Is Anime a Legitimate Form of Animation?

Is Anime good or bad Animation?
Anime. Chances are good you either love it or you hate it. And if you’re an animation teacher, very often you fall into the hatred category for the simple fact that young, starry-eyed animators refuse to work in any other style if they’re obsessed with Anime and Manga. Some professors even go so far as to say it’s not legitimate animation! What do you think?

When you look at it objectively (as objective as humans can be, at any rate) it’s true that the general Anime style is a very limited form of animation. Often it comes down to scenes of mouths moving with the occasional eye blink, sandwiched between brilliantly rendered long shots of epic backgrounds. The fluidity of traditional 2D animation rarely make an appearance, except in short spurts during fast, motion-blur filled action. Anime is also the master of the “animated cycle” and reusing drawings and actions.

Ranma 1/2 Animation

But does that make it some sort of “lesser” form of animation? While there may be fewer frames, most of the best Anime is still fundamentally very well crafted art. In fact, often it requires MORE attention to detail and proper posing, because those images and poses are going to be on screen (and held) for a lot longer. Still, art =/= animation; the two go hand in hand but are very different things.

Background_from_Miyazakis_spirited_away

We want to hear what YOU think about the great “Anime Animation” debate. Do you find it to be a cop-out? Think it’s the highest form of our artistic medium? Maybe it’s less black and white, and there are only particular films and shows done in the anime style that you feel go far enough to consider them proper animation? Whatever the case, leave a comment below with your thoughts and we’ll collect them together for a future article. Maybe together we can finally come to grips with the long running Anime discussion! Be sure to include if you, personally, enjoy anime or not, from an animator’s perspective!

65
Leave a Reply

avatar
46 Comment threads
19 Thread replies
1 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
49 Comment authors
sagar trivediMuhammad UbaidullahNanoAileyAlisha Ross Recent comment authors
  Subscribe  
newest oldest most voted
Notify of
Roque
Guest
Roque

As any animator knows, Animation is about creating the illusion of life from a series of still images. If Anime is able to successfully create the illusion of life (and I think it does), it therefore must be considered “real” Animation.

Of course, they use little dirty tricks (ie. limited animation)… but isn’t the whole animation thingy about tricking the eye? Thank God there are different styles of animation so that not every product look the same.

Viktor Locke
Guest
Viktor Locke

I have to ask, though. From an animator’s perspective, how often does a character have to move when they’re supposed to be moving in a realistic manner? Because actual people don’t move around so much vs cartoons like Tom and Jerry

Rick Sternberg
Guest
Rick Sternberg

As an animator, all I have to say is animation is hard enough without having other animators denigrate your work. Constructive criticism is good. Outright dismissal because of style is bad.

Waijeun
Guest
Waijeun

Is it legitimate? That is all a matter of opinion. I would say it depends. The legitimacy of several “western” style animated works is also questionable. Are character designs sometimes even more homogeneous than Disney’s CG protagonists, even across studios? I would say so. But there is also a lot of variety in anime too. Does it make extensive use of limited animation techniques? Sure, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Animating is hard, so people are always trying to find and make use of methods that simplify the process of telling an animated story. Is there room for… Read more »

Landon Kemp
Guest

I’m not the world’s hugest fan, but I personally really enjoy anime a lot. I love other animation styles from other countries as well, but there’s something so intrinsically appealing about anime and manga, be it in the designs, the acting, the poses, the expressions, the stylizations, or the storytelling. So yes, I consider anime to be animation, definitely a unique style of animation of its own. Sure, it may be a little more limited when it comes to the frame rate, but a lot of it still looks really great from an artistic standpoint, and the animation itself looks… Read more »

TajRoy Duane Calhoun
Guest
TajRoy Duane Calhoun

I’m sorry. I know you probably want civil argument written with respect to the other sides argument – so I am truly sorry for this. But if this is an actual opinion floating around, I feel like I would be coward to not confront it, and say, flat out, anyone who doesn’t consider the the likes of Spirited Away, A Letter to Momo, or Metropolis to be animation – anyone who considers the masterclass character and effects. . . movement (I don’t know what word to use if not animation, but whether it is or isn’t that is what we… Read more »

