Animation Bump

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"I remember the boy Mowgli riding a black panther moving and acting in a clichéd way -- until he got off. And suddenly everything changed. The drawing changed. The proportions changed. The actions and acting changed. The panther helped the boy up a tree and everything moved to a superb level of entertainment."
Richard Williams, referring to Milt Kahl's Mowgli animation in his book, The Animator's Survival Kit.

The making of an animated series is often a variable thing, as animation often depends on the way the particular art used is drawn and of the sequencing of that art. As a result, the animation of shows can very often change, so much that one episode's animation is never the same as another.

Usually this manifests itself in smoothness of characters and objects; sometimes you'll watch a show and notice that the characters' facial expressions and body language are more fluid than usual, that backgrounds are more meticulously drawn, the coloring/shading has had more attention, or that dynamic effects such as fire and water are drawn differently.

Shows often intentionally invoke this for certain episodes. Most often, the pilot, or, if there's no pilot, first few episodes of a show, is usually somewhat better animated than the rest of the series, as the goal is to impress the audience or those who would make the show succeed. The same goes for made for TV movies or multi-part episodes. In a single animated movie or feature, climactic or dynamic scenes might be slightly better animated as well. On the other hand, this may also occur if the producers/animators are uncertain about a show's reception. They don't want to invest too much time and money if it's not going to be a success, so they may restrict the budget until the show finds an audience.

Note: This is not meant to say that the rest of the animation for these shows listed here is not adequate, but that they occasionally become better in certain situations. This is especially true for shows which have their animation handled by one of several different companies depending on the episode: an episode handled by one company may have better animation than an episode handled by another.

The use of 3D modeling (along with Cel Shading techniques where appropriate) in an otherwise 2D-styled show can also lead to Bump, depending on how much work was done on both sides.

This is the inverse of Off-Model, in which animation or art instead become worse than it usually is for a moment or even a whole episode. Compare Art Evolution where, at some point, the art or animation is permanently upgraded. See also Art Shift for when the whole style of the medium deliberately shifts during the course of the work, usually for dramatic or comedic effect.

Compare Action-Hogging Opening, Detail-Hogging Cover. For studios that often get this, see TMS Entertainment, Star Toons, Carbunkle Cartoons, Toon City, Rough Draft Studios, Spectrum (which was actually bankrupted because of how much attention they paid to their animation), JM Animation, and Madhouse.

Examples of Animation Bump include:


Anime[edit | hide | hide all]

