During the Age of Romanticism, writers in search for the next great story would usually leave their hometowns and exile themselves to far-flung areas to revel in the beauty of the natural world. The idea then was to be inspired by the beauty of nature, and by doing so, the mind’s psyche, the ever-elusive muse, will be invoked. Many masterpieces in literature feature this, most notable of them being Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, which features a number of scenes with the story’s characters using the beauty of nature as a means to be inspired.
With anime, there are a number of scenes that are simply so aesthetically pleasing, they cannot help but invoke feelings of catharsis among their viewers. These feelings can be many things, from joy, melancholy, fear, and even awe.
Thus, here are the top ten beautiful landscapes, or scenes in anime along the years.
10. 50 Years After - Mobile Suit Gundam 00 The Movie: Awakening of the Trailblazer
- Episodes: 1
- Aired: September 2010
This simple epilogue to the saga of the Gundam Meisters is a beautiful ode to the peace that that finally achieved after the long years of war. During the final stages of the war against the ELS, Setsuna ends up transcending his physical form. Thus, the woman whom he has feelings for, Marina Ismail, ends up being alone, for 50 long years.
That is, until Setnuna finally manages to go back to her. The beautiful score, coupled with the subtle hints of romance that still exists within the two main characters, and highlighted by the Gundam 00 Qan[T] finally retiring amidst a sea of flowers, provides much depth and symbolism to this short, yet extremely beautiful scene.
9. The World Ends - Sword Art Online Season 1
- Episodes: 25
- Aired: July 2012 - December 2012
Sword Art Online is set in a virtual word and is thus practically limitless when it comes to how stunning its visual sceneries can be. However, one cannot deny that the last few scenes of the first arc of the anime’s first season are a beauty of behold. Set against the backdrop of Aincrad’s destruction, the perfect sunset serves as a symbolic finale to the show’s stellar first arc.
With the world they had lived in for the past few years literally falling into pieces, Kirito and Asuna share a brief moment of warmth, reveling in each other’s presence, knowing that even if the world were to end right there, they had each other, and they will never walk any life alone.
8. Lynn Minmay’s Finale - Macross: Do You Remember Love?
- Episodes: 1
- Aired: July 1984
There is just something about anime classics that remain so memorable and poignant. In the case of the 1984 movie, Do You Remember Love, HIkaru, who is then involved in one of anime’s most famous love triangles, persuades Minmay to perform a song. Though the song is quite mellow and simple, it nonetheless touches all those involved in the war, including the Zentraedi.
The simple performance, the mellow riffs of the song, set against the the movie’s climactic battle with the alien forces, makes this scene a wonder to behold. Its intricate, smooth, hand-drawn frame-by-frame motions are quite an irony in itself, showing beauty in the midst of the most brutal of wars.
7. Kanade Says Thank You and Goodbye - Angel Beats!
- Episodes: 13
- Aired: April 2010 - June 2010
Angel Beats! is an anime with its share of memorable, aesthetically beautiful moments. However, the one that really pulled at its viewers’ heartstrings involve the series’ final moments, when the connection between Otonashi and Kanade was finally revealed. As Kanade tells Otonashi that his very heart beats within her chest, the repercussions of his feeling of love for her get fully revealed.
Set against the a perfect sunset and serenaded by the show’s iconic tune, the final scenes of Otonashi and Kanade together are just heart-wrenching to behold, as the viewer fully knows what’s going to happen next, yet is powerless to stop it. Yes, beauty happens in an instant, yet that fleeting moment may pass by as fast as it has come.
6. Dias Ragu’s Last Stand - Shadow Skill: Eigi
- Episodes: 26
- Aired: July 1998 - December 1998
Though Shadow Skill: Eigi is one of the purest examples of a fighting anime, this scene nonetheless is simply beautiful for the sheer sense of awe that it invokes from the viewer. After his adopted brother, Gau, gets kidnapped by Darkness, an immortal being, Diaz Ragu, a man who was permanently damaged after pushing himself over his limits to save his sister’s life, challenges the god to a fight to the death.
