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Thick-Line Animation

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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 McBoing-Boing 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 has remained in active use to this day- shows animated in Flash and Toon Boom tend to look especially good in this style. However, as of the The New '20s, most mainstream television animation in the US has switched to its less detailed, more expressive cousin: Thin-Line Animation.

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, Mismatched Atomic Expressionism.

Example subpages:

Other examples:

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  • 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 & Manga 
  • Attack on Titan: It's not of uniform thickness, though, giving the impression of a brush pen.
  • Aggretsuko used the thick-lining anime style.
  • Close-up shots in Casshern Sins usually have this.
  • Some episodes of Digimon Data Squad 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.
  • Used in the Dragon Ball Z film Fusion Reborn. Especially apparent during Goten and Trunks' fight with Hitler.
  • Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba often uses thick lines in some shots and comedic takes.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist has done a couple Art Shifts to this type of style for some comical moments.
    • The first ending of Brotherhood is entirely animated in thick lines and crayon colors, representing drawings made by Ed and Al before they lost their bodies.
  • Hellsing is different in how the anime and OVA series averts it when the manga has very noticeable thick line drawing.
  • The mochi segments in the fifth season of Hetalia: Axis Powers use this.
  • The anime adaption of Samurai Girls uses this in the character designs and weapons. The general art style resembles traditional ink painting.
  • Kaiji and Akagi both the works of Nobuyuki Fukumoto and both animated by Madhouse.
  • Appears in episode 7 of the Katanagatari anime, which is closer to the art style of the original light novels' illustrations.
  • Koe de Oshigoto! uses this as an artistic direction; it's used to emulate the look of Eroge CG's.
  • The western animation-like anime Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt by Gainax. In fact it uses the same art style as The Powerpuff Girls.
  • The western animation-like anime Space Patrol Luluco by Studio Trigger.
  • Applied at times on the character designs in Samurai Champloo.
  • Used in Super Milk Chan making it look a lot like a mix of Ren & Stimpy, Dr. Seuss, and The Powerpuff Girls.
  • The fourth episode of Dragon Ball Super is full of this, particularly the scenes with Emperor Pilaf.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! features this from time to time. Notably during closeups of the characters' faces.
  • Any work of Kouta Hirano, where it's used to accentuate the angular, dynamic designs of his Noodle People characters, though it's less pronounced in the TV version of Hellsing. OVAs and Drifters, OTOH...
  • The anime for Toilet-Bound Hanako-kun consistently depicts characters and objects with thick outlines.

    Asian Animation 
  • The characters in Happy Heroes have always been drawn with noticeable outlines, but the outlines become thicker in the art style from Season 10 onwards.

    Films — Animated 
  • A Scanner Darkly
  • The Secret of Kells, though it was invoked purposely to resemble medieval illustrations.
  • Aladdin utilizes this sort of style to mimic the inking of Al Hirschfeld's drawings.
  • In Fantasia 2000, the Rhapsody in Blue segment utilizes this to an even greater extent, being more directly based on Hirschfeld.

  • The Windows 10 emoji art since the Anniversary Update. Besides fitting with the flat Metro look, it also helps it show up better on backgrounds of any color.

    Video Games 

    Web Animation 

  • El Goonish Shive: As the artwork began to improve, the outlines became thicker.
  • 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.
  • Yume Hime
  • Cyanide and Happiness