[samurai jack games]10 Animated Series That Are As Aesthetically Pleasing As Castlevania
Netflix’s Castlevania has proven to be a huge hit, largely thanks to its incredible visual style. These other shows have similarly distinctive looks.
By Daniel Kurland
Published Jun 10, 2021
It’s an incredibly exciting time for animation and the medium has grown so much more sophisticated, both in terms of storytelling and aesthetics, that stunning series’ like Netflix’s Castlevania are becoming the norm, not the exception. Castlevania is a passionate adaptation of the popular video game series, but the gorgeous animation and flowing fight choreography helps the look and design of the series resonate on another level.
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Television has reached a point where more of the general public are aware of the different animation studios behind projects and what they each bring to the table. There are fortunately a wide variety of satisfying animated series for those that just want to be bombarded with visual delights.
Blood of Zeus is another animated series that’s recently hit Netflix and feels like it could very much be Castlevania’s successor, not just in terms of its visuals, but also the genre and subject matter. Blood of Zeus explores the powerful Gods and unbelievable weapons that fuel Greek mythology. The series’ creates an original tortured protagonist Heron, Zeus’ demigod son, who gets pulled between Earth and Olympus. The battle sequences in Blood of Zeus are just as accomplished as those in Castlevania and there’s a distinct and vibrant style that electrifies the series’ monsters and combat.
Coming from Pendleton Ward of Adventure Time fame and Duncan Trussell, The Midnight Gospel is a psychedelic animated trip like nothing else. The Midnight Gospel catapults between different planets as spacecaster Clancy meditates on existential subject matter with diverse individuals with enlightening opinions. The visuals that accompany these heady discussions are truly unreal and there’s a fluidity where there’s perpetual motion to everything. It’s a series that could be watched without the audio, or without the visuals, and it’d still be a satisfying experience, which is an extremely rare accomplishment.
Netflix has made it clear that they want to become a major player in the animation industry and it’s series like Yasuke that show that they’re series. Yasuke riffs on the true piece of history surrounding an African American samurai, but then remixes the past with magical powers, giant mechas, and a slew of supernatural elements.
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Yasuke is an assault on every level, but it finds a balance where all of this chaos works. The animation allows for incredible sword fights as well as sprawling wars between man, magic, and machine. In Yasuke it feels like anything is possible.
There used to be such a stigma around adaptations of video games, but series like Castlevania have helped make other series like Netflix’s DOTA: Dragon’s Blood possible. Dragon’s Blood pulls mostly from the popular second entry in the DOTA series and looks at a rich fantasy world where the extermination of dragons is paramount for the public’s safety. Dragon Knight, Davion, leads this charge and the result are an explosive and bewildering presentation of blood, blades, and magic. DOTA makes sure that its animation is able to handle the epic stakes of its action and it does not disappoint.
There are a lot of visionary names in animation, but Masaaki Yuasa is a truly groundbreaking talent that hasn’ shown any signs of slowing down. One of the creators most prominent pieces of work is the Devilman Crybaby update to Go Nagai’s classic property. Devilman Crybaby doesn’t veer too far from the original coming of age story that looks at the dangers and responsibilities of power. However, Devilman Crybaby presents surreal visuals that make it feel like the audience is going through the same transformation as Akira. Visuals melt together and the animation style shatters any preconceived standards.
There used to be an unjustified stigma towards Stars Wars’ television efforts when in fact the Clone Wars series and its expansions easily make up some of the most passionate Star Wars content. Star Wars: The Bad Batch is a recent extension to the Clone Wars universe that unpacks profound questions over identity, destiny, and free will, but it also just looks gorgeous.
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Admittedly, CG aesthetics aren’t for everyone, but The Bad Batch highlights how beautiful and elegant this style of animation can be. The action sequences, while completely different from those in Castlevania, are nearly just as exciting.
Many of the series looked at here fit into the action genre because it allows for such impressive displays of animation. The Great Pretender is a more methodical journey between an unlikely group of grifting con artists that repeatedly get in over their heads. The scope and elegance of the schemes in The Great Pretender will consistently surprise the audience and the character’s are deeply affable. However, Studio WIT does exceptional work with the series’ lush backgrounds and sunsets. Simple scenes that shouldn’t stand out become works of art.
There are occasions where big blockbusters get turned into animated series and it feels like a disappointing downgrade, but Pacific Rim: The Black is a great example of the contrary. Guillermo del Toro created a fascinating world where gigantic mecha fight against monstrous kaiju and an animated series is able to really reach exaggerated heights that aren’t possible in live-action. Pacific Rim: The Black does look at an emotional story between siblings at its core, but it doesn’t squander the opportunities for the animation to amplify the action.
Adult Swim is responsible for some foundational pieces of animated television, but many of their programs have a flair for the inexpensive and intentionally skew towards simpler designs. Superjail! revolves around a massive prison that’s basically a small country. The ecosystem within the jail turns into a compelling soap opera, but the raw and radical animation style is Superjail!’s true highlight. There’s a kinetic sense of motion to the series’ violent absurdism where whole episodes feel like one extended gag that never ends. It’s an exhausting experience, but in the best possible way.
Genndy Tartakovsky is another visionary animator that’s responsible for many pivotal franchises, but his Samurai Jack series is perhaps his most iconic contribution to the medium. Samurai Jack excels with a heavy flair for action that will please Castlevania fans, but with an extreme lack of dialogue it’s also a show that learns to depend purely on its visuals. Not a frame feels wasted and Samurai Jack lovingly pays homage to big genre archetypes to continually reinvent the series. Tartakovsky’s most recent masterpiece, Primal, would absolutely not exist without the impressive framework that Samurai Jack first establishes.
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About The Author
(695 Articles Published)
Daniel Kurland is a freelance writer, comedian, and critic, who lives in the cultural mosaic that is Brooklyn, New York. Daniel’s work can be read on ScreenRant, Splitsider, Bloody Disgusting, Den of Geek, and across the Internet. Daniel recently completed work on a noir anthology graphic novel titled, “Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Noir: A Rag of Bizarre Noir and Hard Boiled Tales” and he’s currently toiling away on his first novel. Daniel’s extra musings can be found @DanielKurlansky on Twitter.
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