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Thick-Line Animation

Animation style characterized by visible heavy black borders around characters and objects. This style began being used by a few animation companies in the early 1950s (mostly UPA, of Gerald McBoingBoing and Mr. Magoo fame), and became dominant in American TV animation during the '60s and '70s, eclipsing the more naturalistic style used in most animation during earlier decades. It was phased out during the early '80s, when more naturalistic styles again became dominant in American animation, but then became the standard yet again (on television at least) during the late '90s, and so it remains to this day. Shows animated in Flash tend to look good in this style.

This is sometimes considered to be among the most defining traits of modern day American animation, mostly when contrasted with the similar "anime=big eyes" notion to emphasize the differences between U.S. and Japanese animation. When this art style does show up in Japanese media, it tends to have uneven lines and crayon shading in imitation of children's doodles (rakugaki).

Compare and contrast Limited Animation, Web Animation, Super-Deformed.


  • A Jell-O commercial featuring Alice talking with the Griffin and the Mock Turtle used this. The animation recycled from Alice's movie even had the outlines thickened to match.

Anime and Manga
  • Used in the Dragon Ball Z film Fusion Reborn. Especially apparent during Goten and Trunks' fight with Hitler.
  • Applied at times on the character designs in Samurai Champloo.
  • Other anime include Kaiji and Akagi both the works of Nobuyuki Fukumoto and both animated by Madhouse.
  • The western animation-like anime Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt by Gainax.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist has done a couple Art Shifts to this type of style for some comical moments.
  • Koe de Oshigoto! uses this as an artistic direction; it's used to emulate the look of Eroge CG's.
  • Appears in episode 7 of the Katanagatari anime, which is closer to the light novel's art style.
  • Attack on Titan: It's not of uniform thickness, though, giving the impression of a brush pen.
  • Some episodes of Digimon Savers animate the child-level mons in this style, particularly in the series' tail end. It's very inconsistently done and is probably a product of the Off Model Art Shifts which plague the series.
  • Close-up shots in Casshern Sins usually have this.
  • The mochi segments in the fifth season of Axis Powers Hetalia use this.
  • Hellsing is different in how the anime and OVA series averts it when the manga has very noticeable thick line drawing.
  • The anime adaption of Hyakka Ryouran Samurai Girls uses this in the character designs and weapons. The general art style resembles traditional ink painting.


Web Animation

  • Penny Arcade used to have thick outlines (especially in the 2000-2003 strips), up until about 2008-2009, in which the outlines slowly became thinner.
  • 2004-2006 VG Cats comics. Almost nowhere to be seen in later comics.

Western Animation - Television

Video Games


  • Esurance insurance commercials.

Web Comics
  • Ditto for later installments of the webcomic Mac Hall.
  • Faye's flashbacks in Questionable Content.
  • The entire run of Garanos.
  • Cast of Homestuck is normally represented by chibi-like "sprites" with outline, but lose it and gain normal human proportions when in Hero Mode.

Western Animation - Television

Video Games
  • The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker. Despite being a cel-shaded game, there are no outlines whatsoever, adding to the uniqueness of the particular style of cel-shading the game uses.

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