Anime that makes creative use of ugly animation

The way the anime industry approaches animation has changed a lot over the years. Limited animation has become extremely common as a cost-cutting measure, interspersed with occasional blasts of flowing “sakuga” scenes that are usually cut for promotion on social media.

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Anime fans have also become more attentive to animation, with really poorly produced shows like Hand stirrers to be met with widespread ridicule. However, smart animators are more than capable of reducing the direct quality of their animation, without detracting from the quality of the whole show, allowing what might seem ugly or requiring little effort to serve a real purpose in the end product.


7/7 Golden Kamuy

At first sight, Golden Kamuy seems like a pretty serious show. The main objective of the story is to locate a group of former prisoners with parts of a map tattooed on their chests, skinning them being by far the easiest way to complete the full map. Despite the morbidity of this premise, the series is actually very comedic and educational about Ainu culture.

These two aspects combine in the way the series deals with bears. Bears are shown as important animals to the Ainu, but as wild animals they also create chaotic situations that Sugimoto gets stuck in. While the manga already renders the bears in unique ways, the anime used very goofy 3D animation for the bears. While it could have easily looked shoddy, the bears end up being weirdly hilarious and actually add to the comedy of the show.

6/7 A punch

Whereas A punch features amazing animated scenes and high-quality artwork, it wasn’t originally produced as well. Originally, it was a webcomic directed by One, a mangaka whose artistic skills were notoriously underdeveloped when OPM was originally serialized.

Paying homage to this simpler origin, the OPM the anime will sometimes delve into an art style reminiscent of One’s original work, removing detailed shading or largely realistic anatomy, and making the animation extremely simplified. Most often this is used with Saitama himself to show him reacting negatively to his co-stars’ hijinks.

5/7 Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure

Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure generally has some of the best animation and detailed artwork in all of anime. However, Jojo is also a show that likes to delve into the strange. In Jojo Part 3: Stardust Crusadersone of the Stand’s enemy users is a young boy called Boingo with a comic for a Stand.

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Thoth is a rather weak stand, but the style he’s drawn in is a quirky, almost pop-out book style that features silly caricatures of all the main characters. This art style is also used for a special release on all episodes featuring Boingo, adding unexpected variety and helping these episodes stand out.

4/7 Luluco Space Patrol

Studio Trigger is one of the most well-known and respected studios in the anime industry, thanks in part to their consistently stellar animation work. However, even the most talented creators don’t always have the money and time for another Cyberpunk: Edge Runners.

Luluco Space Patrol is one of the few shows Trigger has done on a shoestring budget and manages to use it to its comedic advantage. The animation in Luluco is rare, using its limited resources to create a fun sense of comedic timing. It even features a character that’s basically a looping fire gif attached to a still image, which still manages to be one of the funniest in the series.

3/7 Pop Team Epic

Even among the likes of Gintama, Pop Team Epic is an anime gag synonymous with chaos. From the satirical drawings of its main characters to its erratic, sometimes hard-to-analyze sketches, the show always plays by its own rules, even if it generally puts it at odds with most other anime.

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This is especially true for its “Bob Team Epic” segments, in which the generally clean and attractive art style is replaced with a grotesque and deliberately unattractive art style that wouldn’t look out of place among a toddler’s scribbles. The animation for these sections is also twitchy and simple, helping to push the gross factor as far as possible for the sake of the joke.

2/7 crybaby devilman

Masaki Yuasa is easily one of the most prolific directors in the anime industry, even founding his own studio, Science Saru. His animation style is renowned for its freedom, with characters regularly deforming from the model for the sake of a scene’s energy.

Probably the most famous use of this style is in crybaby devilman. When series protagonist Akira fuses with a demon, he gains superhuman athleticism. This enhanced physique is portrayed in a bizarre way, with his running more akin to clawing through the air, his limbs twisting and bending abnormally.

That’s just part of how demonic characters come off as distinctly inhuman, in a way that’s as effective as it is strange to behold.

1/7 Ping Pong Animation

Another Masaki Yuasa production, Ping Pong Animation is easily one of the most unique anime out there. It goes well with Yuasa’s loose animation style and has an extremely sketchy abstract art style that’s paired with a lot of anatomy and environmental warping in an effort to bolster the energy of a scene.

The characters are rendered quite realistic, especially up close. Much attention is paid to their facial features, which twist and twist with effort as they play ping pong. In the extreme, eyelashes, teeth, etc. of the character will all be drawn individually, giving a very rough representation of a person under duress. It’s a far cry from the appeal-driven style of most modern anime, but it’s able to capture human physicality and passion in a unique and compelling way.

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