Saturday, 10 September 2011

The Infinity Aesthetic

The general consensus is that Infinity is heavily influenced by anime.  While I do agree with this I do think that it is an oversimplification or an overstatement.  

The art for Infinity is heavily influenced by anime; indeed most if not all of the illustrations in the core rulebook are in a heavy anime style.  Now personally I am not a huge fan of anime (or manga or however you wish to term it, I don't really understand the differences).  My appreciation hasn't gone further than Cowboy Bebop, which I love for the style, cinematography and the music rather than for the particular aesthetic of the animation.  I can comfortably say, then, that I would not really be interested in a game who's miniatures were wholly anime in style.

Infinity's anime art

In my opinion, anime is a subtle influence for the style of Infinity's miniatures.  The proportions are much more slender and lean than the "heroic scale" we are used to from other games, and it is perhaps arguable that some of the facial features are styled in a manner reminiscent of anime.  To me, the features and proportions of the miniatures have a "realistic" aesthetic rather than an anime one.  By this I mean that the forms are more directly proportional to real life than they are an abstraction of it.

Haqqislam Ghulam Infantry: realistic proportions and poses,
without an over-accentuation of the female form!

Ariadnan Zouave: fantastic pose with a gritty realism.

Haqqislam Naffatun: An example of Infinity's realistic proportions and dynamic poses.

I think that it is the technology in the game that shows its anime influences more apparently.  TAGs and Heavy Infantry from the Pan Oceania and Yu Jing factions are much more anime-inspired in appearance, for example (though obviously Yu Jing have an "asian" influence that is a part of and transcends anime!).  I think that it is for this reason that I don't hold a whole lot of affection for some of the miniatures for these factions; however, at the same time I love almost all of the miniatures in the Haqqislam range!  Certain miniatures also appear to me to be a bit more cartoon-ish than others, and I suspect that many of the earlier miniatures in the range might be slightly more abstracted in style.  These aren't really to my taste, but the position of the community seems to be that Infinity is a game where you aren't pigeon-holed into "must have" units.  This means that you can pick and choose your force based on the miniatures you like.  I can't think of any other game systems off the top of my head where this is viable!

Haqqislam Kum Motorised Troop:
A bit cheesy and not to my taste.

Nomad Daktari: Obviously anime-inspired,
but "taking the piss" a bit too!

Pan-Oceania Armoured Cavalry: I think that the technology of this faction
is heavily influenced by anime.

If you've dismissed Infinity outright for its "anime aesthetic", I challenge you to give it another look.  Take a look through the miniature range for each faction, you may be pleasantly surprised!


  1. I think to say 'anime' is an aesthetic is an oversimplification of the art form. Studio Ghibli's stuff looks very different in my opinion to say the broad works of Production I.G.

    Long and short of it is that anime is simply Japanese animated films or TV shows etc. and Dragon Ball Z or Pokemon are very different in aesthetics and drawing style to Princess Mononoke, which in turn looks very different to Macross so on and so forth. Manga by the way is the commonly used word for Japanese comic books and again art direction is wildly different from production to production. I've never been really happy using anime or manga as a phrase to describe Infinity's aesthetic or background... but it is very heavily influenced by certain works and of that there can be no doubt. However that's not to say that the miniatures are unrealistic in size or scale they're not they're very realistically proportioned as you say, but then again so too is some anime / mange... ;)

  2. That's a very good point! I'm not really qualified to discuss the details of anime/manga so I think that I could have made this a bit more clear (though it is probably evident to fans of the genre!).

    Perhaps the thrust of this blog post should have been that newcomers to Infinity who have little interest in anime should not be deterred by the "anime-influenced" label. I personally do not find the "Dragon Ball Z" style of anime at all attractive, and it is that style that comes to mind when I read the word anime. Thankfully, it was photos of the miniatures that first lead me to look into Infinity. If I'd merely read about the game in a forum thread or on a blog with the description "anime inspired" I might not have looked twice (which would have been a shame, and a lesson for me to be more open minded!). In some ways I think the book art is a little misleading in this respect - the art resembles the "Dragon Ball Z" style more closely than the miniatures do.

    I'd be interested to know which anime productions in your opinion have influenced the style of Infinity most heavily? I have little knowledge of the genre and I'd enjoy looking into it from this perspective.

  3. For me I'd say:

    Ghost in the Shell
    Metropolis (elements and theme's)

    honestly much of the work by Masamune Shirow and Katsuhiro Otomo. I mean the Nomad cat girls could be straight out of Dominion and so force and so on. I do think though that an awful lot of the Infinity stuff is original in some respects if influenced by some of the art direction of these sorts of works. I also agree with the main thrust of the article that people should be put off by the supposed 'anime' stylings as I think its often over played. Sure its an influence but so too in some respects are films like Blade Runner and more besides.