Dear Art Nerd,
My dad found some cable channel full of old cartoons the other day, and as we watched a bunch of Looney Tunes together, I was struck by how fluid the animation was — walking, talking, stretching into bizarre contortions. I grew up on Digimon and Yu-Gi-Oh, that kind of thing, and they are so jerky and choppy by comparison! Why are these older cartoons so much more smoothly animated?
Well, let me tell you, buddy, about dosh. Cash. Scratch. Money. Moolah. BUCKAROOS. BAZINGAS. DOLLAHS.
Ahem. So, anyway, no matter how much people wish that drawings could pop off of trees, there is one unavoidable thing to remember. Animation costs money. Lots of money. Now, a lot of those cartoon shorts were often made for the big screen, rather than just TV, and they had a lot of money put behind them. Things like Digimon, Yu-Gi-Oh, and One Piece have a lower budget. And even when shows have high budgets, they still need a lot of episodes, which the budget has to be stretched to accommodate.
That, and these things take time to draw. TV shows and anime are often made on a tight schedule. It’s an absolute nightmare to have to redraw frames over and over again for hundreds of episodes, and with the time allotted, most studios simply cannot do that. That would be insane. This is why you see a lot of reused transformation sequences in, say, Sailor Moon or Getter Robo and perhaps GaoGaiGar (Granted, that show was mostly a homage to old mecha, but they reused a lot of transformation sequences).
At least the cartoons don’t need to come out too often in the theaters. However, things like anime or, heck, most TV shows are set on a tight schedule in addition to the budget mentioned above. They can’t afford to have as many frames because, hey, they take too much time to draw.
However…when you have a Japanese animation studio that’s allowed to cut loose with budget and time, then you get absolutely gorgeous pieces of work. Take, say, the Rebuild of Evangelion series, or the absolutely ridiculously fun Gurren Lagann series, or perhaps FLCL or Redline.
It’s a shame that studios are limited by budget most of the time, but at least the writing, the characters and the story make up for it.
At your service,
The Art Nerd
Got an art question? Ask the Art Nerd! email@example.com
Or: Twitter @AskTheLeague / facebook.com/asktheleagueofnerds