If you ever have the opportunity to visit a working anime studio and watch creative genius in action, you will likely see some of the artists working on storyboards. Creating storyboards is not mandatory. However, studios tend to use them because they are very helpful. They make it easier to ensure that the finished product turns out as originally envisioned.
A storyboard is to anime what a written outline is to a novel. Storyboards take the plot and bring it to life with illustrations and dialogue. By nature, a storyboard is not the complete story in pictures. Rather, it is the main points all put together in sequential order for the purposes of making sure the story works.
If you are still confused about storyboards and their usefulness in creating anime, here are the main reasons creators use them:
1. To Further Develop Characters
Anime creators either start with character creation or plug characters in as they write the plot. Either way, it is difficult to truly understand how characters will interact with the story until you start illustrating them. Storyboards are where anime illustrations begin.
Seeing an actual illustration often leads to further character development. It leads to better dialogue because the creator can now put a face to the words being spoken. That face and its assigned dialogue either work or they do not. The storyboard reveals that.
2. Find Gaps in the Plot
Storyboard illustrations require more than just character faces and dialogue. They also require action. And because the finished product will include scenes where no dialogue occurs, the action must continue to carry the story. Storyboards help in this regard by revealing gaps in the plot, gaps that are sometimes created by the action being portrayed.
For example, an illustrator might portray a fight scene in which one of the characters is wielding a magical sword. When that storyboard goes back to the writer, the writer suddenly realizes that the origins of the depicted sword are important. He inserts the necessary details into the plot so that viewers will not be left guessing.
3. To Fill in the Action
A third reason for using storyboards is to fill in the action. In other words, you can tell a story in a straightforward, sterilized way. That is not going to attract anime fans. Jazzing it up requires taking the original plot and enhancing it with additional action, a subplot here or there, or whatever else it takes to keep the story moving. Storyboards represent an opportunity to insert those extras.
How important are storyboards to good anime? Very important, at least to some creators. Storyboards make the difference between creating an anime series that is hard to follow and creating one that will eventually be considered a masterpiece.
4.Not All Anime Needs Storyboards
It goes without saying that not all anime needs storyboards. The shorter the production, the less necessity for the storyboard. It’s when stories get longer and more complex that storyboards really come in handy.
Standalone anime artwork is an extreme example of a scenario in which a storyboard isn’t needed. The original artwork that appears on UmaiClothing anime T-shirts and sweatshirts tells a story, but each article of clothing stands on its own merits. No storyboards are required. If you wanted to know the story behind any particular image, all you would have to do is ask the owners.
In a studio setting though, where animators are creating stories that could take weeks, months, or years to tell, storyboards are the glue that holds everything together. That is why so many anime creators go to the trouble of developing them.