Well, it LOOKED cute: A look at art style dissonance in anime

Hey all, this is a repost of a blog entry from 2018. I’m trying to get back into writing stuff like this, so I’m giving it a reblog as inspiration for me! Plus, consider this a placeholder while I try to get back into my groove 🙂

Have you ever been fooled by an anime’s cutesy art style? Were you one of the people who were absolutely floored when episode three of Madoka Magica came around, or someone who wasn’t expecting Made in Abyss to involve so much gore and vomit based on the character designs? Did you think Doki Doki Literature was just an innocent dating sim?

Don’t worry, it happens to the best of us. Even Cactus Matt was fooled by a manga’s cover art recently! The poor fella just wanted to see some cute anime girls, but instead he got cute anime girls melting!

This concept of having an art style that doesn’t necessarily match up with the show’s tone is commonly utilized in anime. It’s called art style dissonance. The logic behind it is simple enough – if you see a cute looking character getting absolutely obliterated, you’re (probably) going to be more shocked by what’s happening. That can’t happen to her, she’s got pink hair and big moe eyes!

There are the more well-known examples like Madoka and Made in Abyss that I mentioned above, but those just scratch the surface. There are many, many series that utilize this method. Let’s take a look at some of my favorites.

Content warning: since this post is specifically talking about anime that are secretly fucked up, there’s some mention of some fucked up stuff in here. Some mentions of body horror and sexual assault beyond this point.

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