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Traditional anime mixed with CGI animation have been around for quite a while, but at least since recent hit show Ajin they have sparked new interest. That is why we want to update our selection of 3D anime movies and give you a brand new Top 10 list!
CGI movies are a sensitive topic, at least in the world of anime. You either love or you hate them, there is no in-between, or that’s how it seems. But a little bit of diversity never bothered you, our dedicated fans, right? For some of you, today’s recommendations might look unfamiliar and strange at first, but we urge you to give them a try. After all, anime has more to offer than the average run-of-the-mill show and today’s list is the perfect example for that.
So what are we waiting for? It’s time for our updated Top 10 CGI/3D anime, movie edition. Enjoy!
10. Saint Seiya: Legend of Sanctuary
- Episodes: 1
- Aired: June 2014
Aired: June 2014
Let’s start this list with one of the most recent movies, shall we?
Saori Kido has to learn a shocking truth: she is the reincarnation of goddess Athena and responsible for bringing love and peace to earth. Her job would already be difficult enough, if it wasn’t also for the fact that there are some people out to get her. Can Seiya, a Saint of Athena, protect her life before it’s too late?
Saint Seiya: Legend of Sanctuary divides the audience; some seem to love it, others hate it. Of course, it’s a big step to turn the original artwork into 3D animation and at first, it might not feel like an original Saint Seiya. But soon enough, you will notice that the character design is solid and the action scenes are more than just nice to look at. This movie caters to all fans of the original series, so if you are looking for more Saint Seiya then check out this addition to the franchise.
9. Biohazard: Damnation (Resident Evil: Damnation)
- Episodes: 1
- Aired: September 2012
Moving on, next up is a franchise most of you should be familiar with: Resident Evil.
In this action thriller, special agent Leon infiltrates a European country to find out the truth behind the actions of the local government. On the search for illegally used biological weapons, Leon doesn’t back away from danger to fulfill his duties.
So far, so good, but how does modern animation support this action-filled storyline? Let’s just say that a lot of viewers were positively surprised at how much the art has improved from predecessor Resident Evil:Degeneration. And they are right! The movements are fluid, the setting looks nice and the characters are actually presentable. Thumbs up for Resident Evil: Damnation!
8. Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children
- Episodes: 1
- Aired: September 2005
There was no way we would talk about Resident Evil without also mentioning Final Fantasy. It’s time for Advent Children!
Sephiroth has been defeated and the world is trying to recover. In a newly built city, the remaining survivors are moving on and working hard to forget the past. Cloud and Tifa, too, are hoping for a quiet life, but their hopes are being destroyed when new enemies are trying to resurrect Sephiroth. Another fight is about to begin.
This is the first movie that we have already mentioned in our original list, but our opinion hasn’t changed: Final Fantasy belongs to Japan as much as sushi and sumo and this movie doesn’t disappoint fans of the well-known series. The story is engaging and, more importantly, the animation works perfectly with the Final Fantasy franchise. It looks good without trying to be too realistic and sucks you right into the action. A must-watch!
7. Rakuen Tsuihou: Expelled from Paradise (Expelled from Paradise)
- Episodes: 1
- Aired: November 2014
What would be the most suitable genre to combine with CGI? Science Fiction of course!
It’s the near future and mankind has decided to leave its bodies behind to relocate to virtual reality. Life would be easy if it wasn’t for the imminent threat of a hacker who wants to take control over the system. Time for law enforcement forces to step into action and take justice into their own hands.
Expelled from Paradise looks great without slapping you in your face with their CGI. You get quick-paced action followed by stunning sceneries and then some battle scenes again. This diversity not only keeps the story interesting, but also gives you some time to appreciate all the aspects of this movie’s animation. Expelled from Paradise’s story might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but you should at least give it a try for its 3D animation.
6. Hottarake no Shima: Haruka to Mahou no Kagami (Oblivion Island: Haruka and the Magic Mirror)
- Episodes: 1
- Aired: August 2009
Did you know that Japan has produced their own version of Alice in Wonderland? No? Then listen up as we tell you about Oblivion Island.
Where do your childhood treasures go after you’ve grown up and forgotten about them? With the help of a mythical fox called Teo, girl Haruka finds her way into the world of forgotten things that looks like it has just jumped out of a fairytale. On Oblivion Island, Haruka is about to go on a great adventure that takes her back to her own childhood.
This movie is so charming, you cannot help but simply enjoy it. True, it might not be the best choice if you are looking for an action-filled adventure, but it is perfect for a quiet evening in. Its 3D animation is one of the best you can find when it comes to Japanese movies and perfectly depicts the magical world of Oblivion Island. Check it out if you haven’t already!
5. Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence
- Episodes: 1
- Aired: March 2004
An infamous story and one of the best known 3D anime movies - next up is Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence.
