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: November 2005, 07

Monday, November 7, 2005

07:20:07 pm , 1001 words, 1238 views     Categories: Animation, Misc

Animator memo

It looks like they did the old switcheroo on the credits for 1994's Miku, so I thought I'd make a memo of a few people:

1 - Kazuto Nakazawa, Futoshi Fujikawa (CD of Aquarion)...
2 - Masahiro Kase, Tadashi Hiramatsu, Tadashi Sakazaki (2nd Eureka op), Norimoto Tokura...
4 - Tatsuo Yamada, Tadashi Hiramatsu, Masahiro Kase...
5 - Futoshi Fujikawa, Tokura Norimoto, Hisashi Ezura (top 3), Mamoru Kurosawa, Masahito Yamashita, Nobutoshi Ogura...
6 - Kazuto Nakazawa...
13 - Honda Takeshi, Yo Yoshinari, Nobutoshi Ogura, Masashi Ishihama, Katsuichi Nakatsuru, Shinji Arakawa, Hiroyuki Okuno, Shinsaku Kozuma...

Particularly nice to see Shinsaku Kozuma there, as I think what I most liked about Yu Yu Hakusho 58 might have been done by him, and I haven't seen anything else by him. His other work would be worth looking into, as it looks like he was doing some pretty interesting work in the late 80s/early 90s. A lot of nice action in the last ep from Honda, Yoshinari, et al. They went all out, with 22 key animators. A lot of touches that are very Shinbo. This comes right after the early Shinbo of Yu Yu Hakusho and before the all-out Shinbo of Soul Taker 1. Feels like by this time he's becoming more adept at controlling his stylistic quirks. He storyboarded/directed 13 and 4. I absolutely love that he's been able to go all-out with his directing recently, and I love Hirobumi Suzuki's work as AD, but I've kind of missed the animation wildness of his early work now that he's taken the route most great directors seem to take in controlling the animation much more closely and making it subservient to the directing. Also, it's interesting to see Tadashi Hiramatsu and Masahiro Kase in there. I suppose this is one of the various shows Hiramatsu did while he was working under Kase at Studio Curtain, as he relates in that interview.

Finally got a chance to see Mitsuo Iso's bit in Golden Boy 4. Bliss. I was in heaven. Absolutely magnificent, one of his best shots, a textbook example of the "full limited" style. Over the span of a single 30-second shot we see a continuously evolving action full of all sorts of fantastic shapes and movements, each one distinct, each drawing contributing to the effect, without any repeats or other wimping out. Just brilliant. The texture of his line is also fantastic and identifiable. I also recently caught his shots in the Rurouni Kenshin op, and they were also magnificent and in the true through-conceived and -drawn Iso style. I've been going through Iso withdrawal, so I've been going back and looking for all the little bits of Iso I can find. I hope he finishes whatever it is he's doing soon. In contrast with these mid-period pieces, I also revisted his ep 2 of RahXephon, which shows the fully developed current Iso of Blood - a maximalist who tweaks every aspect of the visuals to achieve the perfectly harmonic image. Iso seems like Ohira in the respect that they both seem to go through a life's worth of evolution within the space of just a decade and a half, completely revolutionizing their styles several times along the way.

Some time back I looked at the section done by Osamu Tanabe in 3 and didn't feel that impressed, but looking over it today I was bowled over by the delicacy of the movements and the richness of the acting. It's very like his sequence in Junkers in that it takes a while to get to the point where you can fully appreciate it because what makes it so great is so low-key. Speaking of Tanabe, I recently had another look at Ghiblies 2, this time watching the whole thing rather than just Ohira's and Utsunomiya's parts. I was looking for the foot race bit, which I learned was done by Hideki Hamasu. Hamasu was the only person left in the show whose part I was wanting to figure out. When I first saw it I wasn't familiar enough with his style to pick it out, but this time it was patently obvious, as I've become a little more acquainted with his style from various other things I've seen in the meantime.

Having heard that Iso was involved, I had a look at ep 2 of the Rin Taro Final Fantasy, and the animation was just fantastic. Lots of really wonderful work, and indeed a lot of bits I would have thought only Iso could have done going by the shape of the smoke and the limited and very lively and protean character acting replete with unexpected deformations, but he's not listed. It would explain a lot if Iso was this Hideo Nieta in the top spot, as rumored, because the name only brings up 8 hits in Google and only turns up in one other anime, Kattobase Dreamers, a Madhouse production from just a few months earlier, so it doesn't seem like too much of a stretch. I also noticed Norimitsu Suzuki in there. This is the first time I remember spotting him doing regular ep work. I became aware of him recently from his impressive work singlehandedly doing entire endings.

I rather enjoyed the piece as a whole, too. Has a rather nice Takashi Nakamura-esque colorful light fantasy adventure vibe going. And Yoshinori Kanemori has always been one of my favorite Madhouse figures. I think I prefer this approach to the style that's come to define the franchise.

I've always been curious to see an old OVA called Dragon Slayer from 1992, which has a bit of a reputation as a cult classic for the insane speed of the action. I noticed Koichi Arai, one of the major theatrical animators of the last decade, did some nice designs for a similarly titled OVA from 1988, Xanadu: Dragon Slayer. Tellingly, he was in only one episode of Hakkenden - Hamaji's Resurrection. Atsushi Yamagata, the original character designer of the series, did a movie called Dragon Quest: Emblem of Roto in 1996 that has clean designs somewhat reminiscent of the earlier designs by Arai.