Sometime ago I was doing some animation and tried out some Japanese animation software. Most of the software featured here are freeware but some of them are highly functional shareware. Do download and try them out!
This is the main piece of software I use for modeling. The software is a polygon modeler for 3DCG and was developed by Osamu Mizno, subsequently releasing MetasequioaLE as freeware. It's interface is very straightforward and this makes it easy for beginners. But do not be fooled by its simplicity, this software is so good that Japanese designers who are producing FINAL FANTASY are also using it. Third party plugins also add functionality to this software. The software supports a wide range of file formats and this is one of the reasons that makes it really popular.
Metasequoia Ver2.4.0 (Shareware)
MetasequoiaLE R2.3b-2 (Freeware)
from the official site at metaseq.net
Cyberdelia is a 3D animation tool with w3d, x and wrl file exporter. 'w3d' file can be used on Macromedia Director for Shockwave3D. 'x' file is for DirectX. 'wrl' file is for VRML97. The animation process is pretty cool and can be edited frame by frame. Models can also be imported from Metasequoia.
Cyberdelia Version 6.4 (Freeware)
from the official site at cyberdelia.net
3. DoGA CGA
DoGA project started in 1985 by university students in Japan, to support the newly born culture of CG animation. This is a series of applications that starts with a very basic tool kit and sequels later with added functionality. DOGA-L1 is the first lesson (L1) of the L series and is designed to teach beginners the very basic of animation. The L3 version of this software can be very powerful although it does seems to be more of a hobbyist tool instead of professional software. Again, models can be created and imported from Metasequoia.
DoGA L-1 (Freeware)
DoGA L-2 (Shareware)
DoGA L-3 (Shareware)
from the official site at doga.co.jp
This is a GPU accelerated global illumination renderer. It allows for Direct illumination using shadow mapping and High quality rendering equivalent of Monte Carlo path tracing. Parthenon is really powerful and rivals other professional rendering software. Supports Metasequoia .mqo files as well.
from the official site by Himatsubushi
RedQueen is a command line Global Illumination renderer. Features include Path Tracing (unbiased), Photon mapping, final gathering and Panorama Rendering support. As with all rendering software, system requirements are pretty much on the high side. As you can see with the image below, the results are stunning for this rendering software.
RedQueen (up to VGA size for unregistered users)
from the official site teamredqueen.com
MarbleCLAY is a 3D polygon modeler formerly known Etude/3D before. Now it is released as freeware. Spline patch modeling by triangle and square polygons is supported. The software is similar to the likes of Metasequoia except that it has more functionality and has compatible rendering with RedQueen.
MarbleCLAY beta 5.7 (Freeware)
from the official site Escargot Visualwares
Kashmir3D is a software for making landscape CG or amazing 3D maps. Support for Full-Raytracing rendering and Z-Buffer rendering, rendering clouds, fog, snow and mist, and depth of focus. 3D navigation by GPS Receiver is also included. If you need landscapes or maps for your 3D movie/game, this is the software you can use.
Kashmir 3D Ver8.0.9 beta1 (Freeware)
from the official site at kashmir3d.com
Seems like this is another Japanese animation suite. Haven't had time to try this out myself. Looks pretty good and promising at first glance.
from the official site at junkshed
9. Block Designer
This is a software that makes it easy to draw 3D images. Block Designer functions like assembling Lego blocks together. Interface is downright straightforward and the program can either save files BD format or in Autocad's dxf format. The dxf can then imported into Metasequoia for further editing or a third party renderer. Pretty cool IMO.
Block Designer Version 3.00 (Freeware)
from the official site at kogarashi.jp