10 Types Of Anime Art Styles Commonly Seen In Popular Shows

Garden Of Words Raining

You won’t notice it unless you pay attention, but tons of anime have their own set of distinctive art styles.

Almost every show fits into at least one of these categories. Intentionally or unintentionally.

Let’s take an anime like Cowboy Bebop for example.

What kind of anime art style represents Cowboy Bebop? What’s the first thought that comes to your mind?

Cowboy Bebop Characters

And what about an anime like Date A Live?

How would you describe the art style used in this Ecchi/harem series?

Date A Live Dal Cookies

While you try to figure it out, here are 10 types of anime art styles we tend to see over and over again.

I’ve categorized each one into my own set of “phrases” to make it simple to understand.

 

Common Anime Art Styles:

 

1. Kawaii art styles

Kawaii art styles in anime are some of the “newest” in the last decade. Before then (1990’s or before), there was no such thing as Kawaii art styles.

One of the best anime shows that describe Kawaii art styles is: New Game!

Aoba And Nenechi Sakura

New Game Kazuki And Umiko

New Game is a slice of life/comedy series about the gaming company: Eagle Jump, and the employees who work within it.

The first thing you’ll notice about New Game is how bright the colours are, and better yet: the kawaii drawings and art style of each character.

Despite the “Kawaii” art, the creators still manage to represent the ages of each character realistically. Or at least to a degree. it’s an impressive example of a Kawaii style anime in recent years.

 

2. Realistic art styles

Then there’s a style I call: “realistic”.

There aren’t many anime shows that fit into the realistic art style category. But those that do are some of the best shows on earth, statistically (and objectively) speaking.

Remember how I mentioned Cowboy Bebop earlier? That fits into the realistic art style category.

Alongside shows like:

 

Black Lagoon

Rock And Revy Rebecca

Psycho Pass

Akane Tsunemori From Psycho Pass

Jormungand

Koko Hekmatyar

Monster

Johan Liebert From Monster

All 4 of these shows are “Seinen” by definition. Which is aimed at older anime fans (20-30+). And each one of them feels realistic, looks realistic, and represents dark themes that apply to the real world.

Like arms deals who sell weapons and make tons of money, or how the wrong circumstances can turn a kind person into a monster.

Realistic anime art styles are one of my favourites.

 

3. Chibi art styles

There’s also “chibi” art styles. This is more obvious than the last 2 I’ve mentioned.

Chibi by definition is childish in every way, shape and form. And any anime with Chibi art styles has characters who look much younger than they actually are.

Though not all of these anime are like that.

Perfect examples:

 

Lucky Star

Lucky Star Kagami Hiragi And Konata Izumi

Kinmoza

Kinmoza Characters

Is The Order A Rabbit?

Is The Order A Rabbit Characters

All of these shows have childish looking drawings and characters. Especially Lucky Star, which features 17-18-19 year old characters who look much younger.

In contrast: Kinmoza has a main character who’s 16 years old, but you wouldn’t believe it from the art style.

 

4. Moe art styles

“Moe” is confused with Kawaii for obvious reasons. They’re both so similar it’s hard to differentiate.

The best way to describe “moe” art styles is with anime shows created by Kyoto Animation. You could even say they’re 100% responsible for the phrase “moe” in the first place.

Anime like:

 

K-On

K On Characters

Tamako Market

Tamako Market Characters

These shows best describe the art style of Moe better than any other series. I define it as a mixture of:

  • Characters who “look” childish, but still believable for their age.
  • Characters (and art) that’s Kawaii without being over the top.

 

5. Beautiful art styles

Beautiful art is a tricky one in the anime industry.

In some ways it’s close and comparable to realistic anime art. But in other ways it’s far beyond that. Because of how unbelievable the quality is.

The best shows that describe this art style are:

 

Violet Evergarden

Violet Evergarden In The Snow

Garden Of Words

Garden Of Words Characters

Your Name

Your Name Movie Characters

A Silent Voice

A Silent Voice Movie

The Ancient Magus Bride

The Ancient Magus Bride Elias And Hatori

All of these 5 shows have realistic drawings and art, but there’s more to each one than that. The animation, quality, backgrounds and characters will blow your mind.

It’s “eye candy” at its best.

