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7 Great 3D Anime Shows Animators Need To Watch

ben marvazi 2020

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7 Great 3D Anime Shows Animators Should Watch By Yesterday

The rise of 3D anime has marked a significant evolution. This genre blends traditional storytelling with groundbreaking 3D animation techniques, offering a unique visual experience. 

For animators and enthusiasts alike, understanding and appreciating these shows is not just about entertainment; it’s about grasping the future of animation.

a 3D rendering of a man with a beard


In this blog, we dive into the 3D anime shows animators need to watch, showcasing how each series pushes the boundaries of 3D animation and storytelling

Whether you're a seasoned animator or just starting, these shows are a treasure trove of inspiration and learning.

#1: Arpeggio of Blue Steel - Ars Nova (2013)

"Arpeggio of Blue Steel" offers a unique twist to the 3D anime genre with its blend of naval warfare and science fiction. 

Set in a future where much of Earth is submerged, the show revolves around the battle against sentient warships known as the "Fleet of Fog." A CG-rendered version made by Sanzigen titled Arpeggio of Blue Steel -Ars Nova-, began airing in 2013.

For animators, this series is a remarkable study in how 3D animation can bring complex maritime battles and futuristic technology to life. The show's use of CGI allows for fluid, dynamic representations of the ships and water, creating visually stunning scenes that traditional 2D animation could struggle to replicate. 

Arpeggio of blue steel image

Image via

The attention to detail in the ship designs and the fluidity of the ocean scenes are particularly noteworthy. 

"Arpeggio of Blue Steel" is not just a story about humanity's struggle against overwhelming odds; it's a showcase of how 3D animation can elevate a narrative, making it a must-watch for those exploring the depths of 3D anime.

#2: Ajin: Demi-Human (2016-2017)

"Ajin: Demi-Human" stands out in the 3D anime landscape for its dark narrative and the way it leverages 3D animation to amplify its storytelling. 

The adapted series follows a student who discovers he is an immortal 'Ajin' after a life-threatening accident, leading to a life on the run from government forces and other sinister groups. 

What sets this anime apart is its use of 3D animation to create intense, gripping action sequences and a distinctively eerie atmosphere. 

Video via YouTube

The shadowy, mysterious nature of the Ajins is brought to life through subtle yet effective CGI, making their abilities and movements feel otherworldly. 

For animators, this show is a masterclass in using 3D animation to create a mood and enhance the narrative

The realistic character movements and detailed expressions, paired with the unique plot, make "Ajin: Demi-Human" a compelling watch for those interested in the darker side of 3D anime.

#3: Land of the Lustrous TV Adaptation (2017)

"Land of the Lustrous" is a visually stunning masterpiece. This series is set in a fascinating post-apocalyptic world where sentient gemstones battle against lunar invaders. 

What makes the TV adaptation's 3D anime style exceptional for animators is its breathtaking use of 3D CGI to bring these gem characters to life. The animation captures the translucency and brilliance of the gems, creating characters that are visually mesmerizing. 

Land of the Lustrous image

Image via IMDb

Each character's movements are fluid and graceful, showcasing the potential of 3D animation in creating detailed and lifelike expressions and actions. The show is a testament to how 3D CGI can be used to create a world that is both surreal and hauntingly beautiful. 

For animators, "Land of the Lustrous" offers a unique glimpse into the creative possibilities of combining 3D anime animation with imaginative world-building.

#4: Princess Mononoke (1997)

"Princess Mononoke" is not just an anime but a landmark in animation history, particularly influential in the evolution of 3D anime. Although it isn't a fully 3D anime movie, it's worth mentioning as the studio developed the "Toon Shader" tool for the project to blend the digitally generated images with the hand-drawn animation in the rest of the film.

This epic film, set in a mythical period of Japanese history, explores the conflict between the natural world and human industrialization. 

While it is primarily a 2D animated film, its pioneering use of 3D elements sets it apart. The integration of 3D animation in "Princess Mononoke" was groundbreaking at the time, especially in scenes featuring the Spirit of the Forest and the demon worms. 

Princess Mononoke poster

Image via IMDb

For animators, "Princess Mononoke" is a prime example of how 3D animation can be used to augment a predominantly 2D animated film, creating a more dynamic and engaging visual experience. 

#5: Knights of Sidonia (2014-2015)

Set against the backdrop of a future where Earth has been destroyed, "Knights of Sidonia" is a good example of 3D anime's potential. 

This series transports viewers into a universe where humanity survives in massive space vessels known as "Garden Ships." 

What makes "Knights of Sidonia" a must-watch for animators is not just its captivating storyline, but its use of 3D animation.

Knights of Sidonia image

Image via Mecha Alliance

The show's detailed space battles and intricate mecha designs are a testament to the versatility and power of 3D animation in storytelling. 

For any animator seeking to understand the possibilities of 3D animation in a space setting, "Knights of Sidonia" is a great watch.

#6: Blame! (2017)

"Blame!" is a captivating addition to the 3D anime genre, known for its dark, cyberpunk setting and complex narrative. Set in a distant future where an ever-expanding cityscape has engulfed the earth, the story follows a lone wanderer as he searches for a way to save humanity.

Blame! anime poster

Image via Wikipedia

The 3D animation in "Blame!" is crucial to its storytelling, bringing the vast, labyrinthine city and its mechanized dangers to life. The use of CGI allows for the creation of immense, intricate architectural structures that feel both oppressive and awe-inspiring.

The animation style, with its sharp details and moody atmosphere, perfectly complements the film’s dark themes and the starkness of its futuristic world. For animators, "Blame!" offers an excellent study of using 3D animation to create immersive dystopian worlds and convey a sense of scale and complexity.

#7: Expelled From Paradise (2014)

"Expelled From Paradise" is a standout 3D anime film that explores themes of identity, humanity, and technology.

Expelled from Paradise poster

Image via Wikipedia

The story revolves around a futuristic world where humanity exists in a digital form, and a physical agent is sent to the Earth's surface to investigate a potential threat. The 3D animation in this film is noteworthy for its fluidity and detail, particularly in the character designs and action sequences.

The use of CGI complements the film's sci-fi elements, rendering the digital world and the desolate Earth with striking contrast. The action scenes are particularly well-executed, with a smoothness and clarity that heighten the excitement and impact.

For animators, "Expelled From Paradise" serves as an excellent example of how 3D animation can enhance sci-fi storytelling, offering a visually rich and thought-provoking viewing experience.

Get Inspired By the 3D Anime Aesthetic

The world of 3D anime is rich and varied, offering something for every animator and enthusiast. 

From the dark and surreal worlds of "Dorohedoro" and "Ajin: Demi-Human" to the emotionally resonant stories of "Violet Evergarden" and "Carole & Tuesday," these shows demonstrate the incredible versatility and potential of 3D animation. 

As the industry continues to evolve, these 3D anime shows will undoubtedly remain essential viewing for anyone passionate about the art of animation.

If you’re an animator who’s looking to start your own studio or grow your career, check out our blog on How to Start an Animation Studio and GET FREE TRAINING to kickstart your animation career today.

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