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, 09

Thursday, March 9, 2006

03:23:21 pm , 1070 words, 1506 views     Categories: Animation

Sundry rambling

I discovered another Norimitsu Suzuki ending - the third season of Galaxy Angel A, from 2002. When I started watching the ending, I thought movements were suspiciously good, so I had a feeling it had to be someone I was familiar with. This is the oldest of his endings I've seen. The reason I checked the show out was to see some more work by Shigehito Takayanagi, the director of the third season, because I rather liked what he did with ep 4 of 1998's Popolo Crois. He's directing a new show called Himesama Goyojin that starts next month.

I watched the first episode of Tomomi Mochizuki's Shinigami no Ballad, and I actually preferred it in its simplicity to his previous show. I guess I'm just a softie for stories like that.

Norio Matsumoto was in Noein 21. While watching the episode I got the feeling the drawings were somehow different. It felt like the staff had all been consciously influenced by Matsumoto or something. As it turns out it was because Akira Takada was the AD. He was one of the main staff behind Haibane Renmei and has worked together with Matsumoto on a number of occasions, so that probably explains the similarity. I really like his drawings. And right from the first shot I thought there was something different about the directing. It was much tighter, showed a clearly better sense for drama, so I was wondering who did it. On seeing the credit at the very end I finally remembered I'd been told beforehand that it would be a Hiroyuki Morita storyboard. It showed. And Matsumoto was well used here again, providing the pivotal scene revealing Atori's true motivation with just the sort of nuanced expression and acting required to give the scene the proper impact. Which leads me to wonder aloud to myself something I've long wondered: Who assigns shots? The storyboarder, the ep director, the director? Surely not the animation director? I'd suppose the storyboarder, but I've never seen shot assignments in storyboards. Either it's just written somewhere else, or the person who processes the storyboard (ep director) must do it.

I enjoyed Ergo Proxy, though it's nothing nearly as new as I would have hoped. The moody directing and laid back Blade Runner-esque storytelling of Dai Sato (how many shows is he juggling?!) are obviously the attraction of the show and not the animation, but I thought the animation was quite nice in its own way and entirely sufficient. Anything more would probably be a distraction. The first episode seemed to veer between two or three completely different styles, which is explained by the fact that Naoyuki Onda (Z Gundam New Translation) was one of the three ADs. I'm usually not a fan of animators who are only good at drawing drawings, but I still rather like his drawings, even though they strike me as being somewhat lifeless. The scene in the mall in episode 2 seemed to provide the best example of what it was they were aiming for with the show in terms of mood and directing, with the music and slo-mo action combining to riveting effect. I look forward to a nice dystopian vision of a consumerist society run amok, just the sort of thing I'd expect from Dai. At the same time I wish they'd had the guts to set it in the real world, which is infinitely more strange than any science fiction I've ever seen. But I guess anything more direct in that direction would be like biting the hand that feeds them.

Are there any properly drawn cats in anime? It seems like whenever I see a cat it's so hideously drawn I have to avert my eyes. Cats, dogs, animals in general. I get the craving to see a properly drawn animal every once in a while, and it's a desire that's rarely consummated. There seems a definite deficiency in life-drawing skills among the rank and file over there. And I don't think it's something that can be blamed on fashion or preference. I've seen some shows where the cats were definitely supposed to be drawn realistically, and the results made it quite clear why severe stylization is opted for in almost all cases. People can't draw cats. I don't mean to sound harsh, I guess it's just that I like cats and want to see them properly drawn. Today I was re-watching The Heroic Legend of Arslan, which I haven't seen in more than a decade - quite a nostalgia rush! - and I was quite impressed to see that the horses were properly drawn. Explanation: AD Kazuchika Kise. (not Kazuya, though I don't blame them for misspelling it, as I did the same thing at first) So right now I'm looking forward to the last arc of Ayakashi to see if there are going to be some properly drawn cats in there. Even if there aren't it sounds promising. Supposedly Takashi Hashimoto will actually be involved in the actual work on the episodes, rather than just a distant "original design concept". Nakura's episodes (or at least the one I could stand to check) were a disaster, no surprise, because he wasn't even involved.

Ryutaro Nakamura's getting super meta on us again with a new show about a girl trying to break into the seiyuu biz played by a girl trying to break into the seiyuu biz. Also seems to be his way of wrangling the moe phenom into his own more realistic terms, and it's kind of fun.

I'd long wanted to see a bit of Space Pirate Mito and got to see the first two eps. It was just the sort of fun, well made children's series I'd thought it was, with the old-fashioned spirit of Animal Treasure Island. A shot in the opening actually had a whole bunch of pirates swarming over a ship as if in homage to the old inspiration. Susumu Yamaguchi was an animator in the op (and ep 3), so I suspect he must have done that section. I know almost none of the names in the show, but Takamitsu Kondo's characters are great - cute and catchy, but with few lines and easy to move, so that even without any great animators the drawings and movement are always nice to look at. The only names I recognize come in ep 12, where Nobutake Ito and Takashi Tomioka co-AD'd the episode, which sounds incredible.