Based on a chapter of the original manga, this movie takes place in the Ghost in the Shell universe. A serious of mysterious deaths involving “sexaroids”, androids designed for sexual pleasure, is troubling the local law enforcement. Police officer Batou and his partner Togusa are up and about to solve the mystery.
First of all, we need to clarify something: Ghost in the Shell 2 doesn’t use 3D exclusively. Rather, traditional 2D animation builds the foundation while 3D is used to enhance the viewing experience with well-chosen details. This unique approach is the reason we had to include Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence on this list. Rather than trying to completely venture into unknown territory, the producers have used CGI in reasonable doses that do not distract from the main ideas of the movie.
4. Captain Harlock
- Episodes: 1
- Aired: September 2013
Sci-Fi? Check. Pirates? Check. 3D animation? Triple check.
Mankind has succeeded at moving into space, but resources are limited. The people left on earth now have to protect their home from the threat of other humans trying to reclaim the land. Coming to their rescue is Captain Harlock and the crew of his spaceship Arcadia. He is ready to risk anything to win this fight, but can he succeed? Watch Captain Harlock to find out!
With a CGI-animated space setting, action-filled fights and a theme song performed by famous rock band One Ok Rock, it becomes obvious that this movie only tries to be one thing: epic. And it succeeds! What might sound like a run-of-the-mill space adventure turns out to be actually interesting. Even if you are not a fan of Sci-Fi, you ought to watch Captain Harlock for its great animation that really brings outer space to life.
3. Vexille: 2077 Nihon Sakoku (Vexille)
- Episodes: 1
- Aired: August 2007
We are moving into our Top 3 and first up is Vexille.
Once again, we find ourselves in the future - the year 2077 to be exact - in the midst of an ongoing battle between mankind and technology. Japan has established itself as the main manufacturer of new technology, but it has done so at a big price. To continue futuristic research programs it had to distance itself from the rest of the world and go back into seclusion. A series of mysterious events involving banned technologies might force the country to re-emerge.
If you are a fan of attention for details, cyberpunk elements or simply engaging visuals, then we can definitely recommend Vexille to you. It is a solid Sci-Fi story that combines an interesting idea with good animation and music. As with the previous recommendations, CGI is used to support the action and create a certain atmosphere that fits the overall style of the story. If you like Ghost in the Shell, chances are high you will also enjoy Vexille.
- Episodes: 1
- Aired: April 2004
Our next recommendation comes from the mind of mangaka Masamune Shirow, internationally known as the creator of Ghost in the Shell. It’s time for AppleSeed!
After a long and gruesome war, humanity is looking for peace in a futuristic city called Olympus. Here, humans and bioroids - genetically created clones - live side by side. Former soldier Deunan Knute doesn’t believe in the seemingly perfect world everyone thinks they live in, so she sets out on a quest to find out more about the fate of bioroids.
We are the first ones to admit that AppleSeed might look a little bit old-school at times, but keep in mind that it is already more than 10 years old. Still, while the fashion choices of the characters might be questionable, the overall animation definitely stood the test of time. The backgrounds and futuristic design of the city are great to look at and make for a fun viewing experience.
1. Short Peace
- Episodes: 1
- Aired: July 2013
You’ve been waiting patiently, and now it’s finally time to reveal our top pick for CGI/3D anime movies. A round of applause for Short Peace!
For this movie, four different directors have come together to create short stories that will drag you right into the action. “Possessions,” tells the meeting of a mysterious traveler with strange spirits. “Combustible” is a tale of love written by the creator of Akira. “Gambo” introduces you to a white bear of the special kind and, lastly, “A Farewell to Weapons” brings you right back to an apocalyptic version of Tokyo.
The concept of Short Peace is unique in the way that it tries to combine completely different stories that have all been created with the theme of Japan in mind. Each short film differs greatly from the other ones - and not all of them use 3D animation - but the end result is still astonishing. Not only do these stories look great, but they are so rich in details and thoughtful storytelling that you cannot help but fall in love with them. Short Peace is our final recommendation!
Why are 3D animated anime movies not more popular? Good CGI requires a big budget that many Western companies have, while smaller Japanese production studios don’t. That is why we don’t want you to compare today’s movies with big hits from Disney or DreamWorks, but rather see them as their own original and understand that CGI anime movies are still a relatively unexplored field. There is great potential and we cannot wait to see what the future might bring.
What are your thoughts on 3D anime movies and which movie is your personal favorite? As always, share your comments and recommendations down below!
Anime is awesome! It's especially awesome when it has excellent use of CGI incorporated in the animation. I'm pretty sure, there are a lot of you who have seen these CGI animated films listed below. If there are some you haven't seen, I highly recommend you check them out.
