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.
March 2005
Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat Sun
 << < Current> >>
  1 2 3 4 5 6
7 8 9 10 11 12 13
14 15 16 17 18 19 20
21 22 23 24 25 26 27
28 29 30 31      

Who's Online?

  • Guest Users: 2

  XML Feeds

powered by b2evolution

Archives for: March 2005

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

04:33:18 pm , 1570 words, 3049 views     Categories: Animation, Translation

Mamoru Hosoda article

Although this article reads more like a Mac infomercial, it's still pretty informative, so here's a translation. It confirms a number of things I've mentioned here, about the way the storyboard is part of the directing credit at Toei, about the importance of the storyboard, about how Hosoda does his own location hunting. The part where he describes his particular focus on color is enlightening and solves a personal mystery about what it was about Hosoda's films that made them feel so different in terms of the visuals (besides the shadowless characters of animation director Takaaki Yamashita).

One Piece The Movie: Omatsuri Danshaku to Himitsu no Shima is director Mamoru Hosoda's first full-length directing feature, and his third feature after his two short Digimon films. Around 1998 Toei was in the midst of transferring their production system to digital, and it was around this time that Hosoda was making his own shift from animator to director. Hosoda could thus be said to have flowered along with digital, and come to fruition with his epoch-making directing of the Our War Game movie, Toei's first full-digital animation. Hosoda has since flexed his directing muscles in a wide variety of video projects including Superflat Monogram and a TV advertisement for the posh new Roppongi Hills district.

Most of the job of an anime kantoku consists of enshutsu, but at Toei Doga the job of kantoku also includes drawing the storyboard. Hosoda says that he feels it's absolutely essential for the same person to do the two, and he couldn't imagine the two being separated.

"When drawing the storyboard, of course my main consideration is the overall structure, but I also work out what would be the most effective way to express certain things in terms of the animation, and how to allocate the available resources. So you could honestly say that most of the work of the director is done at the stage of the storyboard."

In the case of this film, once the storyboard was finished, the story was divided into four parts (A-D) and the animation was allocated to animators. Traditionally, 24 cels are needed for every second of animation, and each cel must go through the steps of: animation, cell tracing, cell coloring, and cel photography. In particular, the process of coloring the characters and backgrounds has always been the most time-consuming of these steps. However, now almost the entire process can be done on a Mac using RETAS! Pro software, thus eliminating the need for cels and making it possible to dramatically reduce the production time.

"In terms of picture quality, the Mac production environment presents no problem for creating TV animation, and it also meets the stricter requirements of theatrical animation. Color correction can be a problem when you transfer the images to film, but this system enables very precise color adjustments."

Hosoda spent a huge amount of time every day to finish the approximately 1300-shot storyboard.

"I'd walk over to a nearby family restaurant from my house and work there. I spent weeks just going back and forth between the two, working more than 12 hours a day for days at a stretch sometimes. Would have been impossible without my iPod. (laughs) I wore out the battery of my iPod at one point, so I bought a mini as a replacement." The storyboard was thus the most important step in allowing Hosoda to gain an overall perspective over the 90 minute film, with its 14 or 15 shots a minute.

As a director in the digital age, Hosoda has been known for his directing style that has always gone beyond simple digitization of the work process. Rather than simply going full CG, what has characterized his work has been his seeking out of new ways of integrating CG into the fabric of the film, to add richness to the backgrounds and enhance textures. In his latest film, Hosoda uses 3DCG only for a number of characters who appear in certain scenes of the film to increase the detail and texture of those scenes. This 3DCG was created using Alias's MAYA software, and rendered using cel shading to ensure a convincing blend with the 2D animation.

"In the Digimon film Our War Game, the characters went back and forth between the inner world of the network and the real world, so I used symbolic images for the backgrounds in the network. But I was very concerned about matching the digital with the 2D animation, so instead of using a gradation to express the blue of the sky in the real world, for example, I used a single color to make it match the look of the interior world of the network. Also, I tend to not add shadows to the characters in my work. Normally you use a shadow to make a 2D object look 3D. But this was just a method that was adopted in analog animation production to make up for the fact that you had a limited number of colors. But with digital it's possible to use any color you want, so you can adjust a character's color much more easily. Subtly changing the color can be very effective in expressing a feeling of atmosphere, or distance, and it adds great richness to the visuals. Adding a shadow, conversely, would only make it harder to distinguish the color variations."

