What was the first anime series to use digital production? How many years passed between the first use and the complete conversion to digital?

According to this interview to Toshihiko Arisako by ANN [04:42] Toei first used digital animation in 1998 for the fourth GeGeGe no Kikaro series, and "2000 was the year that most of our productions were produced digitally". Is this time frame valid for other studios or Toei was a precursor?

  • 1
    I can't find a source off-hand, but around 2000-2001, Fujifilms stopped making the cells that all the animation studios used and other manufacturers didn't have the same quality, so many studios switched to digital animation.
    – Jon Lin
    Commented Apr 27, 2013 at 23:52

2 Answers 2


According to this:

In the 1990s, the Japanese began incorporating computers into the animation process. Some works such as Ghost in the Shell and Princess Mononoke mixed cel animation with computer-generated images. Towards the late 1990s, companies had began shifting towards drawing cels digitally instead of with paint. Fuji Films to boldly announce the halt of cel production for the animation industry prompting a mass scramble to import foreign cels and transfer more of the production line to digital.

Princess Mononoke was released in 1997, though animation production began in 1995. Ghost in the Shell was released in 1995. Based on that, digital production as a part of the general production began in or before 1995.

According to this, which may or may not be correct (I don't know how reliable the source is), Tobira o Akete was an early anime short to feature digital production, as was Bit Cupid (an anime series rather than a short), both of which were from 1995.


Production I.G., known for their world-famous Ghost in the Shell film and other prestige features (Patlabor 2, Jin Roh) produced the first two digital anime series that most anime fans can recognize by name: Love Hina (with Xebec) and FLCL (with Gainax)

Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within, released in 2001, was the first photorealistic computer animated feature film. Blood: The Last Vampire, which was from 2000, was fully digital, and, according to this, the first fully digital feature.

The first fully digital anime series was Bit the Cupid, which was created in 1995 by Satelight Inc. A description is on this page, but it is in Japanese. From what I can tell from the translation, Bit the Cupid was the first continuous CG animation in the world. It was made to look like it was modeled in 3D. Also, after being colored, the contour lines were taken off.

All in all, it's kind of difficult to determine exactly when things began, but from what I can find, digital production began in 1995 and the first fully digital feature was released 2000.

  • 1
    Thank you for your valid answer kuwaly: the question is about anime series, so Bit the Cupid could be the correct answer if other sources comes up: Satelight is credited as the anime studio behind that anime but ANN doesn't report it.
    – chirale
    Commented May 11, 2013 at 17:27
  • 1
    @chirale I didn't find Bit the Cupid before when I was looking, but I'll add some information about it now.
    – kuwaly
    Commented May 11, 2013 at 19:33

The Professional: Golgo 13 (1983), a popular manga in the 70s, had a CG helicopter sequence. I'm mostly unsure of the team who animated it, but I'm mostly surprised that it manifested quickly after the release of Tron (1982).

Production IG had it's first instances of CG in the 90s, but it appears that they were shown in the form of wireframes. I've heard of some talk that these wireframes were painted over in some cases.

I would probably mention that industry completely transitioned to digital within the early 21st century.

  • Welcome to Anime and Manga.SE! Your answer seems to answer the first part of the question, leaving, however, the second part unanswered (How many years passed between the first use and the complete conversion to digital?). Please consider editing you answer to make it more complete, as we prefer good and detailed answers, rather than one-liners. Happy answering~ :)
    – JNat
    Commented Nov 22, 2013 at 17:58
  • here's an example image you might like to include: operationrainfall.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/… Commented Sep 7, 2015 at 17:57

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .