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: December 2006, 11

Monday, December 11, 2006

11:12:48 pm , 558 words, 1709 views     Categories: Animation, Misc, Movie, TV


Just some quick bits here and there. Have a few things on the backburner that I've been meaning to get around to, though I'm not quite there yet. Welcome to the NHK is about to end on ep 24. There were good stretches where I completely lost interest, but there would be the occasional shot in the arm of good animation and middling good directing that revived my interest, and in the end I'm kind of sad to see it go, though it's probably best not to drag out the agony much longer. I suppose studios take a different approach for a morning/prime time show and a late-night show, and this show is just an example of that. There were about five people doing good work on that series, and the rest was essentially unwatchable. I liked Erukin Kawabata's directing in ep 19.

My big catch from this series was Shingo Natsume, who just did some more cool work in 19, with all those thick black shadows, and now 23 (also 4 8 16). He also seems to be in the last ep. He's about the only animator on the show who was actually conscious about what he was doing, actively trying to carve out his own style. I'd be curious to know his influences. It's always reassuring to see that there are still young faces entering the biz with enough love of hand drawn animation to undertake the thankless task of trying to develop their own style and draw interesting animation in this day and age, particularly within the ridiculously tight schedules of TV animation. It always strikes me as a miracle that people like Yutaka Nakamura or Norio Matsumoto can produce reams of work of that level within such schedules. I was kind of worried that there would be less and less interesting people appearing with the changing technologies, but just the opposite, here we are almost in 2007 and there still seem to be new, interesting, really talented faces appearing regularly these days renewing that flame.

Speaking of Gonzo, I also just had the chance to watch Brave Story, which is a good contrast with NHK in terms of showing the two sides of this studio. When they want to, they can create some good quality. I don't know much about their approach, but in a number of productions I get a vibe of a kind of committee approach reminiscent of the old Toei Doga films, with various people contributing to designing and storyboarding and so on. Could be totally wrong. The animation was very full and nuanced, showing they approached this film seriously. What was it about the film that makes it so insubstantial then? Not the directing or the animation (though the animation was rich and pretty but also staid and plain). There were lots of imaginative ideas, but they didn't really seem to gel into a compelling whole. There was no sense of guiding vision. Nothing seemed genuinely unexpected. The script was good in the micro, but it all felt so uninspired and hackneyed. Typical of Gonzo was the active use of CG, but they seemed to have learned their lesson and be trying to hide it a little more with dark shading so it didn't stick out so much. Quibbles aside, no contest: Brave Story takes this year's award for Best Engrish Title for a Feature Length Film.