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Kaname Production is one of the legendary studios of the 1980s. Their two films Birth and Windaria are classics that embody some of the best aspects of the decade. They made a few other OVAs during their short life, and Bavi Stock (1985) is one of the lesser known ones, not without reason.
Two episodes were released, one in late 1985 and one in late 1986. The first, jointly produced by Kaname and Studio Giants, features some decent work, while the second, produced by Studio Unicorn, is bottom-of-the-barrel OVA dreck with no redeeming value. (Unicorn produced the least well-animated episodes of Pink Jacket Lupin around the same time)
Bavi Stock is not a lost treasure by any means. Apart from an exciting opening chase scene, the 45 minutes of this OVA drag on without ever getting interesting or exciting. The story is messy and not compelling, the characters stereotypes, and the directing is halting and clumsy.
The animation is mostly unremarkable other than the opening chase. Ostensibly a sci-fi racing anime a la Redline, the racing scene isn't very satisfying - all of the racers except the protagonist and the baddie get wiped out at the start without regaling us with any entertaining racing antics. And from what I could tell (I couldn't stand to watch it all), the second OVA takes a completely different tack, dropping the racing premise. The drawings are fairly decent throughout episode 1 (episode 2 is unwatchable) thanks to the Giants sakkans, but it's not quite enough to save the OVA.
This OVA is only worth revisiting for Kaname completists and to see a bit of lively work by the Giants animators.
Studio Giants was another good studio of this period, training a number of talented animators who went on to work at Gainax when it was founded a few years later. Their presence adds a slightly different touch to the distinctive Kaname style that makes this OVA look a little different from the other Kaname OVAs.
Masayuki animated the opening chase, which is the best bit in the episode. It gives a good picture of what kind of crazy animator Masayuki was at this period - part Masahito Yamashita with his breakneck background animation and part Yoshinori Kanada with the playful insertions and madcap posing, but mixed up into a very convincing and pleasingly original style. Masayuki was undeniably one of the most exciting animators of the 1983-1986 period, and his work on the TV shows Sasuga no Sarutobi (1982-1984), Rampo (1984) and Gu-Gu Ganmo (1984-1985) is worth discovering.
Kaname was a short-lived studio founded in 1982 and closed in 1988. They were founded by expats of Ashi Pro including animator Mutsumi Inomata and animator-turned-director Shigenori Kageyama. Inomata became something of a fan favorite of the period with her cute, twee character design style showcased throughout most of Kaname's productions. Shigenori Kageyama switched to directing at Kaname, and Bavi Stock was his debut. He also designed the characters with the assistance of Inomata. Inomata has since retired from animation. Kageyama remains active as a director is likely to blame for the mediocre outcome of this OVA; his later credits include Zeguy, Yamato 2520 and Queen's Blade. Other Kaname outings benefited from Ashi Pro veteran Kunihiko Yuyama's directing.
Kaname started their life working as a subcontractor on the TV shows Acrobunch (1982) and Sasuga no Sarutobi (1982-1984) and went on to create their own show Plawres Sanshiro (1983-1984) before moving into the OVA market with Birth (1984) after their TV project for this story failed to materialize. Thereon out they continued to focus on OVAs. These include Leda (1985), Fandora (1985-1986), Windaria (1986), The Humanoid (1986) and Watt Poe (1988).
It's presumably working on Sarutobi where they became acquainted with Studio Giants, as Studio Giants produced some crazy animation on the show courtesy of their animators like Masayuki and Masahiro Shida. Kaname essentially handled the creative aspects of this OVA while Giants for the most part handled the animation, with their animators Masahiro Shida and Naoto Takahashi (using the pen name Ryunosuke Otonashi) acting as sakkans.
Masuo Shoichi, though not involved here, was another member of Studio Giants at the time, working on different shows from Masayuki et al. Even this early in his career you can see very good work by him in Orguss (1983-1984) featuring the sort of tricky, three-dimensional mecha action that he became known for.
After working on Bavi Stock, Masayuki migrated to Gainax to work on Honneamise (1987) together with Shunji Suzuki, so this OVA is a snapshot of where these animators were at stylistically immediately prior to them becoming amalgamated into the Gainax style. Kazuya Tsurumaki, who initially joined Studio Giants due to his admiration for Masayuki, quit Giants to join Gainax after being denied the opportunity to work on Gainax productions from Giants. Shoichi Masuo also eventually became a regular participant in Gainax productions.
I also found this OVA interesting because the credits are all in (somewhat mangled) English, and the translations they use for the main roles are different from those that have become standard today. Rather than key animator and inbetweener, they refer to animator and assistant animator. These are terms used in western animation that roughly approximate the role of genga and doga. It's not just the credits that are western; the whole production appears to deliberately emulate western sci-fi/action movies in a very self-conscious way. Episode 2 features Ewok lookalikes and spaceships that are a clear knock-off of Star Wars. Writing the credits (and title) in English just completes the impression.
