Anime and manga with artistic merit: recommendations.

fOx

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First of all, let me start out by saying that, yes, I know that the title sounds pretentious. I apologize, but I honestly wasn't sure what else to call it. Second of all, let me explain what this thread is and isn't. This thread is meant to list anime series that you would say have "artistic merit." Anime series that are a little more thematically complex, or that are in some way experimental. It could be the writing, the direction, the animation techniques, ect. There is nothing wrong with enjoying My Hero Academia, or Attack on Titan, but that isn't quite what we're looking for here. I do not promise that everyone will enjoy all of the anime series on this list. You won't. Nor am I saying that an anime series is bad, just because I don't list it. I haven't seen everything, and even if I have, you may disagree with me on how much merit it has. I may not have even heard of it. This is just a list for people who may want to start watching anime series that are outside of the typical yearly summer shonen series. Furthermore, I will be excluding certain popular creators. Neon Genesis Evangelion, Berserk, and the works of miyazaki are some of the greatest works of animation ever made. However, most people have heard of these already. If you haven't, you should watch them first. There is a lot of other great material that doesn't receive much attention. I will try to organize series by their creator. If you like one series by a creator, you may like the others. If you hate their series or films, then you may dislike their style. Feel free to discuss the series mentioned, or add your own. I'll start with some of the more obvious series, and work my way down.

Anime

Isao Takahata: Grave of the Fireflies, The Tale of Princess Kaguya, Only Yesterday, Pom Poko, My Neighbors the Yamada's,

Satoshi Kon: Perfect Blue, Millenium Actress, Tokyo Godfathers, Paprika, Paranoia Agent, Memories (the short film, magnetic rose)

Chiaki Konaka: Serial Experiments Lain, Texnolyze, Princess Tutu, Rahxephon, Big O, Ghost Hound

Yoshitoshi Abe: Serial Experimetns Lain, Haibane Renmei

Masaaki Yuasa: Mind Game, The Night is Short Walk on GIrl, The Tatami Galaxy, Devilman Crybaby, keep your hands off eizouken, Lu Over the Wall, Ride Your Wave, Ping Pong, Kaiba

mamoru hosoda: Mirai, The Boy and the Beast, Wolf Children,

Mamoru Oshii: Ghost in the Shell, Angel's Egg, Jin Roh The Wolf Brigade

Keiichi Hara: Miss Hokusai, Colorful, Summer Days with Coo,

kunihiko ikuhara: Revolutionary Girl Utena, Penguindrum, most famous for sailor moon

Other Suggestions: The Count of Monte Cristo, A Country Doctor, Dennou Coil, Metropolis, Kino's Journey, Mushishi, Now and Then Here and There


Manga

Goodnight PunPun, Land of the Lustrous, Aku No Hana, Monster, Opus, Vagabond, Solanin
 
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fOx

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If anyone's curious about a title or creator, I can talk more about them. Otherwise this is just a list of series some people may be interested in. I've found lots of lists for for experimental music, or live action films, but it was hard to find anything for anime.
 

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Artistic Techniques? I think that'd be Gankutsuou: The Count of Monte Cristo, which is...well, weird. As implied by the name, the baseline story is the Count of Monte Cristo, just in a sci-fi setting and with the eponymous Count having been possessed by/made a contract with what can be summed up as some demonic spirit thing...and a lot more romantic implication between Albert and the Count. (And as an aside: Why? Just why? By its very nature it's roughly as uncomfortable as pairing the Count with Haydee, and then it tosses in "the son of his ex" for good measure). As I said though, the series is a bit weird and will not be everyone's cup of tea. It's very much a love it or hate it series, but damn if it doesn't stand out visually.
 

Mister Mumbler

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First of all, let me start out by saying that, yes, I know that the title sounds pretentious. I apologize, but I honestly wasn't sure what else to call it. Second of all, let me explain what this thread is and isn't. This thread is meant to list anime series that you would say have "artistic merit." Anime series that are a little more thematically complex, or that are in some way experimental. It could be the writing, the direction, the animation techniques, ect. There is nothing wrong with enjoying My Hero Academia, or Attack on Titan, but that isn't quite what we're looking for here. I do not promise that everyone will enjoy all of the anime series on this list. You won't. Nor am I saying that an anime series is bad, just because I don't list it. I haven't seen everything, and even if I have, you may disagree with me on how much merit it has. I may not have even heard of it. This is just a list for people who may want to start watching anime series that are outside of the typical yearly summer shonen series. Furthermore, I will be excluding certain popular creators. Neon Genesis Evangelion, Berserk, and the works of miyazaki are some of the greatest works of animation ever made. However, most people have heard of these already. If you haven't, you should watch them first. There is a lot of other great material that doesn't receive much attention. I will try to organize series by their creator. If you like one series by a creator, you may like the others. If you hate their series or films, then you may dislike their style. Feel free to discuss the series mentioned, or add your own. I'll start with some of the more obvious series, and work my way down.

