The advent of computer technologies has changed the art world forever, and nowhere has this paradigm shift been clearer than in the realm of animation. Thanks to computers, creating animation has become much easier and faster than ever – creating an obvious and financially taxing decision for studios.

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However, something was lost in this pivot from hand drawing to digital animation. In the realm of modern anime, there are big aesthetic differences between handmade and digital. There is an essential quality in anime that is missing with reliance on digital programs.

ten Slam Dunk is considered the pinnacle of sports anime for a reason.

When it comes to sports anime, slam dunk is credited with establishing most (if not all) of the conventions and norms of the genre. This is particularly true for its animation, which still holds today. Along with bringing Takehiko Inoue’s incredible art to life, the series pushed its animation to the limit to depict unforgettable basketball games.

Slam Dunk’s Old-school animation and direction don’t have to be as flashy as today’s sports anime to hit the right notes, and even non-basketball-centric scenes are fun to watch. But slam dunk Completed decades ago, it’s still the anime to beat when it comes to animated depictions of athletics and sports.

9 On-Gaku: Our sound was one man’s rotoscoped labor of love

Rotoscoping (or tracing over live footage) is an animation technique used sparingly due to its complexity, yet Kenji Iwaisawa used it for his film debut. Also, Iwaisawa is mostly bustling On Gaku alone for seven years, and only obtained outside help as a last resort.

On Gaku was fixed and digitally edited, but each frame was handcrafted and rotoscoped with traditional skills and tools. In total, Iwaisawa drew over 40,000 images. The different visual On Gaku may be a love letter to music, but it’s also a testament to one man’s determination to complete the anime adaptation of his friend’s manga.

8 The Legend of the Galactic Heroes has taken traditional animation to galactic extremes

Something that old school anime will always have over their computerized counterparts are classic space operas. Concrete example, Legend of Galactic Heroes original route. With its deftly animated space battles and attention to detail, it’s easy to see why the 110-episode OVA is considered by its devotees to be the last truly animated space opera.

Legend of Galactic Heroes lived up to the epic scale of its story, and it also evoked its historical inspirations through richly detailed characters, worlds, and more. A testament to the anime’s classic status is how its modern digital remake struggles to achieve even a fraction of the impact of the original show despite telling the same story.

7 Spirited Away was the pinnacle of Studio Ghibli art

To be fair, every Studio Ghibli movie (especially those directed by Hayao Miyazaki) is a traditional animation masterclass. That being said, Taken away as if by magic was a prolific studio in its heyday. Not only is it Miyazaki’s most visually imaginative work, it’s currently the only traditionally made film to have won the Oscar for Best Animated Feature.

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Almost every picture of Taken away as if by magic is brimming with details and characters that can only be noticed on a rewatch, and the same goes for backgrounds and locations that often get a few seconds of screen time maxed out. Together, these hand-drawn elements create an animated sight to behold for a fantasy film like no other.

6 Cowboy Bebop is one of the most cinematic anime ever made

cowboy bebop is the kind of miracle that rarely graces the medium of anime. Besides the fact that its creators were given full creative control, the entire series could be considered an experimental collection of experimental episodes (called “sessions”) that allowed the creators to explore different styles of storytelling.

Each session displayed a unique visual language that matched the tone of the given story, to the point that each session felt like its own standalone short. cowboy bebop is one of the few hand-drawn cartoons that could be called “cinematic”, and its perfectly animated film Knock on heaven’s door gives even more credence to this assertion.

5 Redline was the last hurray for mainstream anime

In more ways than one, Red line is the end of many eras. As well as being the last Madhouse-directed film in its heyday, it was also one of the last fully hand-drawn animated films. Following its poor box office performance, Madhouse restructured, while studios prioritized computerized anime for practical reasons.

Red line needed nearly 100,000 hand-drawn frames, and it took seven years to complete. Due to the amount of detail in every second, the release of Takeshi Koike’s debut film has been delayed multiple times. Red line bombed in 2010, but it held its own and is now considered one of the most beautiful anime of all time.

4 Revolutionary Girl Utena Unleashed the Surreal and Theatrical Sides of Anime

There’s something about old school shojo anime that their modern counterparts can’t track down, and Revolutionary Girl Utena is a good case study. Unlike their contemporaries, Utena and Anthy’s romance was a surreal take on the very idea of ​​love and more, meaning the animators pushed hand-drawn abstractions to the limit.

Everything from the color scheme to the character blocking was artistically thought out, to the point that some scenes looked more like a grand stage set-up. The visual allegories and symbols of the series reach their peak in the film Utena’s teens, which was more of a beautiful art film than a simple love story.

3 Akira turned death and destruction into a work of art

Akira etched itself into the memories of a generation not just because of its stunningly good detail and rendering of the dystopian Neo Tokyo, but because of the destruction of said cityscape and the carnage that followed. If there is anything Akira is known and loved for, it’s the highly detailed death and destruction that went nuclear in the now iconic final act.

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But even when the movie didn’t focus on Tetsuo’s rampage, Akira was an incredible feat of traditional animation like no other. Every character and every background has been animated in the traditional way, resulting in one of the most breathtaking animated films ever made. Computers can make detail work easier, but they will always lack the grain and imperfections of Akira.

2 Neon Genesis Evangelion transcended the boundaries of the medium

Much has already been said about how Neon Genesis Evangelion forever changed anime storytelling, but many tend to overlook its animation. Shinji Ikari’s tragedy wouldn’t have had such an impact without its animation, which turned an otherwise familiar edgy mecha story into the animated adaptation of a very troubled psyche.

Even before its abstract finale which was caused by budget cuts, Neon Genesis Evangelion pushed its traditionally animated episodes into surreal territory thanks to unorthodox direction and editing. The series may be the exception when it comes to troubled productions, but it remains an artistic achievement in mainstream animation.

1 Angel’s Egg took visual storytelling to new heights

Director Mamuro Oshii’s animated films all testify to the artistry of the medium, but angel egg is easily his best but most underrated work. Aside from its perfectly animated cels and frames, all painstakingly detailed and painting-like, this classic OVA stands out for its relative lack of dialogue and reliance on visual storytelling.

angel egg is the kind of anime that should be experienced more than it should be understood, which is how it earned its reputation of being more of an animated art display than a grounded story. Today’s digital cartoons are amazing and may even get better in the future, but none of them will match the raw, classic artistry of Angel egg.


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