Having read a lot of anime reviews and general opinions on anime, I’ve come to notice that a lot of people tend to describe animation or production quality as “good” or “bad” without going into any specifics. In order to help make reviews and opinions on animation quality less confusing, here are just some examples of what constitutes good and bad quality.
Most people have a good grasp of what really bad quality looks like, but if you don’t, this page goes through it thoroughly. Poor quality generally consists of other, more subtle problems though, such as disfigured characters, unintentional changes in colour, shifting objects, blank backgrounds, and lack or repetition of frames.
This example from Mirai Nikki shows a minor instance of disfigured characters. If you take a look at everyone’s hands, most of them look nothing like hands. Except for the security guard and the lady in pink, no one has real fingers.
Sudden changes in colour aren’t very common, even in low-budget anime so I can’t think of an example, but it’s pretty straightforward. If you see a non-magical red book turn into a blue book and back to red between scenes, that’s a clear sign of poor quality.
This above screenshots come from an anime called Dragon Crisis. While the production quality in this anime was good, there were a few slipups, such as with the teacups shown. In the top screenshot the teacups look rather large in comparison to the characters’ faces, but in the bottom one you can see that they are in fact smaller. Also note, based on the handle, that Rose’s (the blonde girl) teacup has turned around in the bottom screenshot. She left the room immediately after the top screenshot so it should’ve stayed in the same position. This is an example of shifting objects.
One anime notorious for blank backgrounds is Pandora Hearts. This is pretty self-explanatory; either due to a low budget, laziness, or lack of time, the animators don’t fill in part of the background. In the above screenshot you can see part of a building and some trees were left completely black.
Frame repetition was a common technique employed by classic cartoons such as The Flintstones, but is generally frowned upon in the anime world and is seen as a sign of a low quality anime. Senki Zesshou Symphogear is guilty of using frame repetition as you can see from the above video.
Now that we’ve cleared up what poor quality is, let’s consider good quality. In general, if you don’t see any of the problems previously mentioned, the animation quality can be considered good. I know that’s not good enough of an explanation for some of you so here are a few examples of anime that take their animation quality to the highest levels.
Water can be a very difficult thing to animate: it’s constantly moving, is clear, and refracts light. Most anime stick with blue opaque water, but Sankarea takes water to a whole new level. Using computer graphics, they have managed to make water that looks and moves almost like real water, allowing for some stunning scenes.
Another anime with some high quality scenes is Red Data Girl. The above screenshot is an example of how anime with high production quality are able to show transparency. Izumiko’s outer robe is slightly transparent since it’s wet, allowing you to see her outfit behind it. The mist in the background is also transparent, allowing you to see the foliage. Generally, most anime do not take the effort to allow viewers to see through mist.
The last example I want to look at is from Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai. Take a good look at all of the characters above. Note how each of them has a unique face. Only three of them are actually a part of the story, the rest are nameless background characters. Putting in the effort to actually make every single character unique is an indicator of the high level of quality of an anime.
Hopefully this gives you a better understanding of the difference between good and bad quality animation. If you write or talk about anime and don’t already go into detail regarding why the animation in an anime is good or bad, then I recommend talking about some of the things I’ve mentioned here to better get your point across.