This selection was based off of complete CGI production in the animation or in the style of perfect usage to the point of not recognizing the difference. To make things clear, if the creation has more than fifty percent of its animation done with CGI, you bet it's included here!
Of course, these are based off of the writers selection and in no way reflect the views of HoneyFeed or Honey's Anime.
I hope you enjoy this selection of “Top 15 CGI Anime Films”and that it continues your search in finding great content to enjoy!
1.) Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence
This anime film is based on the manga chapter “Robot Rondo”, which starts off with a series of death occurring due to a malfunction with doll-like sex robots called Gynoids.
Section 9 is called in to investigate, with the assumption the Gynoids contain illegal ghosts in their cyber-brains. Believing the Yakuza is behind the acts, they find out the truth lies deep within the LOCUS SOLUS Gynoid company. Batou investigates further and is suddenly the victim of an E-brain hack that causes him to hurts other in confusion.
As Section 9 nears the root of the problem, they discover the secrets of the LOCUS SOLUS and head towards a tanker ship where they operate from.
It's here where Section 9 finds out the true actions of the Yakuza and LOCUS SOLUS.
This anime film has some good CGI in it.The effects may seem pretty obvious, but it still remains great film to watch.
Taking place after World War 3, an organization known as the General Management Control Office has constructed an experimental city called Olympus, which is inhabited by humans, cyborgs, and biodroids. Bioroids are genetically engineered and were created to only serve mankind by running all administrations in Olympus. Meant to be the utopia society, Olympus is seen as less of a utopia and more like a cage.
This is when an Olympus officer sees the truth and conspires with a terrorist group to try and destroy the super computer Gaia, that runs the city!
This anime film takes place in the 21st century where a robotics industry undergoes an advanced and rapid development. In 2050, Japan has established itself as the leader in robotics technology and manufacturing.
Such advancements in technology include enhancements in the human body that trigger a shift in the opinion of the world. Feeling sketchy about the enhancements, the U.N. investigates the project. Leading Japan to close its borders to the outside world and pursue a policy of high tech national isolation.
Several years later, bizarre events occur involving Japan that enforce the technology police agency, SWORD, to investigate. Little did they know, SWORD would uncover a horrifying truth from the years of isolation.
4.) Final Fantasy: Advent Children
This has to be one of the most memorable anime films, ever
Taking place after the events of Final Fantasy VII, the world begins to recover from devastation by working hard towards a new future.
Although, a new threat emerges as three individuals strive to resurrect Sephiroth by using the remains of the extraterrestrial villain, Jenova. One man, with the help of others, seeks to end the destruction and chaos that will be brought upon everyone by the three individuals.
With all of their efforts, they fail to stop them and now have to face the evil that is Sephiroth.
This has to be one of my favorite anime films.
Taking place in the future where a new and revolutionary psychotherapy treatment has been conceived called PT. With the help of a device called DC Mini, the therapy can act as a dream machine/detective in order to enter into the minds of others and explore their unconscious thoughts.
Before a bill can be passed to allow such a technique to be used on the public, a prototype was stolen which sent the research facility into a frenzy.
If in the wrong hands, the device can be devastating to others with the ability to completely erase a dreamers personality while asleep. Scary!
6.) The Animatrix
While this is not completely a film or based on Japanese animation, most of all of the animation is in fact done by Japanese animators. The Animatrix is based off of 9 animated short films from the Matrix trilogy. While some are based completely on CGI, others have excellent use of CGI in the animation.
In these short films, the backstory to the Matrix universe is shown in spectacular detail. Beginning with the origin of the Matrix and leading up to the present dilemma in the last sequel. In case anyone was wondering, the actual chronological order of the shorts to the trilogy begins with “The Second Renaissance”, “A Detective Story”, “Kid's Story”, and finally “Final Flight of the Osiris”.
7.) Summer Wars
A great anime film to watch with equally great CGI animation.
The story follows Kenji Koiso, a eleventh-grade math genius, who was invited by his crush to accompany her to her families estate for a summer job. Little did he know, the family was gathering to celebrate her grandmother's 90th birthday, and the girl had brought him along to prove she had a normal life with a boyfriend.
During his time with the family he receives a math equation on his cell phone, and being a genius at math, he begins to solve it. Once solved, he realizes it unleashes a virus into Oz, a program that controls every aspect of life. Kenji is now joined by the family, who just happen to be geniuses themselves, to try and stop the hacker before it's too late!
This is a great Mecha anime film with very good CGI.
Taking place in 2047 where an unknown alien life-form appears on Earth, they begin to destroy all major cities in a single swoop. Mankind unites to build a defense against the aliens called a Diffusor, which will aid them in achieving peace. Temporarily. Planzet: the final plan known as Plan Zed, prepare to take back Earth as a desperate counter against the aliens.