In traditional analog animation, inks were selected from existing colors, and once the number of colors was determined, those inks were distributed and the coloring was done. In digital, not only can the colors be changed at will, but the colors can easily be adjusted even after the film is completed. It's now possible to freely express changes in color due to changes in lighting, which opens the door to new expressive possibilities.

The Oizumi studio of Toei Animation bought two Xserve file servers in Spring 2003 as part of their digitization process. The compositing team uses the Xservers to exchange files on the fly. Toshiaki Katada, system manager, relates how this has affected work at the studio.

"Everyone uses a Mac, so transfers with the Xserve go very smoothly. File transfer speed has increased, and stress has gone down."

Installing Macs has improved the efficiency of each animator, and installing Xserve as the workflow core has improved the efficiency of group work.

Hosoda began using a Mac around 1997, after he had begun to work as a director's assistant, when Macs were installed in the art department. Convinced that digital would become the norm, he purchased a Macintosh 7600/AV. He relates that he used the A/V input function via the composite terminal to edit together a temporary animatic presentation of the narrative flow that he used to convey his ideas to the staff. Later he purchased a PowerBook G3 for portability. He currently uses a PowerBook G4 to connect to the studio's FTP server to check video storyboards put together by the staff, test out music on scenes and so on. He also uses a digital camera to go on location hunting and photograph places that will serve as reference material for his storyboard. iPhoto reportedly is a big help in organizing these photographs by scene.

"Personally I'm not in the habit of taking pictures, but when it's necessary to convey something to the staff, I go and take a photo of a street with a waterway or flowers or whatever I need with a digital camera. Digital photos add up quickly, so iPhoto is handy since it lets you organize your photos by scene. Material arrives from the staff in various forms - Quicktime video, stills - so the Mac is definitely a conventient tool for testing out effects on different materials."

In traditional animation production, there was no way of checking the content of a film from the time the storyboard was completed to the time the film was completed. Digital has made it possible to preview one section at a time, and make any necessary corrections right then and there. It used to be said about animation that the completed product existed only in the head of the director. Hosoda, on the other hand, believes in giving the entire staff creative input - from the storyboard down to the smallest details of the production.

"An animated film is the product of a team working together within a given schedule and set of confines. I take pride in the fact that my staff are all on very good terms with one another. In the past I think the emphasis was placed on the director; it was all about the director and how far he could go with his imagination. Working with computers could easily help to go further in that direction. But I also think digital could just as easily be used to get as much as possible out of the vast resources of your entire staff's skills. When we get together to preview the video, people make interesting suggestions all the time. We toss around different ideas, and the staff takes part in coming up with new expressive ideas. Being able to share everything on the computer has helped out a lot in making the whole experience more rewarding for the staff in spite of the harsh schedule."

To Hosoda, making a film is all about teamwork. A group of professionals pool their skills, which Hosoda orchestrates. Helping Hosoda has been the creative and communications tool that is Mac.

1 commentPermalink

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

11:16:39 am , 343 words, 731 views     Categories: Animation

In the news

Mr. Ashita Nonki has a loveable collection of gif loops that'll put a smile on your face when that's necessary. (click on Fliptheater)

Koji Yamamura curated a pair of exhibitions about animation over at the Aichi Expo 2005. The first is a macro-micro history section - a history of animation from the cave paintings of Altamira through to the present day, followed by a history of his own personal evolution as an animator. The other half is a corner where you can play around with his own recreations of early animation toys like the phenakistiscope and the zoetrope. Great to see an independent animator getting to do such a fun project.

Manga is hardly my area of expertise, but I was rather excited when I ran across Ryuji Umeda's Warawanai Kodomo (Kids who don't smile) because it reminded me of... what, I couldn't exactly put my finger on, but it has a feeling of stillness that's close to some of my favorite manga artists like Fumiko Takano, Murasaki Yamada and Masahiro Nikaido. Stunning work. It actually dates from more than a decade ago, since it was published in book form in 1995 by Shinpusha, from whom the book can still be ordered (over there). Umeda made some amateur animation prior to this that is high on the list of Satoru Utsunomiya's favorite animation, but I don't think he's made anything since. It'd be nice to see that.

Hiroyuki Imaishi's new short Oval x Over was unveiled a few days ago at a press junket, where it was revealed that the three 3-minute episodes will be shown on MTV Japan starting April 1, and will be released on a CD+DVD entitled Over Top on April 27th.

