"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."
, 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. The money factor becomes even more apparent when you realize that it's not cheap making a full-fledged cartoon. In the US, going rates for an average cartoon is $300,000 an episode. In Japan, anime costs closer to $123,000 per episode.note
Yes, it sounds like a lot less, but do you have a couple hundred thousand dollars lying around somewhere? Some pilot episodes can cost up to a million USD simply because of animation bumping, and if they have a limited budget (anywhere between 10 and 20 million dollars a season), it's obvious that sacrifices would have to be made.
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 anothernote
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 result, see TMS Entertainment
, Carbunkle Cartoons
, Toon City
, Rough Draft Studios
, Spectrum Animation
(which was actually bankrupted because of how much attention they paid to their animation
), JM Animation
, and Madhouse
. An Image Booru
has been set up
to document such occurrences in both Japanese and, to a lesser extent, American animation.
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- Opening credits sequences that have higher quality animation than the show itself was pretty common back in the '80s up to recent times, and that applies for both Western Animation and Anime. Such sequences are almost always vastly superior to that of the series itself in terms of animation. Meaning they get the most attention from animators since they're pretty much a sneak-peek of the show itself, and have to catch the viewer's interest.
- Visual effects-laden movies typically have what's called a "Money Shot", a term used when the director decides to go all out and spend part of the film's budget on a sequence designed to attract people to go see said movie (and is normally placed in the trailer of said film). This can also occur in animated films, and on occasion, televised animationnote .
- CLANNAD's Illusionary World sequences are redrawn every frame, leading to hand-animation so uncharacteristically fluid it almost seems like something else.
- Dragon Ball Z Kai is rather stunning in that the animation is virtually identical to Dragon Ball 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.
- In addition, certain episodes of Dragon Ball Z were supervised by top-notch animation supervisors, which made the battles look AMAZING. It was always a thrill watching episodes supervised by Naoki Tate, Kazuya Hisada, and Mashiro Shimanuki, just to name a few. Kanzenshuu.com has an impressive animation styles guide that highlight these excellent supervisors... and some that aren't so great.
- Averted in several episodes, such as the battle between Goku and Ginyu, where it becomes Off Model.
- Son Goku versus Commander Gi'nyuu took place during a transitional period. Episode #68 was Shimanuki Masahiro's first episode as animation supervisor. Tate Naoki was promoted to key animator with this episode and in general there is a feeling that Shimanuki was still adjusting to his new role. Take'uchi Tomekichi, the animation supervisor of all Seigasha episodes up to this point and the studio's founder, is credited at the top of the key animator list, indicating he still contributed the most key animation drawings. Hisada Kazuya focused on action cuts during this period, noteably Gi'nyuu's flashy, Kanada Yoshinari-inspired arrival on the scene. Episode #69 was shipped out to Shindou Pro, another regular studio for the series. Shindou Mitsuo's animation corrections tended to give characters sharper looks. Yamamuro Tadayoshi would take over supervising duties beginning with episode #122, substantially improving the love of Shindou Pro episodes. Yamamuro soon became a Character Designer alongside Nakatsuru Katsuyoshi and has held such a position even on 2013's Battle of Gods. Episode #70 is supervised by series character designer Maeda Minoru, thus providing very on-model characters.
- In a making-of episode of Dragon Ball Z Abridged, it's revealed that Team Four Star are doing their own animation bumps, not just to highten the comedy, but to make fight scenes run smoother and to fix animation errors in the source material. They are also doing color correction.
- 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 Eva 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.
- Episode 17 of NGE features a sudden shift in drawing styles; the characters look like they're all babies. With the notable exception of Misato. Thankfully, by the next episode, everything is back to normal.
- A somewhat similar change also appeared in episode 11. Wherein the characters looked like they came from a Hayao Miyazaki film. Of course, a quick glance does reveal that Studio Ghibli did work on that particular episode.
- 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, Artmic, Artland and Gainaxnote turned out relatively stunning (given the budget) animation, but then their episodes would routinely be bookended by episodes from Tatsunoko Production 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 Dark Horse 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 happens once per Akatsuki battle. This is generally the work of a specific team which is very skilled at fast-paced action sequences and not much else.
- 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 Stealth 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 of the Stars 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 Escargoon, 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.
- The show itself was fond of blending cel shaded CGI 3D models into the cel animation (likely for time and money saving). Dedede and Escargon in particular, switched endlessly between cel to CGI from shot to shot, while Kirby is near perpetually CGI animated.
