Follow TV Tropes


Art-Shifted Sequel

Go To

Whether it's because of some significant change in the series (like being released on a new console, or in an Alternate Universe), or just the designers wanting something different, occasionally the art style of a series may change for a sequel. Then, in some cases, the new art style may become the default art style.

This trope is for when the previously used art style in a series is switched in a sequel. This can invoke They Changed It, Now It Sucks!, if the change of style is unwelcome by fans of the original work. Note, that if a series continues to use one style for too long, some fans might complain that It's the Same, Now It Sucks!.

A Sister Trope of Art Shift, which is a change of visual style justified within a work and Art Evolution, which is a gradual change but generally still within the same style. Compare Shifted to CGI and Video Game 3D Leap, when a franchise's visuals change from 2D to 3D.


Video game sequels and remakes being made for games on older console generations would most likely get an Art Shift to take advantage of the new hardware, although there are exceptions.


    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • The first season of Beyblade was animated by Madhouse, while the next two and the movie were done by Nihon Animedia in a style closer to the manga. The franchise would retain this style into Metal Fight Beyblade, where animation was handed off to Tatsunoko and Synergy SP, along with the Nelvana-commissioned BeyWarriors series.
  • Lupin III: With five/six series to date note , and dozens of TV specials, it is inevitable that this work would become an example of this trope.
    • Lupin III (Green Jacket) has thick lines, and a dark colour palette with high saturation.
    • Lupin III (Red Jacket) used thinner lines, and rounder shapes. The colour palette was much lighter this time, with lower saturation, and character designs closer to the then-current manga series.
    • Lupin III (Pink Jacket) was somewhere between the two in terms of saturation, using a mix of bright and medium colours. The shapes were often very curvy, especially in the first few episodes. The characters look even closer to the manga, before starting to get looser and cruder as the show goes on. Except for one movie, the animation style used here is never repeated.
    • For most of the 90s, the Lupin III Yearly Specials would have different character designs depending on who directed. At the Turn of the Millennium, the style settled down into something closer to the "Red Jacket" series, with updated colour palettes and techniques, every year.
    • The release of Lupin III: The Woman Called Fujiko Mine brought the franchise to a new style, one inspired by not only the original manga series, but gothic art, with darker colors, multiple Art Shifts, and a tendency for more lines, as well. The art style returned in Gravestone of Daisuke Jigen and The Bloodspray of Goemon Ishikawa, but without the gothic influence, and a "smoother" look overall.
    • Lupin III: The Italian Adventure has character designs inspired by the "Green Jacket" series, but with a brighter palette, thinner lines, and a more modern aesthetic overall. This style was retained for Lupin III Part 5, but with even more detail given to the character designs and more fluid animation.
  • Sailor Moon Crystal sees a shift from its 1992 predecessor not only due to improvements in technology allowing better animation than 1992, but as a result of deliberate effort to more closely resemble the manga. All the characters look taller and thinner than their 1990s anime versions. The third season shifts to a Pretty Cure-like art style, while the Eternal Sailor Moon film instead opts for a modern interpretation of the 90's designs.
  • Megazone 23 Part II replaced the previous film's character designer Toshiki Hirano with Yasuomi Umetsu, who redesigned all the returning characters with more realistic appearances.
  • The first season of the anime adaptation of My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU was originally animated by the studio Brain's Base, whose animations were, while not bad, were mediocre at best. Come second season, the reins of adapting the rest of the light novel were given to Studio Feel, whose designs for the characters were closer to the original light novel's artwork. There was a huge improvement in the animations too.
  • Iron Man: Rise of Technovore was followed up by Avengers Confidential: Black Widow & Punisher, yet many of the male characters have more lines on their faces. One of the special features even points out the Punisher, with the crew wanting a more comic-accurate version for the latter film, hence the burly design with mostly slicked-back hair compared to the thinner design with messy hair in Technovore.
  • Lyrical Nanoha:
    • The art style in the anime adaptation of ViVid is somewhat different from the rest of the series, with brighter colors and a lack of shaded contours. This is due to it being the only part of the franchise not animated by Seven Arcs.
    • The character designs in Reflection and Detonation are subtly different from the previous movies. The actual character models haven't changed all that much (beyond what can be justified by the characters being two years older) but the color palette is softer and the shading style is noticeably different (essentially the opposite of ViVid's changes, above.) When there's a flashback to the events of an earlier movie, the difference is noticeable.
  • The Tamagotchi franchise has several anime installments (three tie-in OVAs for McDonald's, a 12-episode webtoon, two movies, and a 271-episode TV series) which all use an art style that, while still simplistic like the franchise in general, gives more detail to the characters and abandons the franchise's tendency to show the characters with blue outlines. This art style remained uninterrupted until an anime short film of the series was released in 2017 to be shown before screenings of the Kamisama Minarai: Himitsu no Cocotama movie; this short film shifts the art style by combining the anime's art style with the blue outline style of the franchise in general, which basically causes everyone to look shinier.
  • Staring in Season 2 onward, BanG Dream! shifted from 2D hand drawn animation, to an All-CGI Cartoon.
  • In the Tokyo Ghoul, through out the seasons, its not completely noticeable but the art shift has indeed shifted. Especially with the main characters design.
  • While the art style itself didn't changed drastically in Shakugan no Shana, it's the characters' eyes, head and body proportions changed over time. Just compare the titular character Shana's design in first season to the third season one.
  • Season 4 of the Haikyuu!! anime adaptation marks the debut of the new art style. While Seasons 1-3 of the anime generally retains the original character designs, they also have some stylistic differences from the manga (notably the eyes are a bit different and muscles are toned down); the Season 4 designs still resembles the previous anime style while also following the manga art more closely.
  • The Pokémon anime has had the occasional art shift between sequels. Best Wishes gave Ash noticeably larger irises than previous instalments, changing his eyes from seemingly black to visibly brown. Sun & Moon features a much larger art shift than before, with another noticeable difference in Journeys.
  • Season 1 of The Quintessential Quintuplets was animated by Tezuka Productions. For Season 2, Bibury took over production, using an art-style that's much closer to the original manga (notable especially on the colors used for Fuutarou's eyes and hair, both of which have a blue shade during Season 1, but for Season 2 he's given black hair and amber eyes).

