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: October 2007, 16

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

10:40:52 pm , 685 words, 3814 views     Categories: Animation, Movie


I started watching the first ep of Blue Drop not expecting anything, and was surprised to find myself kind of liking the directing for a reason that's hard to put my finger on. Everything about the production is lackluster, from the designs to the animation, but the directing has a kind of delicate sensibility to it that makes the humdrum material more watchable than it would seem to deserve. Something about the pacing, the way the characters react that seems a little freer than usual. It's a barely perceptible smidgin of difference, but enough to remind how rare it is to see characters in anime interact in a way that is even remotely believable in an objective, realistic sense, and not merely dictated by an ingrained rulebook of reactions and emotions.

Was happy to finally watch Susumu Yamaguchi's Keroro Gunso movie. The texture of the drawings had something of Yamaguchi's flavor in various places, most notably the bike chase through the sewer and the climax, although Yamaguchi was only credited as storyboarder and director and not animator or animation director. Certainly nothing more than a franchise film, but a solid and surprisingly delicate one. I'd like to see Yamaguchi do something where he has the freedom to go a little more crazy with the material and the drawings, which is what makes his work so fun in the first place. Here he's too constricted by the weight of the material.

Had the chance to watch Lee Sung-Gang's second animated feature and long-awaited return to the medium, Yobi, and it was a big disappointment. I miss the Lee of Texture of Skin. I can think of any number of problems with the film, most basically that it seems a jumbled mess of half-baked ideas. The designs seem more suited to TV work and were difficult to stomach. The animation was interesting in the sense that it seemed an odd hybrid of western and Japanese style, but was for the most part only functional and seemed to inherit all of the negative traits of western animation without inheriting any of the positive. Every once in a while there would be a shot or two that stood out in stark contrast from the rest as being very nuanced and interesting as animation, like the sequence where the lady pinches the cheek of the alien, but that was it. I'd be very curious to know who animated that bit so I could finally claim to know the name of a good Korean animator. I always hope to be able to catch a whiff of individuality when I watch Korean animation, and this was one of the rare instances when I felt I'd been able to do so.

I sampled bits of the film before watching it, and saw some scenes in passing that didn't make much sense but that I assumed would make sense and have the appropriate dramatic weight and nuance of significance if I watched the film from the beginning. I watched the film and arrived at those scenes only to be appalled to find that they made just as little dramatic sense as when I watched them randomly. Scenes that seemed calculated to be dramatic simply fell flat and felt mistimed. I get the impression that the film seems to have become distracted from the main storyline of the fox's interaction with the boy by a jumble of tacked-on-feeling side-stories populated by unappealing characters, and as a result fails to provide the sort of buildup of character development and dramatic impetus that would make any of the subsequent dramatic scenes have any sort of emotional impact - something that Lee Sung-Gang's first film, Mari, did so admirably. What happened to that delicate sensibility? It seems to have gotten lost along the way while they were busy trying to fill the film with amusing ideas. There are undoubtedly moments of real beauty in the film, particularly the last ten minutes or so, where it feels like we're finally seeing what Lee is really capable of, as well as some very imaginative ideas and beautiful and lush artwork.