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, 23

Monday, August 23, 2004

11:15:01 pm , 577 words, 769 views     Categories: Animation

Tomonaga's Sherlock Hound

Been reading a transcript of a recent discussion between the people involved in Sherlock Hound, and one of the things that came up was that the staff were revved because they felt this was their chance to make a fun action adventure like Animal Treasure Island. That's what it was about this show that I couldn't pin down. That feeling that's shared between the two - and the animal characters, of course. The scene at the end of the Treasure Under the Sea episode where the sailors all climb on the ship - remind you of anything? It was done by Tomonaga, who says he saw Treasure as a teen and got the idea from the last shot in Miyazaki's scene. Can you imagine animating that? Tomonaga is also the one who did the car action at the end of the Small Client episode, with all those incredible fast pans, which Miyazaki apparently storyboarded with Tomonaga in mind. And the scene with that truck full of an improbable number of chickens in the Blue Carbuncle episode was done by Atsuko Tanaka.

This reminded me of another thing that I like about Japanese animation compared with western: that you don't have ten people working on a scene -- say, one to draw the character, one to draw the effects, one to draw the shadow, one to draw the eyes, etc. etc. etc. -- but everything in a shot is drawn by one person. One of the more interesting things I learned was that Yasuo Otsuka is the one who animated the great part with the steam car tearing up the pavement, even though he's not credited. I've always wondered who did that part, but I never expected it to be Otsuka. Apparently his keys were extremely rough, and have always been, something that contrasts with most animators nowadays, who feel they have to do everything so perfect. He muses that it's a good way to train inbetweeners. In similar fashion Miyazaki was reported to have often sat down to show an animator what he wanted, drawing one then two drawings, only to wind up drawing the whole thing himself and handing it to the inbetweeners. Finally, I also learned that Tod is Tomonaga, and Smiley is Kondo!

It was right after this that Tomonaga and Kondo and Tomizawa and Tanaka and Nizo did the Nemo pilot, which is like three and a half minutes of the best action of Hound honed to perfection and done in full animation. Kondo directed it, but in terms of the content, this is really Tomonaga's film, his summum opus of sorts. Kondo's personality as an animator comes through better elsewhere, namely in Tom Sawyer, Sugata Sanshiro, etc. Tomonaga is the best action man of the period, with an unrivalled genius for nailing perfect split-second timing. Toshiyuki Inoue is among of the more important of the many animators influenced by Tomonaga, and you can see the legacy of Tomonaga's brilliantly timed action in Inoue's scenes in Kiki (Tombo & Kiki on the bike) and Akira (Tetsuo chasing after the clown, Tetsuo crashing through the alleyway) and elsewhere. Inoue is allegedly able to analyze real life movements with such split-second accuracy as to be able to reproduce a movement accurately down to 1/24 of a second. If he animated the scene in Tokyo Godfathers where the truck crashes into the building, as I suspect he might have, I'm a believer.

Japanese word of the day: ダメ人間