 

6. Weird art styles

And then you have weird anime art styles. The kind you can’t categorize because it’s too out of this world when compared to “normal” art styles.

The best way to describe this art style is with images from anime like:

 

Kemonozume

Kemonozume

RWBY

Rwby Characters

Mind Game

Mind Game Anime Characters

Knights Of Sidonia

Knights Of Sidonia

As you can tell – the anime art styles in these 4 shows is very strange. Compared to your everyday style at least.

But I respect the creators even more for “trying” to step into new territory, and try something new.

It’s no good if a creator rests on their laurels after all.

 

7. “Standard” art styles

It’s exactly as it sounds. Standard is the typical type of art we see in the average anime that’s aired.

I’d categorize anime like Date A Live, Katana Maidens, and similar shows as “standard”. Alongside series like:

 

Sakura Quest

Maki Midorikawa From Sakura Quest

Clannad

Clannad Anime

Don’t get me wrong: standard styles aren’t bad, in fact they’re amazing (Sakura Quest, Clannad). But these types are hard to categorize, hence “standard” is the term used.

 

8. Ecchi art styles

Ecchi art styles are easy to notice.

Why? Because the characters are either half naked, have BIG boobs, or something else to distinguish them.

You know the kind of anime series I’m talking about.

Examples:

 

High School Of The Dead

High School Of The Dead Characters

High School DxD

High School Dxd

To Love Ru

To Love Ru Characters

Prison School

Prison School Ecchi Anime Characters

Shows like these are classics in the harem/Ecchi genre. And so are their “over the top” art.

Especially for female characters in particular.

 

9. Cartoon art styles

“Cartoon” is the best way to describe this style, because it reminds you of the visuals done in American cartoons.

This is because of the colours used (and how much of it that’s used).

As well as how much emphasis the artists puts into each character (and backgrounds in general).

Examples:

 

Kill La Kill

Kill La Kill Ryuko Matoi

Little Witch Academia

Little Witch Academia Characters

Gurren Lagann

Gurren Lagann Characters

The first 2 of these series were produced by Studio Trigger.

I like their way of animating and designing. It’s always fresh and stands out compared to other studios.

 

10. CGI art styles

CGI is the final one worth mentioning.

CGI is least common art style out of ANY anime combined. Because it’s a set of innovative techniques used to create more “realism”.

Besides it’s not something the anime community is fond of just yet.

It’s not perfect, but some shows do pull it off better than others.

Good examples are:

 

Blame! Movie

Blame Movie Character

Batman Ninja

Batman Ninja Movie

God Eater

God Eater Lenka Itsugi

I put God Eater last for a reason. It has the best CGI of any anime I’ve ever seen.

The animation (and the art) is out of this world. It’s hard to say if even a series like Violet Evergarden could compare.

 

Can you add anymore anime art styles to this list?

If so, leave your comments.

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6 thoughts on “10 Types Of Anime Art Styles Commonly Seen In Popular Shows

  1. Jackie says:

    What would Attack on Titan and My Hero be classified as? What about Kekkai Sensen? Would the last be say, beautiful? Or standard? Am I sort of grasping this right? Would the first two not fall into one of these categories? I’ve always thought they were more comic book ish. What about One Punch Man? Standard? I just want to make sure I’m grasping each of these categories correctly.

    • Theo Ellis
      Theo J Ellis says:

      I’d say Attack On Titan could be considered “beautiful” or “realistic”. My Hero Academia is difficult, it’s a mix of standard and “cartoon”.

      Kekkai Sensen is the same as MHA. Where as One Punch Man would be “standard”.

      That’s how I’d categorize it.

  2. Clay says:

    If you were going to do a serious historical-type full-length movie with a strong social/spiritual theme and were aiming at reaching 20’s on down to children, what style or styles would you use? What style appeals to that age group? What if characters sang and danced? Not a Disney/Pixar muscial, but a more serious anime version of it, maybe? Realistic, but anime, awesome backgrounds, adventure, but not a lot of violence, half outdoors, half indoors? What music styles would go with that, as well?

    • Theo Ellis
      Theo J Ellis says:

      That’s a tall question with a lot to unpack. I’d have a good think about that one before making a move.

  3. Shawn says:

    Helpful and funny thanks…

    • Theo Ellis
      Theo J Ellis says:

      Glad you enjoyed reading, Shawn.

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