Diaz Ragu finally ended his life with a victory over an immortal being. He passes away standing even in death, his Black Wing still standing strong. The episode’s final moments, showing the black wing over a hill being showered by white feathers, does not just trigger as sense of admiration for the beauty of the scene, it begets a sense of awe for the man who once held the mighty weapon.
5. Kenshin Wanders Again - Rurouni Kenshin
- Episodes: 94
- Aired: January 1996 - September 2008
Among the classic anime scenes that truly pulled at the hearts of fans all over the world involves the fateful farewell scene on the 31st episode of the Rurouni Kenshin anime. After Lord Okubo’s assassination, Kenshin decides to confront Shishio, but before he starts on a journey that he may not come out of alive, he decides to say goodbye to the person that matters most to him - Kaoru Kamiya.
Set in a firefly-lit night, the subtle farewell scene became one of Rurouni Kenshin’s iconic moments, with Kenshin pulling Kaoru into an embrace, his first truly intimate moment with the Kamiya Kasshin adjutant master, as he gives her his gentle farewell. Though drawn relatively simply compared to today’s standards, the masterful direction, the sepia-tinged montage, as well as the perfect, emotional orchestral score, made this scene one of the most beautiful moments in anime.
4. Tomoya Embraces Fatherhood for the First Time - Clannad: After Story
- Episodes: 24
- Aired: October 2008 - March 2009
Within the emotional whirlwind that is Clannad: After Story lies this golden scene, a scene when Tomoya Okazaki finally overcomes his depression over his grief for the death of his wife and embraces the role he has to take as a father to the young Ushio. Set against a field of flowers a few moments before the sun sets, the scene is one powerful moment to behold.
It is said that something that is beautiful is something that can take your breath away. This scene is one of those, showing the raw emotion that has made Clannad: After Story what it is. With excellent direction, cinematography and the signature Clannad score, the scene where Tomoya embraces fatherhood for the first time is one scene that one will always remember.
3. Simon and Nia’s Wedding - Tenga Toppa Gurren Lagann
- Episodes: 27
- Aired: April 2007 - September 2007
After the massive battle that featured mecha of epic proportions literally shooting galaxies as shurikens to the enemy, Gurren Lagann ends on a very simple note. The lovers, Simon and Nia, who have fought together in the war, know that their time together is very limited. Hence, they decide to get married, in the presence of all their friends.
The wedding scene at the end of Tenga Toppa Gurren Lagann is almost an antithesis to the entire series, being small-scale, simple, and very subtle. However, it is for its very simplicity that it has become one of the most beautiful moments in anime, reflecting the fleeting feelings of bliss that man is granted during his stay on Earth.
2. Kanae’s Dream - 5 Centimeters Per Second
- Episodes: 3
- Aired: February 2007 - March 2007
5 Centimeters Per Second is almost like a moving work of art, with its stunning visuals and its emotional soundtrack. It is a story of first love and the pain of its first loss. In this scene, Kanae, who has been in love with Takaki, finally realizes that she will never have his heart, for he has already given it to someone else.
The young girl’s feelings are perfectly depicted, albeit symbolically, by her vision of Takaki and another, unknown girl watching the Earth’s gentle rise in the distance. The scene itself is beautiful, not simply because of its aesthetics, but because of the underlying theme that it represents.
1. Sophie Discovers Howl’s Heart - Howl’s Moving Castle
- Episodes: 1
- Aired: November 2004
Howl’s Moving Castle is widely regarded as one of Hayao Miyazaki’s best works, featuring many of his signature touches such as a plot that is intricate and characters which are unforgettable. This sequence, where the story’s heroine, Sophie, finally discovers the truth behind Howl, is one scene that is very memorable.
The quality of the scene itself is trademark Studio Ghibli, but beyond the aesthetics of this scene lies its significance of it to the main storyline, as as heroine finally is able to understand Howl and his past after this. By watching the young Howl literally catch a falling star, Sophie finally begins to see Howl for who he truly is.
So there you go, everyone! 10 notable landscapes and scenes in anime through the years. I surely enjoyed writing about them. Some of them actually made me rewatch the episodes featuring these scenes over and over again. Of course, these scenes are but a few of the many beautiful scenes in anime out there, so if there is one you would like to mention, feel free to write a comment!
Who knows, another list may be brewing soon!