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: June 2005

Monday, June 27, 2005

12:22:58 pm , 80 words, 3588 views     Categories: Mind Game

Mind Game in Montreal

Mind Game will be showing on three dates at the Montreal Fantasia film festival:

July 8th, 2005 @ 7:30 pm
July 10th, 2005 @ 2:20 pm
July 12th, 2005 @ 3:00 pm

Producer Eiko Tanaka attended the NYAFF screening that just wrapped up last Friday and Sunday, but this time director Masaaki Yuasa will be in attendance. Too bad this isn't taking place one month later, when I'm going to be in Quebec.

Here's one of the first reviews from the NYAFF screening, by Mark Gilson, posted on Twitch.

Monday, June 20, 2005

09:23:54 am , 109 words, 745 views     Categories: Animation

The other Stormy Night

Link: http://www.onf.ca/stormynight/

Though I haven't seen it, it looks and sounds like a nice little short and is available on DVD over here in Canada, so I might get it sometime, along with a number of other tempting items from the NFB catalogue. Yamamura Koji praises it on his new blog. I'm also interested in seeing the other films of Georges Schwizgebel, after seeing one of them recently at a festival and being rather taken by it. What I presume to be the same selection was recently released in Japan. And whatever happened to the Norman McLaren Master's Edition? I don't think I've missed it, so I suppose it's been delayed.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

12:40:59 pm , 295 words, 2246 views     Categories: Animation

Stormy Night

There's now a page in English about Gisaburo Sugii's new movie, as well as an official page in Japanese, where you can see a high-quality trailer. The trailer is kind of short and equivocal, but I'm still looking forward to it. I thought the whole thing sounded alarmingly similar to Ringing Bell, and in fact there's a direct connection in that the art is being done by ex-Sanrio Films art head Yukio Abe. Group Tac head Atsumi Tashiro is there again as the producer as he was in Night on the Galactic Railroad, but this time he's not the audio director. Too bad, as I loved his work in the previous film. Marisuke Eguchi is again the character designer, as he was in said film, and Tsuneo Maeda is again the animation director. I've always been confused about exactly how the drawings were handled in the previous film because of the unusual combination of titles used, but I think basically in Night Eguchi was the character designer and animation director in the typical sense, correcting the drawings to his designs, and Maeda was more the line director. I don't know whether it's the same deal here or they've mixed things up this time.

One of the most unusual things about the film I think I forgot to even mention. They're actually using CELS. At least, that was the gimmick they were touting at the beginning. I don't know if they really went through with it. It's an interesting thing to do, because they've gone back to cels, but they've combined it with state-of-the-art CG. The screen looks very rich and warm in the preview. It's been a while since I've seen a large-scale film like this from Japan totally outside of the bounds of business-as-usual.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

03:37:53 pm , 484 words, 1108 views     Categories: Animation, Movie

Matsumoto, Steam Boy

In updating the spamfile today to innoculate myself against the latest daily spam attack (you'll sometimes notice 50 spam comments at the top of the latest comments before I get to them), I inadvertently misplaced a comma, with dire consequences. Sorry about that.

Been rather quiet lately because I haven't seen much worth trumpeting about, and the rain is making me feel blah and unmotivated to dig any deeper. To try to fill in the holes in my Norio Matsumoto, I watched a few random old episodes to see if I could spot his work, but there were no major new discoveries. Neo Ranga 41-42 was fairly watchable thanks to Toshiyuki Tsuru's directing, Hirobumi Suzuki's animation directing and Takahiro Kishida's animation. Tsuru, Suzuki and Matsumoto were together again on the least impressive of the Matsumoto Naruto episodes, 48, the only one not by Atsushi Wakabayashi, and interestingly Suzuki and Tsuru were even credited with the 3DCG background in that ep. Around the same time Suzuki handled the photography of certain scenes of Akiyuki Shinbo's Cossette. The way he moved the camera in the latter was quite different and effective, really giving a feeling for a three-dimensional space, but it didn't work so well in the Naruto ep. Still, even the least impressive Matsumoto is far above the norm, and the shot in the latter where a character slips, loses his balance and falls on his back is quintissential Matsumoto in the excellent handling of the center of balance and timing, all expressed with only a few well-placed drawings.

