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 2008, 13

Friday, June 13, 2008

04:17:42 pm , 577 words, 2715 views     Categories: Animation

Keiji Hayakawa

I've been working my way through Spaceship Sagittarius over the last few weeks, and recently I ran across an episode that stood out as being very different in quality, episode 18. I thought maybe it was my imagination, but it was really quite different, with an almost Miyazaki style to the pacing and framing. I wondered briefly if maybe Miyazaki might not have done it under a pen name, but quickly ruled that out. Looking into the credits revealed it was storyboarded by Keiji Hayakawa. The rest of the episodes were storyboarded in a not particularly remarkable fashion by folks like Kazuyoshi Yokota and Takayoshi Suzuki, who were both heavily involved in Nippon Animation's World Masterpiece Theater shows. Another episode storyboarded by Hayakawa, 21, proved to be equally distinguished, confirming it was Hayakawa's work that stood out. (he also handled 10, 15, 31, 33, 34, 47, 58)

I remembered seeing Hayakawa before in a Miyazaki work, but I couldn't remember which, maybe Sherlock Hound. Looking into it, I found out that he was indeed one of the main people behind Hound, but only the portion done by Studio Gallop after Miyazaki left. He was actually involved in Conan as co-storyboarder/co-director of almost every episode, which is unusual since Miyazaki usually does the storyboard himself. Under the difficult circumstances of directing an entire TV show for the first time, Hayakawa is the guy Miyazaki turned to to help him complete each episode. That is clearly a major part of where his Miyazaki-influenced storyboarding style came from. Up until Conan Hayakawa had mostly only worked as an assistant director. He had started out at Toei as an assistant director on Himitsu no Akko-chan in 1969 and trained there in that capacity for the next few years on shows like Sarutobi no Ecchan and Gegege no Kitaro before leaving to do the same on Samurai Giants (1973), Heidi (1974) and Sinbad's Adventures (1975). This was a guy who had started out with a clear goal - directing. He storyboarded ep 36 of Heidi, which is certainly one of his earliest if not his first storyboards. So he had a solid foundation in the Toei school of directing even before coming to Conan.

What happened to him after that? I couldn't remember ever seeing his name afterwards, even though he seemed to have a pretty good directing sense. Looking into it, he was quite active, and still is. He debuted as a series director with Attack to Tomorrow in 1977, and went on to direct Jolie for Visual 80 in 1981 before moving to Studio Gallop with a bunch of ex-Telecom animators like Toshio Yamauchi and Tsukasa Tannai in 1983, where he directed a number of shows including Chikkun Takkun (1984), Spoon Obasan (1988) and the longest-running non-ShinEi Fujiko Fujio anime, Kiteretsu Daihyakka (1988). He was also director of an old OVA I liked a lot back in the day - Prefectural Earth Defense Force (1986). Nowadays it looks like he focuses on storyboarding & directing episodes, having done episodes for Digimon Adventure (1999 / 10, 15, 20, 27), Hajime no Ippo (2001 / 35), Kyo Kara Majo (2004 / 15, 22, 27, 33, 38) and Kiba (2006 / 19, 28, 35, 42).

This is a classic case of a storyboard 'stand-out' of the kind I've talked about in the past. It shows how the storyboard is the critical element of directing. Each of Hayakawa's episodes was directed by someone else, but the blueprint is there. It all starts with the storyboard, and the film is basically all in the storyboard. The surface details of the final product will vary dramatically depending on what happens afterwards, but you can always see the storyboarder underneath.