Initially daily but now sporadic blog about anime and world animation with a specific focus on the artists behind the work. Written by Ben Ettinger.
July 2004
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Archives for: July 2004, 28

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

05:43:41 pm , 322 words, 2258 views     Categories: Animation

F*ll M*tal Alch*mist op

30 seconds of very nice animation in the new opening of Full Metal Alchemist, a series that otherwise holds no interest for me. Drawn by Satoru Utsunomiya, Yoshinari Yo and Yoshihiko Umakoshi (among others) and storyboarded by Yutaka Nakamura. Nakamura is one of the great action animators of the last decade. He gained instant fame as one of the major new animators on the scene after the incredibly thrilling action set pieces he provided for Cowboy Bebop, with their Bruce-Lee-on-fast-forward superfast-but-realistic aesthetic and quirky movements of the sort only possible in animation. Apparently Nakamura also provided animation for the second op and at least episodes 25 and 31 of FMA.

Yoshihiko Umakoshi did a lot of good work in the recent Jubei-chan 2 series. He's a classic example of an animator specialized in TV animation: He prefers the medium because of the freedom it allows him, the way it lets him be down and dirty with the drawings, churning them out, coming up with ideas rather than sitting around filling in details, as in movie animation, where you have to spend so long to do just one scene because the level of detail demanded is so much higher.

Yoshinari Yo is also one of the great action animators of the last decade, involved in a lot of Gainax works. He did a lot of the best sequences in FLCL - like the bunny girl scene. He also did the fight at the beginning of Mahoromatic episode 1. His first work was in Evangelion.

Satoru Utsunomiya needs no introduction. Many of you who watched Paranoia Agent will already be fans, whether you know it or not. He directed, storyboarded, was animation director and drew key animation for the most striking and memorable episode in the series, episode 8, Akarui Kazoku Keikaku. Besides that he did the subway bit in Ghiblies 2 not too long ago. He's one of the big figures of 90s anime. See my filmo to learn more.

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

03:32:34 pm , 172 words, 847 views     Categories: Animation

L'Enfant Qui Voulait Être Un Ours

One of my favorite animated films of the last few years, the Danish-French co-production The Boy Who Wanted to Be a Bear, directed by Jannik Hastrup, is playing in theaters in Japan at the moment (official site). It's a really nice all-ages film, safe for kids and at the same time a stimulating fable for adults, very well directed, original in its approach to the animation, down-to-earth in its story, and truly moving, without the insipidness and manipulation of US animated features. A film like this, with its very personal and handmade feel, could only have been possible with an independent, low-budget approach at the opposite end of the spectrum from the titanic, homogenized, lobotomized blockbusters Hollywood is churning out these days.

Will be receiving my yearly batch from Amazon.jp soon. Lots of new releases including all the recent Mind Game items, which I'm not going to look at until I've seen the movie. Also Koji Morimoto's Eternal Family, which I will be watching immediately and with great relish (no mustard).

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

11:27:44 am , 212 words, 608 views     Categories: Animation

The Passion of the Norstein

Quote of the day, from this opinion piece on the St. Petersburg Times web site, regarding the fate of Yuri Norstein's 20-year-old work-in-progress, an adaptation of Nikolai Gogol's The Overcoat:

When an offer for all his past and future work came from Hollywood shortly after he'd lost his studio - and with it any chance of continuing "The Overcoat" - he refused. He said that he had been a serf to communism all his life, and he wasn't ever going to be a serf again, even if he had to starve.

Apart from this Japanese page dedicated to Norstein on the site of the Japanese publisher Comic Box, which recently released a 250-page deluxe edition volume of Norstein's animated art, it almost comes as a surprise to think that Norstein is considered one of the all-time great animators considering how little material of substance there is on the web about his work. Norstein has been a regular attendee at the Laputa Animation Festival over the years. And with Winter Days recently, and the lithographs being sold by Comic Box to support production of The Overcoat, it gives me a warm feeling to think that Japan is probably the country that has been most supportive and understanding of Norstein for the last decade.

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