To start this off, I’ll give a shoutout to the Animatrix. That sequence with the sword fighting simulation is the only time that I have ever been completely confused as to whether or not a CGI animation was real or not. I am not kidding. I first saw it on Adult Swim several years ago and I thought they had accidentally put on a live-action movie. Live action on Cartoon Network? Like that’d ever happen.
However, since that sequence was non-anime styled CGI, I’m discounting it. The traditional animated segments have great animation too, but I’m choosing a different candidate; Cowboy Bebop.
This show offers animation that is fluid, retains its art quality throughout, and actually makes me believe that these characters are physical beings, especially in conjunction with the Foley artists, which I don’t really get to bring up very often.
This is especially prominent when Spike is showing off his martial arts capabilities. He compares his fighting style to being like water in controlling excessive force through fluid motion, and his fights always do feel like they have such a graceful flow to them that it is like watching constantly-changing water.
Not to mention the great space battles and gun fights that suck you in like a straw.
From the art to the animation to the sound effects and the voices, all of them come together perfectly to create a feeling of animated and fabricated reality; people you could actually meet and places that could actually exist.