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 2007, 08

Saturday, December 8, 2007

01:56:44 pm , 603 words, 3453 views     Categories: Animation, Animator

Kang Won Young

I think I've often mentioned in the past how I wished I knew of some new Korean animators with a distinctive style. I don't know anything about how things are done over there, but I figured there had to be at least a few industry animators developing an individual style like in Japan. As I said in the previous post, I saw some animation in Lee Sung-Gang's Yobi that definitely fit the bill - the part where the adult version of the girl pinches the cheek of the alien, and the other parts with the lady. I had absolutely no clue who could have done it, though, as the ability to guess such a thing comes from prior knowledge of an animator's work, which I didn't have for any Korean animation. Peter Chung was kind enough to point out in the BBS that those scenes were done by Kang Won Young. He's listed first in the credits, so I should have suspected as much. Peter also noted that Kang did the first 50 shots of Peter's Tomb Raider Re\Visioned. Fantastic, I thought. Here we have a positive ID of two scenes from a great new animator with just as distinctive a style and as brilliant a sense of timing as any I've seen in Japan. So I just had to share this with anyone who missed it.

Peter's Tomb Raider Re\Visioned is a brilliantly dense 3x5-minute mini-series packed with enough material to fill a movie. The economy of storytelling is typical of Peter, every moment conveying something of significance that keeps things pulsing ahead, juggling between various points of view and keeping us constantly surprised with bizarrely unexpected twists and turns. All the while, he crafts a delightful satire of the endless mire of Family Feud-style antagonism between the plethora of mankind's organized religions, which would be as hilarious as it is here if it weren't so depressing. Holy warriors indeed, with their cross-branded uzis. With Peter's usual understated but spot-on humor there, the only thing missing is Peter's own fantastic animation. Thankfully, we have Kang Won Young there to help fill in the gap with some brilliant action animation of his own. I don't know how Kang developed, but he has a sense of timing that seems very unique in the sense that it has a kind of jumpiness and freeness with the drawings that feels atypical of Korean (much less Western) animation and closer to the spareness of Japanese animation. Yet at the same time I couldn't picture anything quite so richly acted coming from Japan. Although I probably haven't seen enough Korean animation to judge fairly.

There was much animation in another recent Korean feature, Aachi and Ssipak, that caught my eye as being among the most excitingly choreographed I've seen in any Korean animation so far. The very simple character designs they adopted for the film seemed calculated for this purpose, to allow them to focus on moving the characters around freely without having to rely as much on making pretty drawings. The film is a lot of fun and refuses to take itself seriously for a moment, delivering just what it sets out to deliver - bad-ass action, violence, silliness, funny satire, and poo. I much preferred the home-grown insanity of this film to the anime-inspired look and feel of Wonderful Days. Scenes like the fight on the staircase were very exciting to watch, although I wasn't sure whether that was accountable to the animation so much as simply to the choreography, as I'm not sure where the line is drawn between the two in Korea.