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 2010, 14

Monday, June 14, 2010

07:35:02 pm , 857 words, 2366 views     Categories: Animation, TV, Director: Masaaki Yuasa, Yojouhan Shinwa Taikei

Yojouhan Shinwa Taikei #2

Back from the dead I am and I've just watched the second episode of Tatami Galaxy, my first anime in a good month. How ludicrous to be blogging episode 2 when episode 8 is already out, you say. Episode 2 is ancient news now! Even yesterday's tweets about the latest episode are already old news. Nothing is fast enough anymore. I want the latest updates YESTERDAY, damn it, that way I can be the first kid on the block with the new dose of info crack. Welcome to the slow boat called Anipages.

Anyway, damn fine stuff, this, at least technically. There is some massively tight and accomplished directing on display here, to say nothing of quality animation, cool design work, great colors, and nice music. Even if you can't get into the story or the characters or even the style of the narrative, which I can't, there's too much good stuff here not to give it at least a one-over. I'm just disappointed that so much good work is going into material that inherently will never attract anyone but existing anime fans.

So, no. I'm still not feeling the show after the second episode. But for the quality of the production I will keep watching, and because I don't want to abandon a Masaaki Yuasa show. Yuasa never does a hack job, and this is very high proof Yuasa. The work here is just as sophisticated and accomplished as anything he's done before. It's probably the most dense and complex narrative he's ever done. At every moment throughout each episode we are regaled with some form of relevant detail regarding the characters and their thoughts and actions in the form of a playful and creative animated embellishment. Things are constantly shifting and fast-forwarding and rewinding and jumping around. It's quite an exhausting ride - one that I don't think would appeal to any casual viewer who might happen across this show. Kaiba had far more audience appeal. The problem for me isn't that it isn't audience-friendly, but that I think it might be trying too hard. I miss the down-to-earth human warmth of his previous work.

If anybody cares about the staff who were behind this quality work, I'll be giving a run-down of the main folks for each episode, as usual.

Storyboarder and director: Akitoshi Yokoyama. Look up my posts on Kaiba to read up on all the great work he did on that show. (Specifically, he was involved in episodes 2, 3, 7 and 9.)

Animation director: Shoko Nishigaki. This appears to be her debut as animation director of a TV episode. I remember her from Kaiba, where she worked as a key animator. I don't keep up with who has done what that much anymore, but a cursory search suggests that she's a young animator who started out in the last few years.

Animators: This episode was a dream team on the animation front. I felt that the animation was really stellar while I was watching the episode, but I didn't suspect it to have been this good a lineup. There were only three key animators: Norio Matsumoto, Hirokinori Tanaka and Shingo Yamashita. (though there were some 'second key animators') Norio Matsumoto is of course the great maestro from whom it seems much of the young generation to emerge in the last five years has learned. Hirokinori Tanaka is a wildly prolific animator who in the last two years has revealed an incredible talent for creating exciting movement on a very short schedule, having done work on innumerable episodes (probably over 100), to say nothing of movies, much of it quite exciting as animation. Shingo Yamashita is another precocious upstart who has rapidly developed his own voice. He's one of the many new animators who came into the industry from the gif animator community. He notably did a lot of good work on the second Birdy TV show.

There were a lot of great bits. I loved the part at the beginning with the guys holding the strings and the part with the protagonist changing clothes. I think these were by Norio Matsumoto. Later on the blob fx from the paper balls was nice.

I don't have much to say about this content this time. I can't relate to the behavior or thought patterns of these characters, which is the main impediment for me to enjoying this show. I'm left to watch their crazy antics and enjoy the craftsmanship. The directing is very impressive. Structurally this was a tight, flawlessly constructed episode, as Yokoyama's episodes always are.

As for what happened in the episode... Here I was expecting to begin to see a linear narrative begin to unfold and characters begin to be fleshed out, but it seems we are dealing with a more meta affair. The events of the first episode have been revisioned in a different situation, and the protagonist throws hints of having a recollection of the previous version, like we're seeing a dream interpretation of the previous day's experiences. A lot of other meta stuff going on, with names like Godard being dropped and the protagonists creating a meta narrative about their rival director's Hollywood-inspired historical epic.