The Top 5 3DCG Anime
by Callum May,
It wouldn't be farfetched to say that the presence of 3D anime within the industry is growing. As the technologies become more accessible and fans become more accepting, we're seeing more producers open up to the possibility of creating 3D works for the anime market. Now even studios like Polygon Pictures, who had become renowned for their work on US animated shows, have produced over a dozen projects for anime audiences and teams primarily known for making video game cutscenes have brazenly stepped into TV animation.
It's unlikely that 3D anime will ever replace or take over the traditionally 2D medium, but it's still worth highlighting these new accomplishments.
Once upon a time, Square strived for photorealism and it didn't go so well. But today, the company's cinematic leads have readjusted their priorities and instead pursued a balance between reality and fantasy. This means that whilst the characters look like they could exist in real life, it's regarded less as a constraint and more as a platform to leap off into portrayals of detailed and expressive fantasy. Kingsglaive is the latest of these achievements and is able to introduce the world of Final Fantasy XV with a level of detail and polish that the game's staff only wish they could achieve in real-time.
Since Knights of Sidonia, Polygon Pictures' attempts to portray an anime style in 3D has been a work-in-progress with each following project improving on character expression, shading, and action. This was brought to a head with 2017's Blame!, an ambitious adaptation of Tsutomu Nihei's unique vision of a metal future. The animation team were able to portray signature elements like the eerie loneliness of the city and Killy's devastating Beam Emitter thanks to a deep understanding of Nihei's work.
One of the greatest challenges in 3D is creating characters with the same type of expressions that you'd expect in the very best of 2D anime. That said, the 25th Pretty Cure film goes above and beyond to create the sort of character animation that could only be accomplished with the detail that comes with CG. Director Hiroshi Miyamoto started out his career at Square Enix wanting to create realistic monster animation, but after some time on the Kingdom Hearts series, set his heart towards anime-style 3D and there's a whole lot of Precure fans grateful that he did.
Whilst Orange has created some of the most exhilarating 3D mecha battles within the industry on series such as Majestic Prince and Akito the Exiled, they always strived to create a full-3D series on their own terms. This is why, after over a decade in the business, Orange refers to Land of the Lustrous as their first show. Coupled with the melancholic story of identity and change, Orange was able to capture the most important elements of the original manga, including even developing a unique refractive index for each of the characters' gem-hair. The series also employs several 2D animators who worked to either create guide animation or correct the expressions on 3D characters, much in the same way as Disney Pixar.
1. Dragon Quest: Your Story
Although when speaking about Pixar, it's hard to dismiss the work of Shirogumi's Takashi Yamazaki, who has managed to achieve Pixar quality for the Japanese market. Whilst he'd initially made a name for himself with live-action film, his work on the highly successful Stand By Me Doraemon led to him being offered several other 3D animated projects that also adapt classic franchises. His latest to be released is Dragon Quest: Your Story, which adapts the story of Dragon Quest V.
Instead of a direct adaptation, Your Story turns this classic into more of a family adventure romp with an exaggerated style of animation to fit. There's a huge level of technical prowess involved, but more importantly, the design and direction succeed in developing a wide appeal that spans all ages. With an anime industry that will now be creating both 2D and 3D works, it'll be good to see more of these projects that use their medium to create something that they can't achieve in 2D, and Dragon Quest: Your Story is a great example of that.
What are your favourite 3D anime? Let us know in the comments below in case I missed something.
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