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: March 2006, 03

Friday, March 3, 2006

09:14:11 pm , 1166 words, 2576 views     Categories: Animation, Misc, Indie, TV

Recent viewing

Today I had the pleasure of watching Piotr Dumala's Crime and Punishment, completed in 2000. Watching it I was able to spend one of those rare and wonderful moments in life when art manages to bridge over the void and make it all seem worth it. That feeling will go away soon. I can't really describe the film any more lucidly than that, and in a way don't want to spoil the mystery of the experience by probing too much into how it was made, though I probably will do so once the effect has worn off, as the effect achieved was too stunning and masterly to remain uncurious. Every image spoke of inordinate effort and conviction, and it didn't feel like technical showing off as another similar film I've seen did. It's been years since I read the book, so I was a little perplexed at moments, but without a single word he manages to convey the story and the atmosphere of the book vividly and lucidly. Adapting a story as well-known as this one could surely have turned into something far more pedestrian, but everything here fell right into place. What I found most incredible about the film was the textures. The simulacrum of life. The texture of a wall. The way a drop rolls down, or the way steam rises from a bowl of soup as it's being poured. Small moments like these were perfectly observed and executed and arranged to create a flawless rhythm. All the more incredible, then, that the mimesis comes to us via plaster. Animation is alive in people like this. It's unfortunate that the only way one could see the film would be via a copy off of Polish television, as it definitely deserves to be seen by more people. If he's been active for more than two decades, as I hear he has, this immediately makes me want to see his earlier work, and I'm sure other people would feel the same way if they could see this.

I'm hardly a Clamp fan, but I'm surprised how much I enjoyed IG's Clamp double-feature. Both were solid films. Different, but both well produced. It was less of a surprise that Tsutomu Mizushima's film was good, but I was surprised how much effort the young staff working on the other, shorter film managed to put into the film. I may have even been more impressed with that one because you really felt these young animators putting in their all into the film. To name the scenes that impressed me: Shinichi Yokota's scene at the beginning in the forest with the young boy was full of lively movement; Sachiko Okumura's scene in the bath was nice; Toru Okubo's scene with the bird men near the middle had some good action; what I assume would have to be Chikashi Kubota's one-shot chase in the air - probably the shot they said they had to halve from 600 drawings - was typically thrilling, even almost out of control; and finally Naoyoshi Shiotani's final battle in the air was the capstone. His last shot of the bird imploding was perhaps the most spectactular shot after Ohira's few shots. You can tell he put a lot of thought into how to make it as effective a shot as needed for that climactic moment.

Tsutomu Mizushima's film was quite interesting. His directing perfectly balanced mysterious horror with his patented absurd humor, so it was great to see that he'd pulled it off. The art and photography was spectacular. The music was great. A few bits reminded me of Isang Yun and Walter Hus's first string quartet, which was odd. It was interesting to see how Kazuchika Kise's unreasonably long characters were made to move. I can imagine it must have been even harder moving them on a widescreen. A scene where a character is trapped in a sort of vent and his limbs fill up the screen in a tangle plays well on this. He really put some loving into drawing those looong hands. Animation-wise Ohira's and Hashimoto's scenes were of course great, as was Okiura's, but the real hilight for me was Miyazawa's at the beginning. It's overpowering, to think how many drawings he must have drawn for that sequence. Reminded me very much of his work on Dead Leaves in terms of the constant limited motion over the span of several minutes, but the deformations and the crazy ideas in there were amazing. At one point the character has several arms. He doesn't have several arms because his arms are moving fast or anything, it just looks like he has several arms for a while just for the heck of it. And you kind of accept it while watching. Bewildering. Miyazawa's scene was definitely a shock. Other than that it was great to see that not only did they not correct Ohira's section, they actually retained the unique way in which he drew his key animation using shades rather than pure lines in the final product, and had the inbetweens done in such a way that they would match the keys. Thank goodness there's a studio that lets Ohira do his thing like this. I still can't get over the story about how they had to hold an emergency meeting among the staff to try to figure out what was going on in his keys in the shorter film. Ohira is no longer human. His spirit soars somewhere in the stratosphere, far above mortal heads. I'd actually be more interested in seeing the keys for that tidal wave than for the bunny in Mizushima's film, interesting though it is. You get the feeling he's letting them off easy with that bunny.

Recent TV episodes. Seiichi Hashimoto was in Eureka 7 43 along with other interesting people. Presumably he drew the dancing and the swirl where the face looks a uniquely personal interpretation of Yoshida. Otherwise Seiichi is often pretty hard to pick out. He does good work without sticking out. Muraki et al would have done the battle with which the dance alternated. A good section. Each episode has had some interesting work for the most part, like Noein, which had Hiroshi Okubo again in 20, so it's almost pointless to point each instance out. A lot of Bones animators worked on ep 13 of Gaiking alongside lots of good Toei people apparently as a favor to Takaaki Yamashita protege Tatsuzo Nishita on the occasion of his first job as AD: Yutaka Nakamura, Takashi Hashimoto, Soichiro Matsuda, etc. etc. etc. Imaishi storyboarded ep 18 of Black Cat.

I had the funniest dream last night. I dreamt I was assigned some seriously hard shots on a new movie alongside animators like Hiroshi Okubo and Yutaka Nakamura. Having never drawn a second of animation in my life, I was naturally sweating bullets and wondering how I was going to do it. I can't imagine how I could have gotten into such a situation. The things we come up with in our dreams.