Attack on Titan’s CGI: How Good or Bad?

Here’s how good or bad the Attack on Titan’s CGI is:

Attack on Titan uses CGI better than the average anime, but it’s not spectacular when compared to blockbuster movies.

Overall, it sits somewhere in the middle.

As an anime, the show uses CGI to animate compelling fight scenes with depth and dimension, making it a standout show.

So if you want to learn all about what’s good or bad about Attack on Titan’s CGI, then this article is for you.

Let’s jump right into it!

Attack on Titan's CGI: How Good or Bad? (All the Info)

What Is Attack on Titan?

We’ll get to CGI in a minute. Before that, it’s important to talk about Attack on Titan in general.

If you’re not already familiar, Attack on Titan is an extremely popular anime series out of Japan.

Anime, of course, is a popular style of animated content that Japan has famously developed over the last 70 years or so.

As for Attack on Titan, it’s the story of Eren Yeager, a young Eldian who takes up the fight against the monstrous, man-eating titans that roam the lands.

There are a ton of plot twists and turns within the story, and that’s a big part of its draw.

And, that brings me to another point. I’m talking about CGI today, so I should be able to avoid major plot points, but if you want to err on the side of caution, consider this your spoiler warning.

There might be minor spoilers ahead, and you should stop reading now if you want to avoid them.

What Is CGI?

Now that we’ve covered the basics of the show, let’s talk about CGI.

What is CGI in the first place?

It stands for “computer generated imagery.”

Basically, it’s a term that refers to any time that computers are used to render images.

Traditionally, animation is drawn by hand.

Artists actually draw every frame that is shown in a cartoon show, and it takes a ton of time and effort.

CGI allows computerized tools to assist the process, and that can cut down on production time and costs considerably.

CGI comes up a lot in film and TV productions.

You can see CGI that is used to animate things in huge set pieces (such as those found in Marvel movies).

You can also find it in small productions, even sometimes in obscure anime shows.

Granted, Attack on Titan is hardly obscure, but the real point here is that CGI is not exclusive to anime or this one show.

It’s used a lot, and that is going to provide us with a wide basis for comparison.

How Good or Bad Is Attack on Titan’s CGI?

And, that brings us to the crucial point of the whole article. How good is the CGI in Attack on Titan?

How bad is it?

The answers to these questions really depend on the comparison that you’re making.

There’s no question that Attack on Titan’s CGI is much better than the majority of CGI that you’re going to see in anime.

In fact, anime hasn’t been utilizing CGI in a widespread sense for very long, and a lot of production studios clearly have some learning to do.

On the other hand, Attack on Titan CGI can’t keep up with some of the most advanced movie productions with the largest budgets.

Compare it to the latest Marvel or Star Wars release, and the Attack on Titan CGI doesn’t look so great.

(A lot of people complain that these franchises use CGI too often, but generally speaking, the CGI is made extremely well.)

In the grand scheme of things, Attack on Titan is in the middle of the road in terms of CGI quality.

But as I already said, it’s way ahead of the curve for an anime.

What Is Good About Attack on Titan’s CGI? (3 Things)

Ok. That seems like an easy enough answer.

The CGI isn’t changing the world, but it’s a cut above in terms of anime.

Why?

What about the CGI in Attack on Titan makes it better than other anime shows?

What did this show get right?

#1 The Fight Sequences

Probably more than anything else, the CGI looks best in action-packed fight sequences.

Most fans agree that the best animated and most compelling fights in the whole series took place after the switch to CGI (which largely took place after the second season).

CGI enables the studio to pack more detail into each image, and they were able to pack more frames into a single fight sequence.

The results were fights with more visual information, better legibility, more interesting movements, and a more compelling result all around.

In fact, it was the positive feedback from beloved fight sequences that emboldened the showrunners to continue investing in CGI techniques as the show developed.

As a result, fans tend to agree that the overall animation quality of the show improved steadily over time.

#2 The Color Palette

Computer animation makes it easy to access more colors than anyone wants to count.

Compare that to hand drawing, and it’s not surprising that a lot of CGI options come with better color diversity.

As for Attack on Titan, the increased use of CGI brought with it an expanded color palette.

Bolder and more pronounced colors were used to increase the legibility of many different images throughout the series.

But, this really circles back to the fight sequences.

A shortcoming for many anime shows is that fight sequences and heavy action scenes end up muddied because of the limitations of the art style.

CGI use in Attack on Titan helped to overcome this issue, and the fights became more legible as CGI usage improved, in no small part because of the color palette.

#3 Displays of Titan Brutality

This particular point isn’t for the fainthearted, but then again, neither is Attack on Titan.

One of the central themes of the show is that the titans are terrifying and brutal, and that is represented through explicit depictions in the animation.

In the very first episode, you see titans eat people. It’s not a nice moment.

Displays of brutality are central to Attack on Titan, and the use of CGI helped the animators really capture some horrifying moments.

The brutal imagery was more brutal because of the ways CGI enhanced the overall animation.

The same way CGI could make fight scenes more legible, it also made brutality more legible.

Considering how such ideas were explored and used in the anime, this counts as a positive for the show—even if it can lead to mental discomfort for the people watching.

What Is Bad About Attack on Titan’s CGI? (3 Things)

That sounds like a lot of high praise, but I still said that Attack on Titan is pretty much in the middle of the pack when it comes to CGI.

Why isn’t it the best?

A lot of it comes down to budget.

CGI can enable studios to produce animations faster and cheaper, but not all CGI is the same, and it doesn’t all come at the same price.

Attack on Titan was produced for an average cost of $150,000 per episode.

At 87 completed episodes so far, that’s a total cost of about $13 million for the entire show.

Meanwhile, the first Avengers movie had a budget of $220 million.

That’s for a single movie.

You can see that there are studios and productions that will outclass Attack on Titan due to their budgets alone.

Regardless of why, Attack on Titan isn’t the best CGI out there, and there are specific aspects of the digital rendering that hold it back.

Let’s look into the specific ways that Attack on Titan doesn’t look so good.

#1 Character Design

One of the major complaints that Attack on Titan has received (particularly when it comes to CGI) is that there are moments when the characters look clunky.

The movements can seem less natural at times, and it can really pull people out of the moment while watching.

This can be especially noticeable during close-up shots of the characters’ faces.

The faces were primarily hand-drawn when the show began.

Even the best applications won’t look identical to hand drawings, and in close-up face shots, those differences are more pronounced.

If you’re familiar with anime as an art form, you’ll know that close-ups of faces happen a lot in pretty much any show, so this is a bit of a problem for Attack on Titan.

#2 Clashing Foregrounds and Backgrounds

Another issue that arises has plagued many anime shows over the years, and it’s one of the main reasons that CGI still sees limited use in this medium.

There are moments where foregrounds and backgrounds don’t synchronize well.

This usually happens during close-ups of characters moving quickly.

It can happen during a fight sequence, but in Attack on Titan, it’s most noticeable when the titans are merely covering ground quickly outside of a fight.

The mismatch of foreground and background is usually subtle, but when noticed, it harms the viewing experience.

#3 It Just Feels Different

Then again, a lot of complaints arise anytime something changes.

People loved Attack on Titan from the beginning, and in the first season, there were few and limited applications of CGI.

The CGI implementation increased steadily each season. 

That means that the animation style fundamentally changed as the show continued.

Any time that you change something about a beloved show, people are going to complain, and this was probably the biggest problem that the show’s CGI really faced.

The CGI rendering really is noticeably different from the hand-drawn images.

People notice.

Some don’t like change.

It’s as simple as that.