  • Clannad's Illusionary World sequences are redrawn every frame, leading to hand-animation so uncharacteristically fluid it almost seems like something else.
  • Dragon Ball Kai is rather stunning in that the animation is virtually identical to Dragonball Z (which, for a '90s anime that ran for nearly 300 episodes, was high-quality and had mostly consistent animation from episode to episode), but includes just enough bumps and digital cleanups in that the viewer gets a wonderfully animated trip down memory lane that is sleeker and more fluid, especially during the fighting sequences. The only thing that has truly changed is the opening sequence, which is crisper and more modern.
  • The last five episodes of Gurren Lagann's 27-episode run consumed 40% of the animation budget. This caused any discussion on /a/ of it during that time to exclaim 40%!
    • And the most fluidly animated scene in the series is a throwaway scene near the end of Episode 13 that's just Yoko and Simon looking at each other. The fluidity of the animation can be seen in their hair blowing in the wind.
  • The animation for the Slayers anime is rather standard, if a bit cheap, but the animation for just about any fight involving a lot of magic moves more naturally. This usually occurs during the last several episodes.
    • It's mostly due to a bigger budget and better technology overall, but the animation for the fourth and fifth seasons (which came out 11 years after the third, mind) utilizes smoother movement for characters in action. There's actually a quick, throwaway scene that illustrates this: episode 10 of the fifth season involves Zelgadis slamming a fireball spell into the ground to blindside his allies; the fluidity is in the motion of his arm.
  • Anime produced by Studio Shaft frequently have this, in particular with its eyecatches. Opening and ending themes are purely artistic and usually have nothing to do with the plot. Some scenes are animated to imitate reference shows.
    • Studio Shaft often inserts real life photographs as objects (ie. ramen cup, onigiri) or inserted with no particular purpose (eg. the head of the manga artist's assistant that frequently appears in Sayonara, Zetsubou-sensei)
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion, especially for the fights involving the actual Evas in both the original series and Rebuild movies. Infamously, all the budget had to be conserved for the fights later in the series, so many of the "character talking" scenes would just be stills or long pans and then suddenly you'd get beautifully rendered Eva fights.
    • On the off chance that you actually saw a character during dialogue, they would almost universally have their back to the audience, be holding something to cover their mouths, or be on-screen for two frames of animation before it cut to a reverse shot of their conversation partner's expression.
      • For better or for worse, this also started a trend in modern anime to "conserve" animation budget by focusing on character interaction, plot exposition, or "art shots". Whether or not they're well done or enjoyable is left to the viewer.
  • The beginning and ending of Macross Frontier are of a different standard than the middle, which is wildly variable, only meeting the standard of the rest of the series for the action scenes.
    • Super Dimension Fortress Macross itself was all over the map, depending on which of the five different studios was in charge of a particular episode. Studio Nue, Artland and Gainax turned out relatively stunning (given the budget) animation, but then their episodes would routinely be bookended by episodes from the Tatsunoko feeder animation studios Star Pro and AnimeFriend (known in Macross fandom as "Star Poo" and "AnimeFiend" respectively), which were apparently chosen mostly because they were inexpensive. And. It. Showed.
  • Heartcatch Pretty Cure Made use and abuse of this trope, ESPECIALLY during important plot episodes that focus on Ensemble Darkhorse Cure Moonlight and or Dark Pretty Cure.
  • Not that Death Note wasn't gorgeously animated throughout, but episodes 1, 2, 24, 25, 36 and 37 still got a whole lot of attention by comparison. In fact, episode 25 took it to such a point of gratuitousness (e.g., Light's face half-refracted through a glass table for no reason) that the people who made a point of noticing these things couldn't help but feel a little gun-shy.
  • The first episode of Naruto Shippuden begins with a Flash Forward to Sasuke's first post-Time Skip appearance that's animated with the kind of detail and care not usually seen outside of movies. The rest of the episode uses more standard TV animation, and, in fact, when this scene is recreated in a later episode, it uses notably lower quality animation.
    • Additionally, both Shippuden and the original Naruto have a handful of episodes with much, much more fluid animation than normal, usually during major battles. Some examples include Rock Lee vs. Gaara, Naruto vs. Sasuke, and the fight with Sasori.
      • Shippuden episode 167 takes this to the extreme, where sequences animated by Norio Matsumoto and Shingo Yamashita use extremely fast-paced, fluid animation with equally loose physics and facial anatomy.
  • Sailor Moon had fairly standard, if a bit on the cheap side, animation for its time in the first three series. However there is a definite quality increase for climactic episodes like Sailor Senshi introductions, villain showdowns, big revelations and episodes involving major character death.
  • The original Record of Lodoss War series is the poster child for this among anime. Most of the show has laughably static "animation" dependent largely on still images, but the first episode would measure up favorably against just about any direct-to-video series you can name.
    • Likewise, the opening sequence of the sequel series, Chronicles of the Heroic Knight, practically seems to have consumed half the budget considering how much better it looks than the show proper.
  • Occurred very oddly in Transformers Energon, where due to the inability of the Cybertronians to emote facially or walk like anything other than mannequins the show occasionally switched to traditional 2D animation for them. Which looked better than the CG. A lot better.
    • Given a Steath Lampshading in the final battle between Prime and Galvatron: As their size and power increased, their animation grew less and less technological, going from Cel-shading to traditional CGI, and then to 2-D animation. One theory states that if they got any bigger, they'd turn into pencil tests!
  • While it had some Off-Model days, there are four or five episodes of Digimon Savers where the art and animation is stunningly gorgeous. Everyone had fluffier hair, brighter colors and, if you were female, tighter clothes and bigger boobs. Digimon Adventure 02 also had several episodes that were noticeably better animation quality, also mostly centered around fluffier, more detailed hair and more expressive eyes. This was an especially good thing for Kid Samurai Cody. On bad animation days, his bowl cut looked like someone stretched a bit of pantyhose over his head and he frowned a lot. On good animation days, his hair might actually, y'know, MOVE and he can be seen grinning maniacally as he whacks around a Roachmon with a giant teaspoon.
