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Any attempt to illustrate the cultural, let alone style, impact of anime is a massive undertaking. One of the most convoluted and culturally complex mediums on earth, anime itself is a loaded term, with contradicting definitions, covering a wide swath of genres, formats and audiences. While any list will inevitably be incomplete in the eyes of some (and a total failure to others) the following will be an attempt to categorize a few shows and films that were not only integral to generations of die hard fans, but left a specific stylistic imprint on their audience. From documenting specific sub-cultures to directly influencing fashion proper, each entry has had a profound effect on both the medium and modern style in general.
Before we begin, a brief overview for those unfamiliar. “Anime” is the abbreviation of the Japanese pronunciation of animation. While traditionally hand-drawn, the term applies additionally to computer-generated animation, as well as a combination of the two. In the Western world “anime” refers exclusively to Japanese animation, the term—in Japan at least—is in-fact a catchall for any animated medium, and even considered diminutive or derogatory by some scholars. Beyond its immediate impact on animation at large, designers and brands aplenty have noted the overwhelming influence of anime, from Comme des Garçons to Supreme, who have worked with multiple noteworthy artists—but more on that later. Clearly, it is difficult to pin down a few series to define a medium of this magnitude. Again, the following is our best attempt to cherry pick a few select entries that are as culturally significant as they are aesthetically important. That being said, without further ado, let’s take a deep dive into the sprawling world of anime.