And according to Beyond C News, Studio 4°C will be officially unveiling details about their next two major projects at the Tokyo International Anime Fair 2005 over the next few days.

Chris Sobieniak brought to my attention that you can now see the cover for Hen's Tooth's Jack and the Beanstalk DVD on the web, eg, on Amazon's pre-order page.

Friday, March 25, 2005

11:58:22 pm , 425 words, 1763 views     Categories: Animation, Indie

Young animation

After seeing the recent crop from Digital Stadium, it felt like the most interesting animation being made in Japan at the moment was coming from students - a feeling that is reinforced by watching the winners in the animation division of the 10th annual Student CG Contest hosted by the Bunkacho, the same government body that hosts the Japan Media Arts Festival.

The quality of the films is amazing. There's no feeling of being infected by preconceived notions of what animation should be, which is what makes films by students these days so exciting. You feel they're really using these new methods to explore new forms of animation. Not knowing the methods used to produce the films surely adds some to the mysterious effect achieved in several of the more abstract of the films, like Kashikoki Mono (The Wise Ones) by Takahiro Hayakawa, a dazzlingly beautiful explosion of color and movement that's an exploration of the concept of Japan's animist spirits. With traditional animation, for example, you know how it's done, so you can break it down and explain it, but it can be so much more interesting and liberating to be thrown into the ocean without those floaters, for once permitting the images to speak for themselves. That's the power of animation that Oskar Fischinger and Norman McLaren opened our eyes to. Maybe because of technical difficulties, but more likely because of the culture of anime, there hasn't been much animation of that sort in Japan until recent years as far as I know. Changing technology seems to be changing attitudes. Most impressive is that Hayakawa's film is not merely abstract - it communicates. It connects with the viewer and has an emotional resonance and narrative flow, which is an impressive achievement for an entirely abstract piece. Colors, shapes, pacing, music and theme all come together as a unified whole to create an exceptional little film.

The rest of the films in the small selection show a variety of approaches, each successful in its own right. The uncanny optical illusions of 2.5 Camouflage by Sayaka Maruyama were a delight to watch. The film achieves a great effect with the most rudimentary means. Kojiro Shishido's Kagami no Genon (Mirror's Fundamental Tone) shows great sensitivity towards the delicate gradations of light and shadow in the natural world, with a matching delicate soundtrack by Shishido himself. The tour-de-force of the selection is the laboriously animated spiral rhythm by Mayu Inose. The designs were all very carefully researched and differentiated, with movement and colors well matched to the music.

Saturday, March 19, 2005

12:05:17 pm , 375 words, 2158 views     Categories: Animation

Birds

Shinji Hashimoto talks about how he's been going in a different direction from Shinya Ohira since Hakkenden, and you can sense this in the breadth of his work over the last decade, but seeing his latest creation only confirms the deep-rooted spiritual kinship that sets both of these animators apart from the pack. One of the things that makes Shinya Ohira's work so cathartic is precisely its shock value. It wakes us up. Just as we're dozing along to the same flatline of sleek visuals, along comes this spike of a heartbeat that shows us everything we haven't been seeing all this time - everything that is possible in animation but that isn't being done in what we've been sitting through, sound asleep to the possibilities. It's as eye-opening as a bucket of cold water. Hashimoto's section in S. Champ. 26 had that effect on me today, and it was a sheer delight to see that he was given free reign to do what he does best in a way that was dramatically well integrated. It was the return of Kid's Story. If for nothing else, I compliment the director on his choice of animators. There were two energizing jolts in this series: the first one from Yuasa a few months back, and the second from Hashimoto just now. Both were effectively integrated and 100% unsullied. I salute the good sense that could see the dramatic potential and visual appeal of throwing in this sort of animation in such an unusual context. What would be even better than the occasional shot in the arm such as this would be some major projects headed by these animators who are obviously among the most interesting creators working in Japanese animation today.

One thing I noticed in Kid's Story was that the method was still not perfected, in that the key animation by Ohira could not be integrated as is. An outline had to be traced. This becomes clear when you look at his original keys. Thus what we saw was still not 100% pure. Here it looks like we're seeing Hashimoto's drawings in the raw, and that wonderful texture that's so different from what we've just been looking at is part of what gives it its unique impact and beauty.

