Keys' Little Anime Cel and Animation Art FAQ

What is a reproduction cel?
    A reproduction cel is a term that applies to cels that aren't actually used in production (whether that be for an animation piece or an advertisement/product) but are created to look like one for the collector market. These can be hand-painted, silk-screened or machine made. Usually reproduction cel refers to a licensed copy but some people use it to refer to any copy made by anyone.

What is a fan cel? What is a doujin cel?
    A fan cel is any cel created by someone without license to the characters. These are usually hand painted. A fan cel may refer to an original image of the character or a direct copy of an image that appears elsewhere.

Sometimes a fan cel is called a doujin cel. However, sometimes a doujin cel refers to a cel created by a doujinshi artist or team and used for their works. Both terms sometimes refer to a cel of a completely original image and character.

What is a promo cel? What is a promotional cel?
    A promo or promotional cel is usually another term for 'reproduction cel'. These aren't used in production but are instead used as gifts or for the collector's market.

What is a sericel?
    A sericel is another term for reproduction cel. Often these come in limited numbers (but the limited number might be huge). The term comes from 'series of cels/art' which all look the same.

This term is related to 'serigraph' which is an art print done by screening. Technically this should imply that a sericel is made by a machine process (often silk-screening like the Studio Ghibli reproductions). However, I've seen the term applied more loosely.

What is a chroma cel?
    A chroma cel is a type of reproduction cel or company's product of reproduction cel. They are usually machine-made semi-transparent print on plastic showing a whole scene.

What is the value of a reproduction cel?
    Reproductions are a nice item to have for fans of cel art in general and people looking for cel art to display. Limited edition reproductions may have some collector's value but with the exception of a few have generally not become an issue of availability in the English-speaking anime cel collecting community.

Licensed reproductions can get quite costly depending on the level of quality, how many of an edition are produced, and where the studio/distributor sets their original price point. Some reproductions can be of nearly hanken quality, some are reproductions of hanken cels after all. Other reproductions might just be flimsy machine-printed pieces of plastic with a 'limited edition' size of 5000 (which in a community of this size is more than enough to go around for a very long time).

Even with more tight edition sizes (10 or 50 perhaps), there's nothing to stop a production house from making another cel in the series that is similar to the one that sold well. With this in mind, when buying a reproduction, make sure you enjoy the particular image it's based upon.

How do I know my cel is production? How do I determine a fake?
    There is no tried and true way to know your cel is definitely production and not fake unless you're there to watch it be filmed and then steal it. However, there are ways to be reasonably certain and there are signs that a cel is fake.

The best way is to buy from a trusted seller. If you can trust your seller, you can trust your cel. Furthermore, if the cel turns out to be fake, a legitimate trustworthy dealer would take it back and refund you rather than risk their reputation.

You should try to check your cel versus what is on screen. Find the exact frame on your LD/DVD and look for minute differences. Your cel should probably extend past what you can see on film by at least an inch or so. It can be quite amazing how much of a cel does not get on screen. Sometimes people making fakes forget to extend the image past the boundaries of what they see or simply can't because they lack the talent to do so.

In general it is unlikely your average cel you find on the net is a fake unless already marked as such. Most of them are probably not worth someone faking.

Here are some signals that could mean your cel is a fake. Note, having just one 'symptom' is probably not biggie. Furthermore, not having symptoms isn't a 100% guarantee. A fraudulent individual who has done his research will probably know to include markings that a production cel would have. Furthermore, as some fakes may be made by professional animators, it becomes all the more difficult. Unless you have reason to believe the cel might be fake already (outrageously good deal, suspicious seller, etc)

How are the lines on your cel? Are they photocopies? Are they extra thick where they should be thin? Are they wobbly? Many people have difficulty creating lines correctly when they are not professionals, this may signal.

How are the colors? These can be hard to check indeed but are often a tip off. It is especially difficult because scanners produce colors differently and the colors will appear different on most people's monitors. Check how the colors look with respect to each other.

How big is the image? Is it a hanken image for a big CD cover on a standard sized piece of acetate? This is unlikely. Is the image 'cut off' or lacking sufficient area over what appeared on the original? This is highly unlikely. I've found cut off to be one of the tip offs that's more likely to be found and easier to catch.

As a side note, having the douga, background, or a sequence number does not necessarily mean the cel is real. Sequence numbers are fairly easy to add. If the fraudulent person has not done their research, they may add the wrong sequence number, so if it is way off of what it appears it should be on film, you might want to give it a further look. As for douga and background, sometimes the fake cel is made from the real douga! The fraudulent person keeps the original or gains the douga through other means and creates the fake cel.

Should you worry? For the most part, no. Fake cels are not all that common and if you're buying cels at such an expensive level where the prices would be enticing to those who would create fakes, it's definitely worth it to just go with dealers you can trust. Bottom line: Buying from trustworthy dealers is the best way you can guard against fake cels.

My cel is missing registration holes or sequence numbers! Is it fake?
    Sometimes the image on a cel takes up just enough room or the acetate is cut in such a way that there is no room for registration holes. In this case, usually a thin strip with registration holes is taped on. Over the course of a cel's lifetime, it may lose this taped on portion.

Also, the cel may have been used in a way that did not require registration holes.

As for sequence number, this may have been written on the taped portion that got lost. Also, since I've seen a variety of markers used to write on a sequence number, the sequence number may have just been rubbed off over time.

While no registration holes or sequence number may be a tip off to a cel that was not used in production but for other purposes, it is no hard and fast rule. A fake cel may have registration holes or sequence numbers added by the fraudulently acting person in order to trick buyers or just because often fan-cel animation sheets are sold with registration holes pre-punched.

How can I make a fan cel?
    To make a fan cel, you'll need paint, acetate and some brushes. However, as I never made one, I can't give you more than a vague idea. However, I have heard only good things about DGRequiem's FAQ and board about fan cels. I suggest you read that site.

What is a Rileizu cel? What is a Rilezu cel? What is a Relays cel? What is a Reraised cel?
    This is a relatively new term I've seen pop up without a quite standard spelling yet. Basically, it means a limited edition and officially licensed acetate and painted cel made after the production of the anime.

Not all Rilezu cels come with a sketch/douga, but the ones that do include newly made douga. The douga is not the one used in production, but instead re-drawn after production based on the original genga. The cel and douga are included, the genga is not. Basically, you get the post-production parts only. There are a few that do come with the production douga, but this is ususally specially noted. To be absolutely sure, you should ask the seller/licensor what kind of douga their Rilezu comes with, if any.

This is starting to be done for collectors interested in series which are digital ink and paint.

I've seen this spelled in katakana as 'Rileizu.' I've seen it romanized as 'Rilezu,' 'Relays' or 'Reraised' and probably several other attempts. I've seen it in general equated to 'Post Production Cel.' The definition from says the word was made up by Delta, Ltd and means "Re-raise, i.e to bring anime cels back to life due to their unfortunate death by computer generated anime (CG anime)."

Many thanks to Katana's Edge for pointing out this article needed updating and advice on how to do so!


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