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: February 2010, 03

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

11:25:17 pm , 578 words, 2489 views     Categories: Animation, OVA, TV

Madara

I discovered another OVA from the early 1990s that I hadn't seen before but that I enjoyed: Madara. It's directed by Yuji Moriyama, the extremely prolific director/animator who I remember primarily for his work on Urusei Yatsura and Maison Ikkoku but who's been in scads of other stuff and continues to be very active today. He also did Project A-Ko, one of the defining OVAs of the period that in retrospect seems to have portended the future of the industry. Despite the unmistakable soundtrack by Kaoru Wada and otherwise seeming very similar in spirit to 3x3 Eyes, the drawings are not nearly as impressive, coming across as more generic compared to Koichi Arai's highly original approach, nor the directing as strong. But it's still enjoyable and entertaining and has some nice movements and drawings here and there. It's in the vein of the many shonen fighting shows that came before and after, but the OVA format permits some slightly higher quality. It's still fairly watchable after all this time. You see a lot of people who worked on Nadia just before - Takeshi Mori on storyboard, Shunji Suzuki as co-sakkan w/Moriyama (the girl's drawings remind of Nadia), and even Kazuya Tsurumaki as a gengaman. It's weird, but there's this shot where the protagonist's female companion is holding up her hand at his face and it's trembling and for some reason I get the feeling like I've seen exactly that same way of drawing the hand in Nadia before. It has this distinctive round way of drawing the fingers that I actually kind of like. Other notable animators include Yasuomi Umetsu, Suganuma Eiji and Takeuchi Atsushi in ep 1 and Koji Ito and Atsushi Takeuchi in ep 2.

I actually sampled another show. So-ra-no-wo-to (is it just me or are titles becoming more obnoxious with each passing year?) by A-1 Pictures, who did the well-animated baseball show Ookiku Furikabutte, had some decent animation. I say only decent because it was actually good, but hard to see, because the characters, character designs and general content were obscuring the view. Toshifumi Akai was the animation director and he did the opening and closing, and I salute the man because clearly a lot of work went into the animation. Some of the scenes actually came alive quite nicely thanks to the animation. For a fleeting moment, I sensed the specter of a good anime that might have been. The directing by Mamoru Kanbe did a pretty good job with the material. The background art by Easter was strong and in some places shined. But it was sad to see all this effort going into material that did not support the weight. It felt like an attempt at a World Masterpiece Theater-style atmosphere, with moe girls in uniform, since that's apparently what you need to have to be able to make anything these days. This doesn't feel like a story that had to be told; it feels like 'What new situation could we shoehorn a cavalcade of moe girls into?' Outsiders already think anime is a big joke as it is. Why make it worse? I think someone unfamiliar with anime who watched this would feel confused and anxious. I would have liked Toshifumi Akai's laboriously worked animation to have been put to the task of bringing alive acting that bore some relation to human beings. The people who write this stuff need to go out and meet some real women.

Supposedly this is by Yasuo Muroi. The running does remind of his running in Xam'd.