This years January release of Ajin showed me the potential of future anime being animated using full 3D CGI technology. Ajin was the first ever anime that I watched to feature the use of full 3D technology animation, or so I thought. This year, while I was researching into my dissertation for the history of 3D technology used in anime over the years, I found in the book “Japanese Animation: From Painted Scrolls to Pokémon”, 3D was first actually used for opening credits of an anime called “Golgo 13: The Professional”. To me, it wasn’t really the VERY old version of 3D technology that shocked me (I mean it didn’t look quite bad). But, when you look at the date of this series first airing which was in 1983, yes you read that right, 1983, it is indeed very old. Going past this point, I went onto discovering that Osamu Tezuka’s 2001 “Metropolis” also used 3D animation technology in different segments of the film. This came as a BIG surprise to me as number one, Metropolis was the first anime I had ever watched on TV as a child and I absolutely loved the futuristic visuals and character designs from the film and number two, as a child, I had never even noticed any 3D animated elements. Now you might say this is because as a child, you wouldn’t really pay too much attention to detail in anime, cartoons etc. and rather you are drawn towards the actions of the characters and story, but even when watch Metropolis now, I can see that the 3D is still barely noticeable when watching the film now 15 years later.
When I look at good examples of good 3D animation used in anime like “Ajin”, “Metropolis”, oh and another anime called “Expelled from Paradise” which had some of the best “2D looking” 3D character designs I have seen, I compare this to another 3D anime released this year called “Berserk”. When watching the previews before the anime came out, I was a little sceptical as to whether the CGI would be good like “Ajin”, but I didn’t want to judge the whole anime by these. July 1st arrived, and boy was I really disappointed. The first main issue with the anime that everyone else watched also noticed was the poor animation. When characters moved, it was very awkward and weird to watch. The fight scenes looked much better in the manga, but when converted to 3D, I just couldn’t get the same intense feeling. I love the way anime facial expressions are designed to convey various emotions to the audience, but only in 2D animation (with the exception of Ajin). In Berserk, it is sometimes really hard to tell what emotion the characters are feeling as the 3D is just really bad in some scenes.
To me, Ajin is an example of a good 3D anime is due to the story and not the animation itself. Before watching Ajin, I was expecting the anime to be terrible and that looking at the previews beforehand had nearly put me off watching the series. However, when I watched the first episode, I started to realise that the story was drawing my attention in, I couldn’t change the episode, in fact, it was REALLY hard to change as the story was just THAT good!
I hope in the future, there are more anime like “Ajin” and “Expelled from Paradise” with amazing 2D anime aesthetics used in 3D animation.
“Exaggerated emotions look amazing even using 3D in Ajin”
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