- 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 line art 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.
- Played most straight with the pilot episode and few other early episodes that seem to have considerably more detailed backgrounds and smoother animation than others. Later animaton bumbs tended to happen in most anticipated combat scenes (Grand Fisher, Renji and the fights on Sokyoku Hill).
- 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.
- Episode 319. The overall details of things such as lighting and coloring are much greater and more vibrant than a lot of the animation in the series, a lot of the angles used are more dramatic, and even when they decided to resort to pans of still images instead of actual animation they are very well done. What stands out most, though, is that, although this particular episode is part of a Filler Arc, it could be said that the fights scenes depicted in it (i.e. Ichigo's fight with Kageroza) are more detailed and fluidly animated than a lot of fights in the actual cannon parts of the series.
- Episode 342 was pure Rukia porn. Her character in several scenes is drawn even better than movie quality.
- This happens between movies as well - each subsequent Bleach movie is better animated and more detailed than the last. Hell Verse was also one of the most anticipated parts of the series' mythology, possibly contributing to a better budget.
- 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).
- Sadly, we have the highly erratic animation of the New World Saga. The animation changes quite often throughout the episodes of the Return to Sabody and the Fishmen Island Arcs. The animation always seems to be either ridiculously top notch and smooth, poor, or very poor, depending on the situation. For example, all of Luffy's fights in the Fishmen Island arc were given the best of the best animation; particularly impressive was Luffy's kick against Hody, Gum Gum Red Hawk, and Elephant Gatling. But, the animation of the crew's fights were noticeably sub-par, using many sudden still shots and slow, almost frame-by-frame animation. And by far the worst animation was during the flashback arc; the frames were practically crawling in the Jinbe vs. Arlong fight along with unusually cartoonish yellow "pow stickers" whenever Jibe punched Arlong.
- Fairy Tail episode 26, during the fight against Jose, and Gajeel torturing Lucy, were given top-notch animation.
- Natsu and Gajeel vs Laxus near the end of the Fighting Festival arc was perhaps THE best animated fight throughout the entire anime series. The reason being that this fight was to be the very last serious fight of the anime before originally ending it's run after the 4-part Daphne filler arc; having the anime go out with a bang. Obviously, the producers decided to go beyond it at some point in development, and a major drop in animation quality showed throughout the series afterwards.
- Erza and Jellal's scene in the latter half of episode 154 is one of the most gorgeously animated moments in the series. The rest of the episode was fairly average.
- 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! 5Ds 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.
- However, on average, Akihiro Tamagawa's works are the absolute best. Episodes like Journey to the Unown (the scene of Dawn climbing up the stairs with Piplup and Aipom comes to mind), Bagged Then Tagged (especially Monferno delivering the finishing punch to Croconaw. The episode notably introduced battle animation that was reused later on) and the special Mewtwo Returns are some of the finest in the series. The only downsides are that he's rarely involved in the series and seems to animate less and less episodes as the show progresses.
- 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.
- Speaking of Lucario, another one fought under Maylene against Ash's Buizel in A Triple Fighting Chance!. Likely for being the final battle in the match, it received a boost in fluidity as soon as the Gym's roof got destroyed and the rain kicked in. The music used during the scene made it look even more impressive.
- And the Ash vs Tucker battle in Tactics Theatrics, which is probably the smoothest-looking fight in the entire series.
- Pokémon the Series: XY's animation is notably different from the previous anime incarnations, and for a good reason; The people who animated Pokemon: The Origin took over the animation work of the main series anime. This is welcome news to a lot of people.
- 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. It's quite telling that The Movie, despite having much higher animation quality overall, actually reduced the framerate and detail for this particular scene.
- In ROD 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 received 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 OVA 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 line art 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 episodes.
- 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 Darker and Edgier Kyoto arc which is also the series biggest story arc, is also much better animated as a whole than the previous arcs and later anime original arcs. Coincidentally, the Kyoto arc starts after the scene above. The fight between Kenshin and Saito is also much more fluidly animated as wel as most fights at the end of the Kyoto arc.
- The quality of the animation and coloring jumps considerably higher for the final episode of Turn A Gundam.
- The Lupin III animated 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 Castle of Cagliostro and 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 hundred of Lupins, drawn in dozens of 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.
- YuYu Hakusho does this sometimes in a similar way to Naruto, which is made by the same studio.
