Anime & Manga

Line Drawing

Among Japanese traditional art techniques, line drawing has fundamental impact on today’s Manga and Anime. “Drawn only with outlines, Manga who inherits the characteristic of Japanese-style painting made up of lines seem three-dimensional; drastically simplified and yet it forms curious profoundness,” says Sugiyama Tomoyuki, president of Digital Hollywood University. “According to a recent neuroscience study, our brain does not perceive what we see directly as a whole, but processes shape, color, and action separately and integrate them later,” he says. “Although there is no actual line in nature, we sense outline first rather than other visual information, because we must discern the edges first to protect our body without fur from sharp edges of objects before perceiving shades or colors.”

Kelts writes in his book: "In Japan", the former Ghibli producer and Studio4C president Tanaka Eiko says, "there's a way of looking at the world only through lines - as the kimono or torii (鳥居, Shintō shrine gate). We learned how to express shapes and forms and ideas using lines, so it was easier for us to play with forms.”

On mouseover, you can see the drawing using light and shadow in Europe.

“In Europe, they were using light and shadow,” she says, “So westerners have long been paying more attention to volume than flat spaces. They don't pay that much attention to the lines.” “Even if we change a shape a bit, it still looks like the same thing. Japanese people know that. But westerners think in terms of light and shadow. If you change the light, everything changes. Japanese people know that no matter how much you change shape, the elements are still there,” Tanaka concludes, “The appeal of what we now call anime is intricately tied to culture, to certain aesthetics that cannot be easily imitated or exported.” In reply to Kelts’s question: “If it is so radically different, why would Americans and other westerners suddenly be drawn to it?” Tanaka says, “Because we borrow the imaginations of the viewers to make it work. We liberate them. They can see and feel the images themselves, by putting themselves inside them.”


TAKAHASHI Rumiko (高橋 留美子)


In his book, Kelts introduces Anime style editor Ono Hideaki’s view: “Japanese expressionism is defined by subtraction,” says Ono. “A pretty cute girl is drawn with huge eyes down to the eyelashes, and hair is drawn to the fine details - every stands. But the ear is not shown. They only draw the parts they want. The eyes are big for sensitivity, the breasts are big, but no one wants to see nostrils, so you leave them out.”

“See, the key is finding that balance: The characters are not possible in real life, but maybe they could be possible, if real life were better than this,” he says. “But what if a more minimalist representation, a Japanese anime or manga graphic, attuned to our sensitivities and fantasies, gave us exactly, and only, what we wanted to perceive?”

“As computer graphics and robots get more human, they often seem more surreal,” the article in the Economist in Nov 18th 2010 said. “Robot-makers and the animators who design characters for films and video games face a paradox. People readily accept machines and cartoons that are simplifications or distortions of the human form. Simulacra that are intended to look like real people, though, are frequently perceived as creepy.”“Your brain projects in the missing information in 2D anime, which gives your brain pleasure, " says Ono, "So hand-down characters present a flat-looking scene without certain information, but viewer's brain fills in the missing elements and feels great joy. It's like being an in-brain character: You're part of the artistry.”


Feature Story

  • Art techniques in Amime & Manga

    Managa is an art form in which expressive elements: drawing, typography, graphic design, and panel layout are highly integrated. The expressive techniques hold true for Anime, and make it a sophisticated art form.

  • 虫プロダクション

    American influence on Amime & Manga

    Tezuka,'the father of manga' and 'the god of comics'loved the Disney stories and illustrations so much, he copied them line for line.

  • The traditional techniques

    Okuno Takuji, a Japanese anthropologist suggests that the expressive techniques in Anime and Manga today derive from the traditional techniques.

  • The ukiyo-e (浮世絵 perspective

    With the rise of popular culture in the Edo period, a style of woodblock prints called ukiyo-e characterized by the aesthetic two-dimensional forms, the absence of western notion of perspective became a major art form.

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