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.
August 2004
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Archives for: August 2004, 19

Thursday, August 19, 2004

09:40:34 am , 315 words, 1117 views     Categories: Animation

Solo animators

Issue three of the Madhouse Mind Game Glee Club Gazetteer features a fan illustration by none other than Takeshi Koike! Chekkuirauto! (Translation: Check it out!)

That episode of Samurai Seven was good illustration of my idea that much of what is best about anime is coming from the animators working within a system that continues to produce mostly nothing but endless variations on a theme. The milestones in outstanding animator films leading up to this episode are Utsunomiya's Gosenzosama Banbanzai, Ohira's Hakkenden episode, and undoubtedly now Mind Game. Like Miyazaki before them, Yuasa, prior to launching himself as a director, was an animator who during the first decade of his career produced animation that was among the most interesting and original of his generation. Many bemoaned the fact that Miyazaki didn't have a chance to launch his directing career earlier. Some are now starting to say the same thing about Yuasa.

Seeing this episode also serves to remind us of one of the things that makes Japanese animation unique: the long history of having one animator handle entire episodes. This phenomenon dates back to the very beginnings of TV anime, with Sadao Tsukioka's superhuman show of strength on Ken the Wolf Boy, for which he directed and drew entire episodes singlehandedly. Numerous later examples can be cited of animators animating entire episodes singlehandedly, or nearly so. Most famously there was Toshiyasu Okada with Jacky the Bearcub, then Yoshinori Kanada with Don De La Mancha and various other shows, then Takashi Nakamura with Gold Lightan, then Norio Matsumoto with Eat Man, Popolo Crois and You're Under Arrest, and then the Naruto episodes drawn entirely by Norio Matsumoto + Atsushi Wakabayashi. Nakayama only did the first half of this Samurai Seven episode, but it's still a good example of this phenomenon, which is not something seen very often in anime, particularly done in such an unabashedly personal style.