Marvel At How Japanese Anime Has Changed And Evolved

While Japanese anime first appeared as early as 1917, it began to flourish in the 1960s with the spread of television throughout Japan. And, over the years, its styles have changed.

This isn't new, and it's something Kotaku has touched on previously (here). However, below you can see images from 2ch that catalogue anime styles from the 1960s to this decade. They do an exhaustive job of illustrating the trends and evolutions in Japanese anime.

Yes, the characters depicted in the images are largely female, but many of them were aimed at female viewers. Some were aimed at both males and females, while others were created for decidedly male viewers.

Below, you can see how anime art has evolved, starting with Astro Boy's sister Uran and Princess Sapphire of Princess Knight. Both, of course, were created by Osamu Tezuka, the "Godfather of Anime". The timeline ends with more modern characters, such as Haruhi Suzumiya.

Note that some anime styles, such as Ghibli's or Sazae-san's, hasn't been as impacted as much by various trends.

The 1960s to the early 1980s

The first half of the 1980s to the mid-1990s

The late 1990s to the current decade

ここに来てまたアニメの絵柄が奇形化し出してる気がする [2ch]


    Man that is so crazy how things look different, when done by different people at different times for different reasons, in different styles. Almost as if it's shocking to think a country can have variance in what it does.

    (Also, Sailor Moon stock footage screen grabs from early episodes with lower budgets are of course going to look different to, say, an Evangelion character still that was not animated at all.)

      I don't think the idea of this was to compare the quality of individual series' so much as it was to show the evolution of animators' drawing styles/trends over the decades, for which there's a clear progression. No need to get so arched up matey :)

    Astroboy 1960's Intro:

    Anime today is good.

    Last edited 22/03/13 7:31 am

      That's because it is. And 80% of anime is: normal school normal student. Something happens (some new character comes in or someone gets powers) that changes everything. Or wait what ifits not a normal school, what if its a ninja school or some magic school. F#c!k!n& school bs.

        Well a school is a good premise for an anime. Anime, stylistically, tends to focus more on character drama than anything, even if it is a 'magic school' or 'ninja school' and there's lots of action. In a school, the characters are forced to be together and form relationships, and obviously, when you force say, 12 different types of people to be friends or see each other on a regular basis, you get an absolutely fuck load of drama and conflict. Eventually, the 12 people will overcome their problems and learn to live with each other, the ultimate result of their character development.

        It's a bit overused, but not without reason. If it's not a school, it's a spaceship crew.

      only because you only go for the perverted ones. Don't blame your own perversion on them

        Did my previous post offended you I'm sorry.

        Last edited 22/03/13 7:43 am

          They have a point though. You seem to be making a generalisation based on your dislike of a subset of anime.

            Well I miss the 'old dayz' of anime things have changed a lot since when I was a kid watching Speed Racer and Pokemon in the mornings before school but now I don't watch them anymore to busy working but enjoy them late at night.

            Last edited 22/03/13 7:30 am

              Dragon Ball, uh? Sure you don't remember Master Roshi or Oolong? Goku discovering empirically that girls have no balls, Dragon or otherwise?

              Anyhow, if you don't like the medium why should you express an ignorant and generalising comment about it?

                I'm truly sorry but my post wasn't meant to offend anyone I don't mind anime today or I try watch as many and enjoy them. I just surprise of the response of my post which wasn't meant to be against anime jeez the members Kotaku are such bullies.

                Last edited 22/03/13 8:18 am

      It's true, we get less mature serious story driven anime. The perverted crap (being pretty much softcore pron) sells, it sells DVDS and toys and pillows and all kinds of stuff. It's really risky for most anime studios to release serious anime nowdays.

      If you look up on youtube "dateline suspended animation" on youtube, dateline did a really good mini documentary on it and how even though directors at studios want to make serious stuff that would perhaps appeal to a larger audience, they can't finacially.

      The creator of psycho-pass, one of the only serious anime airing this season, pretty much summed it up with something along the lines of "We're making a serious anime that won't just appeal to the 'anime audience' so finacially it will either do really well or fail completely".

    Japanese anime is redundant.

      Much like your opinion....

        Alright, everyone calm down and put your down-votes away. "Japanese anime" as a phrase is redundant because anime is Japanese by definition.

          Yeah, I have him/her an up-vote not because I liked the comment but to help balance out the people reacting negatively for wrong reason. You get an up-vote for taking a second or two to think before commenting and saying something useful.

    Really interesting seeing all these side-by-side. I wonder how much of the changes are due to the evolution of animation technology rather than the trends of the era.

    Last edited 21/03/13 9:23 am

    I LOVE THEM ALLLL!!! *Floating hearts*

    Anyone notice that all the sample image is female?

      yes, because it was mentioned in the actual article

    I wouldn't say it's changed that much, maybe just more stylised and tweaked than previous. Also technical advancements have changed the look overall, digital colouring, 3d integration etc.

    I kind of find it strange some of the more creative anime art styles aren't included in this.

    80s will always be the generation that maintained the best style/anatomy ratio. These days character have terrible morphology but at least the production costs are now low enough that almost anything can be serialized, which comes with it's own array of benefits.

    I'd say its somewhat of an indictment how little the art style has changed of the last 50 years or so.

    Still love the old 80ies to 90ies stuff :)
    Here is one of my favorite Anime openings of all time, Dominion Tankpolice

    Catchy tune

    I'm honestly surprised this list originated from Japan. It seems like anime fans in that country forget about an anime as soon as it's finished airing, let alone remember one from the 60s.

    Where is Studio Ghibli?

      "Note that some anime styles, such as Ghibli’s or Sazae-san‘s, hasn’t been as impacted as much by various trends"

    new anime shiny hair sux - go back to normal hair
    french/japanese anime was the golden era

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