    Asian Animation 
  • Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf:
    • Mr.Wolffy, Mr.Right! has a paper art style with exaggerated expressions.
    • The season War of Invention has a clean, simple, and cartoony art style that reminds many of the later seasons of Happy Heroes. This art style is only used for that one season. Mighty Little Defenders is the sequel to War of Invention and it goes back to the original style.
    • Pleasant Goat Fun Class goes for a simple and cute art style aimed at preschoolers.

    Films — Animation 


    Video Games 
  • BIT.TRIP. Compared to the Atariesque Retraux of the first 6 games, the Runner spinoff series starting from Runner2 makes quite the cartoony Video Game 3D Leap.
  • The Dragon Age series had a major art overhaul between Dragon Age: Origins—which was pretty standard fare Medieval Fantasy style—to Dragon Age II—whose visuals are highly stylized, particularly in regards to the depiction of elves and the Qunari. The series backpedaled on the stylization a bit with Dragon Age: Inquisition, which tries to find the middle ground between the first two games' styles—this overhaul was also partly a consequence of moving to a different Game Engine.
  • Once Fire Emblem went portable with Fire Emblem: The Binding Blade, the artstyle was significantly changed from the console-based predecessors. Character illustrations began to be done digitally and the designs slowly drifts away from the 90s fantasy flair of the Jugdral games. The in-game color palette is far brighter compared to the previous titles on the Super Famicom, a necessity due to the original model of the Game Boy Advance not being backlit.
  • Jumper Three features stylized retraux graphics in contrast to MS Paintish graphics of previous installments or 16-bit style of Jumper Redux.
  • Kirby:
  • The Legend of Zelda series frequently changes its art styles in-between sequels. Usually switching from realistic anime style to a chibi anime style and back again depending on what sort of mood and the age Link is in the game.
    • From Ocarina of Time and Majora's Mask and their realistically proportioned (for a N64-era game), angular anime-style graphics, to the Cel Shaded design of Wind Waker.
    • Twilight Princess used a grungier version of the Ocarina of Time style.
    • Skyward Sword has a semi-Impressionistic look that's basically a cross between the Wind Waker and Twilight Princess art styles, featuring the cel-shading and bright colors of the former with the realistic proportions of the latter.
    • A Link Between Worlds has an art style that resembles A Link to the Past updated to 3D, while Tri Force Heroes, Link himself looks more like the Wind Waker incarnation.
    • Breath of the Wild has cel-shading and bright colors mixed with realistically-proportioned characters much like Skyward Sword but with a more gouache-inspired and weathered-looking aesthetic.
  • The switch between Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga and Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time saw a minor increase in sprite size to take advantage of the NDS's bigger screens. Other than that, it's mostly the same art style. While Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story averts this by having the same art style compared to Partners in Time, Mario & Luigi: Dream Team does not, being the sub series' Video Game 3D Leap with 2½D elements. note 
  • Metal Gear Ac!d had a graphical style closely in keeping with that of its parent franchise, whereas Metal Gear Ac!d 2 had stylized, cel-shaded graphics.
  • Nidhogg has the look of a Atari-era game with blocky pixels and a fairly limited color palette, with the player characters having no defining details beyond their colors. Its sequel, by contrast, is extremely colorful with grotesque-looking details added to everything.
  • Puyo Puyo. Starting with Puyo Puyo Fever, the art style of the series drastically changed, replacing the old Super-Deformed style with a more modern Animesque style.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog:
  • As opposed to the pixel art spritework in previous Shantae games, Half-Genie Hero's sprites are done in a more cartoony style similar to Skullgirls. More to the point, character designs are more simplified and cartoonish compared to the previous three games, particularly in the faces. Shantae and the Seven Sirens uses the same vector sprites as Half-Genie Hero, but reverts to the more realistically proportioned character artwork of Shantae and the Pirate's Curse.
  • A minor one between Rayman Origins and Rayman Legends: in the former, the characters had a more cartoony style with flat colors and clearly visible outlines, but in the latter the characters have an art style reminiscent of a oil painting.