Yann
Guest

All previous comments said what i wanted to say. So i will just add a few things. The main point of animation, in my eyes, is to create a convincing universe for the sole purpose of making the spectator enjoying the moment. They have to be roll over by emotions. Some anime can do that like – full length Japanese animation – Akira, Ghost in the shell or some Miyazaki’s movies for exemple. Yes, an animator as to do his best. But that is not ably animation behind anime. The stories are there too. And anime have a huge range… Read more »

Sabina K
Guest
Sabina K

Although I dislike anime (or more precisely the attention anime’s getting) I cat’t say it’s not animation. It may not have the best animation ever, but it is animated. And I think it focuses more on the details of each drawing. But the attention it’s getting really annoys me. I remember when I went to my art school almost everybody was into anime except me. And everybody drew in the anime style. But the worst part is they weren’t drawing fanart of their favorite characters they were redrawing screenshots. And they couldn’t draw anything else, and they didn’t even want… Read more »

Henry P
Guest
Henry P

I experienced the same thing as you did when I went to art school. Fanboy/fangirl mentality are producing so many hacks and mediocrity who are trying to pass it off as some kind of masterpiece. Anyway, it’s just their immaturity and the same mentality is also found in comic books realm as well.

Luckily most Japanese animation studios don’t hire people who can’t draw real people and objects correctly.

Tony McCrorey
Guest
Tony McCrorey

Ok not all anime is the piss poor crap it’s being generalized as. Redline(100k hand drawn frames),summer wars, any katsushiro otomo movie,almost any production ig film. Each of these animes or groups I mentioned are amazing just a great as any American animator, and just to point out how much of our animation is done in Korea anyway? These animation teachers shouldn’t even exist, animation is rarely done here unless it’s 3d lol

Rica R2
Guest

Even that most of them seems to be cheating onto cheap tricks with repeating mouth shapes, limited animation etc, those Japanese guys are extremely skilled.
I was once having animation lessons with one of Japanese pokemon directors and he said that all that limitation is mostly because they have “paper budget” they can just use so much cells for each episode. He told me that that’s the exact reason the Evangelion series has so much either people standing still talking or even tuned back while talking, that’s to save drawings so they could use them in those awesome fight scenes.

Josh K
Guest
Josh K

My only concern is the growing popularity of anime. Every art site I visit is literally covered with anime-styled art with little of any other art styles. Anime is fine itself, but if it’s at the expense of other art styles, then I have a problem with it.

Henry P
Guest
Henry P

Don’t worry. It’s just kids being kids. They’ll grow out it.

Richard Carrillo
Guest

This can’t be a question… OF COURSE it is animation! Animation doesn’t have to be done in certain way to be animation, as someone said here, it has to give the illusion of life and certainly many anime shows achieve that. I even consider doing “limited animation” a hard thing, for example: in anime, many times they just put a drawn scene and pan it a little and they play background steps and some conversation and sometimes you don’t even notice this! that’s awesome man! I mean they can convince you with such simple stuff.

Professor
Guest
Professor "B"

I may likely be one of those professors you’re speaking of, and I will try to explain why here, though honestly some people, particularly students, have no intention of listening. I teach at a very well known school for the arts, usually a wide range of topics from color theory to drawing for animation. Each semester new students enter and several are always obsessed with anime. It’s gotten to the point where I have had no choice but to ban it from all work. Here is why: Anime, as a style, is not well suited for animation. The artists who… Read more »

Henry P
Guest
Henry P

Of course your students will be upset when you “insult” their youth culture. If you’re a metal rock fan and someone much older says it’s a devil’s music, wouldn’t you get upset? Just tell them that all Japanese animation studios don’t hire people who can’t draw. Also you need to look up some feature-level Japanese animations and observe how they use their limited animation in effective cinematic way. Simply put, do some serious homework before forming an opinion. Opinion based from very limited knowledge or experience will not convince your students to listen to you. Being a teacher doesn’t mean… Read more »

Thomas H.
Guest
Thomas H.

