 and the anime's look will likely play a major factor in its reception among fans.
4 Junji Ito Collection Turns Into Generic Horror Stories Instead Of A Legendary Adaptation
Junji Ito is unquestionably one of the most prolific names in the horror genre and his terrifying drawings are responsible for hundreds of dark stories. Studio Deen's Junji Ito Collection adapts 25 of Ito's classics across 13 episodes, including fan favorites like "Greased," "Marionette Mansion," and "Smashed."
Tragically, Studio Deen can't quite rise to the occasion and their visuals fail to properly accentuate Ito's twisted brand of terror. Another attempt at a Junji Ito anime anthology is on the way and the quality of its animation will play a crucial factor in its success since the new series is set to adapt several of the same stories.
3 Season Three Of The Seven Deadly Sins Loses Its Luster
The Seven Deadly Sins tells a powerful shonen adventure across 100 episodes, and it's become one of A-1 Pictures' crowning achievements as an animation studio. There are five seasons of The Seven Deadly Sins, and it's not until the third year — specifically the debut of Escanor — that the visuals' quality takes a noticeable nosedive.
The production drain becomes apparent, and it hinders what's supposed to be a climactic clash between Meliodas and Escanor. The subsequent seasons work out their issues, but season three is still marred by these jarring concessions.
2 XxxHolic Struggles To Carry Over CLAMP's Wide-Eyed Aesthetic
xxxHolic is a dark fantasy with just over 40 episodes that's more about riding the wave of atmospheric energy than a complicated story-driven narrative. xxxHolic draws its inspiration from various Japanese folklore, but the animation studio, CLAMP, feel slightly out of their element with this series.
CLAMP is a studio that's known for a very specific cute art style that isn't for everyone, but at least feels fitting for slice-of-life drama or romantic comedies. In the case of xxxHolic, obtuse character models who frequently look awkward in motion stifle the anime's message.
1 Dragon Ball Super's Opening Arc Sets A Sloppy Precedent For The Sequel Series
A demanding production schedule and constant deadlines cause plenty of concessions in the anime industry. It's a lot harder to keep an ongoing anime production on schedule as opposed to a one-off series of 13 episodes. Toei's Dragon Ball Super delivers 131 episodes, but there are serious signs of struggle during the anime's first batch of installments.
The series' introductory arcs adapt the anime's Battle of Gods and Resurrection 'F' feature films, albeit with significantly shoddier animation. Goku's fight against Beerus is especially regrettable and the sporadic dips in quality ruin what should be a thrilling showdown.
NEXT: 10 Visually Stunning Anime Movies With Amazing Animation