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: June 2007, 03

Sunday, June 3, 2007

06:00:05 pm , 826 words, 2644 views     Categories: Animation, Denno Coil, TV

Denno Coil #4

Thankfully the quality stays at the same high level in this episode. Toshiyuki Inoue and Takeshi Honda yet again head the animators. These two have done an incredible amount to maintain the quality of the show so far. In tow are many of the usual names we've seen in past episodes, such as Ei Inoue and Kazutaka Ozaki and Hajime Shimomura - many of whom I've often seen working as animation directors on films prior to this. The animation director is Yoshimi(?) Itatsu, a name I'm not familiar with. He seems to be a relatively new face, having been involved in two previous Madhouse productions - Paranoia Agent and Beck - as an animator. This appears to be his first episode as AD.

The storyboard is by Shinsaku Sasaki, whom I remember for having animated the famous bit of action with the Tatarigami at the beginning of Mononoke Hime, where it's covered with all those snakelike things that look like CG but amazingly are in fact hand drawn (aside from a few close-ups). He's been very active as a storyboarder for hire in recent years since leaving Ghibli, having done work on shows like Master Keaton, Arjuna and Welcome to the NHK. The director was the same guy who directed eps 1 and 2, Masashi Yasukawa. I noticed in this episode that two students named Yasukawa and Honda were assigned the "daily chores" on the blackboard. Daily chores indeed! An amusing metaphor for all the work these guys have been doing for the show.

This episode focused on bringing to life the interplay between the protagonists at the school. I find that the various characters stand well on their own as characters, each with their own unique personalities. Daichi is fun as the bratty gang leader, and we started to learn more about Isako's personality and denno skills. I found her to be a satisfyingly layered character, like her counterpart Yasako, in that she behaves rudely in a way that makes her hard to like, but at the same time I could empathize with her behavior, as when she comments - "It's always like this. I never do anything, and they always come after me." I remember feeling that way in school growing up.

New clues were dropped here and there about the various threads lurking in the background, the biggest being the identity of Michiko. As always, the various denno devices and the way they were presented and integrated into the story were a sheer delight. The second half was an exciting virtual war between the factions featuring some more cool denno tools (not being used as they were intended) that gradually built up to a tremendously exciting and impressive bang where directing, animation and digital effects combined to great effect. It's this sort of deft balance of all the elements that most impresses me about this series. Superb talent working on every facet make for these kind of results. Again, I get the distinct impression that Iso's digital effects work in particular goes a tremendous way to giving the visuals their impact.

I got to thinking that I appreciate this series because it's the kind of sci-fi I prefer - the kind that is based in the reality that I know, with a few not too implausible fantastic embellishments to spice things up. Kind of the way I thought the first Digimon movie was a good sci-fi because of the way it kind of rethought the genre. Instead of going way overboard with the sci-fi stuff, he creates a plausible situation with real kids we can believe in, and adds a little touch of sci-fi. Seeing how the kids react to the situation is what made for fascinating viewing.

The idea of the 'imago' in this episode was interesting too - the idea of a function that the manufacturer of the device has deliberately chosen to disable and prevent users from using. Some may recall that a very similar situation occurred in real life not long ago, when cell phone manufacturers like mine, Telus, chose to deliberately disable Bluetooth functionality in Bluetooth-capable phones, and to not tell the users about this, under whatever pretext it was that they came up with. I doubt they're related, but I thought it was a good example of how plausible the little denno concepts in this series are because they're not too far-fetched and ring kind of close to home. By sheer coincidence, it even ties up to our own virtual world - Imago-Image is the name of Iso's home page.

It brought back memories of Tweeny Witches to hear Houko Kuwashima and Sachiko Kojima's voices on screen together again - Arusu and Sheila reunited. Just for reference, here's a list of some recent storyboards drawn by Shinsaku Sasaki.

Final Fantasy Unlimited 10, 15, 22
Arjuna 11
Overman King Gainer 11
Keroro Gunso 97, 100, 107
Astraea Testament 2
Full Metal Alchemist 5, 12, 18, 24
Cluster Edge 4
Kekkaishi 16
Shonen Onmyoji 6
Welcome to the NHK 16, 23
Death Note 18, 29
Master Keaton 5 (+director)
Angelic Layer 2, 10, 18, 25 (+director)