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: October 2005, 11

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

09:10:00 pm , 674 words, 3406 views     Categories: Animation, Animator

Looking for Tokura

I checked out a few of the new season's shows. I rather liked the pre-opening movement of Blood +, but I have no idea who did it. I don't recognize anyone in the credits. For the life of me it looks like Hashimoto corrected by Kise, but Kise's only credited with the op and Hashimoto isn't there. It would be nice if there was a young new face that I haven't heard of who can create that kind of movement at IG, since I've heard that they're looking to foster the new talent with this show rather than relying on the old names that usually are the major attractor to an IG production. I kept snapping awake every few minutes thinking, "Damn, that avant animation was nice..." Amazing that they're going to be showing this for a whole year at prime time. What happened to the unspoken rule against showing blood on prime time? Firehose blood is OK?

I was recently able to see an old short called Lion and Pelican from 1993's Ai Monogatari omnibus, done by Norimoto Tokura, a figure I wondered aloud about some time ago, and I came away feeling that it single-handedly gave me the key to his style. I've since looked over the rest of his work again out of curiosity and did successfully manage to pick out a few very obvious spots based on the very dramatic stylistic traits on display in the short, but for the most part I didn't find anything that seemed to live up to the level of that short, at least in terms of the movement. The movement in the short struck me as very impressive and unique, the human body moving in a very detailed, deliberate and closely observed way, with a great sense of weight to the movement. It's full movement that doesn't feel needlessly fluid like later Madhouse work. At first I thought I was watching Takashi Nakamura, as the full way the characters moved and the round way they were drawn felt reminiscent of the early Nakamura of The Order to Stop Construction. Tokura's movement is calmer and more closely based on reality, but it has that same sense of depth, of three-dimensionality. There's a certain way Nakamura's arms and particularly his hands are drawn that is just unmistakable, and the same applies to Tokura. I spotted his bulbous, pillowy fingers in several shows as disparate as Herlock and Last Exile. He has a way of drawing faces quite realistically using few lines that is also unmistakable.

I could see why Itano had mentioned him in the same breath as Hashimoto and Ohira, though he has a completely unrelated approach, and honestly out of everything I saw there was nothing else that lived up to the quality of his early short. However, I'm still not sure what part he did in X and Metropolis, for example, and these are films in which he seems to have done a lot of work. (though I was happy that I managed to spot Hashimoto's shots in Metropolis on rewatching it looking for Tokura) But it makes sense, judging by the direciton he was headed in in his early work, that he should eventually have gone to work at Madhouse.

You occasionally see some rather humorous names in credits, as it's apparently perfectly OK to use a fake name if you don't want your real name to appear. Lots of well-known directors do it. Mamoru Hosoda was Sodama Moruho in Utena, for example. Well, I noticed someone called "Tochigi Ichigo" in the last ep of Speed Grapher - Mr. Tochigi Prefecture Strawberries. Hisashi Mori might or might not have done some uncredited (or aka) work in the series, I don't know, but in any case it's disappointing that there was nothing on the level of Samurai Seven 7, as I was really looking forward to something new from him. I still am and hope he gets to do something eventually. He's one of the few people doing anything remotely interesting on TV right now.