Oh, I did see one thing. Steam Boy. To state the obvious, the animation was most impressive. There were a few scenes here and there where the actions of the characters felt particularly nuanced. There were a lot of familiar names. I was surprised to see Mitsuo Iso credited in the pre-production section for conceptual development. What surprised me most was that there were only seven people credited for the backgrounds. I suppose with nine years that's not impossible, but still. I only wish they had divided the animation credits into character and effect sections to make it easier to figure out. Perhaps work wasn't clearly divided that way. I could picture Toshiyuki Inoue doing either smoke or characters, for instance. I'm wondering how he got the idea to focus on the steam like this. Could it have been in part from seeing how incredible the impact of good FX animation can be after seeing the work of Shinya Ohira, Toshiaki Hontani et al. in his earlier film? It felt like the character animation suffered in the equation. As active as it was, it still felt lacking in oomph, in interesting movement. I rather preferred the way the animation in the earlier film was all over the place to the stability in this film, though it certainly jives with what he was trying to achieve with the film.

Saturday, June 4, 2005

09:35:11 pm , 74 words, 831 views     Categories: Animation

Shisha no sho premiere

A date has finally been set for the premiere of Kihachiro Kawamoto's latest effort, The Book of a Dead Person. The film will be receiving the honor of opening the 27th annual Pia Film Festival, with a screening at the opening night gala on July 8. The page on the festival's site about the film reveals that the runtime is 70 minutes, making this film, Kawamoto's self-titled "summum opus", by far his longest piece to date.

Friday, June 3, 2005

01:27:06 pm , 239 words, 1994 views     Categories: Mind Game

Mind game at midnight

There's been a resurgence of Mind Game news here all of a sudden after a long quiet spell. The weekly all-nighter at the Shin Bungeiza art house theater in Ikebukuro will be wending its way on into the wee hours again this Saturday night with a selection of films from three "Hot anime creators", namely Masaaki Yuasa, Satoshi Kon and Makoto Shinkai. The night will kick off at 10:45 with a talk show between Masaaki Yuasa and Satoshi Kon, followed at 11:25 by Sound Insect Noiseman (a rare chance to see this gem on the big screen), Mind Game at 11:40, Shinkai Makoto's two latest films at 1:35, and finally Tokyo Godfathers topping the evening off at 4AM.

The talk show will be Satoshi Kon's first for Mind Game, although the director could be heard publicly praising Mind Game as early as last November in this interview. Masaaki Yuasa was really petered out after making an uncharacteristically large number of public appearances and doing numerous interviews to try to get the word out about the film last year, so it's moving to see that he still goes out of his way to put in an appearance even for a one-off screening like this. Needless to say, this is one of the most tantalizing taidan (talks) I've heard about in a long while. It's good to see that the film continues to find small venues here and there eager to give it a spin.

Thursday, June 2, 2005

11:15:46 am , 255 words, 2764 views     Categories: Mind Game

Mind Game in NY

Coming hot on the heels of the announcement that Mind Game will be shown on the Japaneese satellite TV station WOWOW four times in the coming weeks, here is even better news for those of us who have been waiting impatiently for the film to be seen by the rest of the world. Almost a year after the Japanese premiere, it looks like Mind Game is finally getting what to my knowledge is going to be its international premiere. The film will be screened at the New York Asian Film Festival 2005 on the following dates:

Friday, June 24, 6:30
Sunday, June 26, 1:30

Those are great slots. The "producer" is going to be present at the first screening. It would be a big event if Eiko Tanaka were to be there, but it seems more likely that they mean the producer of the international version, Joel Silver. There has been no news about the progress of said international version, and there is nothing mentioned about what version is being shown, so I take it the original version will be shown with subtitles. Hopefully some insiders will infiltrate the first screening to hear what the producer has to say, and how the reaction is, and report back to those of us too far from the big apple to make this glorious event.

JUNE 3 ADDENDUM: After looking at the page for the film, I realized that Eiko Tanaka is indeed the producer who is going to be present at the first screening. This is truly an event not to be missed.

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