  • Out of all Blizzard Entertainment's strategy games, only the first two Warcraft games look like each other, with Warcraft III having made the jump to 3D. Interestingly, StarCraft originally looked a lot more like Warcraft II. This changed after the dev team saw a much better made game using Isometric Projection, giving it this look (and twelve years later, Starcraft II).
  • Robopon went from this to this in the transition from GBC to GBA.
  • OlliOlli has pixel-art graphics, while its sequel, OlliOlli2: Welcome to Olliwood, uses a silkier, rounded look, like a modern Flash game.
  • The Mega Man Zero and Mega Man ZX series feature a radically different art style from the rest of the Mega Man franchise. You'd be forgiven for thinking thick armor and pupils fell out of fashion in favour of latex and chunky bracelets between the X series and the Legends series, if Mega Man Zero 3 didn't imply the art shift were retroactive via Zero's old body (used by the Big Bad) being his current one in a different colour, and not his Mega Man X appearance.
  • In Theta vs Pi 7 this trope was very evident. The earlier games were built on graphics calculators and as a consequence were black and white (well, really more grey and grey) and low resolution. Character designs as a result tended to be much simpler. King Pi lampshades the change by claiming to have commissioned a painting of their last battle (actually a screenshot from the earlier game) and adding they’ve both “aged well”.
  • The Sims 4 forgoes The Sims 3's semi-realistic art style in favor of something more stylized. For example, hairstyles in 3 have visible hair strands, whereas they instead resemble molded clay in 4.
  • For a while, the Final Fantasy franchise stuck with the chibi sprites in an anime style. By Final Fantasy VI, the chibi sprites were still used, but they were drawn in a more gritty and grungy look. Final Fantasy VII was the first title to make the leap to 3D and it shifted the art style more towards anime styled. Final Fantasy VIII toned down the anime style while giving characters on the field map better proportions. Final Fantasy IX changed the art style again where characters had all kinds of proportions from normal to exaggerated and the style was a mix of anime and western cartoons. Final Fantasy X and later games in the franchise went back to the realistic/anime style.
  • Castlevania has shifted styles a number of times:
    • The early games don't really have a well-defined style due to the limitations of the NES's graphics, but things got more varied in the 16-bit era. Super Castlevania IV for the Super Nintendo established a very dark, grungy, and realistic look in both gameplay and its brief cutscenes. The following game, Castlevania: Rondo of Blood, tossed this aside in favor of a bold, bright, anime-inspired look, which is especially prominent in the cutscenes. Castlevania: Bloodlines retained the bright colors but dropped the anime style.
    • Symphony of the Night took the series in a completely new direction visually thanks to art and character design by Ayami Kojima, who brought an elegant, moody, and gothic aesthetic with lots of intricate detail and distinctly Bishōnen male characters. Kojima would return to provide the art and designs for most of the subsequent titles, but with intermittent exceptions that cause the series's overall style to seemingly turn on a dime.
    • Circle of the Moon, the first installment for the Game Boy Advance, went back to the anime look, this time with character designs by Kazuko Fujihara. The series' other two GBA titles, Harmony of Dissonance and Aria of Sorrow both have Kojima on art duties and closely resemble Symphony.
    • Aria's sequel for the Nintendo DS, Dawn of Sorrow, went for the anime look yet again, resulting in a huge visual shift between the two. The next DS game, Portrait of Ruin, retained this, but the third, Order of Ecclesia, returned to Kojima's style despite the art actually being by Masaki Hirooka.
    • Castlevania: Judgment looks utterly unlike any other game in the series, with wild and bizarre character designs by Takeshi Obata of Death Note fame.
  • Touhou Project's cardinal instalments have designs done in Zun's typical janky art style. The official spinoff and interquel games, on the other hand, have specific looks to them depending on the group involved.
    • Twilight Frontier's fighting game interquels are drawn in a typical cel-shaded style.
    • Fairy Wars is drawn in the style of the Touhou Sangatsusei manga series.
    • This isn't counting the various tie-in books and manga, most of which don't share artists with the games.
  • Mighty Gunvolt: While the first installment used cartoony SD visuals, Burst shifts into a Puni Plush art style.

