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.
July 2009
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Archives for: July 2009, 31

Friday, July 31, 2009

05:20:09 pm , 652 words, 3697 views     Categories: Animation, Misc

New Kenji Nakamura joint coming up later this year

I'm looking forward to the upcoming series by Kenji Nakamura, Mid-Air Trapeze (Kuchu Buranko), and not just because it will be nice to have something to watch, although that will have to wait until October. It will be worth the wait, if the team that brought us Mononoke (Kenji Nakamura x Takashi Hashimoto x Toei) live up to all the high expectations I've got of their next project. Interestingly, the material comes from a Naoki-award-winning novel, which is a refreshing change from the usual use of light novels as source material, these being aimed primarily at children and adult children. The Naoki award is Japan's literary award given to new writers. I actually haven't read many of the awardees, but of the few I have, I quite enjoyed punk rocker-turned-literati Ko Machida's books, so if the other awardees are as interesting as he is, then this was a great idea. The Naoki award is surely a great mine of material that could push anime in new directions. I would prefer original material, but some very great work has been done based on source material, and so far Nakamura has the golden touch.

Civilization is more fragile than you think. This simple slide show illustrating some of the situations discussed in the amazing book The World Without Us by Alan Weisman, which depicts what would happen to the trappings of civilization if humans were to suddenly vanish from the face of the earth, is ten times more compelling than Tokyo Magnitude 8.0. Episodes 2-3 of the latter make little obvious use of the supposed voluminous research that was conducted for the series, so far doing very little to illuminate the consequences of such a disaster. Needless to say, I'm disappointed, as so far the show feels like a terrible waste of a superb opportunity. Instead, we are treated to endless shots of a blank-faced anime character wandering around, being shouted at by cardboard cutouts of human beings. I am probably wrong in criticizing this series, though, because they clearly set out with a goal that was at odds with what I wanted to see, so I should just accept that as the case and see where they go with it. I was quite turned off, however, by the maudlin directing of episode two and horrible production quality and excruciating boredom of both episodes. I sincerely hope that the subsequent episodes become more interesting and I start to like the show, as I do plan on following it. I'm just disappointed because I would love to see this subject matter done justice in some animated/audiovisual form. As it stands I recommend that you read The World Without Us instead of wasting your time with this show.

Speaking of things I'm looking forward to, Mamoru Hosoda's new film Summer Wars comes out pretty soon in Japan. I'm really looking forward to that, particularly (surprise) for the animation, because it sounds even better than his last film. It's got talented ex-Telecom animator Hiroyuki Aoyama doing the animation character designs and acting as one of the four sakkans. There are a ton of characters across the entire age range in the film, so it will be interesting to see how they're all made to move differently in line with their age and personality. Aoyama is good at nuanced character animation. Most of all, though, to be honest, it's the action scenes I'm looking forward to, because Toei animator Tatsuzo Nishita is the action sakkan, and I adore his style of action animation. It's an unusual post, and it was clearly granted to him because of his talent with action. It's a treat to be able to see a whole movie filled with his action animation. Apparently you can watch the first five minutes of the film online on the official website, but I'm not going to watch it. I'm going to wait to see the whole thing.