Roger Ebert wrote in his blog: “I remain convinced that in principle, video games cannot be art.” Although it would be easy to bash him for his hypocrisy (he defended movies when people said they would never be an art form), the truth is he was old and out of touch with video games. I say unequivocally, that video games have surpassed movies as an art form, and the below list is just a few example why. We here at JapanCinema are big video game fans as well as anime so we decided to countdown the best games that feature anime inspired concept art or in-game cutscenes. Read the full list below, starting with our #10 entry:
The art style of the game is magnificently anime-inspired. The game’s art design is great. A real treat to look at from start to finish. The models are so abstract and original you can’t help but admire the time and effort put into the detail of each enemy and set piece.
But apart from those memorable sequences, the aesthetic of the game is very anime-like… actually, it’s pure anime. Cutscenes have dialog, action, comedy and directing that follow anime’s principles. And they’re actually pretty good, filled with cinematic camera angles and great use of soundtrack. Art usually lends itself to be open for interpretation, and though games rarely do so, “Eternal Sonata” clearly wants to stand out, and thus become like one of Chopin’s melodies: enigmatic and beautiful.
This entry might be fairly obvious, as the design of the game is drawn anime style, totally flat (and actually quite poorly drawn) in the cut scenes, quite nicely cel-shaded in the bar, and full blown 3D in the nightmares. We likey!
The team behind this game worked on the highly-praised Skies of Arcadia (one of the best game ever made IMO) for the Dreamcast and while the art style and character designs are similar, Valkyria is really in a class of its own. Using Sega’s Canvas engine, they decide to create a different approach to the visuals and while Okami was made to resemble a painting, Valkyria looks more like a drawing that’s being animated at lightning speed and it’s gorgeous. Kind of reminds me of the cutscenes for the Final Fantasy Tactics port for the PSP only more colorful. The 3D fighting visuals are also welcome and the “boom” and “ratta” visuals showing up when you explode something or fire your weapon has a great charm to it. It’s not going for realism so don’t compare it to tech-heavy games but what it lacks in realistic lighting and photo-realistic characters, it makes up for in style and art.
There’s been a lot of buzz lately regarding the new fighter from Arc System Works. We saw the return of Zato=One and the reveal of the brand new character, Bedman, who seems to be a homage to the underrated anime movie Roujin-Z. All in all, Guilty Gear Xrd: Sign looks to keep the series tradition of hyper stylized action and craziness going.
There are times where I felt like I was watching a full anime movie than playing a game. Especially considering that the game was released in 2011 for Japan and no significant graphical alterations upon U.S. localization. However, as with all of the Tales games, anime pre-rendered cut-scenes are fantastic, rivaling anime studio powerhouses such as Gundam’s Sunrise. The look of Fennmont city and the wonderful ships absolutely took my breath away.
The cell shaded graphics and how they animate in this game make this an unbelievably faithful homage to the Naruto series and just the anime genre in general. The graphics are so good, they look even better than the anime itself (if you compare with the very first episodes of this series). And the animation is ridiculously fluid while retaining that hand-drawn look, I don’t know how they managed to pull it off so well. This game was made years ago and just seeing this game run now is a testament to how amazing it was made when it first came out.
The game art is astounding. It’s really a step above any video game world you’ve ever seen. Ni no Kuni is simply a Studio Ghibli anime rendered as an entire walk-through world. As you play, you’ll come across a scene and think it’s the best-looking shot in the game. And then, a few minutes later, you’ll come across something better. One of my favorite visuals comes late in the game: a character’s backstory told with haunting, comic book-style sketches. There are original animated cut scenes produced by Ghibli themselves (namely Momose) which are wonderful (especially in HD!), the monsters are original and cute, and the gorgeous colors used in the backdrops provoke the imagination. Everything is here, and it feels like Ghibli production combined with Level 5’s JRPG mastery in full force.
The graphics have received an upgrade for the Vita release: the character models and environments look better, the artwork is crisp and clear, and the anime cutscenes (which are more numerous now) are rendered beautifully. The Japanese artstyle is alive and well here and compliments the atmosphere of the game nicely, it’s a light and fluffy world on the outside but delve a little deeper and it’s dark undertones quickly seep through.
Originally I didn’t get all hyped up when I heard about the new fire emblem game until I discovered KYMG was doing the art! Kozaki Yusuke is a Japanese artist who is well known for doing the art in No More Heroes 1 and 2 one of my favorite series to date. I know a lot of people flipped out over the limited edition art book. The art direction and graphical style in this game is just stunning. Past Fire Emblem titles had a more old-school anime look going on, but Awakening definitely bespeaks a more modern style, with tons of detail, color, and more maturity. It is an easy choice for our #1 pick!