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: July 2005, 09

Saturday, July 9, 2005

09:23:45 pm , 425 words, 1188 views     Categories: Movie, Live-action

Docs

Found this recent article on Kiarostami. I'm much looking forward to seeing Five. Hopefully my doing so will happen at a festival rather than on my computer monitor, so that I can properly experience it in the twilight environment he recommends. I have a committed friend who is a great admirer of the early films of his career such as Mossafer, because of the humane light they shed on his own people, but who doesn't understand the increasingly rarefied place he seems to be going lately with his newfound love, DV. I love both. I wish I could have attended that retrospective of his work, as I'm only familiar with his films. Japan has released a DVD box of his work including titles unavailable here that I've long been tempted to get.

Recent docs I've seen that greatly impressed me include Darwin's Nightmare and Born into Brothels. I had a problem with the filmmaker of the former seeming to be out of his depth at many times in the filming, posing flustered and ill-considered questions that often had the unintended consequence of shifting the focus onto the filmmaker himself, with the subject turning a quizzical eye on the man with the camera. But as was no doubt intended, any such quibbles seem irrelevant in the face of the devastating images he managed to bring back of entire villages forced to eat fried fish-heads scavenged from carcasses thrown in the dumpster after being stripped of the profitable Nile Perch fillets destined for European plates.

Tonight I turned on the TV to be surprised by a documentary about the making of Robert Flaherty's Nanook of the North, which greatly increased my admiration for the man and his achievement. It was interesting to hear of the flood of merchandise that appeared on the scene immediately after the film's release due to its immense popularity. I doubt many documentary filmmakers bother to dream of that sort of thing now.

Despite its ominous title, Born into Brothels seems in fact to be the kind of film that could have that sort of impact on people. It was one of the most consummately crafted and watchable docs I've seen in a long time. The contrast with Darwin's Nightmare offers a good picture of the possibilities of the medium, as the styles could not be further apart, the one hobbled togehter and raw, the other hermetically constructed. The title seems somewhat ingenious, the way it plays on our expectations, only to upturn them with an unexpectedly moving and upbeat story of hope.

Saturday, July 9, 2005

03:50:20 pm , 654 words, 1884 views     Categories: Animation

The Blue Carbuncle

One of my favorite parts in all of the Sherlock Hound episodes has always been the final part of the chase through the middle of town in the Blue Carbuncle episode. So naturally I've always been curious to know who did it. What surprised me was to find out that none other than Yasuo Otsuka did it. It surprised me because he's not listed in the credits, but otherwise it made perfect sense - only he could have created that movement! It was wonderfully vindicating, and it made me sad that nobody else seemed able to make animation that had that particular thrill after Otsuka stopped animating. Even though there are obviously other good animators who have appeared on the scene since then, many influenced by Otsuka, I just can't help but feeling none of it tops Otsuka's animation, even looked at today. Otsuka knew how to make movement that felt good, movement that made you go YEAH! There still aren't many animators who do that for me the way he did.

These episodes are filled with so much wonderful movement that in many ways they're my ideal TV episodes, and I think that's a big reason of why I can rewatch them so often. Blue Carbuncle stands out as probably the best of the set, with the most key animators and inbetweeners, making it the most movemented episode, the one packed with the most Telecom goodness of all, pointing the way to the much fuller Telecom of subsequent years. It epitomizes what it is I like about Telecom, with its focus on the creation of exhilirating movement, which is what I hope to see in Telecom's new series. What may have been lacking all this time was merely the person similarly able to balance a good story with effective animation, as Umanosuke Iida showed himself capable of doing in Space Miners.

A very kind person who worked at TMS for a year recently sent me a full listing of the animators and the shots they did, so I thought I'd provide the full listing here in case anyone wants to know. This list also reveals that, in addition to Otsuka's section, there were also two quiet scenes animated by Tsukasa Tannai that went uncredited. One curious thing is that I've run into two versions of the credits for this episode only. Credit listings for the TV series list only six key animators and six inbetweeners, whereas the credit listing for the movie version that was shown together with Nausicaa in 1984 lists 9 key animators and 24 inbetweeners, which seems to suggest this episode alone was redone for the big screen, with Otsuka's and Tsukasa's contributions presumably being done for the new version. So here are both lists as well, for reference purposes.

1982 TV version

Kazuhide Tomonaga
Toshio Yamauchi
Yoshinobu Michihata
Yoko Sakurai
Masaaki Endo
Makiko Futaki

1984 Movie version

Kazuhide Tomonaga
Toshio Yamauchi
Yoshinobu Michihata
Yoko Sakurai
Masaaki Endo
Makiko Futaki
Koichi Maruyama
Atsuko Tanaka
Masako Shinohara

Shot assignments

Scene 1: The mechanical pterodactyl, shots 1-46
Toshio Yamauchi

Scene 2: Polly's hideout, shots 47-62
Tsukasa Tannai

Scene 3: Holmes making perfume, shots 63-78
Koichi Maruyama

Scene 4: Talking with the banker, shots 79-102
Yoshinobu Michihata

Scene 5: The chase in the steam car, shots 103-121 (from Polly turning the corner)
Makiko Futaki

shots 122-137 (from "Great, they're after the kid too")
Masaaki Endo

shots 138-164 (from the shot after Holmes pulls Polly into his car)
Yasuo Otsuka

Scene 6: Tea and crumpets, shots 166-178
Tannai Tsukasa

Scene 6 cont'd & Scene 7: Moriarti's hideout, shots 179-199 (from Tod & Smiley turning the corner)
Michiyo Sakurai

Scene 8: Dinner at Holmes's & Scene 9: Polly's abduction, shots 200-237
Koichi Maruyama

Scene 9 cont'd & Scene 10: Chase in the mechanical pterodactyl, shots 238-267 (from around Watson peeking out the door)
Masako Shinohara

shots 268-326 (from around cars entering park)
Atsuko Tanaka

shots 327-351 (from around "they're heading for the river Thames")
Kazuhide Tomonaga

Scene 11: Finale, shots 352-366
Michiyo Sakurai