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Battle of the Still Frames

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"Anime is short for 'animation', not 'slide show.'"

A show's rather low animation budget rears its ugly head during its action sequences. This isn't an Inaction Sequence by any means. Blows exchanged by two forces fighting (or dramatic stuff that happens) mostly consist of zooming, scrolling or sometimes even stationary frames. And most of them aren't even Pastel Chalked Freeze Frames.


Mostly an Anime trope. It has become more popular in Western Animation shows to hide more violent or complex fight scenes.

May overlap with Stop Motion Lighting.


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  • Berserk (1997) loved this. Notably during Guts' first fight with Griffith. Although you hear the shuffling of swords, neither Guts nor Griffith move during some of these shots.
  • The prequel to .hack/GU was full of these. There is one time in an early fight they waste two minutes with two different frames.
  • Demon Lord Dante's action sequences fall under this.
  • When not using Stock Footage, the filler episode battles of Sailor Moon usually involved this. Most of these involved Sailor Moon narrowly dodging attacks.
  • Record of Lodoss War features a battle between dragons that looks like giant still images moving slowly towards each other.
  • Happens in episode 7 of Season 2's Mahoromatic. Likely done because of the sheer amount of people taking part in the town's yearly mock battle.
  • The One Piece anime used stationary frames for a large portion of its early battles and events. Although the use of freeze frames have been toned down quite a bit, they do reappear once in a while. This owes a lot to the anime spanning all the back from 1999 and continuing onward for over a decade, with animation advancements and quality dramatically improving on a gradual uphill slope.
  • Used in episodes 3 and 8 of Tokurei Sochi Dantai Stella Jogakuin Koutou-ka C³-bu. The first and last battles are shown, but all the matches in-between them are just still frames of the various girls in the show.
  • Used for all fights in Godmars, with the robots going from one pose to another between camera cuts. This even carries over to its appearance in Super Robot Wars Z 2.
  • Frequently used early in Kill la Kill, but they appear less as the story becomes more serious. Notable, but intentional examples from later in the series arise in battles with Nui Harime, an eerie Humanoid Abomination who rarely ever moves outside of still frames and is capable of reaching through those frames to mess with people.
  • The early years of the Pokémon series had a great deal of instances of still images of Mons in attacking pose vs. still images of mons getting hit with attacks. For battles the show basically forgot it wasn't a motion comic.


  • In Hulk, Bruce Banner's battle with his father in the clouds was just still images appearing whenever lightning struck.
  • The battle between Gandalf and the Balrog in Ralph Bakshi's The Lord of the Rings is depicted this way.
  • Mortal Kombat: The Journey Begins uses this during the fight scene against the Tarkatan horde. Oddly enough, some shots show one character "animated" this way while another character is normally animated.


  • The fight scene in the MAD parody of Pokémon has a couple of extras hold up a backdrop with lots of "swooshes and scribbles" painted on, while characters on both sides complain about having to hold still in their Ass Kicking Poses.


     Puppet Shows  

  • Usually averted for actual combat in anything by Gerry Anderson, although due to the nature of the medium the gunfights tended to be a bit static. But one notably straight use crops up in the pilot of Joe 90, to illustrate a blazing row between the hero and his Mission Control on one side and a man from a Government Agency of Fiction who is understandably opposed to letting a teenage boy anywhere near the intelligence business. It works rather better than anything they could have achieved in Supermarionation.

     Video Games  

  • Used in the opening of Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3, all the characters are still models posed in combat, and the entire sequence is just panning over the various sets in mid-action. However, this appears to be a deliberate stylistic reference to comics rather than a budget problem, since Marvel is a comics company. By the end of the opening all of the characters and actions begin to slowly start playing out in real time, but not quite soon enough, as right after that the game transitions from them to the game's title screen.note 
  • Due to its limited art, Umineko: When They Cry uses this (though with a limited use of moving pictures of slices and similar things) but with a mix of good writing, fights based upon colorful debates and just plain awesome music you don't care.
  • Cutscenes in Avencast: Rise of the Mage are rendered like lightly animated ink drawings and shown in this style.


  • Parodied in Buttlord GT, where starting a fight leads to the characters being animated by the "3rd String Backup Animation Team"
  • Standard fare in the "visual novel" morphE. Even their most dynamic attempts at displaying battle are still frames on a moving background.

     Western Animation  


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