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Almost Otaku: How Important is Animation Quality?

Can you enjoy a good story with bad animation?

    This really doesn't hold up, for me.
 This really doesn't hold up, for me.

How important is the quality of animation to you?

I think that’s a fair question. The actual animation - - the sophistication of drawing, the color choice, the frame rate - - constitutes a significant portion of the anime viewing experience, obviously. And you can’t appreciate the positives if you can’t also account for how the overall anime’s diminished when the animation’s lacking. You can probably enjoy a good looking anime even if it has a bad story, of course, but can you still enjoy a poorly-animated movie if the story’s good?

I can think of two examples to address that…

Animation quality definitely factored into my appreciation of the VAMPIRE HUNTER D movies. This’ll probably be controversial to say, but I don’t think the original movie is that great. It was influential, to be sure, but I don't think it holds up to the hype.  A lot of that had to do with the animation looking really dated. It’s a little tough for me to me creeped out by ghouls and goblins when they seem consist of only four-frame-long loop cycles. I enjoyed BLOODLUST infinitely more and a lot of that had to do with the animation being infinitely sleeker. Then again, that could be easily chalked up to BLOODLUST having a more complex story than the first one’s pretty one-note plot, because stellar animation couldn’t save FINAL FANTASY: ADVENT CHILDREN for me. At all.

    I'm sorry, but this is made for hardcore FFVII fans and FFVII fans alone.
 I'm sorry, but this is made for hardcore FFVII fans and FFVII fans alone.

Actually, FF: AC almost deserves a rant in itself.  I rented that with A HISTORY OF VIOLENCE however many years ago and had such a bad experience with both, I pretty much stopped renting movies for more than a year. I was hoping to enjoy FF:AC simply as eye-candy and I couldn’t even enjoy it in that capacity. The CG animation looked so awesome in the trailer but by the time I got bogged down under the almost aggressively-inaccessible fan service plot, the expensive effects lost almost all their luster. I actually even prefer THE SPIRITS WITHIN.

So those are coming in on both sides of the spectrum. Bad animation hurting one viewing experience and good animation not being able to save another. I'm sure you Anime Vice lunatics have got infinite variations on the situation. When and where has animation quality mattered significantly to you?

-- Tom Pinchuk is the writer of UNIMAGINABLE for Arcana Studios and HYBRID BASTARDS! for Archaia. HYBRID BASTARDS! is available  here and UNIMAGINABLE is available here for pre-order on Amazon.com.  

MetalGearFlaccidon June 7, 2010 at 8:37 a.m.
I agree totally. For example: I prefer DieBuster infinitely more than GunBuster; due in large part to the animation style and smoothness. I prefer when the creators aren't afraid of splashing a bit of color and craziness into their work. GunBuster was too plain and, dare I say it, old for me. Don't even get me started on how much I hated the artistic style of the last episode. I liked DieBuster because of its much smother animation, and how it allowed itself to look fun no matter what was going on in the story.
 
A lot of older anime turns me off immediately because of the certain art style and animation they all seem to share. There are a few exceptions, such as most if not all of Miyazaki's films, and old Super Robot shows almost need a bad animation style because it adds to their awesome camp factor.
sotyfan16on June 7, 2010 at 12:43 p.m.
@MercuryCrusader:
You are right that I do not seek out anime older than me. I've become familiar with anime from his decade and while that does limit me from vast reaches of the anime world I am not deterred. I can appreciate the stories and themes that come from the anime of the past but most certainly animation is a big key in what I watch. 
 
If that animation works with the story then that's good for me (at a minimum). Akira is a great movie that is older than me and I love it. I recently watched Metropolis and while it's a more recent movie it has an older styled animation and storyline. Beyond animation only the story decides what I will watch. It might seem, for lack of a better word, odd, that I watch the anime I watch with purpose and not of a whim.
Papasanon June 7, 2010 at 8:03 p.m.
Hollering out from the past is ME!!! Anyway, back in the day we sat through some pretty pukey anime, but one has to remember how hard it was to get a hold of shows that weren't on American TV back then.  
One must also remember how jacked Japan was financially in those days; most of those series were made for about a ha'penny an episode!  
But they just had it all over on most of the Hannah-Barberra schlock that was on US TV then. It didn't even matter if the show had a good story, the point was it HAD a story! Just the fact that it wasn't half-hour-at-a-time unconnected poop churned out as pablum for the sugar-addled braindead was enough for us! 
So, yeah... When you have the context, it's easy to see how animation doesn't matter in the long run. Now go watch Gatchaman!!!
nate1222on June 8, 2010 at 7:47 p.m.

Story comes first for me. Cases in point: FF7 Advent Children, Final Fantasy the movie, Avatar (meh...). All slickly produced and highly predictable.  
Now, Gunsliger Girl Il Teatrino had some crappy animation and crappy music. But it's story was actually quite moving. Not as good as season #1, but damn good. 
Of course, when great production values marry great story, it's always welcome. Cases in point: Black Lagoon, Gunslinger Girl, The Animatrix, Serial Experiments Lain, Darker Than BLACK. Y'all get the picture. 
 
 
I have a similar conversation with Gamers. They'll think I'm crazy for dissing Halo. But Halo's story eats ***. I prefer Time Splitters Future Perfect (Gamecube) - lotsa fun modes, diverse story missions and a very funny story. They'll think I'm crazy for prefering Chrono Trigger or FF6 (FF3 for SNES) to FF13. But FF13 is unbearably linear and run-o-the-mil. CT and FF6 are very diverse and open-ended. All FF13 has going for it are slick production values. 
Vinceborgon June 9, 2010 at 3:19 a.m.
I like the bad animation of the 70s, but I can't stand the laziness of flash animated shows. It's so much easier to animate these days. Put some effort into it.
FekketCantenelon June 10, 2010 at 7:27 a.m.
I know I already made a post, but if we're talking about hideous animation, I have to add these three words: 
 
Reign. 
 
The. 
 
Conqueror.
Gozertcon June 10, 2010 at 9:35 p.m.

Important but I'm old school.  I've watched too much in the VHS era to worry overly much about animation.  Basically it's not a deal breaker to me as much as voice acting is. :)  

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