Friday, March 18, 2005

04:28:50 pm , 92 words, 2201 views     Categories: Animation

Cats

NHK will be broadcasting a 90-minute documentary about Yuri Norstein on May 14. Most recently Norstein was in Japan to head the judging panel and hold a workshop at the 5th annual Laputa Animation Festival held between November 14 and December 18.

Pro IG has been enlisting Shinya Ohira for their climaxes lately, and they did it again for the ending of the last episode of Windy Tales, which reportedly is just as maniacally dense and thrilling a several shots as one has come to expect from this master of the art of freestyle animation.

1 commentPermalink

Monday, March 14, 2005

05:07:21 pm , 833 words, 3935 views     Categories: Animation, Movie

Perrault the Chimney Sweep

If you're in Hong Kong at the end of the month and you happened to be curious about Hiroshi Harada's Midori, you're in luck. The film is being screened twice at the 29th International Hong Kong Film Festival. I've got to wonder what the director thinks about this, considering how stringent he was about screenings up until now.

On September 18, 1931, in the opening salvo of the Sino-Japanese war, extremists in the Japanese occupying Kwangtung Army in Manchuria planted a bomb on a Japanese-owned railway, providing a pretext for the seizing of Manchuria by the army, and an eventual all-out war with China. Less well covered than the historical events is what the people of Japan thought about the direction in which their country was headed. Where were the opposition movements? It should be a lesson learned that government actions often do not mirror majority public sentiment.

Evidence of dissent beneath the surface can be seen in a special film that appeared in the early months of 1930. In April 1929, ten young cinephiles from Kyoto, dissatisfied with the animated films for children being made at the time, got together and formed the company Doeisha to make and show their own movies for children. Noburo Ofuji had completed his first shadow-picture film, The Whale, in November 1927, presumably inspired by E. M. Schumacher's 1923 shadow-picture film The Caliph's Crane, which had been shown in Japan in 1924. (and had in turn inspired Lotte Reininger's more famous The Adventures of Prince Achmed)

Taking a hint from their predecessors, the young filmmakers of Doeisha began with two short shadow-puppet films based on traditional western folk tales: Ali Baba and Tom Thumb. But it was the third film, Perrault the Chimney Sweep, an entirely original creation by the film's director, Yoshitsugu Tanaka, completed in February 1930, that would grant them a firm place in their country's history of animated filmmaking.

Perrault tells the story of a young chimney sweep who saves a pigeon from a hawk, for which he is rewarded with a magical egg that can create soldiers. When war breaks out, endangering his countrymen, Perrault volunteers his magical egg, but upon seeing the destruction that results, he breaks the egg out of despair, and, like Candide, goes back home to spend the rest of his days tilling the soil of his farm.

What we have here, then, is no mere allegory, but a full-blown indictment of war; perhaps the first anti-war animation in Japan. In a situation where high-level government officials were already being assassinated on a regular basis for opposing the militarists, it must have taken real courage for a handful of students to do something this bold. The pressure on the population, both economic and political, can be gleaned from the fact that the group was forced to disband in 1932, due to the escalating war.

In addition to the social pressures, animation was still in its inception, so the process was cumbersome and expensive. (added to which the world was in the grips of the depression) It's of great significance that these young filmmakers should have gone to the effort of making a film of this nature in such difficult circumstances. Not only was Perrault longer than most animated films made at that time - two reels, 600 feet - but it also had an obvious sense of artistic integrity and courage not to be found elsewhere.

Their dedication can be seen in the fact that they went so far as to organize the screenings of the film entirely on their own, assembling as many as 1000 viewers for one screening. When screened at all, animation brought a mere pittance of remuneration, so it can be imagined how much they must have sunk into these efforts. Only half a century later, in a very different Japan, would anti-war issues be presented in animation as frankly as they were in this film. In contrast, there appeared to be no shortage of labor for wartime propaganda animation.

Perrault (or Pero) was in fact thought lost until a single print was discovered by chance in the home of an old member of the group in 1986. The last third of the film, which is the portion of the film that treats the issue of war, had been cut by the censors, but the combined investigative efforts of film distributor Cinema Work and animation studio Group Tac were successful in restoring the film to its full 23 minute length in 1987. Cinema Works subsequently released the film on video.