Vol. 1 released December 20, 1985, produced by Kaname Production & Studio Giants
Vol. 2 released November 25, 1986, produced by Studio Unicorn
Episode 1 main credits
(The following is an excerpt of the credits transcribed as-is from the credit roll. The only difference is that, for reference purposes, I've added the studio to which each name belonged in parentheses, to the best of my knowledge.)
|Planned by:||Hiro Media Associates Inc.|
|Kaname Production Co.|
|General producer:||Hiromasa Shibazaki|
|Script by:||Kenji Terada|
|Directed, designed character by:||Shigenori Kageyama (Kaname)|
|Guest character designed by:||Mutsumi Inomata (Kaname)|
|Production designer:||Takahiro Toyomasu (Kaname)|
|Sub mechanical designer:||Masanori Nishii|
|Art director:||Geki Katsumata|
|Production coordinator:||Tetsuo Kadoya (Giants)|
|Animation directors:||Masahiro Shida (Giants)|
|Ryunosuke Otonashi (Giants)|
|Shuji Suzuki (=Shunji Suzuki) (Giants)|
|Kouji Fukasawa (Giants)|
|Akira Sai (Giants)|
|Shinetsu Andou (Giants)|
|Takeshi Itoh (Giants)|
|Takuya Wada (Kaname)|
|Mayumi Watanabe (Kaname)|
|Hideko Yamauchi (Cindy H. Yamauchi) (Kaname)|
|Miyuki Nakano (Kaname)|
|Assistant animator:||Atsuko Ishida (Kaname)|
|Toshiyuki Tsuru (Giants)|
|Kazuya Tsurumaki (Giants)|
|Co Production Coopereted By:||Studio Giants|
|Produced by:||Hiro Media Associates Inc.|
|Kaname Production Co.|
|Nikkatsu Video Films Co.|
I’m getting an impression that studios cared less about business and more about just creating stuffs during 80’s bubble. It’s interesting to note that some of the well-known animators started off their humble origin from defunct studios. (More reason to update that flow chart again)
Speaking of humble origin, when I was watching Fist of North Star TV, I’ve noticed Nobuteru Yuuki and Junichi Hayama as inbetween credit on one of the episodes. Even though they’re just inbetweeners, their stylization is already apparent in some cuts. One of those guys (Yuuki, I suppose) has particular way to draw female characters and it already stands out.
I think ‘The Humanoid’ is another one of the less spectacular Kaname Pro OVA works.
That’s part of the reason why I like exploring these old studios. Many of the great animators of today and yesteryear evolved out of small subcontractors in the 1980s. I think it was more common to start out at a subcontractor back then than an animation school like nowadays, so maybe that resulted in animators evolving slightly differently according to the studio they trained at, compared to the homogeneous training animators receive at animation schools.
I’d like to watch through the entirety of the Fist of the North Star TV series, even though I find it a hard slog, because I’ve heard it’s got quite a bit of good work by different animators. Junichi Hayama is a really great animator of the 1980s, one of the best of the Toei animators. I’d like to see more of his work from this period.
I haven’t seen it yet, but everything I’ve heard about it suggests you’re right. (that’s one of the reasons I’ve never seen it)
Interesting you mention FotN, I recently read a blog post by Kazuhiro Ochi that talked about the episode he worked on. Brought along several of friends and colleagues to work on it, most going uncredited due to Toei only listing two key animators per episode.
I tried linking to it but the spam filter blocks me.
That’s interesting to hear. I’ve heard so many stories of that sort of thing happening in the old days, it’s like the credits were almost never completely reliable. Hmm, don’t know why it’s doing that. Try posting the link without http:// - I’d be curious to read that tweet.
I can’t seem to link it without ‘http://’ either. I’ll just send it to you via twitter.
I started to remember my art school days since you brought up animation school. When I was in animation department, most of the instructors were ex-Disney employees who didn’t quite understand Japanese TV animation. At one time, one of them stated that “anime” isn’t animation. I guess she was annoyed with new animation students enamored with anime. Fast forward few years later, we’re seeing anime taking over streaming sites while Disney is busy laying off more 2D animation artists or going completely overseas.
Anyway I don’t know how Japanese animation schools works, but I hope they don’t influence students to draw “anime". They should only teach basics and let students figure out their own expressions. In my old school, I’ve noticed that many students either follow Disney-influenced style or those extreme styles common in cable TV. I was expecting something unorthodox from 2D department, but it’s more like stop motion/experimental animation class has more interesting visuals.
What’s the link for Kazuhiro Ochi? I’d like to take a look.
Thank you for the review. I have always wanted to see this and was not sure if ANYONE has. I am still going to go “treasure hunting” to seek this out. I cant find it anywhere. Here is an ad from the 2/1986 issue of Newtype that has the staff credits in English just how you described.
Thank you and welcome back.
I don’t really know what they teach at animation schools in Japan. That’s a good question. It’s basically vocational school, so I assume it must be tailored to the industry conventions and not discovering your crazy inner indie. A school like Geidai is where the indies are coming from these days, which I suppose would be the equivalent of the stop motion/experimental animation class.
My pleasure. Thanks for the link. Funny to see they credited the studio in parentheses, just like I did! The parentheses were my addition; those aren’t in the credit roll on the OVA. Good to see I was mostly right. The only one I got wrong was Tetsuo Kadoya, whom I had to guess about; the only one I haven’t been able to figure out is Hiroshi Kanezuka.
I doubt many other western fans have seen this one. Even back in the day I never ran across this one in fansubs or even otherwise.