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10 Non-Anime Shows With The Coolest Animation

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Animation introduces audiences to fictional worlds of all creeds. The style of its visuals enhances the comedic tone of a series, just as it can create mystery and a sense of foreboding in dramas. The use of coloring, shadows, and the characters’ movements all contribute to essential world-building.


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While animation fans naturally think of anime as modern examples that excel in their genre, plenty of cartoons also push the boundary of this medium. Some shows even mold their identities to their visuals as they continue to experiment with new and appealing styles and deviate from what’s considered to be traditional animation.

10 Clone High’s Style Was As Eccentric As Its Premise

Clone High cast, including Joan or Arc, Ghandi, Abe Lincoln, JFK, and Cleopatra

Clone High delved into a unique premise with its strange-looking main characters. Everybody featured in the offbeat comedy was a clone containing the DNA of some well-known historical figures. The show’s animation style perfectly matched its odd and zany tone.

With flat edges, slanted mouths, and unusual shapes, Clone High brought replicas of John F. Kennedy, Joan of Arc, Cleopatra, Gandhi, and Abe Lincoln to life. Its visuals also contributed to its raunchy and bizarre humor. It’s difficult not to laugh at JFK’s poofy hair or Abe’s towering stature. Each character’s design thoroughly complimented the series’ overall eccentric theme.

9 Adventure Time’s Simplistic Design Complimented Its Whimsical Stories

Bubblegum, Finn, Jake, Ice King, Marceline, and Ice Princess in Adventure Time

Adventure Time boasted a playful world with imaginative creatures and designs. Its animation style reflected a children’s coloring book, and this simplistic look gave it its identity.

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With the character’s minimalist facial features and spaghetti-like arms, they could easily evoke humor with their movement and deadpan expressions. Their designs were also cute and pleasing to the eye. The simplicity of their outlines left the creators room to experiment with textures and colors. All of these factors contributed to the show’s whimsical adventure.

8 6Teen’s Mod Style Matched Its Adolescent Edge

Nikki, Jen, Jude, Wyat, Caitlin, and Jonsey in 6Teen

6Teen’s animation was both uncomplicated and chic at the same time. Much like something found in a teen glamor magazine, the color shading of the characters and their sleek look helps pave the way for this comedic storyline.

The characters’ edges were soft, and their movements often happened in fluid arcs. It looked as if puppet strings were controlling their limbs. While not overly complex, their facial expressions still provided enough detail for every character’s face to be easily identifiable. The style was attractive and fit perfectly into the charming lives of its adolescent stars.

7 Castlevania’s Colors And Shadows Made For The Perfect Vampire Series

Carmilla the Vampire Queen in Castlevania

Castlevania’s animation was both gorgeous and terrifying to watch. Its characters’ dark shadows and grisly details could be alluring and equally gory. The visuals were a perfect choice for a harrowing story about vampires.

The characters were stunningly beautiful but could turn horribly violent in the blink of an eye. Similarly, Castlevania’s style could be clean and smooth, only to transform into something nauseatingly detailed when the vampires wreaked havoc on innocent civilians. The shadows that fell over the characters’ faces were wildly intimidating, and they were sure to keep viewers on the edge of their seats.

6 Teen Titans’ Animation Could Be Both Dark And Zany

Robin, Starfire, Raven, Beast Boy, and Cyborg in Teen Titans

Teen Titans was equal parts drama and comedy, so it only made sense for its visuals to reflect that. Despite being produced in the United States, the show borrowed heavily from anime styles, mostly during comedic moments.

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Although the superhero series utilized dark shadows and detailed backgrounds to create drama, it became just as silly and colorful at the flip of a switch. Wide swirling expressions, cartoonish slapstick, and inventive fourth-wall jokes were all made through the inspiration of Japanese animation. The show’s combination of eastern and western visuals made its style memorable and one of a kind.

5 Archer Blends Hand-Drawn And 3D Animation Elements For A Unique Look

Archer Season 13 Lana Kane 2

Archer’s animation style may be minimalist but it works well with the show’s outlandish humor and quirky characters. Its animation appears to be a combination of hand-drawn and 3D animation, but it’s a little more complicated than that.

The adult comedy-action series relies on limited animation, which allows the characters to be controlled like puppets rather than drawings. Instead of being hand-drawn, they are rendered digitally and overlain with their features. While this method may seem like the series is cutting corners with its production, the end product is just as sharp and clean-cut as its snappy jokes and storylines.

4 Avatar: The Last Airbender Had Amazingly Fluid Movement

Zuko fighting Azula in Avatar: The Last Airbender

Avatar: The Last Airbender might have been a show intended for kids, but that didn’t mean its animation was any less impressive. In fact, the stunning effects only got better as the series progressed.

In a world based on supernatural bending abilities, it was critical for the characters’ movements to be fluid. The adventure puts all of its efforts into the realistic movements of the human body, while also combining inhuman elements, such as airbending and firebending. The beautiful and dynamic style of the characters was further enhanced by the array of colors that were present with every element shown.

3 Arcane’s Advanced Visuals Match Its Intense And Gritty Tone

Vi from Arcane.

Arcane is a true masterpiece that takes art and animation to a whole new level. The adult action adventure can simultaneously be harrowing, dark, and outstandingly beautiful.

This is because the series combines a number of animation techniques. While the characters and environment appear in 3D, the entire series adds a hand-painted layer. This element is time-consuming and meticulous, but the end product looks like a hand-painted digital portrait. It’s wonderfully breathtaking, and even if audiences aren’t onboard for the show’s grim plot, they should still check it out for its visual storytelling.

2 Samurai Jack’s Animation Incorporated East Asian Art Designs

Samurai Jack in Samurai Jack

Some audiences consider Samurai Jack an anime, but make no mistake; it wasn’t produced in Japan. The intense animated adventure borrowed from East Asian art designs, though, which served its storytelling flawlessly.

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The environment’s relatively simple shapes and edges replicated brush strokes found in East Asian art. The minimal shading and stark contrasting colors were also a brilliant way to create visual drama and intensity. Furthermore, the colors were always presented in striking reds, blacks, and white. These vibrant colors, matched with its deceptively simple styles, showcased a lovely and haunting world.

1 Love Death + Robots Experimented With A Different Style Every Episode

Astronaut in Love, Death + Robots

Love Death + Robots had the creative advantage of introducing a new story and characters for every episode. This format meant that it could experiment with its visuals, and that’s precisely what it did.

From disturbing intentionally half-rendered creatures to overlain hand-drawn and 3D animation, this series pushed its style with each new installment. The show also utilized all the potential that its futuristic world had to offer by combining reality with the supernatural. Whether it’s giant whales, space lasers, or man-eating aliens, this animated adventure was sure to take viewers on the visual ride of their lives.

NEXT: 10 Best Animated Shows Of 2022, Ranked

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