Which anime has the most unique art style?
In my opinion, Mononoke and Mind Game have the most unique art style in anime.
If you’d like to see more, I have made a list of 19 anime that have the most interesting and unique art style. Every single anime on this list are creative in their own way and showcases the diversity of the types of art style in anime. This list is going to be continually updated as I discover more and more anime in the future. I should note that every anime on this list are not only visually beautiful, but also great in many other aspects such as storytelling.
1. One Piece
One Piece is on this list due to countless number of unique characters and their designs. The anime takes inspiration from multiple different art styles, more recently of the traditional Japanese styles such as woodblock prints to tell the tail of Wano, a land secluded from the world.
There are rich number of characters in the series with features that vastly differentiate from one another. You have people with four elbows, a person with legs twice the size of of their body, giants, dwarves, skeletons, objects with souls, dinosaurs, talking animals that can transform into beasts, etc. One Piece is a living, breathing world therefore the author can incorporate many different inspirations in each island the crew goes to visit.
2. Mind game
Anyone should be able to tell with a single glance that Mind Game has a very distinct and unique artstyle. This is specifically due to artists incorporating actual human faces into the animation. The entire movie is a surreal experience that presents philosophical themes such as the chaos and randomness of the universe and the purpose of life.
There are a lot of metaphors incorporated into this film and so the anime makes for a great re-watch.
Fooly Cooly is a short OVA series with artstyle that feels very unique and retro. Characters are easily distinguishable and identifiable with exaggerated expressions and features. The anime subtly distinguishes between adults and children by giving mature characters prominent lips. There is just a certain style to the animation that gives it a cool factor.
4. JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure
A no bullshit, stylish action packed adventure is what Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure offers to its many loyal fanbase. The pure hearted Jonathan Joestar must face against the cunning two-faced Dio who wants nothing more than to inherit the Joestar family name and heirloom. You won’t find room to catch a breath in this intense and exciting adventure anime filled with crazy over the top fight scenes.
Many agree that Jojo contains some of the most unique and intriguing character designs out of any other series. The author attempts to describe a character’s personality by solely looking at what they’re wearing.
Bakemonogatari doesn’t only tell a great story, it’s also an oral masterpiece. Visuals are simply there to enhance the dialogue in the story and it does a damn good job of it. Subtle, but essential changes are made to characters such as hairstyles, glasses and outfits which make them distinctive and unique.
6. Ping Pong the animation
Ping Pong the Animation is about two highly skilled ping pong students, Peco and Smile. One is outgoing and the other is quiet and timid respectively. However, there is a hidden potential in Smile that many strong players notice, that Smile’s conservative attitude is making him hold back against the opponents he faces. Understanding this, his coach seeks to train Smile out of this mentality and win the inter-high table tennis competition.
While at a first glance, this anime may seem like you average sports anime, it in fact succeeds in becoming something more than that. Characters are fleshed out as their motivations or lack thereof align with their origin which are displayed meticulously through backstories. The visual aims and succeeds to creating perfect metaphors for the characters range of emotions during heat of battle. Even very minor, one-time characters are given precise development to make the world feel alive.
7. Perfect Blue
Anything by Satoshi Kon is a visual masterpiece and Perfect Blue is a perfect example of this. The story follows an idol transitioning into mature roles such as acting. However, as she further progresses into her new position, she is unable to distinguish between her true personality and her public persona. The visuals are presented in such a precise way to make the viewer feel paranoia as the character descends further and further into madness.
The unique direction and art style is the prominent feature of this anime series. This is as unique as one can get with anime. I would bet with utmost certainty that you won’t find another anime with this type of art style.
Character design, more specifically the protagonist of the series, Kusuriuri is very interesting and has many distinguishable features. The story-telling is also very unique and well done. The anime is only 12 episodes long so I would heavily urge you to check this out if you have not already.
Mononoke tells the story of a medicine seller who travels in search of spirit beings known as Mononoke to destroy. In order to defeat the spirits, he must discover their origins and motivations.
9. Cowboy Bebop
Cowboy Bebop tells a Sci-Fi story of a pair of experienced Cowboys (Bounty Hunters) Spike and Jet as they hunt for criminals and bring them alive for rewards. The series is very episodic with interesting overarching storyline that is continually being developed in each episode. It is also a timeless staple classic in the anime medium.