    • The first season had a very standard (and unimpressive, to be fair) animation over the episodes... but does anyone remember episode 21 ("Home Away from Home")? It had a huge animation bump, with all the characters looking much more realistic (in a certain form), with more detailed backgrounds and much, much more movement. That happened because that episode (and only that episode) was directed by Mamoru Hosoda, who also directed the first two movies of the anime (and The Girl Who Leapt Through Time). Since the episode was pretty much a Shout-Out (and Continuity Nod) to the first movie, they wanted to have the same art style and, even with a smaller budget, Hosoda did an amazing job with it.
  • Studio comparison: compare any of Studio Pierrot's animations to The Twelve Kingdoms. Any. It's visible that they tried to apply as much detail as they could, and not spoil the whole animation, as its Off-Model frames are practically non-existent.
  • Love Hina had about three or four episodes in which characters sang. In episode 11, where Naru became a pop idol, it looked fluid and believable. The other times? Not so much.
  • Parodied in one episode of Kirby: Right Back at Ya! when Dedede gets his kingdom to make an anime for him. Since the citizens don't have any experience in animation, the whole thing looks uneven and amateurish, but during one scene with Dedede and Escargon, the animation shifts to a very realistic, Death Note-esque style that has them drawn in full, realistic detail.
    • Played straight in another episode where Kirby's fight with the Monster of the Week suddenly looks a lot better than usual.
  • Weiss Kreuz (Knight Hunters in the States) has drastically varying animation, sometimes within the very same episode.
  • Sherlock Hound, a Funny Animal detective series, had the distinction of having six early episodes directed by world-famous animator, Hayao Miyazaki. While there are a few tiny clues giving away these episodes (a minor character is colored differently in Miyazaki's version), the most obvious clue is that the main characters become more detailed, and the animation quality shoots up roughly tenfold, into territory usually reserved for movies. Notably, all of the footage from the opening is taken from Miyazaki's episodes.
  • Happens in Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood. The series has excellent animation as one of its trademarks, but generally the fight scenes, openings, and endings were more fluid and of higher quality lineart than usual, especially towards the end of the show.
    • Also present in the 2003 anime version. Although it is considered to have quality animation as well, the scenes during the final confrontation are noticeably more detailed, as well as the Ed vs. Greed fight.
  • This happens in Bleach as well. One of the most impressive examples being episode 219, which was Hisagi's battle against Findor, one of Barragan's Fraccion. The whole episode was animated beautifully.
    • Also noticeable in the latter half of episode 226, where Ichigo is struggling against Ulquiorra.
      • One scene in this fight is actually traced from the previously mentioned Hisagi vs Findor episode.
    • The first time Ichigo ever fights Grimmjow was of very high quality. It's especially noticeable at the point Ichigo slams into a traffic light and onwards. Something that stands out to me is when Grimmjow begins shifting his weight from one foot to the other. It's a pretty quick scene, but the movement is animated so well that I recognized it as an actual stance. Then he launches himself down towards the street like a rocket at Ichigo and proceeds to beat the crap out of him, all five minutes of which is wonderfully animated. You can find the full fight here.
  • The animation quality of Final Fantasy Unlimited varied heavily based on which animation group was handling each episode. Some of the best-handled were episodes one, three, nine, thirteen, and eighteen, but special mention goes to the final episode, every frame of which looked like it could serve as one of the most beautiful pieces of the series' lush promotional artwork.
  • Gintama has the impressively animated fight scenes like the Benizakura storyline, or very stylish ones like Gintoki vs. Jiraia. The same show also has long sequences where all the viewer sees is a still shot of the outside of Gintoki's place while the characters talk.
    • Talk about how cheap it is to use a still frame like that, even.
    • And then, there's one entire chapter when they reused intact pieces of animation from past chapters, pasted them together and put on the character's voices commenting the hoax and even dubbing the other's part...Anyway, it was funny as hell.
  • Sket Dance had a large animation bump done to its second opening - up to and including episode 18, there was a lack of shading, and many of the character models rather simplistic and disproportional in comparison to the rest of the show's animation. In episode 19, the opening had many revisions, showing obvious signs of improvement (Himeko's swimsuit and hair got some proper shadows, Switch no longer looked like he was surprised while drumming, Bossun's arms were no longer toothpicks, etc.)
  • One Piece seems to be getting this treatment more and more ever since the show first went HD. For certain scenes, such as unimportant or relatively minor fights, you would get standard (and sometimes below-standard) animation, but for other, more important fights, you'd get well-constructed, fluid, almost-movie-quality animation.
    • The G8 arc was one of the high points for the early episodes. Particularly episode 199 which was directed and storyboarded by the well-acclaimed Mamoru Hosoda. This may have been a sort of "test run" as he directed the 6th movie and worked along side many other "top tier" artists and animators for this film.
    • The middle to end of the Thriller Bark arc signaled this very well as it was the first time that the One Piece tv anime received such a high number of great animators to do it justice.
    • The Sabaody Archipelago arc can be considered the best animated story arc so far. The art consistency did drop a lot, but there was hardly an episode with poor animation during this 21-episode arc. Many of the episodes (including those headed by the well known "average" animation directors) got treated with lots of fluid,"expressive",and just generally better animation in comparison to the norm.
    • An odd example of this is how the art and animation of the average episode went up during the post-war arc. Although the "war of the best" had a lot of short but sweet animation, the average episodes fell short of the post-war arc's in terms of the art and animation(this was despite the fact that the post-war arc hardly had any "great" animation).
  • Fairy Tail episode 26, during the fight against Jose, and Gajeel torturing Lucy, were given top-notch animation.
  • Shakugan no Shana: The more serious and depressing first season is notably better animated than the Love Triangle centered first half of the second season. Except for Kazumi's breasts
  • In the Transformers Armada episode "Alliance", Unicron's transformation is done in noticeably higher quality than the entire rest of the episode.
