Wednesday, July 14, 2010

An Artful Attack

There's something about the Sailormoon anime that bugged us: the different art styles found in different episodes. Initially we didn't bother much, as we continued watching, there would be episodes we would happily rewatch and enjoy and some that we wouldn't bother with unless we were going to rewatch all the episodes in a season, like what we're doing with season 1 on our iPhone now.

All because of the artwork: how the characters look, how they move, expressions, and sometimes even the jokes.

So for four seasons, from Sailormoon till Sailormoon Super S, there are four art styles that we commonly see.

The 'Smooth'. Because of the way there are no sharp edges and everything is slightly rounded. More obvious is when a character is facing off-center to one side but not totally sideways, the face looks absolutely flat. Rei's hair seemed extraordinarily large for her head! When we first saw this artwork we weren't too affected by it, we had not built up high standards for anime artwork for Sailormoon then (not like how we expect the Dragon Ball anime to really mimic the manga!). But when the other, far more aesthetically pleasing art styles became more frequent, we began to dislike this style.

The 'Stocky'. This was another style frequently seen from season 1, although there's been quite a fair bit of refinement in Sailorstars (by then they'd actually come up with an artist's guidebook we think). Thick lines, and everyone seemed shorter. While rather different compared to the other art styles, the movements in these episodes were rather fluid, and some of their expressions were enjoyable (meaning funny) too.

The 'Svelte'. The faces had a certain shape to them, legs were longer somehow, the details stood out, everyone had perfect pose and posture! These episodes were a pleasure to view! We don't recall which episode this artwork appeared, we were only aware of it from the second half of season one (also because the two comic books we had featuring anime stills featured a number of episodes with this art style!).

The 'Sharp'. We think this art style only appeared from Sailormoon S? We'd bought the anime stills comic books for this season when Popular sold them at one point, it didn't matter that the books were translated into Chinese (whether Chinese or Japanese we wouldn't have understood it anyway), and happily enjoyed looking at the pictures to see what we were missing because due to the lack of merchandise the only two seasons we never got to watch were Sailormoon S and Sailorstars.

Anyways, reading (figuratively) the comics we noticed quite a lot of good artwork, which made us even more keen to watch it. Now that we've watched them all, we think this art style appeared most only in S, and less so in Super S and Sailorstars...we think. Will need to rewatch them all!

Still, the question is why?! Why are there so many styles when other anime had one standard art style? Wait, we think the Naruto anime also had a couple of art styles. It was because of the differing styles that, when it comes to recording episodes onto VHS tapes, we were rather selective, often overwriting 'Smooth' art style episodes for other episodes (because we couldn't afford to buy VHS tapes by the dozen).

Then in Sailorstars we noticed that there's some sort of standardization: character faces followed the 'Svelte' style, and legs sometimes were ridiculously long...

...but overall Sailorstars were much more aesthetically pleasing to watch!

As with all the transformations and attacks! We think Moon Princess Halation was done in a refined Stocky style, and Moon Healing Escalation is in Svelte, but the rest could be Sharp or Someother for all we know. What we're thankful is that they're not Smooth.

Yes, well, there were some other art styles seen in the series (like that one-off style in episode 29 where Zoisite attacks Motoki's girlfriend for her Rainbow Crystal) but those four are the common ones seen. And we appreciate it's no easy task to draw and produce the cartoons. But why couldn't there be some standardization much earlier, to have, say, every episode look more Sharp or Svelte?

And we're not sure which one Hyperion means when he refers to 'bloated, bun face'.


William said...

You ni dah kena racun.

Aik Yong said...

i don't get it, what's the attraction with sailormoon other than a fawning princess in need of a rescue from mysterious mask stranger episode after episode?

3quarks said...

wow u even noticed all that details... i think i should start watching sailormoon too:D

Janvier said...

William: Dah lama dah racun ni.

Aik Yong: The humour ain't all that bad! And the main script is quite okay too :)

3quarks: It might be a tad difficult to get started now if you start comparing it to newer animes, mind you! :)