My favorite anime critic, Ben Ettinger, recently wrote a piece about the long-running Japanese animated series CRAYON SHIN-CHAN and how since its debut in 1992, the animators’ styles have evolved and become more distinct and personal. Initially, the show remained faithful to the comic that it was based on, which from what I’ve seen is rather poorly drawn, but within a couple seasons the animators were pushing the look of the show into a more experimental (and even abstract) direction. Check out the revealing stills above – left is from a 1992 episode, right is from 1996. (Ben’s article also includes links to video clips.)
What strikes me as fascinating about this stylistic evolution is that it’s the complete opposite of the tendencies of US series. Here, the drawing in shows – most shows, at least – tightens up with every passing season, exemplified most clearly (and sadly) in America’s longest running animated series THE SIMPSONS, which hasn’t had an original character expression or bit of movement in well over a decade.