    • True to the trope's guidelines, it also happened in the last episode. This is signified by Optimus suddenly gaining some degree of facial expression without relying on the Kubrick Stare, and an extended fistfight with fluid animation and a lack of motion tweening.
  • Most of the important episodes of Yu-Gi-Oh!!/Yu-Gi-Oh! GX/Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D's are usually done with an art style which is usually quite superior to the rest of the episodes, whilst in some cases the Opening/Closing sequences are often done in a better animation style. Other than the climaxes, the animators go through a regular cycle of episode production—some are good, some bad. In the case of Yu-Gi-Oh 5D's, some of the more important duels will either have one episode of the battle's run with high quality animation, and at the same time the high quality animation episodes seem to be fairly prominent in the last episode of a story arc (Episodes 26 and 64 are good examples)
    • Also present in the Pyramid Of Light movie
  • Quite a few instances in Pokémon have had this, normally during important battles or when the animators just want to show off. The movies are also noticeably better animated.
    • This especially applies to episodes (and two of the movies) animated by Masaaki Iwane. The very first episode he directed the animation on? CHARIZARD VS. MAGMAR.
    • It's especially noticeable in the Lucario movie, where May's death scene (which, of course, turned into a Disney Death later on) was so incredibly well animated, that it actually made her look about 5 years more mature than usual.
    • And the Ash vs Tucker battle in Tactics Theatrics, which is probably the smoothest-looking fight in the entire series.
  • A notable example in Katekyo Hitman Reborn is episode 123. The fight between Yamamoto and Genkishi had truly impressive animation, especially compared to the so-so quality the series usually has.
  • The last episode of the Vampire Princess Miyu TV series had higher quality and flashier animation than the rest of the series. Given that the final episode is the final installment of a two part story arc and starts off right in the middle of where things left off last episode this is even more noticeable and jarring than normal.
  • In one bizarre scene in the first season of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha, the animation suddenly got much more detailed and fluid. The scene wasn't particularly important; it was just Nanoha and her family having dinner. The jump was so extreme that the whole scene looked Off-Model, despite being better in quality.
  • In R.O.D the TV, there is a small number of brief flashbacks to scenes from Read or Die (an OVA). The sudden jump in frames per second and then back down again is very noticeable when it happens (and there are differences in animation style and detail as well).
  • The entire run of "Togainu no Chi". The animation is so insanely bad sometimes the main response after the new episodes is "IS THE ANIMATION BETTER YET OR AM I JUST GETTING USED TO IT?" Notable examples include Shiki's coat and any fight scene.
  • Episode 21 of Outlaw Star has a noticeably more fluid animation than any of the previous episodes.
  • Episode 7 of Honey and Clover recieved a textbook animation bump, the characters in this episode, unlike others, rarely simply stand around, there's even a shot of Hagu's eyes welling up with tears which shows spots of her eyes shimmering in greater than usual detail.
  • All of the Inuyasha movies have considerably better animation than the rest of the series, which causes the characters to be drawn in extreme amounts of detail...but the shift is so extreme and so far removed from Takahashi's art style that the characters just end up looking Off-Model instead.
  • Every single animated version of Higurashi no Naku Koro ni gets a bump from the last. The transition between the first and second season is nice, but between the second season and the Rei OVAs is can be jarring, and so is the bump between Rei and Kira, especially if you're watching them all straight through.
  • The final fight in Elemental Gelade is drawn far, far more meticulously than the series had been up to that point. To put it simply, the rest of the series is generic shounen, but that last scene has animation quality to match Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood.
  • The earliest episodes of Sonic X were crisper and even referenced Western Animation style frequently with much more "squash and stretch" than conventional anime. The budget seemed to decrease more and more as the series continued.
  • The original Berserk 25 episode anime is pretty static early on, with only occasional animation bumps to add emphasis to Guts' feats of arms. Episode 17 has a small bump in lineart quality, but is held back by flat coloring until Episode 18 comes around and brings with it a massive leap in quality, suitable for the incredible importance of that episode's developments. The remainder of the episodes don't quite approach 18 and can be pretty uneven, but all are still significantly better done than the early eps.
  • Rurouni Kenshin is a relatively well done series, but one scene in particular benefits from an animation bump - when Kenshin leaves at the end of the first story arc, his farewell with Kaoru is drawn far, far better than anything else in the entire run of the series. The scene is the subject of frequent callbacks afterwards and any time its shown it makes the normal animation look a lot worse than it actually is.
  • The quality of the animation and coloring jumps considerably higher for the final episode of Turn A Gundam.
  • The Lupin III series has been around a long time, but most of the animation has remained in one place: Tokyo Movie Shinsha. However, the wide range of directors and designers who have handled the series over the years have meant drastic changes in animation, from the Ghibli-esque (The Castleof Cagliostro, a few second series episodes) to cartoony and goofy (Legend of the Gold of Babylon) to downright crude (some episodes of the second and third series). Lampshaded beautifully in the anniversary OVA Green Vs. Red which had a Zerg Rush of Lupins at one point, all drawn in the varying styles.
  • THE iDOLM@STER - The majority of the dance numbers flow quite nicely. Especially in Episode 13 and 25.
  • While it's never been much of an animation marvel, Axis Powers Hetalia had some very impressive scenes scattered throughout The Movie, some highlights being the ridiculously shiny and colorful effect the Picto create and the various militaries of different countries in action, especially the American air force sequence.
  • Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt's episodes seemed like they were each animated by a different studio. Some episodes, like "The Stripping", had consistent, on-model animation whereas others, like the OVA, had extremely cartoony, off-model and lazy animation.
  • The 2006 Fate/stay night anime by Studio DEEN received quite a bump in quality for its final two episodes. Compare the fluidity of Saber's fight against Gilgamesh to the fights against Rider or Berserker, as well as the detail and intensity of her facial expressions.
  • In the Infinite Stratos anime, the titular Powered Armor are noticeably more fluid than everything else, leading to gorgeous fight scenes.

