Japanese anime Twitter takes a look back at characters who have been around so long you might not recognize them in their original forms.

While some anime franchises are over and done with in just 13 weeks, others last a lot longer. But while anime characters themselves don’t age by nature of being illustrations, aesthetic trends are always shifting.

So if a character sticks around long enough, they’re going to get periodic updates to their design, and those changes get amplified all the more if series goes dormant for a while and later has a reboot. To show just how much of a difference all that can make, Japanese Twitter user @siroumaru96 recently put together time-based comparisons for four famous anime girls.

▼ Click on the image for a look at their “before” versions

In the top left of that collage is GeGeGe no Kitaro’s Neko Musume, who’s had a startling art evolution in the half-century gap between the series’ original 1968 anime and its seventh series, which went on the air in 2018. At the top right is Shizuka, who goes from her look in the 1973 Doraemon TV series to her appearance in the franchise’s 2018 Nobita’s Treasure Island theatrical anime.

Underneath them are two young ladies from more otaku-oriented series, with rural schoolgirl Ryuga Rena from Higurashi no Naku Koro ni starting off extra-stylized in 2006, getting sharper and more evenly balanced facial features in 2013, then arriving at the streamlined style of the anime’s 2021 iteration. Finally, One Piece’s Perona is hardly recognizable as the same person, as she gains much more expressive and human-looking eyes between 2012 and 2020.

“Characters who got cuter as time went on,” tweets @siroumaru96 with the collage, and other long-time anime fans responded by adding more examples of characters who went through their own big changes, like Fruits Basket’s Tohru, who got much less cartoony between 2001 and the series weightier, more source material-loyal version that wrapped in 2021.

Of course, changes don’t necessarily mean that the old version was bad, and the new one is good. Sometimes they’re just the result of a new artist coming onboard for the project, and sometimes in a different medium. Take, for example, The Heroic Legend of Arslan, which has been graced by the hands of three titans of the industry. In 1986, the original series of novels had intricate covers by Yoshitaka Amano (of Final Fantasy fame). When they were adapted to an anime film and OVA series starting in 1991, Sachiko Kamimura (who also did the character designs for City Hunter), took over with her signature long legs and high cheekbones, and then the torch was passed to manga artist Hiromu Arakawa, manga artist of Fullmetal Alchemist for a reboot manga that served as the basis for Arslan’s 2015 TV anime and its stouter physiques and broader faces.

Other striking transitions include Space Battleship Yamato’s Yuki Mori (1974 vs. 2017)…

Sailor Moon (original anime vs. Crystal)…

…and Sakura Wars’ Sakura Shinguji (1996 vs. 2020).

Even inorganic icons aren’t immune to the phenomenon. The RX-78 Gundam is looking a lot more hi-tech in 2019 than it did back in 1979.

And last, how could we not mention Pikachu.

No offense to the Pokémon star’s original appearance, but we’re happy that it’s the more modern version that’s the basis for Japan’s Pikachu Outbreaks.

Source: Twitter/@siroumaru96 via Otakomu
Featured image: Twitter/@siroumaru96
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