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.
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Archives for: March 2005, 06

Sunday, March 6, 2005

12:48:14 pm , 761 words, 3860 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.