10 Best Anime That Mixed Traditional & 3DCG Animation


Anime is at a crossroads when it comes to animation. Technological advancements have finally made it possible to consistently use 3DCG animation. However, there are trade-offs to picking either 3DCG or traditional hand-drawn or cel animation. Traditional animation is costly and stiff when done poorly, while 3DCG is fluid but looks out of place when executed wrong.



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Each has its own strength, so incorporating the two can lead to very interesting anime. Some of the best shows and films have a good sense of when to use both, and to make them memorable. So far, the interplay between the two is limited to traditionally animated works that incorporate 3DCG, but it is not too farfetched to imagine the opposite being possible in the future.

10 Made In Abyss Uses CG Animation To Bring Its World Building To Life

The story of Made in Abyss lives and dies by its world-building. It’s an adventure story where descending further into the abyss can lead to absolutely alien landscapes. While the land is already strange, what makes it feel lived in is its diverse biodiversity. Reg and Riko have to contend with monstrous beasts.

Animating a good number of these creatures requires model rigs that allow for greater movement. The aesthetic element to it is that the 3DCG monsters are more noticeable. They stand out from the foreground, furthering their alienating ferocity. What might have been a downside becomes a tool in the show’s storytelling.

9 Fate/Zero’s Fights Thrive Off The Explosive Mix Of Animation Styles

For many anime fans in the early 2010s, Fate/Zero was the show that proved that 3DCG has a place in the medium. Ufotable became the modern poster of integrated animation overnight. This is clearest in the fight scenes, where both styles are always used. Berserker is a fully 3DCG character, so any fight he’s a part of demonstrates this.

The action is explosive and dynamic. The 3DCG allows for a smooth 3D camera lens, and the hits feel violent and punchy since the effects are a mix of traditional and 3DCG. It wouldn’t be as special if it didn’t blend the two.

8 Kill La Kill Goes To Extremes With Its Dynamic Animation

Studio Trigger is not known for their restraint. They are a loud, flashy, and over-the-top studio that has inherited Studio Gainax’s experimental fervor. Their first big anime proves it. Kill la Kill has scantily clad action fights that get ridiculous. Every hit that comes from Satsuki and Ryuuko destroys the terrain near them. The fights are long but don’t feel dragged out.

This is mostly due to the mix of 3DCG and traditional animation. Many of the flying debris and people are animated in 3DCG, as well as the transformation sequences and outrageous camera angles. The traditional art grounds the fights right back, so the fans never feel oversaturated.

7 Even A Calm Show Like Time Of Eve Can Blend Styles

Time of Eve uses its visuals to play with its premise. Technology is animated with 3DCG, while what is considered human is done in traditional art. The beauty of the show is that it sets itself in a cafĂ© that actively works against that binary. Within the cafe, androids don’t need to display their digital halos. This makes it very difficult to distinguish humans from androids.

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When the two styles are present, it’s to clearly mark a character as robotic in a way. However, the show develops this premise to the point where the distinction becomes meaningless. It’s just discrimination through the lens of sci-fi anime. The show urges the viewer to accept a character’s humanity and disregard the visual differences.

One of the most colorful, expressive, and bold shows of the 2010s, Mawaru Penguin Drum can feel like it’s doing too much. The average anime viewer might get overwhelmed by the maelstrom of vibrant symbols and objects. However, it will deeply speak to the fans who give it a chance. While it can be overwhelming, its indulgence in excess is also part of its appeal.

The anime’s transformation sequence combines traditional animation and 3DCG. The turnstile, the teddy bears, and the staircases are 3DCG, but the sparkling effects, the characters, and the rocket are traditionally drawn. This captures the visual language of the whole show. It’s adorable, varied, and dense.

5 Digital Life Is Given CG Form In Dennou Coil

Dennou Coil is a hidden gem that needs to be talked about more, especially within anime’s sci-fi genre. It focuses on the rapid integration of social media and the digital world. In the show, it is explored through augmented reality (AR). This is made very clear by having many elements of AR shown in 3DCG.

The show takes its time establishing the technology of the world, as well as its implications. Through the lens of children, the gravity of AR is immense. The usage of both styles of animation conveys the looming presence digital technology has on children. It can pose intellectual and philosophical questions because viewers buy into its presentation.

4 The Experimental Fusion Of Mind Game’s Presentation Is Breathtaking

Mind Game is one of the clearest examples of animation’s limits. Director Masaaki Yuasa’s debut film incorporates so many animation techniques that it can appear dizzying. Rotoscoping, 3DCGI, traditional, and many other styles are used to tell the absurd story of Mind Game.

Mind Game is a blast to watch from start to end. The energy starts off high but ramps up with each new scene. It can take some acclimatizing for viewers who are not used to experimental anime, but it is not difficult to understand. Once the audience accepts the film’s eccentricities, it will reward them with its ridiculously sincere heart.

3 Space Battleship Yamato 2199 Makes Space Battling Look Good

Remaking one of anime’s most important series is a Herculean task, but Space Battleship Yamato 2199 rises to the occasion. Its visuals especially modernize the franchise without forgoing what makes it special. It doesn’t try to alter how the Yamato looks, nor does it deviate from the original character design. Instead, it only makes them look sharper, more detailed, and vivid.

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The anime excels when it comes to using 3DCG as extensively as it does. All the ships, including the fighter jets, are animated in 3DCG. This means most of the space fights do not include traditional animation, outside of the pilots. With a few glaring exceptions, the anime pulls this off superbly.

2 Spirited Away Makes Subtle Use Of 3DCG Animation

Studio Ghibli’s best films are thought of more for the strengths of their traditional animation, but Spirited Away shows the studio’s versatility and willingness to experiment. The story of a girl who works to save her family from an otherworldly plain is memorable partially due to the amazing art and detail of the world and its inhabitants.

The lush scenes are punctuated by subtle 3DCG models, like the bowl that falls from the table Chihiro’s father is eating at. The 3DCG can also become more pronounced, like in the scene where Chihiro runs through the flowers or when Haku flies above the bathhouse. These moments are spectacles that add flourish to an already dazzling film.

1 Paprika Is An Unbelievable Realization Of Human Imagination

Legendary director Satoshi Kon’s final film is arguably his boldest visual movie. The core concept of Paprika rests on the exploration of dreams to understand a person. Using experimental technology, Atsuko Chiba enters her patients’ dreams to aid their therapy. Once the device is stolen, the dangerous implications of the technology are fully unleashed.

Satoshi Kon’s vision creates a world that’s endlessly whimsical, frightening, and unstable. The images in the film require a mix of traditional and 3DCG animation. The traditional art sets the aesthetics of the film, while the 3DCG allows for difficult movement, scale, or creative effects. Combined, the movie is a mesmerizing nightmare.

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