After the war, Yoshitsugu Tanaka went on to complete at least one more silhouette film, Gauche the Cellist (1949, 19 minutes), and to co-direct the first few puppet films made by Tadahito Mochinaga upon his return to Japan. In or around 2002 Perrault was presented at a yearly Japanese-sponsored event in Palestine, and it was in the very first program of the 2003 Laputa Animation Festival, which proposed a "best of the best" from around the world, so it appears to be seeing a belated resurrection after more than a half-century of oblivion.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

11:41:02 pm , 687 words, 1543 views     Categories: Animation, Indie, Animator

Tomoyasu Murata

It's surprisingly easy to just ignore digital and make animation however you want using real materials. At least, it's surprising how many people actually still do it. In Japan this trend has been particularly noticeable of late. Shin Hosokawa's taking of the debut prize at last year's Hiroshima festival for his puppet film Oni is but a recent example. Tomoyasu Murata, also born in 1978, began making puppet films while still an undergraduate in 1998, and since taking the excellence prize at the 5th annual Japan Media Arts Festival (alongside Cat Soup) and the audience prize at the 2nd annual Laputa Animation Festival (among other awards) for his 2000 film Nostalgia, he has gone on to create the short films Scarlet Road (2002) and White Road (2003), the first two in a projected five-volume series about the life of an aging concert pianist, at Tomoyasu Murata Company, the company created upon his graduating from graduate school in 2002. These have equally won him numerous awards including the excellence prize at the 2002 Hiroshima festival and a recommendation at Annecy in 2003 for Scarlet Road. In 2002 his name became known to a large audience after he was asked to provide the visuals for a promotional music video by the pop band Mr. Children. He has since provided several tour videos for the band. That same year he provided a short for a TV show on NHK, and since then he has focused on his Road series. He also paints and has held regular exhibitions in various galleries over the last fiew years.

The keyword to his films is probably iyashi or healing, in the sense with which the word was applied to those minimalist films of the last decade like Maboroshi no Hikari and Eureka. The characters depicted are going through a process of healing after some traumatic experience, and the visuals are slow and meditative in a way that bounces that healing back onto the viewer. Like those films, Murata's films are dialogueless and consist of slow, lengthy shots composed with painterly perfection. The striking use of light and shadow in his films is particularly masterly for someone who never studied that aspect of filmmaking. We follow the protagonists around on existential peregrinations as they remember relics of a past long gone - happy days with a family in one film, a deceased child in another. Despite the seemingly morbid pensiveness, the films thoroughly glow with warmth and positive hope for the future. The fact that he achieves all of this using puppets and not live actors is in itself notable. He has succeeded in carving out a unique niche for himself with his films. In February 2004 his company put out a DVD of White Road, and he followed this up with three DVDs in November: Scarlet Road, Nostalgia and a DVD collecting all of his other work. Murata is surely a leading example of the young generation of independent animators in Japan, not just for the originality and independent-mindedness of his films, but also for the way he finds his own way of handling their distribution.

Filmography

1998    Tug Tug    (4:30)
1998    Chorus of Cicadas せみしぐれ    (9:00)
1998    An Introduction to Human Zoology    (7:30)
1999    Tokyo    (5:30)
2000    Nostalgia 睡蓮の人    (16:00)
2001    Memories オモヒデ    (4:30)
2002    Keep on smiling いつでも微笑みを    (5:00)
2002    Hero promo video    (6:00) (Mr. Children tour 2002)
2002    Ponyu Town ポンユタウン    (5:00)
2002    Scarlet Road 朱の路    (12:58)
2003    White Road 白の路    (14:00)    (excerpt)
2003    Talking to myself 独り言    (19:00) ("autodocumentary")
2004    Fire-blowing bamboo 火吹竹    (2:00)
2004    Pink    (6:00) (Mr. Children tour 2004)
2004    Veins 血の管    (4:00) (Mr. Children tour 2004)
2004    Four brothers ヨニン兄弟    (1:00)

Sunday, March 6, 2005

12:48:14 pm , 761 words, 3858 views     Categories: Animation, Misc

Hosoda's latest etc.