Anime

Isao Takahata: Grave of the Fireflies, The Tale of Princess Kaguya, Only Yesterday, Pom Poko, My Neighbors the Yamada's,

Satoshi Kon: Perfect Blue, Millenium Actress, Tokyo Godfathers, Paprika, Paranoia Agent, Memories (the short film, magnetic rose)

Chiaki Konaka: Serial Experiments Lain, Texnolyze, Princess Tutu, Rahxephon, Big O, Ghost Hound

Yoshitoshi Abe: Serial Experimetns Lain, Haibane Renmei

Masaaki Yuasa: Mind Game, The Night is Short Walk on GIrl, The Tatami Galaxy, Devilman Crybaby, keep your hands off eizouken, Lu Over the Wall, Ride Your Wave, Ping Pong, Kaiba

mamoru hosoda: Mirai, The Boy and the Beast, Wolf Children,

Mamoru Oshii: Ghost in the Shell, Angel's Egg, Jin Roh The Wolf Brigade

Keiichi Hara: Miss Hokusai, Colorful, Summer Days with Coo,

kunihiko ikuhara: Revolutionary Girl Utena, Penguindrum, most famous for sailor moon

Other Suggestions: The Count of Monte Cristo, A Country Doctor, Dennou Coil, Metropolis, Kino's Journey, Mushishi, Now and Then Here and There


Manga

Goodnight PunPun, Land of the Lustrous, Aku No Hana, Monster, Opus, Vagabond, Solanin
Yoooooooo, I was gonna make a similar thread to this. Spooky.
 

fOx

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Yoooooooo, I was gonna make a similar thread to this. Spooky.
Great minds think alike?

Artistic Techniques? I think that'd be Gankutsuou: The Count of Monte Cristo, which is...well, weird. As implied by the name, the baseline story is the Count of Monte Cristo, just in a sci-fi setting and with the eponymous Count having been possessed by/made a contract with what can be summed up as some demonic spirit thing...and a lot more romantic implication between Albert and the Count. (And as an aside: Why? Just why? By its very nature it's roughly as uncomfortable as pairing the Count with Haydee, and then it tosses in "the son of his ex" for good measure). As I said though, the series is a bit weird and will not be everyone's cup of tea. It's very much a love it or hate it series, but damn if it doesn't stand out visually.
I'll be honest, I never finished Count. I always planned to go back to it. But good lord, was it visually impressive.

In fact, while we're talking visuals, I'd add Redline to the list as well. The plotline is very silly and shallow, but the visuals are incredible. It's an interesting movie if you care about the technical aspects of animation.
 

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The Kase-San and... manga basically invented the "upfront tall black haired gal and the shy short brown hair gal fall in love" trope, with the benefit of actually continuing their relationship past high school

Witch Hat Atelier and Delicious in Dungeon/Dungeon Meshi are beautifully drawn manga with excellent world building and a distinct lack of "this fantasy world runs on video game logic for *reasons*" explanations.

Delicious in Dungeon is all about fantasy dungeon building, as told through the lens of a batch of cash-strapped adventurers trying to rescue one of their own. The character design is top notch, the pacing is measured perfectly, and I'm waiting to be emotionally devastated by the ending.
 

Mister Mumbler

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Great minds think alike?


I'll be honest, I never finished Count. I always planned to go back to it. But good lord, was it visually impressive.

In fact, while we're talking visuals, I'd add Redline to the list as well. The plotline is very silly and shallow, but the visuals are incredible. It's an interesting movie if you care about the technical aspects of animation.
No doubt. Anyway, onto what I wanted to talk about when I envisioned this thread (well less talk and more "excuse to post videos of animated sequences that I love"):
Royal Space Force

Jin Roh the Wolf Brigade (I know you mentioned it but I just have to)

Redline (Again, I just have to)

And still my favorite, from the Cowboy Bebop Movie

Why the hell can't anime always look this good?

EDIT: What's cool about that Royal Space Force video is that it was so good that I actually went out and bought a Blu-ray/DVD/Artbook copy of that movie based pretty solely on that Youtube video.
 
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fOx

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No doubt. Anyway, onto what I wanted to talk about when I envisioned this thread (well less talk and more "excuse to post videos of animated sequences that I love"):
Royal Space Force

Jin Roh the Wolf Brigade (I know you mentioned it but I just have to)

Redline (Again, I just have to)

And still my favorite, from the Cowboy Bebop Movie

Why the hell can't anime always look this good?

