What are the main differences between anime in the 90s and in 2000s in terms of technology used (like on twos, on threes, etc)?

  • 1
    I think this question might be a little too broad or opinion-based, but I'm really curious to know, so not voting to close it yet.
    – Gao
    Mar 10, 2015 at 9:43
  • 1
    "on twos" vs. "on threes" is less a matter of technology and more a matter of budget. The obvious big change on the technology end of things is the move towards CG that began in the early 2000s, I guess. Maybe somebody can write a good answer about that.
    – senshin
    Mar 11, 2015 at 15:03
  • Yea, I agree with senshin that there really is no difference in technology between "on twos" and "on threes". What are "on twos" and "on threes"?.
    – Gao
    Mar 22, 2015 at 13:34
  • I would expect the technology to advance slowly and only maybe have the occasional jump here and there. But there is no reason why such a technological jump should occur exactly at the turn of the decade. Is there any reason why 90's vs 2000's?
    – Jan
    Jun 17, 2015 at 19:51

1 Answer 1


This is a fairly tough question to answer, as most changes did not just apply to Anime, but to how movies, series and even advertisements as a whole, and the way they got made.

It is however an interesting time period you picked, considering the economic slump of the 90's, which they only started to recover from in 92

A slump in advertising revenue, dwindling birthrates, and the popularity of alternative forms of entertainment like video games and cell phones have led to sluggish prime time ratings and a decline in the number of anime since the peak in 2006... ...The Japanese anime industry is at a turning point. - Nippon, 2013

Rise of 3D animation and CGI

All though 3D animation was already existent around the 1940's. It had a 'said' breakout year in 1991. As more and more studios started to adapt the technology, we can slowly see it replace older, more Traditional Animation techniques throughout the 90's and during the beginning of the millenia.

Due to these changes, there where also significant advances in the field. Such as the 2000 breakthrough in capturing the reflectance field over the human face, being the final breakthrough to making digital look-a-likes of actors, Or the 2001 Motion capture, photorealism, and uncanny valley.

The later of which was applied on the 2001 Japanese-American Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within, which was the first photorealistic computer-animated feature film and remains the most expensive video game-inspired film of all time.

Besides obtaining a first in Photorealistic computer animation, Japan can also claim the title for being the first in using cel-shaded animation, with Appleseed.

"innovative use of out-of-the-box animation software to create Hollywood-style effects at a tiny fraction of Hollywood budgets."
Mark Schilling, The Japanese times &
Toshio Suzuki president Studio Ghibli

Death of traditional animation

Traditional Animation, also known as hand drawn animations, or cel animation.

During the 90's as more and more studios started to adapt digitalized animation, the art of traditional animation started to slowly die out. Some studios dived straight into the deep, leaving traditional animation behind almost immediately, while others started by mixing the digital and traditional ways.

This would continue till FujiFilm, one of the major cel production companies, announced they would stop cel production, leading to a industry panic, hastening the switch to digital processes

Around the early 2000s most studios left behind traditional animation for the more modern, digital animation.

There was however 1 exception to this, Sazae-san. But even though it was the sole survivor, they also gave in to the modern age in 2013. When even they said goodbye to cel animation.

"It's the culture of Japan. We want to continue making the paints even if that cuts into our profits." Taiyō Shikisai head Shigeji Kitamura


begin 90's turning point facial animation Historically speaking, the first SIGGRAPH tutorials on State of the art in Facial Animation in 1989 and 1990 proved to be a turning point in the field by bringing together and consolidating multiple research elements and sparked interest among a number of researchers https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Computer_animation

  • 3D animation in the 1940s? Before the first computer? I'm guessing that's a typo since you later refer to the 1990s... Nov 11, 2018 at 3:31
  • @YetAnotherRandomUser 1940's is not a typo. I am not sure what you are reffering to with first computer, but there have been computers before 1940. A good sample would be the Z1 from 1936 and 1938
    – Dimitri mx
    Nov 11, 2018 at 11:47

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