Comparing Anime Art Styles: From Classic to Contemporary

Posted by Shadow Anime on

Anime has captivated audiences worldwide not only with its captivating stories but also with its unique and diverse art styles. From the classic hand-drawn animation of the past to the modern digital techniques, anime art styles have evolved and transformed over the years. In this article, we will explore and compare the distinctive characteristics of classic and contemporary anime art styles, shedding light on their influences and the impact they have on the medium.

Table of Contents:
Classic Anime Art Style
Contemporary Anime Art Style
Influences and Impact

My Neighbor Totoro Bus Scene - Iconic Studio Ghibli Anime Film, the sisters try to meet their father’s bus during a rainstorm
Image: Studio Ghibli

Classic Anime Art Style:

Classic anime art style refers to the traditional hand-drawn animation techniques that dominated the industry in the earlier years. Key features of this style include:

  1. Hand-drawn: Classic anime was created through meticulous hand-drawn animation, giving it a distinct organic and textured feel.
  2. Detailed Backgrounds: Classic anime often showcased intricate and elaborate backgrounds, adding depth and richness to the overall visual experience.
  3. Expressive Characters: Characters in classic anime tend to have exaggerated features, expressive facial expressions, and stylized movements that enhance their personalities.
Attack On Titan Eren, Bottom Left, VS Colossal Titan, Top Right

Image: Funimation

Contemporary Anime Art Style:

As technology advanced, anime art styles evolved into the contemporary era. Here are some defining characteristics of contemporary anime art style:

  1. Digital Animation: With the advent of computer-generated imagery (CGI) and digital tools, contemporary anime relies heavily on digital animation techniques, resulting in smoother and more fluid movements.
  2. Vibrant Colors and Effects: Contemporary anime often employs vibrant and eye-catching color palettes, creating visually stunning and immersive worlds. Special effects and CGI elements are also prevalent, enhancing the overall visual spectacle.
  3. Diverse Artistic Approaches: Contemporary anime embraces a wide range of artistic approaches, allowing for experimentation and innovation. This includes different art styles within a single series or even a single scene, showcasing the creativity and versatility of modern anime.

Influences and Impact:

The shift from classic to contemporary anime art styles can be attributed to several factors:

  1. Technological Advancements: The introduction of computer-based animation tools and software revolutionized the anime industry, enabling artists to explore new possibilities and push the boundaries of creativity.
  2. Globalization and Cultural Exchange: The increasing popularity of anime worldwide led to influences from various artistic traditions and global animation styles, resulting in a more diverse and hybridized approach to anime art.
  3. Audience Preferences: As the tastes and preferences of the audience evolved, so did the art styles. Contemporary anime art styles strive to engage and captivate a modern audience by incorporating visually stunning techniques and appealing to a broader demographic.


Anime art styles have undergone a remarkable transformation from classic hand-drawn animation to the contemporary digital age. Both styles possess their unique charms and have played significant roles in shaping the medium. Classic anime art style evokes nostalgia and showcases the craftsmanship of traditional animation, while contemporary anime art style embraces technological advancements, pushing the boundaries of visual storytelling. As anime continues to evolve, we can anticipate further experimentation and the emergence of new art styles that will captivate fans around the world.

By understanding and appreciating the nuances of classic and contemporary anime art styles, we can gain a deeper appreciation for the artistry behind our favorite anime series and discover new ways to engage with the medium.

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