- The animation quality of Muv-Luv Alternative: Total Eclipse is widely variable, often going from mediocre to excellent not from episode to episode or even scene to scene, but shot to shot.
- In Mawaru-Penguindrum, episodes 9 and 20 are beautifully animated. It's also worth nothicing that both are centered on the same character: Himari Takakura.
- Episode 1 is gorgeous as well.
- Toriko has this during the important battles, but episodes 33 and 34 are by far the best animations the series has produced so far.
- Cowboy Bebop was always a very well animated series but episode 20 had much more fluid and complex animation, most noticable in the CGI beginning and the fight scenes between Pierrot and Spike. The movie also had very fluid animation, with the train scene being particularly famous.
- Digimon Adventure episode 21 was directed by Mamoru Hosoda, who made the first two Digimon films. The quality of the artwork was considered by many to be a huge improvement, but Hosoda only directed one episode due to creative differences between his style and the style of the series as a whole.
- Kill la Kill is produced by the same guys who did Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, which shows in their animation philosophy being exaggerated even further thanks to their current smaller budget to the point it's practically an art form. At points the characters will literally just be animated by swiveling their limbs or bobbing their frames like paper dolls, just so the animators can save their money for the fight scenes that last two thirds of an episode.
- Though Attack on Titan has pretty great animation in general, certain action scenes involving 3D Maneuver Gear and other bits are given amazing, and sometimes very realistic animation and detail.
- One of the final episodes of Ojamajo Doremi had this. Compared to the rest of the episode (and the rest of the show's run), it was very fluid and highly detailed. Bonus points for this same show being notorious for being Off Model some of the time.
- The second season of Black Butler has noticeably higher quality animation than the first. This is most likely because the second season was made two years later (at which point the technology was better) and because it's only half the length of the first season, meaning they could put more money into the individual episodes.
- The animation quality of Saint Seiya Omega usually ranges from Off Model to Quite Good for a Sunday morning anime aimed at kids, but the episodes directed by Yoshihiko Umakoshi are visually stunning. The first season's finale is particularly notable.
- In episode 42 of Transformers Cybertron (43 in the Japanese version), the Transformers are given more defined facial expressions and somewhat more fluid mouth movements with actual lip-sync, in contrast to their usual "mouth open mouth closed" and having little to zilch expressions. As for another bit of extravagant detail in robot animation, Thunderblast's boobs jiggle as she runs.
- Parodied in the first Tiger Dojo segment on Carnival Phantasm, as Taiga notices her segment is finally animated. She wastes a large chunk of the animation budget on a few awesome poses, and appears as a line drawing in the next episode because of this.
- Turnabout Storm's presentation basically amounts to Ace Attorney's trademark Character Portrait style plus voice acting; but unlike that series, the character portraits there are only simpler stills of the characters instead of animated sprites — At least, until they step inside the courtroom. Once there, all dialogue is lip synched, Phoenix Wright gets to show his desk-slamming, finger-pointing abilities, and Wild Takes are shown in all of their glory.
- While the majority of DreamWorks Animation's movie version of How to Train Your Dragon is not at all a hideously-designed CG movie, having some absolutely gorgeous designs for the village of Berk itself, the surrounding forests, oceans, and mountains, wildly varying dragons, and long hair and fur coats that bristled in the wind similarly to Tangled. The last eleven minutes of the movie, namely the epic fight to the death with The Green Death looks like the animation took several leaps and bounds all on its own, to the point that rock shattered and flames burnt as realistically as possible, with the hair of the stunned Vikings flowing like the actual thing.
- 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. Here is a large collection of "pencil tests" of scenes animated by him.
- 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 overseasnote , 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 its sequels have decent effects throughout. There's quite a few times where you can tell that 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.
- In the animated adaptation of The BFG, different characters were drawn and animated in different ways. The Queen, the Paras and the Royal Guards are drawn in a hyper-realistic, rotoscoped way, while the military commanders, the giants and even Sophie are animated in a more traditionally and cartoonish, but less detailed way. Sometimes, it can be rather jarring to see the Queen's comparatively stale, realistic expressions compete with the tubby, fat-nosed Field Marshall's over-the-top gesticulations, while on other occasions (like the army overpowering the giants), it's rather genius.