    Visual Novels 

    Web Comics 
  • Nefarious is an odd case as it goes back to using Josh Hano's art for the comics. Gashi-Gashi's character designs were implemented late in the game's development; they were all drawn by Hano beforehand.
  • Mr. Boop: Book 4 is drawn in a much more detailed style to represent taking place in the real world.

    Western Animation 
  • The second season of American Dragon: Jake Long saw a number of character redesigns. The overall style was much more sketchy and the designs of several reoccurring characters had them thinner with more cartoony embellishments. To the point many of them would be unrecognizable if they hadn't been mentioned by name on screen. Sliver the Mermaid goes from being able to pass a brunette human from the waist up to being completely green. The Oracle Twins go from being identical besides their clothing style and level of perkiness to having different faces and hair colors. Even the title character's dragon form changes from a Western style dragon his friends could easily ride on, to an Eastern style dragon that was skinnier and more mobile in the air.
  • The New Batman Adventures saw a number of changes in art style from Batman: The Animated Series in order for the art to more closely fit with the art style of Superman: The Animated Series to allow for crossovers (and the eventual Justice League show). The color scheme was inked darker, but the former film noir influenced style was completely done away with. The lines became much more streamlined and everyone had a character redesign.
  • The Ben 10 franchise has changed its appearance from showrunner to showrunner:
  • The second season of Jonny Quest: The Real Adventures, as part of its Retool to make it closer to the original shows, heavily changed the art style to make it brighter and less grittier as well as made all the characters look a little younger in appearance.
  • If you look up the Miraculous PV on youtube, then the original 3D trailer, then watch an episode of Miraculous Ladybug, you'll see a serious art shift. The show went from animesque 2D animation to still-animesque-but-realistic CGI to to animesque 3D animation. There's also art-shifts within the show- there are, in fact, four studios working on the show, and each one has their own style.
  • Compared to Star Wars: The Clone Wars, the art style of Star Wars Rebels is more "cartoony" and "Disney-fied" with smoother, rounder edges. Also, the detailed paintbrush-style color palette of The Clone Wars is replaced with a more simplistic vibrant palette. The differences are probably best shown on the respective models of Wilhuff Tarkin. Although really, this can apply to any of the characters in The Clone Wars that managed to guest star in Rebels, even accounting for the Time Skip in-between installments.
  • While Tangled and its short film sequel Tangled Ever After are 3D animated, the interquel Tangled: The Series uses 2D hand-drawn animation. The same goes for Big Hero 6: The Series compared to Big Hero 6.
  • DreamWorks Animation TV series Turbo F.A.S.T., The New Mr. Peabody & Sherman Show, Dawn of the Croods, Home: Adventures with Tip & Oh, Trolls: The Beat Goes On!, and Spirit: Riding Free, based on their respective films, also connected with this trope—the former five from CGI to 2D, the latter one inverted.
  • Gadget and the Gadgetinis is drawn in the somewhat Animesque DiC "house style" from the early 2000s.
  • The Amazing World of Gumball redesigned the majority of its characters for the second seasons, which also came with changing primary animation studio. There's still some Art Evolution after that point, but not nearly as much or as sudden.
  • The 2006 revival of Biker Mice from Mars gave redesigns for everyone, mainly by making the Martian mice look slightly less cartoonish.
  • DuckTales (1987) to DuckTales (2017); the former was animated in the typical Disney style whereas the latter went for a more stylized look directly inspired by the original DuckTales comics.


How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: