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: May 2005, 06

Friday, May 6, 2005

08:52:50 pm , 23 words, 1075 views     Categories: Mind Game

Mind Game review @ Cartoon Brew

Amid Amidi over at Cartoon Brew has put up a really nice review of Mind Game written by Joshua Smith. Check it out.

Friday, May 6, 2005

06:10:41 pm , 537 words, 2959 views     Categories: Animation, Animator, Animator: Shinya Ohira

Early Ohira

In his early years, Shinya Ohira was involved in a lot of projects that, shall we say, have not exactly stood up to the test of time. But in almost all cases his own personal contribution as an animator to those projects is still worth seeking out entirely on its own merits. One of the best examples, and surely one of the most obscure items I think I've ever managed to pull out of my hat (which is saying a lot), is an item entitled Captain Power: Battle Training Video (1987). I'm not sure how it worked, but basically it was a "video" game in three volumes, conceived to capitalize on the TV series, where you aimed a toy gun at the screen and shot different areas for points, à la Duck Hunt.

The whole game is just an extended sequence of animation, like Dragon's Lair, minus the branching. The animation was done at AIC, the same year Ohira worked there on Bubblegum Crisis and Gall Force. Shinya Ohira was the animation director along with Jun Yano, and animators include Hiroyuki Okiura and Toru Yoshida. The animation itself consists almost entirely of insanely intricate animation of backgrounds moving past, wildly baroque explosions, and scads of missiles. No story, no nothing. Effects, effects, effects. The styling of Ohira's work at this early period, with its Kaneda-esque sharp contrast and elegantly arced geometric forms (aptly likened to splashed milk by Takashi Murakami) reaches its peak in this piece, the year after which he was involved in Akira and began to gravitate towards the more realistic handling of natural phenomena, away from the eye-grabbing hattari posing that characterizes his great predecessor's work.

In his first few years Ohira took after the graphic look of Yoshinori Kanada and Yamashita Masahito, but he was already aiming in a different direction. Where the work of the former two seemed to be about exploiting the inherent possibilities of the nature of limited animation by experimenting with what sort of interesting movements and effects could be achieved by doing things like modulating the frame rate and flickering between extreme drawings, Ohira was already moving towards a more fluid style of animation that infused the elegance of the former with his own predilection for increased abstraction. At first sight it might seem merely a return to traditional fluidity, but in reality he was digging deeper. He was looking at movement in more close detail than anyone had done before, except for maybe Hideaki Anno, whose work on Honneamise from that year was another inspiration. Yamashita and Kanada showed the way, and Ohira upped the ante by pushing aside any hint of imposed anthropomorphism or emotion and focusing more intently on increasing the volume and impact of the effect at hand, as if in a mad quest to get to the core of the atom, to the core of what constitutes motion. In recent years he seems to have found a good balance by going back to being slightly more limited while retaining the same density of information. One thing he has retained from this early period is that sense of playfulness, of revelling in the inherent beauty of line, porting it over into a more realistic context.