Film[edit | hide]

  • The opening of Who Framed Roger Rabbit? is noteworthy for both being animated at a full 24 frames per second (as opposed to the more common 12) and, partially as a result, being the most expensive animated short of its type ever made. The rest of the film, while still mostly animated at 24 fps in order to fit with the live action, doesn't quite maintain that same quality in its animation. It still looks more than good enough though - in fact, Richard Williams won not only one, but TWO Oscars for his animation direction.
  • In the Disney Animated Canon, any scene animated by Milt Kahl (one of the Disney's Nine Old Men). Praised as the greatest animator ever lived by another ridiculously skilled animator Richard Williams in this video, his scenes have much more fluid movement and, during Disney's "sketchy" Xerox era, have a recognisable drawing style. Notable examples include Medusa and Snoops in The Rescuers and Shere Khan in The Jungle Book. This blog has drafts which list who animator did which scene, with graphical versions here and here, if you want more details.
  • In the 1994 live-action version of The Flintstones, CGI dinosaurs appear a lot at the beginning and end of the movie. Budget-savingly, these dinosaurs are almost entirely absent from the middle portion of the film.
  • The Simpsons Movie seemed to use this, along with a good deal of what is very clearly CGI.
  • The Thief and the Cobbler: Zig Zagged. Richard Williams was Doing It for the Art and put incredible effort in the animation. However, due to going over budget and missing deadlines, he was fired from his own film, and cheapskate Fred Calvert was put in his place. Calvert had the remaining animation done overseas, resulting in very Off-Model animation. As a result, the animation varies wildly in quality from scene to scene.
  • Watership Down goes from a deliberately primitive opening, directly to a conspicuously detailed shot of a butterfly in a meadow, where every blade of grass appears to be rotoscoped. Most of the film is shot in fuzzy watercolors but with much looser animation for the moving characters, and more folk art-style Limited Animation dream sequences, only to transition back to sharp-focus close-ups in key scenes.
  • While Transformers and it's sequels have decent effects throughout, there's times where you can tell the effects studios spent a lot of time on them (Like Optimus' Transformation in the first film and any of Driller's scenes in the third).
  • Recess: School's Out had much better animation than Recess usually had, though it had a much larger budget and didn't have the deadlines the TV series had.
  • The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie had better, smoother, more fluid animation than the series itself.


