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, 14

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

03:37:53 pm , 484 words, 1106 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.