I understand where the professor is coming from, but this is quite a closed-minded way of thinking. He doesn’t believe in illustration-centric animation, which characterises Japanese animation. Broadly speaking, the ideal of traditional Western animation drawings is hiding of the artist’s hand, hiding the fact that animation is made of discrete illustrations in favour of the infamous ‘illusion of life’. Certainly this approach has value, but it is so mediocre to say that this is all that animation can be. In Japan, animation originally developed from imitations of the Western model, which don’t resonate culturally with Japanese people, and then… Read more »

Caustic
Guest
Caustic

I think the main problem is that you’re not getting them to realize how important artistic fundamentals are to making anime in the first place, not to mention they’re probably drawing “anime” wrong in the first place. The two can definitely be related to each other, you just have to draw the connection. Anime, when you look at it closely, like really closely, requires a lot of technical skill. While a lot of cartoons can get away with unrealistic movement and character body shapes, anime tends to focus exclusively on humans with much more realistic proportions, not to mention frames… Read more »

Elizabeth
Guest
Elizabeth

Of course anime is animation, but it’s just bad animation. It is cheating and limited and uses the same things over and over again. How many times have you seen this? http://www.freewebs.com/ledastudios/rpr/cliches/sweatdrop.jpg It’s lazy and boring and they use it over and over until it becomes pointless. Some of the stories are okay, but most of the time it’s the same thing over and over and over and over. Giant robots or school girls or both. Over and over. Now they’re remaking old Anime and it is pretty much copied image for image from the old comics. How lazy can… Read more »

TajRoy Duane Calhoun
Guest
TajRoy Duane Calhoun

Obviously not as lazy as your argument. Limited? Anymore limited American tv cartoons? And a sweat drop isn’t an animation technique, it is a symbol. Like the cloud of smoke for fighting, birds or stars over someones head when their knocked out or dizzied. It’s not even related to limit animation, rather its used for quicker, symbolic, or comical and purposely unrealistic expressions of an idea, and symbols are just as common in American cartoons. The fact that the symbol is so noticeable to you (us) is because it is a foreign symbol, and we don’t notice ones we are… Read more »

Richard Carrillo
Guest

Have you even seen anime??? I’m not talking about DBZ, naruto or any series (low budget and less time productions), I mean MOVIES. Before saying all that nonsense go and watch Akira, Ghost in the Shell, Spirited away, Evangelion.. the list go on. Those are BRILLIANT, fluid, beautiful camera work, some say better than many old school 2D Disney.
Besides anime isn’t just focused on making a joke every 2 minutes and isn’t pointed just for children.
Research before giving useless opinion… damn you really made me angry.

mooser
Guest
mooser

Anime has moving pictures so that makes it animation. Done.

Davis S.
Guest
Davis S.

Hi there to all, this is an interesting discussion. To me there are really two kinds of anime. One is the really bad TV show anime that is dull and cliche. The other is the kind that studios like Miyazaki’s makes, like Princess Mononoke. It is beautiful, full animation that has a great attention to movement AND drawing. I would say the first kind of anime is barely animation and I would be okay if people didn’t call it that. The second one though is better animation that most animation in the whole world. I was really sad to hear… Read more »

Alexis
Guest
Alexis

Holy cow….okay, so this became much longer than I intended but here it goes. I’d say it depends on what aspect your focus on. In terms of animation I would say that western animation is better than anime. However, please keep the cultural difference in mind. Anime is made in a certain style that the Japanese, not the West, find attractive and so the animation reflects that style. Animated movies simply aren’t as big or common in Japan and so most of the animation you see would be from a television series. If you think about, a lot of western… Read more »

Henry P
Guest
Henry P

Can I add one more?
Western animation technique: Stage-style Acting.
Japanese animation technique: Mini Cinematography.

doublemax
Guest
doublemax

You want to judge animation? Watch it with no sound. Now go watch anime with no sound. It’s stupid and pointless and barely anything moves. You can call that real animation if you want, but you’d be lying to yourself.

Daisuke
Guest
Daisuke

Kid, you haven’t really seen anime haven’t you?

