why do anime girls from the 80s and 90s look so much better than anime girls today
Three factors: Color, personality, and realism.
First, color and shading.
The predominant style of the day in anime employs very crisp cell shading and eye-watering colors. Both female and male hair and eye coloration comes in any range of colors, from neon to pastel to white (although female characters most often display this). The typical color for skin in anime has gradually lightened to almost pure white over the years. Additionally, modern anime has a very specific, hard method of shading and highlighting that makes hair and skin look unnaturally shiny and often gross, lowering the realism value and throwing the texture of the skin into uncanny valley territory.
Secondly, anatomical proportions. Besides the shading, female character body and facial proportions have degraded so much that they are barely caricatures of human anatomy. Here are some examples of female anatomy in early anime:
and some in modern anime:
The biggest changes have been to the breast to waist proportion. For some reason, anime producers believe that an E-cup is the appropriate cup-size for an average 14 year old Japanese female. Bodies have also lost all of their depth (that come from an illusion of thickness necessary to two dimensional media) in favor of being skinny and flat (except for voluminous breasts, of course) and many normal, attractive parts of ladies (ribcages, stomach pooches, and natural folds) are simply smoothed over. Another noticeable change has been to the eyes and facial shape. Anime noses and mouths are apparently inversely proportional to eye shape, size, and distance apart. As the size of the eye increases, shape becomes more prominent, and distance towards the ears increases, the size of the nose, mouth, and chin decrease, contributing highly to the uncanny valley effect many modern any girls have.
Take these faces:
Thirdly, anime girls have lost much of their visible personality over the years due to moefication. This has happened to male characters also, although to a lesser extent. Anime girls are often not allowed to make cartoonish expressions (deemed unattractive) or generally change their expressions at all barring blush lines. In producers’ efforts to make the girls attractive to the audience in every frame, they sacrifice any personality that they might have. Anime girls look increasingly similar to one another, differentiated only by their hair style and eyes. Granted, there has always been a problem with female character same-face syndrome since the conception of anime (actually, in all drawn media) but as the number of female main characters in anime has grown, ironically, the problem has only increased.
Wow! Anime girls with the same hair color that you can actually tell apart!
And somehow, girls with all different colors that you can’t.
The screenshots in this post were taken from Urusei Yatsura, Neon Genesis Evangelion, Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water, Ranma ½, Kimagure Orange Road, Ping Pong Club, One Piece, Angel Beats, Higurashi When They Cry, Sword Art Online, Shakugan No Shana, and Chobits. The examples above were not used to bash any anime, but merely to demonstrate the evolution of anime art tropes from the 1980s to now. The writing and plot of each anime were not taken into account at all.
So i definitely agree with some of these points for sure! but it also rubs me the wrong way just how biased some aspects of this post is because its blatantly comparing the best examples against the worst examples?
Ultimately its a style shift, just like how theres been a shift with western cartoons as well, meaning some stuff has gotten better and some worse.
I agree with the critique on body types, but your examples for expressiveness and same-face I think is rather unfair. Plenty of 90s anime also suffered from giant eyes tiny face syndrome, like Saber Marionette or Slayers
while 2000s+ have lots of examples that break this mold too, like Full Metal Alchemist Brotherhood and Mob Psycho 100
however i do agree that there has been a trend in more of the needs-to-be-cute-all-the-time thing which is valid criticism
i think the greatest misleading aspect to this post specifically is the last part about expressions, because its comparing frames from in-motion animation to promotional art. Take promo art of Sailor Moon and anyone would admit its very same-face-syndrome, yet there’s lots of examples of these characters expressiveness in the anime itself
stills of anime like Konosuba and NIchijou are also very expressive despite the promo art too —and dont adhere to the “not allowed to make cartoonish expressions” rule. i feel recent anime has been moving away more from that trend
Modern anime is also producing great stuff like Your Name, so I guess it’s also a matter of taste as well because i found this movie to be beautiful and the character design/style very appealing. technology has come a long way!
idk i guess my point is, i agree with part of the message of this post, but anime on this site so often gets painted with broad strokes in a bad light, to the point where jokes like Anime Was A Mistake get dropped often and earnestly, at least from what i’ve seen. Theres bad examples out there, but a lot more good examples too than what I think a lot of people would expect ^_^
Also imo Trigger diversifies their cast very well from Satsuki-sama’s eyebrows to Sucy’s everything.
The recent Pokemon anime season that’s based on sun & moon shows better facial animation and facial structure diversity than the early seasons.
Even attack on titan shows great diversity of its cast.
I feel that there was a trend of cookie cutter anime for the past decade, but I also think that there’s always been people trying to break out of that.
Also, I’m pretty sure if you dig far enough into the 80s and 90s anime, you can find some anime that was considered “cookie cutter” for it’s time period. Every time period has that thing that can be considered “cookie cutter” or was characteristic for the time period. You also have to take in account of just an individual artist’s style + the studio. Many studios have a style that they’re particularly known for which is why animes produced by the same studio tend to have the same characteristics.
Also, a better comparison would have been to compare animes that have similar demographics and genres. Obviously, an ecchi anime will have tits and ass and a much more exaggerated of the waist, hips, and bust. One piece is known for having rather ‘noodily’ type bodies for female characters in the same way that Sailor Moon is known for having mile long legs and tiny mouths.
It’s annoying when salty fans who like 80′s or 90′s anime brag about how “better” anime was back then. I’d like to point out that the examples OP uses for “modern anime” were mostly mid to low-grade series that aired before 2010. This was a time period when digital animation was just starting, so animators were struggling to even color their characters properly. Also, SAO also would not be a good example to use, as A1 pictures is notorious for having same face syndrome. It would be a fairer comparison to use stuff like One Punch Man, Mob Psycho 100, or Nichijou to compare both eras. If OP was talking about anime airing around 2010, they could’ve series like katanagatari, bakemonogatari, mushishi, or even mawaru penguindrum. I just think it’s really dishonest for OP to compare some of the higher end older anime to fucking keijo or chobits. I’ll admit that digital animation has caused standard anime to become more cookie cutter, but I think it’s also obvious that the quality of animation and visuals have improved on average. Like when was the last time you had a series that was such a clusterfuck visuals-wise that the last two episodes were literally still frames and half-finished drawings?
Also for the face thing, may I present the girls of Soul Eater?
Maka has round, cute eyes without pupils and a small, round face, Tsubaki has a more mature face type with “Fluttershy-ish” eyes (kinda sad-looking) and has pupils, Patty has a round face, round, happy eyes, and Liz has a more mature face and eye type.
All are wildly expressive, too!
Crazy Maka is a gem.
The anime came out in 2008. All the ladies are lovely in their own ways, with unique appearances and personalities (I’d show their whole bodies, pointing out the different body types and how Maka, main girl and arguably best girl, is flat-chested), and it’s a whole lot of fun pls go watch it
Basically, you’re not looking hard enough for 2000′s/2010′s anime with expressive and unique girls.
I also think that attacking very story heavy shows like Chobits or Higurashi because the art isn’t up to your standards is really missing the point.