The reason why numerous anime studios begin to incorporate CGI into their repertoire of animation toolboxes is simply that it is cheaper and faster to do than traditional animation. You see, traditional hand-drawn animations require numerous animators to work frantically around the clock for a single episode. After all, every character movement, expression, and interaction has to be individually drawn by a skilled artist. And that is a highly expensive and time-consuming process.
On the other hand, the process is a lot simpler with CG animation. The animators only need to create the 3D character models once, and then simply animate them however they see fit. To be fair though, depending on its complexity, making a proper 3D character model can also take quite a long time, which is precisely what happens in Trigun Stampede. However, once the animators passed that state, everything should move a lot quicker from there.
So long story short, producing anime with CG is a lot more cost-effective for most studios, compared to traditional hand-drawn animation. This is also the reason why there are an increasing number of anime that utilize both hand-drawn and CG for different parts of their animation. This is especially true for Mecha anime or anime that have lots of mechanical animation, such as Gundam or Legends of Galactic Hero. They use hand-drawn animation for the characters and CG for the robots and aircrafts.
Why Fans Despise CG Anime
Fans have always been a bit skeptical when it comes to the use of CGI in an anime. And the reason is not that we reject the use of new technology on our beloved storytelling medium, nor do we think that the old ways are the best ways. The reason why most anime watchers feel a bit wary when it comes to CG anime is simply that the end result of this technology has been notoriously hit-and-miss.
There are anime with stellar CGI that makes us gasp in awe when we see them, such as Gantz:0, Land of the Lustrous, and the new Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero, just to name a few. Unfortunately, for every good CGI anime, there will be a couple of movies or series that have janky and downright bad CGI. Who can forget the infamous Bear from Golden Kamuy, the emotionless face of the characters in Knights of Sidonia, the jarring transformation scene in the Sailor Moon Crystal, or the failure of the entire series due to the terrible CGI that happened to Ex-Arm?
If the bad CGI happened in old anime, such as in 1983’s Golgo 13 or 2008’s Ghost in the Shell 2.0, then we could chalk it up to limitations in technology or experience at the time. But every anime mentioned in the previous paragraph was released after the 2010s, with the latest one being the 2021’s Ex-Arm. So time and technology are not always a guarantee of quality when it comes to CG anime. So now you see why anime viewers are always skeptical when it comes to CGI anime.
What The Future Might Look Like
So what is the future of CGI in anime? Well, we can’t predict the future, but we can see the trend. Seeing the obvious increase in the use of CG in anime every year, we can safely assume that we’d see more of them in the future.
However, the rise of full CGI anime might be slower than a hybrid of CG + hand-drawn anime. After all, a full-CGI anime also comes with its own sets of problems that not many studios are prepared or experienced enough to solve, which may lead to an increase in production time. That is one of the reasons why the Trigun Stampede took 5 years to complete.
On the other hand, hybrid anime simply use CGI to lighten the workloads of the animators. especially for animating massive crowds and mechanical objects. That is what the Gundam franchise has been doing for quite some time, and other major anime franchises will likely follow suit.
CGI technology will get more advanced and more user-friendly every year. Combined with the increasing number of animators who are well-versed in using said technology, it’s not an exaggeration to say that we’ll likely get numerous full CGI anime every year, with even more hybrid anime every season.
At this point in time, it is safe to say that CGI anime is here to stay. Yes, there might be some misses here and there, but as different studios begin to get the hang of using CGI or blending it with traditional animation, we can expect the quality to get even better each year.
That being said, the rise of CGI anime does not mean the downfall of traditional anime. On the contrary, it means the studios will be able to produce an even more elaborate anime with relatively the same amount of budget. After all, they can use cheaper and faster CGI for certain parts of the animations, while the rest of the team focuses on creating fluid hand-drawn animation of the characters. And that is great news, don’t you agree?
Do you like CGI in anime? Do you have a favorite full-CGI anime? Let us know in the comment section below.