Portrait of a woman on a mummy casket from Fayum, EgyptOne of the things that makes a good director, at least in anime, is the ability to bring together a good team, the way Satoshi Kon was able to bring together lots of good freelance animators from all over the place for his recent efforts. Same applies to Imaishi Hiroyuki's Dead Leaves. These guys are good directors because they know that among the elements that make a good animated film are good animators. Add to that list Mamoru Hosoda, who for his recent film went to the effort of bringing together an impressive animator list that reportedly includes the likes of Nobutake Ito, Norio Matsumoto, Yo Yoshinari, Hiroyuki Imaishi, Takaaki Wada, Hisashi Mori, Koichi Arai, Yoshihiko Umakoshi, Hideki Hamasu, Yusuke Yoshigaki and Takashi Hashimoto. Many are familiar Toei names, but others like Ito, Wada, Imaishi, Yoshinari and Matsumoto are obviously special guests, which goes to show how much Hosoda wanted to make his first full-length feature a success on all counts. As in Kon's films, hand-picking animators obviously played a big part in putting together the animation for Hosoda's most recent film, and that's one of the things that makes him so unique as a director.

When we think of directing, we tend to think of the style of the cutting, the framing and so on - the technical elements that are usually referred to as enshutsu 演出 in Japanese. But the organizational aspect is the main role of the kantoku 監督, and in fact in some movies, such as Tokyo Godfathers, where Kon had the great Shogo Furuya (who's done some interesting work recently in Twe. Witc.) take care of the enshutsu, we see both roles credited. Kon and Hosoda are actually similar in the respect that they're both known for the incredible level of detail they bring to the layout and storyboard, so in the case of Tokyo Godfathers most of the information was probably prescribed in extreme detail in the storyboard. Toei never credits storyboard for some reason (it's tacitly included in the directing credit), but such can be presumed to be the case for Hosoda as well. Hosoda's storyboard would be a nice item to see. For those who might have been reluctant to approach the film due to the franchise, initial reports have it that this film stands in relation to the original story in a way not dissimilar to Beautiful Dreamer, though not having seen it myself I can't make any judgment about it as a film yet.

Interesting and unusual use was made of a good animator, Norio Matsumoto, in Beck 22. Rather than having him do a big extended section or having him focus on one small section, instead we see little shots by him throughout the episode, which has the effect of raising the overall quality of the viewing experience. A good idea. Kazuyoshi Yaginuma made an ep rather more fast-paced and watchable than usual. I hear the bike was a Project A reference. Also, Utsunomiya did a few shots at the beginning.

I got to see Alexander Petrov's The Old Man and the Sea a short while ago, and I found it beautiful but otherwise lacking in any real drive or dramatic appeal. I was all the more disappointed because I like his technique (finger painting?), and was extremely pleased with the results as seen in his short for Winter Days. Anything can be made interesting with good directing, even thirty minutes of an old man lying around on a raft in the middle of the ocean, but it just didn't happen here, as breathtaking as the results may be visually.

I also had the chance to see Visitor Q recently. I'll just say it's a good companion piece to Shungiku Uchida's Watashitachi wa hanshoku shiteiru, which I'd read a few years back. (in terms of the lactation aspect)

I've been into the Fayum mummy portraits lately. I've long been fascinated with the idea of looking into the lives of people of the past, particularly via literature (Menander was my favorite Greek for the longest time), so I was really moved to discover that there existed such exquisitely realistic paintings of people who lived (briefly, judging from the youth of many of the portraits) almost two millenia ago. Some of these people look like they might be living next door the likeness is so convincing and immediate. History is a curious thing. We have to go through more than a millenia of children's drawings in Europe before we slowly and arduously begin to come close to what was achieved by these artisans in Egypt.

Tuesday, March 1, 2005

01:09:20 am , 220 words, 1088 views     Categories: Animation, Misc

Tidbits

Jean-Philippe RameauKoji Yamamura of Mt. Head fame just completed a new 13-minute film entitled The Old Crocodile, which will be premiered at the end of the month in New York. I just belatedly realized that Mt. Head had been brought over here by the Animation Show guys in 2003.

A selection of recent Minna no Uta vids is coming out on DVD at the end of the month. I don't know how many of them are animated, but I do know Atsuko Ishizuka's Moon Waltz is on there (as is one piece by Seiichi Hayashi), so it's a good chance to finally get to check out this item that produced a bit of buzz a few months back.

I think what I liked most about Full Throttle - (which won the best selection in the Morimoto/Yuasa ep of DigiSta - Morimoto picked it, not Yuasa) was the simple fact that the guy was 44 when he made it and he had just started making animation the year before. Not quite but almost as inspiring as Rameau composing his first opera at 50 to a slow starter like me.

Hiroyuki Imaishi is making a new film at IG called OVAL X OVER. Imaitoonz is the character designer. It's a story about the Indy car race. Mitsuo Iwata AKA 666 will be one of the voice-actors.