EDIT: What's cool about that Royal Space Force video is that it was so good that I actually went out and bought a Blu-ray/DVD/Artbook copy of that movie based pretty solely on that Youtube video.
I think the late 80's through the 90's had my favorite style of animation. There was a certain grittiness to it that I was always drawn to. When it was at its best, it was something to behold.
 

Mister Mumbler

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I think the late 80's through the 90's had my favorite style of animation. There was a certain grittiness to it that I was always drawn to. When it was at its best, it was something to behold.
Not only Japanese animation either, that's around the same period as Disney's animation golden age too (101 Dalmatians, Oliver and Company, The Black Cauldron, even Atlantis towards the tail end in the early 00's)
 

fOx

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Not only Japanese animation either, that's around the same period as Disney's animation golden age too (101 Dalmatians, Oliver and Company, The Black Cauldron, even Atlantis towards the tail end in the early 00's)
1997 was nuts. We had End of Eva, Princess mononoke, perfect blue, and berserk all release within a few months of each other.
 
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Chimpzy

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I'll be focusing on manga. Not really sure if they deserve the artistic merit moniker, but they're all series I like because they do something fresh, avoid or subvert common tropes or otherwise look at them from a interesting angle. Some of these have some fanservice, but they're not vehicles for it and have plenty to offer beside it. Some also have an anime (I'll mark the ones I know for sure with a *).

Junji Ito - Uzumaki, Gyo *, Hellstar Remina
Oshima Shuzo - Aku no Hana (aka Flowers of Evil), Happiness, Boke wa Mari no Naka (aka Inside Mari), Chi no Wadachi
Urasawa Naoki - Monster *
ONE - Mob Psycho 100% *, One-Punch Man * (the Murata remake has godlike art, but ultimately, I think ONE's original webcomic is the better version)
Furuya Minoru - Ciguatera
Izumi Tomoki - Mieruko-Chan
Katsuhisa Kigitsu - Franken Fran
Watanabe Tsunehiko - Riso no Himo Seikatsu
Tabata Yoshiaki - Akumetsu

Witch Hat Atelier and Delicious in Dungeon/Dungeon Meshi
If you hadn't posted Dungeon Meshi, I would've. Don't know Witch Hat Atelier. Might check that out.
 
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Mister Mumbler

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One Punch Man

And speaking of as I type this:
One-Punch Man * (the Murata remake has godlike art, but ultimately, I think ONE's original webcomic is the better version)
You are 100% right. It's weird seeing people disparage his artwork for it online (especially in light of the fact it got him the manga, and the anime deal with it), but then I look at his art and see that it's probably better than what I could have done, especially since if you follow the webcomic you can actually watch his talent as an artist grow, even more so after he teams up with Murata for the manga.

EDIT: I've been thinking of starting Mob, how does it compare to OPM?
 

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You are 100% right. It's weird seeing people disparage his artwork for it online (especially in light of the fact it got him the manga, and the anime deal with it), but then I look at his art and see that it's probably better than what I could have done, especially since if you follow the webcomic you can actually watch his talent as an artist grow, even more so after he teams up with Murata for the manga.
ONE is not a great artist, there's no denying that. But his manga are basically all about deconstructing superhero/shonen tropes and imo his art works better for this purpose. Instead of lavish panels with dynamic framing and attention to detail, you get these kind of crappy drawings almost like doodles. This kind of gets lost in Murata's version. For example, at the risk of reigniting the kerfuffle from the other thread, ONE's design for Tatsumaki represents what she actually is way better than Murata's: an obnoxious spoiled brat prone to throwing tempter tantrums when she's not the center of attention. A child in both body and mind, despite or perhaps actually because her phenomenal power. It's imo no coincidence both remake and anime revert her to that design whenever she goes off.

I also prefer ONE's original version over the remake because I feel that as the latter progresses, the more it starts simply playing a lot of those shonen tropes straight. Which is fine in and of itself, but not why I started reading OPM.
EDIT: I've been thinking of starting Mob, how does it compare to OPM?
More serious and sentimental than OPM. Has comedy, but leans less into it. Without spoiling anything, also Mob's more unpreditable. OPM's premise is simple and easy to get into. Mob is a harder sell, frequently shifting between themes, making it hard to pin down exactly what kind of show it is, which can be a turn-off, tho it does eventually come together in a satisfying way. Also, if you're going for the anime, the animation is gorgeous. The designs may be ONE's, but Studio Bone pulled out all the stops making it as visually interesting as possible, experimenting with all kinds of art styles and effects.
 