Cowboy bebop is very distinguishable from a lot of anime series as it has a very western feel to it. Similar to FLCL, it has a certain cool factor to it. Characters are very stylish with pointy features such as Spike’s jagged hairstyle and Jet’s prominent sharp facial hair. They are also designed to look more realistic with real human proportions. The anime also interestingly uses Bruce Lee as reference for many of Spike’s action sequences.
10. No Game No Life
No game no life has very colourful and vibrant colours. Character look very cute and bubbly but you can also find bountiful supply of fanservice (which is always appreciated).
The story is about two genius siblings who get transported into a game world when asked by an anonymous figure about how they feel about real world and they answer that there is no place for them there. What I like most about this anime is that the main characters are very quick witted and intelligent. They can deduce and process their current situation extremely quickly making them seem more like the villains some of the time.
11. Kotonoha no Niwa
Fluid water droplets, reflections of rainwater, sounds of thunderstorm and heavy rain, the music and atmosphere, ambient background noises. The anime knows how to set the mood. You will truly find yourself immersed in its beauty whether want to or not. The background scenery are drawn so beautifully and precisely along and the colours that are vibrant and dynamic.
Watching this anime on a rainy day really transcends the experience.
12. Yojouhan Shinwa Taikei
Yojouhan Shinwa Taikei follows the life of a man at the end of his college days living with regret for what could have been. Unable to confess to his crush and having wasted his college days with his only supposed “friend” Ozu – a man set on making people’s lives as miserable as possible, he reflects on his past mistakes. When he is thrown into a river, he somehow warps through space and time back into his early college years where he can possibly do things differently.
The art style is very unique and unforgettable. Since much of the artwork uses lighter shades when vibrant colours are used, the contrast becomes very distinct and beautiful. Besides the noteworthy artstyle, the story-telling and dialogue is also nothing short of brilliant. The many internal dialogue by the protagonist fire like bullets, keeping the viewer engaged while the visuals masterfully supports them.
Mushi are neither plants nor animals. Much isn’t known about these entities, from their existence to physical appearance. Ginko is a Mushishi that travels the world looking for occurance of these Mushi in order to investigate them.
The story is episodic and feels very poetic and elegant. It tells some very heart-wrenching and emotional stories about the characters Ginko goes to visit.
The most prominent unique feature about this anime are the characters’ eyes. They are very non-anime like. Character designs and their wavy hairstyle look like calligraphy, elegant and simple. Uniforms are also very unique to each character and colour is used to distinctly separate one from the other.
If you enjoyed Bakemonogatari, you will be happy to know that the series is not only action packed but also dialogue heavy.
15. Tekkon Kinkreet
The story takes place in the slums of Takaramachi as two oprhan boys, Black and White attempt to salvage and save their town. The weird and unique character designs are done purposefully since the animation is outstanding and fluid.
Seriously, some of the scenery in this movie will blow you away. It is extremely detailed, convincing, and contrasts beautifully with the cartoony character designs.
Watching this is like experiencing an acid trip. Designs of the characters costumes look like cosmos and extremely trippy as their outfits flow along with the background rather than with the characters.
The story follows the the Count of Monte Cristo, a man seeking vengeance for those that wronged him in the past while those that encounter him are simply caught in the crossfire of his schemes.
17. The Tale of the Princess Kaguya
The Tale of the Princess Kaguya beings with a bamboo cutter discovering a little girl inside of a bamboo. Believing her to be divine, he takes her to his home as he decide to raise the baby along with his wife.
An interesting fact about this film is that dispite the simplistic art style, it is one of the most expensive japanese movie made to this date.
18. The Eccentric Family
There are three types of residents in Tokyo, the humans, the tengu, and the racoon dogs, two of whom are oblivious to humans. Shimogamo Yasaburou is of the racoon dog whose father was eaten by humans of a group called the Friday Fellows.
The story follows the Shimogamo brothers as they slowly uncover the truth of their father’s demise which keeping themselves from suffering a similar fate.
Redline a Sci-Fi anime about a universal racing event called Redline where racers from all around the galaxies come to race and claim the number one spot. Unfortunately this time, it’s held in a dangerous planet where the inhabitants seek to use this opportunity to its full advantage for their personal gain.
Artistic style is one that is very similar to western comic books, using thick brush strokes that are present in studios such as Marvel and DC comics.