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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« Keiichi HaraYoshiaki Yoshinaga on Nekojiru - pt. 2 »

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

08:09:33 pm , 760 words, 1332 views     Categories: Animation

9th Media Arts Festival

One year ago Mind Game took the grand prize at the Bunkacho Japan Media Arts Festival (time flies!), and this year an independent short entitled Furo (Mirage?) by Sumito Sakakibara took the grand prize. A year and some before that Sakakibara, born in 1980, had a short shown at the end of year show at the Royal College of Art, where he did his studies after moving to the UK at the age of 15. The still is beautiful and makes you want to see it in motion. Koji Yamamura's The Old Crocodile and Kihachiro Kawamoto's Book of a Dead Person were among the winners of the Excellence Prize.

Junpei Fujita has been among the most talked about recent graduates since he appeared on DigiSta with his colorful, evocative piece full of wonderful morphing, Mind the Gap, which (now retitled Seasons) here won an Encouragement Prize. It won the Audience Prize and shared the Excellence Prize with Shin Hosokawa's puppet film Oni at the Laputa Festival presided over by Yuri Norstein one year ago. He's certainly one of the most talented indies I've seen emerge in a while, and hopefully we can expect to see him continue making interesting shorts in the years to come.

You can sense that Fujita has real 'animation instinct' - the feeling for what works as animation, what feels good as animation. Fujita collaborated with Masahiro Tomotake on another watercolor short entitled Color of Windows, which appeared on a DigiSta ep hosted by Satoshi Kon one year ago. I've been wanting to see more watercolor animation after having loved the results Reiko Yokosuka shows with the medium, so it's great to see a young new face taking it in new directions. I heard the Chinese have developed a program to accurately simulate the characteristics of traditional brush ink, but I suppose Fujita must be using the real thing. I'd be curious to hear how he makes his films - why he uses watercolor, how he comes up with the ideas.

Though I doubt that such was the case for the teenage girls who seemed to comprise approximately 95% of the audience for the film in Japan judging by video footage of the advance screening, I was completely lost watching the FMA movie. But you can really sense that they set out to make a quality film, so I have to compliment them on having that pride in their work. The part by Yutaka Nakamura was naturally the animation hilight (perhaps by way of a nod there was one shot by Nakamura from the TV series in the op), and it's probably the biggest piece of work he's done after the end of the Bebop movie. The bit at the beginning with the drills reminded me of Luffy punching the count in Hosoda's Secret Island movie, so perhaps that was Yoshihiko Umakoshi. I suppose Hideki Kakita might have done some of the smoke FX in Nakamura's sequence. I recall one or two other nice bits of smoke elsewhere. But watching the film the whole thing is overall so well polished and carefully crafted that it seems pointless to try to single out bits of animation that were well done when other people are doing great work too. But that's all I can do since that's what I'm interested in. So it goes. One spot I'm fairly certain I can identify is Ko Yoshinari's. What he does is unique enough and I've now seen enough of it that I can ID his work with a fair amount of certainty. The timing of the animation, the particular way the background is blurred, and the smoothness of the movement where the character slides under and is then punched by the big monster, rebounding on the water, simply scream Yoshinari elder. I think he did a similar shot involving water in the fourth FMA opening, where again it looks like he handled the processing as well as the animation. I wish I could figure out what part Koichi Arai did. It's annoying seeing his name everywhere and not being able to pinpoint his work. If I recall correctly he did the flower transforming in Secret Island, so maybe the transformation shot in Nakamura's sequence...? Pathetic.

Actually, after thinking about it, Arai did the part where the flower is shot by the arrow. I don't know why I mixed it up, because Arai's part comes right before Hisashi Mori's part. Koichi Hashimoto was also there, and he did part of the action in Nakamura's op 4, so perhaps he was also involved in Nakamura's part.



Manuloz [Visitor]

Genius Party on Newtype :

Paprika on Animage :

to be sure, i read the interview with the director of FMA movie, but with the help of exite translation… so, Nakamura storyboarded the fight between the 2 “homonculus", that’s right??

There’s some good animation on Noein #11, and good mecha action on Eureka 7 #35

12/21/05 @ 14:05
Neilworms [Visitor]

Wow, finally some anime to look foward to! Thanks for the pics Manuloz… I’d really like to know more about both of these films…

Seems that Tanaka finally got Kin Jin Kitto made into something longer…

12/21/05 @ 16:33
Ben [Visitor]

Nakamura did more than just the storyboard. He did the storyboard, the directing and the animation directing of the fight between the two homunculi. At least, that’s my supposition based on the credits. That would mean he choreographed it, corrected the drawings and oversaw the putting together of the various elements of the scene. He’s also listed at the end as a key animator, but so are all of the other animation directors, so I’m not exactly sure to what degree he had input into creating/modifying the movements, ie, the timing rather than just the drawings.

I haven’t seen that Eureka episode yet, but I’ve heard that some of the good animation was simply taken from earlier in the series, like the third opening…

And thank you for the scans. It’s wonderful to finally see pictures of each short, particularly Ohira’s and Yuasa’s. Supposedly Ohira’s is loosely based on the folk motif Onigashima or “Oni Island", and it will be a quiet and heartwarming(!) story. The drawing is stunning and raises my hopes even higher, though it kind of defies my expectations about what sort of film he would make, in a good way. In case you can’t read Japanese, Ohira’s is the one with the house on the hill, and Yuasa’s the one with long-legged creature against the yellow background.

12/21/05 @ 21:13
Tsuka [Visitor]

All Fluximation clips are available here in better quality :

And with new clips by : Hideki Nimura, Koji Morimoto, Atsuko Fukushima, Tatsuyuki Tanaka, Daisuke Nakayama, Yasuhiro Aoki.

Merry X’mas (in advance) Ben ^_^

12/22/05 @ 00:33
Tsuka [Visitor]

Original Little Nemo pilots by Yoshifumi Kondo and Osamu Dezaki will be released tomorrow on DVD in japan, as extra-features of Little Nemo DVD.

12/22/05 @ 06:20
Ben [Visitor]

Thank you very much, Tsuka. Merry X’mas to you, too.

By the way, Dezaki’s pilot was included on the LD box. I just didn’t rip that one. :) The only one that wasn’t included was Tsukioka’s, which I am dying to see. I guess it’s not included again? Damn. And it’s MasaMI Hata.

12/22/05 @ 06:27
Tsuka [Visitor]

Oups, I will correct the mistakes ^^
Apparently the Tsukioka’s pilot is not included :

12/22/05 @ 10:04
Random person
Random person [Visitor]

I read somewhere that Kamichu! won an Excellence Prize for this Media Arts festival in the Animation category.

It seems a bit out of place…

12/24/05 @ 01:39
Ben [Visitor]

This is an interesting festival because it’s well balanced between the commercial and the indie, so you can have an indie short winning the grand prize alongside anime like Kamichu!… I thought it was kind of nice that they rewarded Masunari that way.

12/24/05 @ 07:13