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Mister Mumbler

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More serious and sentimental than OPM. Has comedy, but leans less into it. Without spoiling anything, also Mob's more unpreditable. OPM's premise is simple and easy to get into. Mob is a harder sell, frequently shifting between themes, making it hard to pin down exactly what kind of show it is, which can be a turn-off, tho it does eventually come together in a satisfying way. Also, if you're going for the anime, the animation is gorgeous. The designs may be ONE's, but Studio Bone pulled out all the stops making it as visually interesting as possible, experimenting with all kinds of art styles and effects.
Thanks, yeah, will need to check that out. Also more total agreement for all the OPM up top, if I had to rank the OPM media released thus far, it goes ONE's comic, the first season of the anime, and then the manga (I'm not too much of a fan of S2 of the anime, some of it due to the animation studio change but mostly for stopping in such an awkward place in the overall narrative).

Back OT (though admittedly I haven't known about this series for long but)
Lupin the Third

So first of all, I'm super excited for this film to come out, the dub cast is the same crew who did the part 2/5 dubs and are just great in their roles .
(like this for example)

Plus, after they decided to set the newer parts in the present day, it's nice to have a period piece again.

EDIT: Also, if Murata kept everything else the same about his art style, but used ONE's version of Tatsumaki the whole time, it would be perfect.
 
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Oshima Shuzo - Aku no Hana (aka Flowers of Evil), Happiness, Boke wa Mari no Naka (aka Inside Mari), Chi no Wadachi

I am actually very happy to see Shuzo mentioned. I have enjoyed every single one of his works, and I'm glad he seems to finally be getting some recognition with Chi no Wadachi. Flower of Evil is a favourite. The part in Happiness where it's just Gosho trying to live a normal life after everything that happened is sublime.

I have seen Urasawa mentioned, so I shall chime in and say that Monster is not the only work of his that is a great read. 20th Century Boys is one of my favourite manga of all time. Happy! is just about the only sports manga that has drawn me in.

While I'm at it, I shall mention Satoshi Mizukami. Lucifer and the Biscuit Hammer & Spirit Circle are two of the best shonen manga ever created. It almost feels like a disservice to call them so, as unlike 95% of the genre they aren't just brainless battle manga.
 

Chimpzy

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I am actually very happy to see Shuzo mentioned. I have enjoyed every single one of his works, and I'm glad he seems to finally be getting some recognition with Chi no Wadachi. Flower of Evil is a favourite. The part in Happiness where it's just Gosho trying to live a normal life after everything that happened is sublime.
Yep, pretty much all his works are good. Tho I can understand why people would be turned off them based on just their basic plot synopsis. A fair few of them have premises based in tropes common in ecchi fanservice manga. Tho I guess some would instead be turned off because they are decidedly not that kind of manga.

I have seen Urasawa mentioned, so I shall chime in and say that Monster is not the only work of his that is a great read. 20th Century Boys is one of my favourite manga of all time. Happy! is just about the only sports manga that has drawn me in.
Was going to put down 20th Century Boys, but you beat me to it.

Anyway, remembered some more manga I feel could belong in this thread:

Yoshi Yuu - Deep Love Aya no Monogatari
Hayashida Q. - Dorohedoro
Nanami Mao - 3D Kanojo (aka Real Girl)
Boichi - Hotel
Mori Kouji - Jisatsutou (aka Suicide Island)
Yukimura Makoto - Vinland Saga
Iwaaki Hitoshi - Historie

And last but not least:

Araki Hirohiko - JoJo's Bizarre Adventure

I know JoJo's a meme, but no really. It starts out a fairly basic seinen martial arts battle manga, but once Stands get intruduced in part 3 is where the real fun and creativity starts, and it really only gets better from then on. Ridiculous and over the top, yes, hence the memes, but JoJo is massively influential for a good reason.
 

fOx

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One Punch Man

And speaking of as I type this:

You are 100% right. It's weird seeing people disparage his artwork for it online (especially in light of the fact it got him the manga, and the anime deal with it), but then I look at his art and see that it's probably better than what I could have done, especially since if you follow the webcomic you can actually watch his talent as an artist grow, even more so after he teams up with Murata for the manga.

EDIT: I've been thinking of starting Mob, how does it compare to OPM?
I found Mob Psycho consistently funny, while still having some serious moments. It almost slips into slice of life at moments, with a weird fantasy take. It's probably my favorite comedic anime series in years.
 
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Sayonara Zetsubo Sensei

It gets tired of it's initial premise (a teacher wanting to commit suicide (but not really))
But then after that picks a Japanese social custom and plays around with it with every episode.

For your consideration:


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