Ghost in the shell or FMA OR you can jump into a car..

chunkysoups
Guest
chunkysoups

Are you kidding? Is this even a debate? Is anime real animation? Is the sun hot? Of course anime is real animation. And like all genres of animation, there’s good and bad animation. Pixar has quality 3d animation, while some 3d tv shows do not. I’m not even the biggest anime fan out there, but even I know that there are animes out there with incredible animation, some with not so incredible animation. I think people like to hate on anime simply because it’s looked down on as “nerdy” or “weeaboo behaviour.” Some awesome anime animation work I’ve seen are… Read more »

dobermunk
Guest

The context in which anime arises is important in such a discussion, as is the recognition of the fruitful co-inspiration between eastern and western styles. 1) asian audiences spend much more time viewing the background of an image than do western audiences (Chua et al, 2005). And massively so… In this context, shifting the weight from character to background seems an obvious choice. Western stories also rely on more specific characterizations of conflict… ie. the villain is seldom as black-and-wight as you would find in a Disney film, for example. Is there a connection here? 2) When I look at… Read more »

Leopoldio
Guest
Leopoldio

I agree wholeheartedly with TajRoy Duane Calhoun. Go to youtube and look up the work of animators like Hiroyuki Okiura, Mitsuo Iso, and Shinya Ohira. Looks like “real animation” to me. So what if they don’t animate on ones? Nobody does these days. I see other commenters are harping about ‘shortcuts’ and limited animation as if Japanese animators are lazy by nature, when much of what you see in Japanese animation is born out of budgetary and time constraints. Compared to American productions, Japanese animated TV series are generally produced on minuscule budgets at a breakneck pace, necessitating the need… Read more »

TajRoy Duane Calhoun
Guest
TajRoy Duane Calhoun

Thank you!

TajRoy Duane Calhoun
Member
TajRoy Duane Calhoun

Thank you. Perfectly said.

Henry P
Guest
Henry P

Now I’m going to stir hornet’s nest… I believe a sense of bias and tunnel vision are main reason for article like this one. When non-western animation like anime gets all the adoration from its fans, many Western animation fans can’t help themselves feeling jealous. I’ve seen the same negative attitude from comic book nerds (notably superhero types) in late 90’s when Manga got popular among young people. I believe snobby western animation fans are insecure about their fan identity when they asked whole “real animation” nonsense. The question may sound innocuous, but I think they felt threatened because they’re… Read more »

tjunard
Member

In this case, I think the term “real animation” is being interpreted as “quality animation”. With that being said, Yes…anime is a legitimate form of animation and ART! It’s unfair to stereotype a genre because of a few bad seeds that are in the spotlight. The action scenes in anime are Incredible!

TajRoy Duane Calhoun
Member
TajRoy Duane Calhoun

Leopoldia raises a perfect point which I didn’t consider before – Riki, why would you use such an example as you did as a demonstration of Japanese animation? It would be the equivalent of me making an article on why Japanese animation is better than American animation (and although you open this as a debate your writing – backed by your use of a very specific example – insinuates that you hold the belief of American animation > Japanese animation) and using Flintstones as an example of American animation, pitted against the greatest of Japanese character and effects animators. Because… Read more »

David
Guest
David

Anything that moves is technically animation, but this is probably less about it being “technically” and more about what people think of anime. I like the stories in most anime but the lack of things actually animating usually bothers me so much that I don’t watch more than an episode or two. I usually just go read the stories, or if it was based on manga I read that. Manga is so much better than anime in so many ways……. I also want to say thank you for making this an open discussion and not “Here is what you should… Read more »

flash of greatness
Guest
flash of greatness

anime is all the same. its animation yes but it is the same animation over and over no matter what show you are watching. and the characters all look like big eyed freaks. no matter what show.

Daisuke
Guest
Daisuke

One word FMA

Ailey
Guest
Ailey

If you hate anime and don’t know anything about it, then please don’t go around saying it sucks.
Pop Team Epic is different from, let’s say, Tokyo Ghoul in many, many ways. The art style varies more than you’d think. And plots are NEVER the same. Naruto is about ninjas. Re:zero is about how the protaganist gets summoned to a different world. But there are creative ideas, and Attack on Titan’s animation is amazing. (Not just the action) I am not trying to be mean, it’s just that this comment made me angry.