Video Games[edit | hide]

  • This is often seen when video games do not use the game engine for cutscenes. Notable examples should be listed.
  • Tales of Symphonia uses intricate animation for its intro, and approximately ten seconds of full animation thereafter with mostly static storytelling throughout.
    • Ditto Tales of the Abyss (although being a bit more generous in the full animation department), but Abyss has an interesting variation. When cutscenes are used to show characters talking, despite being voiced, they get no real detailing - characters move in prerecorded movements, no camera work, etc. When something actually important is happening, though, Namco starts to use its cutscene engine to the max. Examples include when Sync drops his mask for the first time, when Guy's backstory is shown and before the final battle with Van. Those scenes have quite a lot of detailed movement, and scene angles are played more professionally, in a more dynamic way.
  • Team Fortress 2. While the actual game doesn't look bad at all, the "Meet The Team" videos are all gorgeously animated and use separate, more detailed character models with very realistic facial expressions. The best part? A few console commands and the game replaces the standard character models with the high-quality ones and cranks the environmental details up to 13. It's virtually indistinguishable from said promotional videos.
  • Seen in the Saints Row games.
  • Possibly not the perfect example, but both Kingdom Hearts and Kingdom Hearts II give us two kinds of cutscenes: a generic kind, with "pixel mouths" and prerecorded movements; and the detailed kind, with great fluidity, expression and overall quality. Of course, scenes with the latter can be considered Animation Bumps in relation to the scenes with the former. It's particularly noticeable since they are used interchangeably in the same scene, so it's easy to spot when the cutscene quality suddenly drops/increases.
    • Especially jarring during the final cutscene in Kingdom Hearts II where the quality shifts mid-cutscene from the usual higher quality cutscene mentioned above to beautiful CGI animation reminiscent of Advent Children.
  • This is VERY noticeable in Final Fantasy X. The CGI cutscenes approach photo realistic, making the transition between cutscene and in game graphics somewhat jarring. Square attempted to avert this by using character models with high-poly faces during scenes with close ups that used the in game engine, but it did not help much.
  • Bully: Pre-mission cutscenes are more fluid than the rest of the game, while mid-mission cutscenes are run on the usual game engine.
  • Metroid: Other M was touted in previews for its cinematic, CGI cutscenes. The side effect was that it didn't gel with the rest of the game, which seemed to be going for a "Realistic" style on the Wii(Which most devs are Genre Savvy enough to know that it won't really work on the system), but had several strange graphical decisions(such as JPEG stalactites), like it almost seems to be trying to make for the disk space taken up by the CG cutscenes.
    • Probably the best display of this, however, is in the unlockable Theater Mode, which strings together those CG cutscenes, the in-engine cutscenes, and game footage together in a movie. The results are quite jarring.
  • Inverted in the older game Freedom Force - those cutscenes NOT done in the engine, usually character origin scenes, are LESS fluidly animated - justified, as they are more in the style of a motion comic book, rather than actual pre-rendered cutscenes.


Webcomics[edit | hide]

  • Most of the time, Homestuck updates with either a still panel or a quick animated sequence, the latter having become increasingly common as time goes on. However, for important scenes, important dates, and/or at the ends and beginnings of Acts, the fanbase is treated to a longer, often minutes-long animation complemented by music. The longest and most detailed so far is "Cascade", the End of Act 5 Act 2, at over 13 minutes. (Link contains spoilers)


Web Animation[edit | hide]

  • Broken Saints took two years to animate, with the animators skills improving considerably over that time. When the series was put to DVD, the animation in the first twelve chapters was redone so that the quality would match up with the more impressive later chapters.
  • Red vs. Blue: Revelation, a Machinima created with Halo, features the 3D animation of Monty Oum. Characters who were formerly limited to head bobbing, jumping, and shooting guns suddenly start engaging each other in carefully choreographed close-quarters combat.
    • On the other hand, the CGI models tend to be missing detailing displayed in the games, like textures, which can make it jarring every time it switches from a shot featuring characters depicted in-game to a shot featuring CGI versions of characters.
      • Season 9 averts this by splitting the season between two separate storylines, one of which is pretty well all machinima and the other of which is entirely CGI. Monty Oum confirmed this was because trying to match the animated sequences with the "filmed" ones was nearly impossible.
  • Octocat Adventure. What starts out as a poorly animated, poorly voiced series of MS Paint shorts by one "RANDYPETERS1" about an eight-legged cat "finding his parents" abruptly improves in production value halfway through the final episode as everything immediately after is animated in 3D with improved sound effects and music. As it turns out, the actual creator of the shorts was looking to find out if terrible animation and voice-over hampers storytelling, and intended to end the series with a bang to make up for it.