A soldier in the Planetary Defense Forces Alliance, seeks nothing more than revenge for his father's death six years ago. Unfortunately, the Diffusor's need to be removed from battle, which leaves the entire planet terribly defenseless, yet again.
This turns into the calm, before the storm.
9.) Expelled from Paradise
This was a great original anime that released in theaters a few weeks ago.
The story starts with Earth left in ruins because of Nano Hazards, leaving all of humanity to abandon the planet along with their bodies. In doing so, they rebuild their digitalized minds in a society within a cyber universe called DEVA.
In 2400 A.D., the DEVA central council detects an incident of a unauthorized access point in their mainframe. With the origin coming from Earth, they find out it is a hacker named Frontier Setter.
In order to investigate the mysterious hacker, the council sends System Security Third Officer, Angel Balzac, to Earth to begin her investigation. Her cyber mind is downloaded into a prosthetic material body to adapt to Earth's conditions. Her mission is to make contact with the hacker and uncover the motives behind his crime.
10.) Wonderful Days
Also known as Sky Blue, this anime is set in 2142 A.D., one century after humanity has carelessly collapsed from Earth's biosphere. The only known survivors left are a technological race enclosed in a refuge city called Ecoban. Just outside the city, a small group of refugees in the wastelands still strive. The leader supporting the refugees ask them to labor the raw materials needed to keep their society alive.
Throughout time, the leaders make slaves of the citizens and form an elite class of selected individuals to rule over them. Giving them the bare minimum to survive on their own, the low class society begins to stand up for themselves as the higher class citizens try to keep them defenseless.
11.) Space Captain Harlock
This anime takes place in the future where mankind had discovered a way to travel faster than light, thus colonizing thousands of planets.
When life begins to fade away, and the resources of the universe begin to deteriorate, what's left of mankind begin to make their journey back to Earth.
Because Earth is the last chance for survival, factions of alien life come into play to battle for the control of Earth. Captain Harlock denies defeat and leads an outlaw crew on his ship to undertake dangerous raids against such oppressors.
With the most powerful oppressor being the Mazone, a plant like alien race who once inhabited Earth in the past, seek to take back what was once theirs.
This anime film is pretty awesome and caught my attention instantly with its amazing art. It may look like CGI but in fact it’s not but I believe Redline can entertain readers who search for something CGI.
Redline is about the universes biggest and most deadliest racing tournament held every five years. Many participate in the race to claim their fame as the winner.
The story follows JP, a man who is a reckless driver and has no regards for speed limits while driving his super badass customized car. Organized crime and militaristic governments seek to manipulate the race for their own purpose while others rival each other in the tournament.
That's when JP meets and falls for a beautiful girl who throws him off his game challenging his abilities as a driver.
13.) Short Peace
This is another great anime film with amazing use of CGI and storytelling. The film consists of four stories from four different directors from Japan.
Licensed by Sentai Filmworks, the films are: Possessions - A story about a lone traveler is confronted by some unusual spirits in an abandoned shrine. Combustible - An amazing tale of love, honor and firefighting taking place in ancient Japan. Gambo - a story about a mysterious white bear who defends the royal family from the ill behavior of a red demon.
A Farewell to Weapons - is about a tour-de-force saga of men battling against robotic tanks in an apocalyptic Tokyo, which is based off of a manga with the same name.
All four of these shorts are really good. I recommend them.
14.) Gintama: The Movie: The Last Chapter: Be Forever Yorozuya
Gintoki is suddenly warped to the past 5 year later where the land of Edo has changed into an apocalyptic wasteland.
Mankind is close to extinction due to the white curse and has Gintoki traveling back to the past to find a way to destroy the virus before it incubates. Gintoki encounters a Time Thief who was sent back through time to end his past life before he can kill off the virus and thus begins the never ending loop of time travel to bring peace to the land.
15.) Sky Crawlers
In a world where a war becomes a show of business and might.
Killdre, are pilots free from aging and remain adolescent, fight and die in battles up in the sky. The story follows an ace, Killdre, pilot who was assigned to an air base close to the front lines of battle. Here he meets a female officer, who is a Killdre herself, as they both start to have a relationship in their routine life of death and killings.
As their love carries on, it begins to change in an enigmatic way they can't avoid.
There you have it folks. This concludes the “Top 15 CGI Anime Films” for this segment.
There are other films out there that have great CGI animation, but I feel these were the best among them. The reason there was a total of fifteen selection, was because I found it very hard to not include one without the other.
I hope you all enjoyed this, and I hope this continues your search for great content to watch. Anime for life!
Which selection was your favorite? Is there an CGI animation film we missed? Let us know in the comments below!