C@pit@l Gin
Guest
C@pit@l Gin

Anime sucks. It is overhyped and overrated. The animation is lazy and everything always looks the exact same no matter what show it is. Take the people out of Naruto and put them in Bleach and you would never even be able to tell. And the names are always stupid or repetitive. How many Sakarais have there been now, 1000? It’s lame and lazy.

Daisuke
Guest
Daisuke

Wow you sound dumb, you haven’t actually watched any anime really. Seriously, the name FMA ring a bell?

Jessica L.
Guest
Jessica L.

I hope I never have to meet one of the people who say anime isn’t “real animation” because I don’t think I could have a conversation with them. To me that kind of view is extremely narrow minded and extreme. You maybe don’t LIKE anime, but of course it is real animation. It’s not really an opinion if it’s animation or not. Animation is moving pictures and anime is moving pictures. I don’t think anime is as good animation as like the Disney shorts with Mickey or old Looney Tunes cartoons, or even some newer cartoons like Spongebob. But it… Read more »

guiii
Guest
guiii

These days it’s close to impossible to judge anime as anything except “anime.” It is its own thing now. I wouldn’t call it traditional animation just like I wouldn’t call Flash animation traditional animation. They are separate genres.

Jaxston
Guest
Jaxston

First off I want to say that any time anybody takes this discussion too seriously it is a bad idea. Animation is entertainment and I see people practically get into fist fights over stuff like this and that is very extremely stupid. Save your passion for important things like stopping wars from happening. Past that it would be hard for anyone to say anime isn’t “real animation” because as many people have said here of course it is. The better question is probably is it “good animation” and that is going to depend on the person juding it. To me… Read more »

Charlotte
Guest
Charlotte

being a previous art student and animation student currently that likes anime i can understand where the teachers come from if there students only draw in anime style,however as many as stated anime is techncally an animation due to it being still imges usedto create movement. many have stated about low budget but the same can be said for any animation style be it 3d cgi or cartoon, there have been many movies made where the animation was of poor quality and not fluid. also stating that anime is just the same cliche is also the same for animation from… Read more »

Erica C.
Guest
Erica C.

I was sadly one of those kids who probably drove teachers nuts at my art school trying to stay true to anime ONLY. I never listened to them when they said you had to do drawing from life because I was already good at anime and I never did life drawing. So to me it was like they didn’t know what they were talking about. How did you NEED to have life drawing if I was so good without it? Life drawing was hard and foreign to me so I wanted to stick with what I knew and succeed. And… Read more »

Henry P
Guest
Henry P

You’re absolutely right. Even Japanese animation studios won’t hire people as animator who can draw only in anime/manga style. Here are some wonderful advices from Cindy Yamauchi, veteran Japanese animator who worked on numerous anime titles since 1980’s: http://www.animestylepro.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=58&Itemid=69 -Learning how to draw in the anime/manga style is just like learning any other art or style–you need to understand the basics first. The general body construction of an anime girl is no different from any other girl…they just tend to be exaggerated. No matter how huge their eyes (or certain other body parts) may be, they’re still based on human… Read more »

mike
Guest
mike

no.

Caustic
Guest
Caustic

It totally is a legitimate form of animation. A common misconception of anime is that it’s just still frames and panning. While anime definitely has a lower budget, it still has fully animated segments, and not just for action scenes; it also applies for character acting and subtle actions. In fact, anime is perhaps one of the last venues of 2D hand-drawn animation. Yes, it uses less frames, but personally I don’t think 2D animation has to be Looney Tunes all the time–and yet Japanese people can do that all the same if the director calls for it. The sakuga… Read more »

Jesse J. Jones
Guest

Was just thinking about this today, and wanted to say how great it is seeing shows like Steven Universe and Bee and Puppycat that clearly take influence from anime, but add their own expression to it. Anime got me into drawing when I started, then I practiced realism and life drawing to build up my skill, and now I’m getting back into anime and cartooning for the appeal, but now I have a backbone of life drawing to add structure to it. I saw a lot of people in art college draw in anime style and refused to study life… Read more »

damn
Guest
damn

It’s not real animation
Why was animation created? To create stuff that is not possible in Live Action
There is no Anime out there that actually does that…hence why Japanese Animation is not Real Animation and probably will never be since the Japanese have never understood Animation and never will…they’ve always seen it and still see it as a mere tool of delivering a narrative…in other words they see it as a cheaper form of Live Action which is not what Real Animation is