Western Animation[edit | hide]

  • Animation as a whole gradually went through this during The Golden Age of Animation, even at the lower budget studios of the time. You can owe that to a humble little company called Disney.
  • The same thing happed with The Renaissance Age of Animation as well, Thanks to a studio called Tokyo Movie Shinsha.
  • The first episode of Batman the Animated Series produced, "On Leather Wings", has some of the best animation and art in the whole series, and, arguably, in the entire DCAU. This wasn't a simple case of the pilot being better than the rest of the series, however; the quality of the animation continued to vary from episode to episode, as a result of the episodes being shared out between several off-shore studios which ranged from excellent but expensive (Tokyo Movie Shinsha) to cheaper for good reason (AKOM). (An informative exercise is to compare "Feat of Clay, Part I", animated by AKOM, and "Feat of Clay, Part II", animated by TMS.) Other episodes noted for their good animation include "Heart of Ice" and "Robin's Reckoning, Part I" (both animated by Spectrum, as was "On Leather Wings"). Episodes noted for their bad animation include... well, pretty much everything by AKOM, most of Sunrise's episodes and Blue Pencil's "Day of The Samurai" (the latter going bankrupt during the production of their episode); and as a result of their poor work, many (of not all) of AKOM and Sunrise's episodes required extensive reshooting, and eventually Bruce Timm refused to work with them anymore. Most of the episodes done later on for Batman Beyond and Justice League were by Dong Yang Animation, which was decent quality at a better price.
    • Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker had such amazing animation that it probably could have gone to theaters and no one would think otherwise. A fun fact is many of the same animators worked on Akira with a similar Kill Sat sequence. The other DCAU films, Mask of the Phantasm, Sub Zero and Mystery of the Batwoman, were more "slightly better than the series" than feature quality.
    • With the first paragraph in mind, it should surprise you that both AKOM and Sunrise (when beaten in to submission, figuratively speaking mind you) did have their moments, Watch "Mad as a Hatter", "What is Reality" (both AKOM) and "The Cat & The Claw Part 1" (animated by Sunrise) and you'll see why.
  • Disney animated shows in the '90s often had crisper and more fluid animation/art/shading for their first few episodes. Usually, the opening theme would prominently show clips from these episodes. The first episodes for many of these were also made for TV movies (see Five Episode Pilot).
  • The beautiful opening of 1987's G.I. Joe: The Movie where the Joes fight Cobra on the Statue of Liberty puts the rest of the film (and the whole franchise) to shame.
  • The opening credits of Xiaolin Showdown were more fluid than the the rest of the show.
  • Animated musicals often up the action and the animation during musical numbers, to create the show stop potential of the scene. This is evident in the Disney Animated Canon, but also shows up in movies by other producers (such as Don Bluth; movies such as Cats Don't Dance exude this).
  • Noticeable in Tiny Toon Adventures, Animaniacs, and Histeria!, depending on the studio that animated it.
    • An often criticized animation studio Kennedy Cartoons which was largely responsible for much of the first season of Tiny Toon Adventures, it used a bouncy, stretchy, style of animation filled with much fluidity, but is considered too much by certain fans, yet still has its fans.
    • Played straight with T Ms and Star Toons.
  • Computerized animation suffers from this as well on occasion. Particularly noticeable in the surface rendering differences between the regular series and any special feature length versions of those series. Jimmy Neutron and Rolie Polie Olie both did this, (these two even overlapped once). Jimmy Neutron noticeably did this in reverse: the movie came first, and the television show's animation was a step up from that. However, made for TV specials of Jimmy Neutron usually had special animation (such as the Jimmy Timmy series).
  • In Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog, the four "Quest for the Chaos Emeralds" episodes and the episode "Super Robotnik" had this because they were animated by the same studio that did Animaniacs, Tokyo Movie Shinsha. In general, the show tended to be quite Off-Model, so it was pretty nice to see.
  • Spider-Man: The Animated Series was animated by Tokyo Movie Shinsha, and its first several episodes, particularly the pilot, are on a par with TMS's usual superb work. As the series went on, however, budget cuts and having most of the show's animation done in Korea resulted in a progressive deterioration of animation quality, so that the series overall is remembered as a very badly animated show.
  • The first couple episodes of Transformers Animated after the Pilot Movie have a noticeably greater range of movement than the rest, as well as darker colors. This is most apparent in the fourth episode, Home Is Where the Spark Is, which features more detailed drawings, a bumped-up frame-rate and an overall more dynamic animation. No other episode of the show looks quite like it.
    • The Stock Footage of the transformation scenes was animated by a different team than the actual episodes, and the difference in quality is striking, especially compared to later episodes, where the general animation quality sunk noticeably. The transformation scenes are nearly movie-worthy.
    • For the Japanese dub, they animated an entirely new intro. Again, it looks better than the bulk of the show.
  • The American Mega Man animated series featured a kickass anime intro sequence. Then the show itself switches to more conventional and "realistic" western animation, because focus groups apparently preferred it to the anime style.
    • A couple of Mega Man episodes had an animation bump. Most notably, Mega X, which was supposed to be the Poorly-Disguised Pilot for the planned Mega Man X cartoon. The other most notable example was Crime of the Century, which was the final episode in the series, so Ruby-Spears just up and threw the rest of the budget into it.
  • Nearly the entire first season of Gargoyles was far better animated than the later seasons. An episode like "Enter Macbeth" stands out as a rare clunker, but the Five Episode Pilot in particular had very rich and fluid animation. It should also be noted that Season 1 had 13 episodes and Season 2 had 52 episodes but there are still plenty of beautifully animated episodes in the second season.
    • Proof of Disney's attention to quality with this series comes in the form of the long string of repeats the show had in the middle of the first season. The reason for this? Disney rejected a couple of episodes because the animation quality was not up to par, sending the episodes back to be redone at their expense, and refused to air episodes out of order due to the episodic nature of the show. It's rare to see a studio step up to bat for a series like that, and unfortunately, Disney would take their pound of flesh for it in season 3.
      • Oh, Goliath Chronicles. One minute you make Elisa look like she's got permanent mud on her jacket, the next you've got fluidity out the wazoo in "Seeing Isn't Believing".
    • Any multi-part episodes that were originally scheduled to be released Direct-To-Video tend to look outstanding, with the Hunter's Moon trilogy standing out.
  • Call of the Primitives, one of the last episodes of the G1 Transformers animated series, has a noticeably superior animation to the rest of the season. AKOM, notorious for the generally Off-Model look of every episode they produced, had no hand in CotP; instead, the animators (widely believed to be Tokyo Movie Shinsha) used character models from Studio Ox instead of Floro Dery's simplified designs. It has been confirmed as to who directed it though (Masami Obari, the director/creator of Detonator Orgun and Dancougar Nova).
    • Some of the other episodes too, like Atlantis Arise and The Return of Optimus Prime.
    • Certain season 1 episodes, such as Roll for It and Heavy Metal War, give off a stark "anime feel", with the animation becoming more dynamic and the characters frequently going Off-Model in order to produce better results. These provide a definite contrast with the otherwise blocky, "geometric" character designs and stiff and clunky movements of the cartoon.
  • Less of an Animation Bump than a character model bump, but while Avatar: The Last Airbender is generally well animated episodes three and seven of the first season had people drawn with amazingly solid design and strong anatomy due to the animation director for those episodes. The work of another animator was actually so good that the creators in Burbank actually redesign some of their animation models based on her (Lauren MacMullan's) drawings.
    • The promo clips that have been released for The Legend of Korra show flowing, realistic animation with redesigned proportions (heads have gotten smaller) and gorgeous scenery.
  • Thundercats has an opening credits sequence markedly better than the show as a whole.
    • That was pretty common back in the '80s... actually, it's pretty common until today! And that goes for both Western Animation and Anime. Opening sequences are almost always vastly superior to the series itself in terms of animation; they do get more attention from the animators since they are pretty much a sneak-peek of the show itself, and have to catch the viewer's interest. So, there goes a good chunk of budget there.
  • Another example from the same era was Adventures of the Galaxy Rangers, but it was an Exploited Trope on that series. Mandell admits in the DVD Commentary he had access to three teams of animators from Tokyo Movie Shinsha, the "A" (expensive, high-quality) team (which spent most of their time on the Disney shows and Little Nemo at this time), the "B" team (pretty good, but not as good as A), and the "C" team (fast, cheap, but the quality suffered). So, he would ship out the really high-end and Myth Arc-critical episodes to the A team, the moderately important ones to the B-team, and the cheesier stuff to the "C" team. You can tell how good a GR episode will be based on whether or not the animation team remembered Niko is a redhead, for example.
