Types of Anime Drawing Styles

By Michael O. Smathers ; Updated September 15, 2017
Example of Dragonball Z fanart

Japanese anime, shorthand for "animation" encompasses a large variety of drawing styles. Most anime art styles derive from a few influential manga artists. Manga, the Japanese equivalent of comic books and graphic novels, serves as source material for anime. Manga series typically have one artist/author, such as Akira Toriyama, the author of Dragonball and Dr. Slump; Rumiko Takahashi, the author of Inuyasha and Ranma 1/2; or Naoko Takeuchi, author of Sailor Moon. These artists became well-known for stylistic differences in their work, and later works emulated them.

Akira Toriyama's Style

Akira Toriyama has two anime drawing styles, one for his lighter fare such as Dr. Slump or the first half of Dragonball and another more recognizable one for more serious work, such as the latter half of Dragonball that became Dragonball Z or the video games Chrono Trigger and the Dragon Quest series. Toriyama uses more simplified, rounded versions of facial features for humor-based pieces. Some characters' eyes resemble two Cs mirroring one another, with a small black dot for the pupil. Toriyama rarely draws the iris and pupil separately.

Toriyama's more serious work has extreme muscular detail and highly angular facial features. Characters' eyes resemble trapezoids set close together. The characters have L-shaped noses and detailed ears. Toriyama also draws many characters with wildly spiked hair—few of his characters fit the "bishonen"—effeminate male—archetype of other anime.

Naoko Takeuchi's Style

With Sailor Moon, Naoko Takeuchi achieved recognition in girls' anime and manga just as Toriyama did for boys' anime and manga. The art style used in Sailor Moon serves as a template emulated by a majority of shoujo series even today. Sailor Moon uses an exaggerated eye profile. The eyes convey most of a character's emotion and expression outside of dialogue, so Takeuchi could convey emotion in Sailor Moon without necessarily including dialogue. The hair colors of Sailor Moon characters range from standard black, brown or blonde to blue and green.

Rumiko Takahashi's Style

According to PopCult.com, Rumiko Takahashi uses highly exaggerated facial expressions with simplistically-detailed facial features. The eyes of Takahashi-drawn characters blend with the rest of the face. Eyelashes and eyebrows consist of a single line rather than a thicker or valued shape. Takahashi employs very little shading on the hair, preferring instead to keep it monochrome. Frequently she gives her characters hairstyles with bangs.

About the Author

Michael Smathers studies history at the University of West Georgia. He has written freelance online for three years, and has been a Demand Studios writer since April 2009. Michael has written content on health, fitness, the physical sciences and martial arts. He has also written product reviews and help articles for video games on BrightHub, and martial arts-related articles on Associated Content.