Carlos
Guest
Carlos

[Swear words in this comment have been removed. Please keep it clean and be respectful even if you think another person’s opinion is wrong.] There was a time when you could say ignorant [stuff] about Japanese animation and nobody will disagree because there was nothing remotely close to the sakuga fandom. But now, you have a lot of information about animators, styles, influences. Some of them are in twitter even, I think American animation got so dogmatic that sometimes it’s like the car industry. When spirited away won an Oscar a lot of American animators were upset and [are still… Read more »

Lok
Guest
Lok

LOL! So Western animation is legitimate? Anime has far better things than Western animation could never offer. The character designs are perfect, the plot is amazing (unlike American cartoons, god awful quality of story and work). Yes, it’s far more legitimate than American animation. Even the Avatar the Last Airbender and Avatar the Legend of Korra use EASTERN STYLE, the questionable thing is, when it comes to this, Americans tend to praise it. Here’s the breakdown it’s legitimate, far more legit than the Western crap I see. No offense, but the author asked a very cynical question and had it… Read more »

Nida
Guest

Of course anime is a legitimate form of animation! I can’t believe anyone would say otherwise. They might not like it, but the beauty of animation is that there is so much room for different styles. You’re not limited by the way things look and move in real life.

Viktor Locke
Guest
Viktor Locke

Putting a picture of a tv series from the 90s vs a film from 2000…really?

APNK
Guest

Japanese animation doesn’t lose its legitimacy just because it’s less sophisticated than what’s possible by Western standards. Japanese animation is purposed with serving the drama of the story between the observed characters. Death Note, a 37-episode anime series produced by Madhouse Studios (Trigun & Black Lagoon) and directed by Tetsuro Araki (Attack on Titan & Black Butler), is a prime example, given that I estimate it has less than 10 action scenes in the entire show and that less than half of THOSE are truly action scenes as opposed to just being scenes in which a very dramatic and very… Read more »

Krakatau
Guest
Krakatau

This idiotic question is just another case of typical american western arrogance. Apart from your yearly typical cookie cutter Disney/Pixar 200 million dollar productions the US non-CGI animation industry can’t even compare to Japanimation. Westerners complain of the low frame count of anime TV series but turn a blind eye to the less detailed artwork in american cartoons, it’s almost as if it’s a conscious decision on part of japanese animators! I’d take low fps animation with beautiful artwork and detailed character design over its high fps simplistic hideous american counterpart any day. Also there is absolutely no question which… Read more »

Eve Hunt
Guest

Home of Anime is a pretty decent site to watch anime online with english dubs because it does not contain ads. That’s one of the reasons that this became my go to site…

Alisha Ross
Guest

ChruncyRoll doesn’t have english dubs.
– Netflix in my region has like 30 anime and most of them old?
– Hulu – doesn’t allow me to pay – unsupported region
– funimation – “”content isn’t available in your country””

– Youtube .. where is the anime? I only see trailers.

Alisha Ross
Guest

Wow Amazing Article. Thanks for sharing us this knowledge. Your Article for anime is really helpful for me. Thank you so much

Nano
Guest

I believe Anime is more than a form of animation. Anime has it’s own style and culture. Either way you feel… it takes a lot of talent to create anime… there are writers, illustrators, animators, graphic designers, etc. I’m not really sure why anime gets a bad wrap sometimes.

Muhammad Ubaidullah
Guest

well, there is no doubt about it that. Anime has to offer so much in terms of emotions, drama and love moments.

sagar trivedi
Guest

As far As I believe My concern is the growing popularity of anime. Every art site I visit is literally covered with anime-styled art with little of any other art styles. Anime is fine itself, but if it’s at the expense of other art styles, then I have a problem with it.

Scroll to Top