  • Several episodes of the |Hercules animated series were animated in a vastly different style that was more fluid and detailed with character movement (almost to a creepy level), but had ridiculously simple backgrounds that were mostly just several objects (pillars, torches, etc.) in front of huge blurry backdrops.
  • X-Men Evolution sports some noticeable changes in animation, especially during the middle of the third season, where characters start making some, um, interesting expressions during action sequences.
    • There was a pretty well animated scene in one of the early episodes (8th to be exact) that has Rogue and Kitty dancing together. You can watch it here from 0:32.
  • Transformers: The Movie is noticably better animated than any other episode of G1, with a much higher framerate, a clearer picture and more detailed scenery and characters. The most obvious sign of this is that while most Cybertronians transform the same way every time, Hot Rod/Rodimus and Galvatron, the hero and villain of this movie respectively, transform in different ways depending on the scene - in Hot Rod's case, he never transforms the same way twice.
  • Lampshaded (and readily apparent) in the Family Guy episode "Road to the Multiverse" When Stewie and Brian enter the universe where everything is animated by Disney.
    • The show fits in and of itself. The first season is very fluid in movement, though some of it is lost later on. Since the show's return from cancellation, you can really see how few frames of animation they're using.
    • The Season 9 opener (and first episode in HD) "And Then There Were Fewer" has both an animation bump and Conspicuous CG.
  • Halloween Is Grinch Night was a pretty good cartoon overall, but suffered from some very cheap looking animation. The follow-up, The Grinch Grinches The Cat in the Hat was made by the same studio on roughly the same budget, but had a better director and so is arguably the best-looking of all the three Grinch specials.
  • The mummy's transformation sequence in Mummies Alive is notably better animated than the rest of the series, probably because the creators knew you'd be seeing it at least once an episode.
  • The opening sequence (and at the same time pilot episode "Big House Blues") for The Ren and Stimpy Show was so fluidly and beautifully animated, it was used as the intro even for the Adult Party Cartoon episodes, which had BRILLIANT animation. However, the first season of the original series was animated by a handful of studios, some of which didn't quite "get" Ren and Stimpy's style right, and sometimes even relied on Limited Animation. This improved greatly in the second season, when the best studio (Rough Draft Studios and Carbunkle Cartoons sometimes) did most of the work, resulting in mindblowing animation, like "Son of Stimpy" or "The Royal Canadian Kilted Yaksmen".
    • Three episodes in particular of The Ren & Stimpy Show are extremly noticable for this. "Stimpy's Invention" "Sven Hoek" and "Son Of Stimpy" (a.k.a "Stimpy's First Fart"). Animation quality in various episodes are certainly a mixed bag of variety, with at the worst, episodes like "Stimpy's Big Day/The Big Shot" (Constant animation goofs) "Nurse Stimpy" (bad timing, a plethora of coloring and animation mistakes) and the entire series of what is known as the "Games" episodes, animated by "Games Productions" rather than the original studio "Spumco" after the creator was fired. But the three episodes ("Invention", "Sven" and "Son"), were treated as "A-stories": Episodes where added production emphasis was added to overall dramatic "animation acting", smoothness, quality of drawing, extremly detailed backgrounds, and extensive special effects. It shows as well, in that all three episodes are widely regarded to be overwhelming fan favorites for various reasons, but most of all, for the animation quality in them. In the commentary for the DVD Collection on "Son Of Stimpy" in particular, John Kricfalusi notes "this is feature quality animation, amazing on a tv budget."
  • For its final season, Rocko's Modern Life switched to Rough Draft Studios from Sunwoo, resulting in some slightly different animation.
  • The original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon had an unusual case of this. While the first season had much sharper and more fluid animation, along with more detailed backgrounds, the character designs were just plain strange for the most part, and quite often Off-Model. April suffered a particularly bad case of this, as she could look like a foxy lady in one shot, and then an escaped mental patient in the next one. The differences evened out in the second season, with cheaper looking backgrounds and animation, but also much better and more consistent character designs.
  • Inverted (sort of) with South Park, which is animated with computer software to look like paper cutout animation; the software was improved over the first few episodes to make it look more like paper cutouts.
    • The first episode really was made using paper cut-outs, but it took such a ridiculously long time to animate the show switched to Industrial Light and Magic's animation system. Using such powerful computers to do extremely crude drawings cut animation time down to just five days, allowing South Park to be the first topical cartoon. The full capabilities of the setup can be seen in the Hell sequences of The Movie.
    • Occasionally played straight as well (but usually as a gag) like in the episodes "Good Times with Weapons" and "Major Boobage".
  • Arthur has had a few of these, being a Long Runner. The early first season episodes are hard to watch, as they feature much darker colors, horrible character designs and many instances of animation error (in one episode, Sue Ellen's red hair was colored black!). The episode "Buster Makes the Grade" is one of the first episodes of that season to use the better animation that would be used for many of the later seasons. As the show progressed, the quality got better, with the digitally animated episodes even better than ones from the earlier seasons.
  • The Real Ghostbusters had pretty but limited animation in Season One. Seasons Two and Three are quite a step up in quality (however 8 Episodes of Season 2, the bumpers (Pre Season 4), the Pilot,and 1 episode of Season 3 (The Copycat) were done by T Ms and are on par TMS's usual work, there much better the KKC&D Asia, the studio who did most of the show), with more cels used and almost everything shaded with shadows. Season 4 and 5 is a step downward (except for "The Halloween Door" of Season 5, witch is done by TMS, and as always, the animation is top notch), but Seasons 6 and 7 look atrociously bad.
  • Hey Arnold! went through quite an extensive animation bump around the time of season 3 and only got better from there. The animation studios still varied, but compared to the first and second season of the show the change was dramatic. The movie also looks amazing in comparison.
  • The animation for the second season onwards of The Dreamstone is slightly crisper and more consistantly on model, albeit with some of the character designs also altered slightly, due to the show's animator duties being traded from Fil Animation to Moving Images Animation. The opening pilot is also noticably more fluid than the rest of the first season.
    • This was almost something of a character centric example. The animation for scenes featuring the Urpneys (especially Urpgor) was usually far more fluid and offbeat. The scenes taking place in the Land Of Dreams however were often more stiff and basic. Usually any more plausibly animated scenes were the rare occasions the heroes took part in the show's slapstick violence.
  • The Planet Express ship and building exterior from Futurama, necessarily animated via 3D. Certain other sequences are bumped, especially if wrap-around views of characters are needed.
  • Most of Aqua Teen Hunger Force is animated at about the level of a Flash cartoon. But when something is animated, it tends to be surprisingly detailed. Carl's walking animation is one example.
  • While Matt Groening was insistant on keeping some limitation on the cartoon physics of The Simpsons, earlier episodes tended to utilize rather wacky more fluid animation in some scenes, particularly in those animated by Klasky Csupo. The original pilot "Some Enchanted Evening" had it's airing delayed so as to tone down such examples in the episode, though some are still very prominent.
  • The theme song for the Super Mario World cartoon had shading and very detailed animation, unlike the episodes themselves. Take a look for yourself.
  • My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic took a bump in quality towards the end of the first series as Top Draw Animation took over from in house, but it wasn't too noticeable at first. Lesson Zero really showed what they could do, with crisper colors, complex fluid animation throughout and refinement and outright changes to character models.
    • A very notable instance goes to this shot from Putting Your Hoof Down, where the camera does a beautifully animated 3D pan while Rarity tells Fluttershy that she can utilize her assertiveness without being a Jerkass about it.
  • Most of Top Cat is in the typical Hanna-Barbera limited animation style - except the opening and closing title animation, which although still limited seems to have had more care and attention lavished on it.
  • The 1990s X Men cartoon had okay animation overall, but when it was brought over to Japan, the Japanese decided to go all-out with a super-high quality kickass animated opening that, honestly, made the cartoon following it look pale, clumsy, and weak.
  • Family Guy in its early seasons (1-3) was quite rough and stiff looking. Character animations wasn't exactly smooth and the animations for moving mouths when someone was speaking tended to look not quite right. Details in the background like buildings and food looked very primitive and rushed. For example, the town's jail was just a crudely drawn building with JAIL slapped onto the top of the building. As the series progressed, character movement became a lot smoother, details became clearer and richer, and once the series went to HD format, even more details were added, such as shading and dynamic camera shots.
  • Phineas and Ferb's animation is far from the best, but the animation has improved in later episodes, namely, in the specials such as Summer Belongs To You, and Christmas Vacation. Also, Phineas and Ferb The Movie: Across the 2nd Dimension's animation looked more dynamic during more dramatic scenes.