10 Signals Anime That Were Ahead Of Their Time


Anime is a fairly new medium that is always innovating. Within every period and decade, there are a few works that will challenge the limitations of the medium and the audience. As anime’s viewership began to age, more and more of the innovative works belonged to the seinen demographic. Daring works were being made for younger male audiences.



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The market started opening up to visionary ideas that were more complex, experimental, and challenging than their predecessors. Many of these seinen works affect the medium to this day. Their impact is immeasurable, and a few have influenced film and Western media.

10 The Story Of Kuuchuu Buranko Is A Psychedelic Maze

Kuuchuu Buranko is a fun ride through madness and vibrant colors. It is an episodic story that refuses to play to conventions. Irabu is an enigmatic psychiatrist who constantly changes forms and meddles in his patients’ affairs. He prefers to deal with their mental illnesses by addressing them on a personal and social level, but his nurse Mayumi injects some vitamins as an added measure.

The individual stories meanders. It takes detours before reaching its resolution. This narrative approach matches the tone and art. It’s all very eccentric. No other show has been able to incorporate rotoscoping as intensely and as stylistically as Kuuchuu Buranko. Its daring visual design and storytelling spell great things for anime’s potential.

9 Berserk (1997) Set The Stage For Fantastic Arc Adaptations

As far as adaptations of manga arcs are concerned, Berserk‘s original adaptation stands as the gold standard. While the art is subpar, even for its time, the adaptation understands the drama and soul of the Golden Age arc. Guts’ rise in the anime is compelling and complicated.

His strength is his greatest asset, but it is also a factor that destroys the Band of the Hawk. The anime captures the tragedy of the arc. Fans can see the signs of the group’s collapse and understand the impact of their demise. The last few episodes are soul-crushing and painful to watch.

8 Hyouge Mono Challenges Fidelity In Historical Anime

Hyouge Mono is not afraid to be big and difficult to consume. It is a show with limited marketability, but it makes up for it with its story. It retains a degree of historical authenticity, choosing to set itself in a real historical period with legendary names like Oda Nobunaga and Akechi Mitsuhide, but it shifts the focus away to characters who act in the background.

It is an amazing way to play around with historical settings involving a ridiculous amount of adults. Instead of having them be part of the central drama, the show focuses on fringe politics that still impact the characters. This gives future seinen anime the blueprint on how fidelity and creative liberty can interact.

7 Land Of The Lustrous Does Not Cut Corners With Its Aesthetics

Computer animation has a negative reputation within the anime community. Often, fans think of CGI animation as clunky and stiff models that feel out of place. Land of the Lustrous is one of the rare occasions when viewers were forced to accept the potential of 3D-animation.

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It is fluid, dynamic, and enhances the viewer’s experience. Every Gem has a unique color and texture to them. Their hair is vibrant and flows effortlessly, and it has some of the best run sequences in modern anime. The show challenges the current modes of animation within the medium, proving that it can work.

6 Ping Pong The Animation Communicates Sports Drama Through Animation

Every work by director Masaaki Yuasa can be seen as cutting edge. His style forgoes anatomical rigidity for expressiveness. Every part of the character and the scene are flexible to convey emotion. This is the strongest in Ping Pong the Animation. Emotions and competition in sports anime are heightened and intense.

Everyone has their own drives and motivations when competing. Each server or return has a different feel to it. The fluid and flexible animation gives the exchanges more impact and motion. Characters’ descriptions are allowed to contort or deform depending on what their emotions require. While the anime may not be the most popular sports show, its approach might push the genre forward.

5 Mononoke Relies On Its Bizarre Storytelling To Convey Horror

A lot of horror anime rely on tension, shock, and bleak pallets. This can make the genre predictable, dull, and trite. However, mononoke commits none of those clich├ęs. Even 15 years since its premier, it still stands as one of the most exciting and terrifying horror anime in the medium. It creates a framework for its horror vignettes.

The medicine seller must figure out the monster’s Form, Truth, and Reason to be able to exorcize it. This gives the mystery and terror of the arcs build in. Its vibrant pallet is used to highlight the grotesque imagery and to alienate the viewers. Its strangeness is isolating and menacing.

4 Mushishi Has No Equals When It Comes To Episodic Depth

Mushishi is an intimate and personal show full of situations that ask the viewers to reflect on their lives and views. It makes no grandiose declarations, nor does it force its audience to think a certain way. It just uses its supernatural setting to create situations that are difficult on a human level.

While mushi are extraordinary beings, the drama of the show is anchored on human experience. No other episodic anime has its finger on the pulse of human drama like Mushishi does. It is mature without being pretentious, and quiet without being boring. In its own soft-spoken away, it sets the bar for writing within anime.

3 Monster’s Scope Makes It Untouchable As A Thriller Anime

Sample is blessed with an incredible adaptation. A faithful and lengthy anime that has enough room to explore the complex mysteries and twists of the manga. It proves that with enough runtime, a thriller anime can have a truly expansive cast of well-defined characters. It has the ability to write 4-5 episode long arcs that do not involve the main characters, just because it will enhance the overall tone and richness of the show.

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Its central antagonist Johan Liebert also accelerates character writing for villains in seinen. He is rarely present, but his presence is felt by the audience at all times. His perfection and attractiveness adds to his menace rather than disarms it. Sample pushes the boundaries of suspense and has yet to be eclipsed.

2 The Intelligence Of Ghost In The Shell Revolutionized Sci-Fi Filmmaking

Ghost in the Shell could be seen as the most important movie from anime. Its usage of chanting in its soundtrack is inspired, its detailed backdrops and settings give life to the world of the film, and its discussion on the self in the midst of artificial intelligence will only become more relevant in time.

Its influence is strong enough to have inspired the 1999 masterpiece The Matrix. The philosophical questions that the Puppet Master and Motoko Kusanagi pose are compelling and thought-provoking. Director Mamoru Oshii’s directions are legendary. Any anime film with ambition still tries to outdo the gorgeous montage of sci-fi Hong Kong.

1 Akira Is Still A Timeless Classic With Immense Importance

Akira‘s vision was insane for an anime from the ’80s. It turned a medium perfectly suited for morning television, and shot it into the main stage. It was a rebellious anthem that managed to sidestep any of the overly zealous nationalism of its peers.

Its style and attention to detail kick-started a whole generation of passionate animators, and its dystopian setting is still a gold standard within anime. without Akira, anime’s trajectory would have changed dramatically. It’s still ahead of the curve. Very few sci-fi anime come close to Akira‘s greatness. It is still as cool, angsty, and apocalyptic as ever.

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