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8 February 2016: I sure hope 4D anime turns out better than 3D anime

Kei
At least he's not also voiced by Kaji Yuuki.

There sure seems to be a lot of freaky-looking 3D anime characters this season. I assume this is due to advances in technology making the technique viable enough from a financial perspective (and not abhorrent enough from an artistic one) to make 3D production attractive these days. Whatever the reason, this season you'll find 3D characters used 100-percent of the time in Ajin and Bubuki Buranki, and at least some of the time in Luck & Logic, Aikatsu!, Pretty Cure, Gate (if you count the dragons), and probably a couple other shows I'm either forgetting or not watching.

Dingo and Angela
Not pictured: Angela Balzac's early release digital T&A.

I'm not opposed to computer-assisted 3D character animation as a matter of principle. I loved the Rakuen Tsuihou: Expelled from Paradise movie enough that I was happy to pay Aniplex-type money for the Blu-ray, and I'm pretty sure the movie was 100% 3DCG (according to the "making of" extra on disc two). Naturally, the difference in quality between a feature film and a weekly television series is considerable.

Hina, Aoi, Koharu, and Yua
Not pictured: 18 characters voiced by Ueda Reina.

The way the characters look and move still makes a huge difference to me. For example, I enjoyed the Ajin manga, at least through the parts the anime is likely to cover, but I gave up on the anime after the first episode. The show has a dark appearance that seems gritty more from a "needs cleaning" perspective than it does "gritty" from a theatrical one. That and the weird-looking movement characteristic of most 3DCG TV anime took me right out of the show.

Chloe
Chloe's slow-motion spin in this fight was a nice use of 3DCG.

It's not that the movement is all bad. I'm glad to see the jaws of 3DCG characters actually move when they talk. Most of the time, when an anime character speaks, her head remains rigid while a hole in her face flaps between a couple different sizes. Unfortunately, the way 3DCG characters move their limbs and walk around still isn't quite there most of the time.

Kogane
Even the shrimpy little 3DCG girl looks okay in stills.

Looking strictly at static screenshots from the show, you'd think Bubuki Baranki comes across much more pleasantly than it actually does. While I think the visuals are better than what I saw in Ajin, I probably would have stopped following the show by now were it not for Reoko's, Kogane's, and Kinoa's seiyuu chewing the scenery apologetically while they're busy cursing bitches out.

Cure Miracle and Cure Magical
If you thought Cure Heart was too powerful in Overmana Mode, imagine
if she had also gone to a magic school for witches.

Thankfully, it's not as if 3DCG can't be done right, even in TV anime. Besides the all-singing, all-dancing Precure EDs which have been a staple of the franchise since Fresh Pretty Cure in 2009, there's also an idol performance every week in Aikatsu!. When the series began in 2012, those used to look sort of ghastly. Nowadays (and actually for quite some time now), they look so good I wouldn't be able to take seriously anybody who complains about them.

Mikuru
It occurs to me it's probably somebody's job to manually apply Mikuru's various
kiss marks before every show unless they're built into all of her cards.

Perhaps we'll be through an awkward transition period within a few years and anime in, say 2020, will predominantly feature 3DCG characters and they'll look fine and I can move on to something else to complain about. I can look back on this era with the sort of melancholy regret such as I feel when I consider how many of the early shows produced during the nascent years of the digital transition were made in sub-HD resolutions.


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