American cartoons animated by Japanese studios and the hybrid art style that results is EXTREMELY my aesthetic and the basis for my art style - a post
I’ve been nerding out about this on twitter all day but I wanted to make a post here about it too - people often cite my work as reminding them of things like Lupin the 3rd and Cybersix, and honestly, I”m not surprised.
But do you know why?
Its because both shows were animated by a little (and by little I mean one of the oldest animation studios in Japan) animation studio by the name of Tokyo Movie Shinsha (as they were known up until the 2000s, and are now known as TMS Entertainment).
TMS is responsible for a really large chunk of my favorite animated media growing up. They are my biggest inspiration both animation and art style wise. I’m honestly completely infatuated with the hybrid style that was created in the 80s and 90s as a result of Japanese animation studios being outsourced to do American cartoons in general, but TMS really stands out as being the masters of this.
Little Nemo: Adventures in Slumberland (1989)
This movie went through distributor hell, falling through the hands of WB, Disney and various others. But it had an American director and was animated by TMS studio under the instruction of using a western style. Its initial release was in Japan. To this day no one really knows who owns the film property. But its one of the most shining examples of Japanese > American hybrid animation to this day and is the most prolific in making kids SWEAR this movie was anime, only to watch it again as adults and be totally confused. lmao.
It’s my favorite animated film of all time.
Galaxy High School (1986)
This cartoon aired on the American CBS network in 1986, and was created and mostly written by Chris Columbus. It was also animated by TMS. This show sports some of the cutest animation I’ve ever seen out of TMS studio - they seemed to be given slightly more leeway on how “Japanese” it was allowed to look, despite being provided model sheets by the American character designers. This show has BIG BIG hints of Lupin throughout - mostly showcased in how the expressions, movement and especially the various running/chase scenes are animated. This show has the absolute /perfect/ blend of Japanese > American hybrid cartoon animation style, in my personal opinion. One of my absolute favorites.
Cybersix was a Canadian production, originally airing on the Teletoon Network in 1999. And what do you know, yet again animated by TMS studio! This show was an absolute staple of my teenhood. Not just for its gorgeous style and characters that would very clearly influence my work for years to come, but also its themes - its probably the only show I’ve ever seen to feature a truly genderfluid character, and handles gender identity with such care I’ve NEVER seen in a TV show since. This is a classy show. The animation is always breathtaking, and never skips a beat. Sadly though, due to some conflicts between production studios, the second 13 episode season never went into production, so the series is left on a bit of a cliffhanger. Still, I can not stress enough how this is a show NOT to be looked over. Its more than worth a watch.
The Real Ghostbusters (1986)
The production of this show is kind of a huge roller coaster ride that seasoned Ghostbusters fans have WAY more knowledge of and have covered it in way more detail already than I ever could ( @phelous has some great videos on his youtube channel that are worth a watch) - but it is worth noting that I had to do some slight sleuthing to discover that TMS is YET AGAIN responsible for the animation for the first 5 seasons of this show (with a Korean animation studio doing the last two) - as only DiC is credited with the production almost everywhere you look. But it’s not all that hard to see the CLEAR signs of this show being animated by a Japanese studio. The hybrid style is very prevalent here. Again, this is a show I REALLY enjoyed thoroughly as a kid due to its style and characters. I swear, I think I was just really hard wired to be drawn to TMS’ art style. lol.
These are my favorite examples. TMS is also responsible for some of my other favorite shows growing up such as Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog, Inspector Gadget (under the DiC label), Ducktales, Rescue Rangers, and Gargoyles (under the Disney label), and Animaniacs (under the WB label). Most of my absolute FAVORITE western TMS productions were done under the Telecom Animation Film label.
Some of my favorite anime productions of all time were done by TMS too, such as Katsuhiro Otomo’s Akira (yes, the animated film with the most frames per second of all time and some of the most gorgeous animation ever put on screen), MOST installments of Lupin the 3rd, Tetsujin 28-go, Ashita no Joe, Detective Conan, Space Adventure Cobra, Magic Knight Rayearth, and tons more.
(And trust me, I do understand the underlying negative implications of what it means to outsource animation in asian countries. I of course don’t EVER support the abysmal treatment and underpaying of animators in Japan.)
But I do want to pay my respects to these animators, because whether they know it or not, they created something really wonderful in this process that I admire and am extremely inspired by.
In my opinion, TMS deserves the same amount of respect and notoriety as the likes of studio Ghibli.
So yes, whenever someone sends me an ask “hey, your style reminds me of (insert TMS show here) - and its always these shows they point out, lol - I’m just going to direct them to this post.
I can’t stress enough just how clearly this style has influenced my own. I hope you all can see it now. lol.
Thanks for reading and taking this time to geek out about animation aesthetics with me. ;;; I’d also love to hear about any shows you love/loved as a kid that feature this Japanese > American animation style in the replies to this post!