Live Action TV
- Doctor Who:
- The official animated reconstructions of Doctor Who's Missing Episodes are made by multiple studios and with multiple head animators. As a result, while Limited Animation is always present, they fluctuate all over the place in quality from "The Reign of Terror" (mostly just lip-synched Talking Heads at extreme close range unless completely unavoidable, even when it's obvious from the sound that the characters are being shot from further away) to "The Moonbase", which contains a lot of hand-drawn movement, beautiful light and shadow, and looks like an anime.
- When watching an animated reconstruction, you can always tell what footage they have that survived because the animation quality significantly improves for that scene due to the use of a reference. For example, the cliffhanger scene at the end of Episode 1 of "The Moonbase" shows Jamie moving in a stiff, simplified way... until it reaches the point where he sits up from the bed, and his motion suddenly becomes much more fluid and expressive. That's because that part of the cliffhanger was repeated at the beginning of Episode 2, which has survived.
- The telesnap-based reconstructions (such as those by Loose Cannon) sometimes have this effect, as quite often some small amounts of footage of missing episodes have been recovered. A notable instance is in one episode of "Galaxy 4", which contains a whole scene of the Doctor and his companions talking to and tussling with the Drahvin, and the rest of the story is all still images, Limited Animation using simple digital cutouts and rolling subtitles. Also, watching a whole serial with some reconstructions and some surviving episodes leads to this effect.
- The animations in Flipper Football are noticeably more detailed and richer than those of most other pinball games of the time.
- 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. Even the shorts themselves went through an Animation Bump over time. The earlier ones like Meet the Heavy and Meet the Engineer have less detailed models, animations, and lighting/shading, while the later ones like Spy, Medic, and Pyro have more detailed models, realistic lighting/shading, and outstanding animations on par with a Pixar or Dreamworks film.
- As of 2012, the program Valve used to create the "Meet The Team" shorts, Source Filmmaker, is now released - for free! - to the public. Meaning, with time, skill and patience, anyone make videos up to their quality with the proper lighting and beyond. Better yet, you can even edit a couple of the Meet The videos yourself.
- 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 facesnote during scenes with close ups that used the in game engine, but it did not help much.
- The .hack// games used seperate models for animated cinematics from those used in gameplay that were higher-quality and animated more smoothly. The .hack//GU games used the same trick as Final Fantasy X'' for its in-engine cutscenes, using higher-quality models for close-ups, as well as featuring pre-rendered cinematics that put the in-engine graphics to shame.
- 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 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.
- Rayman Origins is an animation bump for the entire series. Fluid movement, Deranged Animation, fantastic lighting and beautifully animated characters, Rayman himself is no exception. And the best part: everything was painted by hand.
- The sequel, Rayman Legends, uses a more oily style of painting; making it look more 3D and better than Rayman Origins.
- An interesting and justified example was found in the Nintendo 64 port of Resident Evil 2. Due to hardware limitations, as more sprites appear on the screen the resolution drops to keep the game running at full speed. Because of this you'll often see abrupt changes in the animation quality, especially when ambushed by a large enemy or a flock of crows.
- While The Wonderful 101 has excellent visuals throughout, the cutscenes that don't involve Talking Heads look absolutely outstanding, and could even be mistaken for a scene from a CGI movie.
- Cel Damage had some pretty sloppy-looking walk cycles. Not so much in cutscenes, but definitely in-game, as most characters who are left running around after their vehicle is blown up would look more like they were sliding or skating. However, in the cancelled sequel, from the 15 seconds of early alpha footage we were given and the one second we were given of walking/running, the walk cycles look like they had improved drastically. Just look at how Violet runs.
- Sonic the Hedgehog (2006) is notorious for having having pretty lousy in-game cutscenes—not helped at all by the uncannily "realistic" character designs and poor in-game models—and also having stunningly animated CG cutscenes, which most people say is one of the few good things about the game. Seeing the beautifully-animated opening CG intro being followed by the first in-game cutscene is astounding in terms of how far the production values drop.
- 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)
- 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.
- Done twice in Tomorrows Nobodies. First between episodes 2 and 3 of Old Tomorrows Nobodies, where the animation went from very crude to only moderately crude, and again when the series was rebooted.
- The best-animated episodes of Barbie: Life in the Dreamhouse have visuals that actually look as if plastic Barbie dolls became alive, which seems praiseworthy in comparison to Barbie's sterile direct-to-video movies.
- Girl Chan In Paradise normally revels in hilariously bad animation and terrible lip synching...except for Yusuke, who's animation is noticeably better and who's mouth movements actually match what he's saying.
- 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 thank a humble little company called Disney.
- The same thing happened 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 with 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 of the "slightly better than the series" variety, as opposed to feature quality.
- The flashback and the final fight sequences in particular have some of the best animation out of the entire film.
- With the first paragraph in mind, it should surprise you that both AKOM and Sunrise (when beaten in to submission, figuratively speaking) 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 film itself has some nice touches; Pythona running and sliding down the stairs, and Cobra Commander backing away in fear from Serpentor getting honorable mentions.
- 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 like Cats Don't Dance exude this).
- Noticeable in Tiny Toon Adventures, Animaniacs, and Histeria, depending on the studio that animated it.
- 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. The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius 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 opening, "Quest for the Chaos Emeralds" four parter 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.
- The Pilot episode counts, and "Sno Problem" has some nice touches, too. Some of the earlier episodesnote and "Robotnikland" have a few decent scenes too.
- It's sister show, Sonic Sat AM was more consistent, though some episodes such as "No Brainer" have a slightly wackier, more expressive method of animating the characters.
- 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 separate team from 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.
- 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 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 animatorsnote used more detailed versions of Floro Dery's simplified designs. It has been confirmed as to who directed it though (Eiji Suganuma, who also directed Kodomo no Jikan and Karneval).
- Some of the other episodes like "Atlantis Arise", "The Dweller in The Depths" and "The Return of Optimus Prime" had better looking animation than the rst of the series.
- 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.
- The toy commercials had much better animation than the show, and further improved in quality as the years went on.
- 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 charactersnote . 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.
- 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.
- 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: Adventures in Slumberland 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 Mytharc-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.
- 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.
- How the Grinch Stole Christmas! was produced by Chuck Jones, while The Grinch Grinches The Cat In The Hat was produced by Friz Freleng. In both cases their influence is very noticeable, with the character designs, animation and acting being very reminiscent of their later work at Warner Bros.
- The mummies' transformation sequence in Mummies Alive! are 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 & 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 (for the most part). 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 Entertainment, resulting in some slightly different animation.
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 1987 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".
- The show's later seasons, while maintaining the same designs and style for the most part, is also far more detailed. The characters have a far larger variation of poses and angles which allow for more fluid animation. Scenery is also much more lush and detailed, near nothing like the original layouts that were very much made to look like the original pilot's cutout style.
- Arthur has had a few of these, being a Long Runner. The early first season episodes are hard to watch, as they feature darker colors, horrible character designs and many animation errors (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 looking better than ones from the earlier seasons.
- ... And in comes season 16, which is very obviously done in Flash. Fans have been... less than happy about this.
- The Real Ghostbusters had pretty, but limited, animation in Season One. Seasons Two and Three are quite a step up in quality, with more cels used and almost everything shaded with shadows. Season 4 and 5 is a step downward (except for "The Halloween Door", done by TMS), 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 consistently on model, albeit with some of the character designs also altered slightly, due to the show's animator duties being traded from Fil-Cartoons to Moving Images Animation. The opening pilot is also noticeably more fluid than the rest of the first season, which is much cruder and limited. The difference is easy to compare, since the opening by Fil-Cartoons is used unaltered throughout the series.
- For an example throughout Moving Images' work, Season Two was rather consistently lush (episodes such as "Bottle Harvest" and "Wildit's Whistle" in particular have very vivid, high budget animation). As the show progressed, the budget seemed to take a hit, using stiffer, cruder animation (if still pretty good for an early nineties cartoon).
- In an opposite manner, The Legends Of Treasure Island switched from Moving Images Animation for the first season, to Fil-Cartoons for the second. While the latter does at least match up better to the former than it did with The Dreamstone, the quality downgrade is still noticeable, with stiffer animation, less stylistic character designs and more basic cartoony backgrounds compared to the almost movie like efforts of Moving Images' work. The title sequence used in both seasons, like many examples here, surpasses anything in the show itself however.
- 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 insistent 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 its airing delayed so as to tone down such examples in the episode, though some are still very prominent. In fact, the earlier seasons have more fluid and expressive animation compared to most of the later ones.
- 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:
- The show 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.
- This extends to the "Madame Pinkie" scene in "It's About Time!" and the first couple of minutes during "A Canterlot Wedding Part Two"
- During longer musical numbers (especially in Season 2), the animation has a notable improvement. For example, you can see the pony's hair flowing and bouncing better, instead of a single object being stretched and moved around.
- Season 3 seems to have improved on the animation even more, if "The Crystal Empire - Part 1" is any indication. The way Twilight's mane and tail flow in the wind during "The Failure Song" is something that was rarely seen even during Season 2.
- Certain scenes in Season 3 also feature non-mirrored sprites.
- Season 4 develops things even more. Even from the just the first few episodes, different types of shading get used more often, and the animators really seem to be going for broke in designing new expressions for the cast.
- The battle between Twilight and Tirek in Twilight's Kingdom Part 2.
- The animation of Peter Pan & the Pirates was overall pretty average and consistent throughout its run, but the two episodes animated by TMS called "Treasure Hunt" and "River Of Night" have considerably better animation than anything else in the series.
- 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, the animation of Phineas and Ferb The Movie: Across the 2nd Dimension looked more dynamic during more dramatic scenes.
- On the second season premiere of The Amazing World of Gumball, "The Colossus", Hector the giant goes on a rampage, and suddenly his animation is incredibly fluid and dynamic, unlike the more stylized animation of the other 2D characters on the show.
- Not episodes per se, but certain sequences in Motorcity, particularly whenever Mike Chilton fights with his spark staff look amazing as opposed to the more common Flash-look of the show (and even that's better Flash than most shows).
- Any Recess episodes by Grimsaem were much more fluid than the episodes by the show's other animation departmentsnote .
- Inverted with Toon City in that while their episodes were very fluidly animated, it didn't work well with the show's style. Making the animation too over-the-top, cartoony, Off Model, and deranged.
- Pretty much any scene in a Chuck Jones cartoon done by animator Ken Harris. His character animation is generally considered the most detailed and on model.
- The first seven episodes of Pound Puppies (2010), animated by 9 Story, had rigid animation and clunky character designs that lacked outlines (similar to Samurai Jack, except not as well executed). When production was moved to DHX Media/Vancouver starting with episode 8, the animation became drastically more fluid and characters were given outlines and made more expressive. Seasons two and three look better still.
- The CatDog episode "Fetch" was made to be shown with The Rugrats Movie in theaters and had a theatrical cartoon budget to match, resulting in an episode that looks very different from the rest of the series, especially in how the characters are colored.
- Thomas the Tank Engine is a particularly notable example, since it originally wasn't even animated at all, using model puppetry and static models with a couple of frames of movement changes at best. Season 12 added CGI animation for the human characters and the engine's faces, while Season 13 onward moved the show to fully CGI. After Season 16, the show traded hands from Nitrogen Studios to Arc Productions, who use slightly more limited animation and models (though compensate with more emphasis on character expressions).
- ''Rock Odyssey" from Creator/Hanna-Barbera has smoother animation than its usual works, among other things.
- If the first episode of the fifth season of Archer is any indication, the quality of the animation has increased noticeably. There's a much greater range of expression and movement coupled with much better lighting.
- The 2013 Mickey Mouse cartoon Get a Horse contains a clever mix of both hand-drawn and computer animation, both of which are spectacularly animated. Special mention goes to the scene where the characters run from one side of the screen to another, making them appear to become black-and-white 2D characters and 3D color characters seamlessly. Not only that, but the CGI animation greatly mimics the squash-and-stretch physics of the 2D animation.
- There's also the scene where the "camera" follows Pete speeding away from behind. Not only is the background animated like the characters, but it also tilts in the direction Pete steers.
- Several Popeye cartoons incorporate this. For example...
- "King of the Mardi Gras" has the scene where Popeye beats up Bluto on a rollercoaster with the tracks animated with them.
- "The Paneless Window Washer" features several scenes where characters stand on windows from a downward-facing angle. According to the commentary, it required twice as much animation because the animators made a scene from a normal angle and then staged the scene again from another angle.
- The Dexter's Laboratory short "Chicken Scratch" has noticeably fluid animation and stylistic designs, with some scenes animated by Genndy Tartakovsky himself. Justified, as it was a theatrical short (shown alongside The Powerpuff Girls Movie)
- The opening sequence for Gravity Falls has much more fluid animation than the show. Some scenes were even animated by feature animator James Baxter.
- The ChalkZone episodes by Rough Draft Studios and Wang Film Productions are the most fluid in the series, with Wang also animating the TV movie, The Big Blow Up.