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I just skimmed through IG's recent Blood C at someone's recommendation. I couldn't bring myself to sit down and watch every episode of the show, because it's essentially just splatter porn, and there's nothing unique about the visuals or characters that would otherwise have pulled me in. But if you have the stomach for it, some decent effort was put into the action sequences in each episode.
Director Tsutomu Mizushima is an odd choice for this material at first sight, since in my mind he's a gag anime director. (He showed he still has the touch with Yondemasu Yo Azazel-san just recently.) But deep down he's an acutely visual director. Blood C is for the most part conventional, with too much talking and expository dialogue, but despite the material, in many spots his visual side shines through.
He can usually be relied on to put in a few visually interesting scenes, whatever he's directing. If he's got a good animator, he'll choreograph the scene in such a way that it really showcases that animator's work - think of the scenes by Yasunori Miyazawa and Shinya Ohira in the XXHolic movie. In his old gag anime he made frequent use of talented animators to spice up his dramatic climaxes with exciting action sequences, like the Dama chase in Hare Nochi Guu.
The fight scenes in this monster-of-the-week horror show aren't cop-outs with pretty stills and close-ups. They're quite beefy and long, with wide-angle shots, and feature tricky body movement that requires work and skill to animate. As he always does, Mizushima got his animators to put a lot of work into the animation of the action scenes. The rest of the show looks more like a typical anime, with mostly stills and only perfunctory movement, but in the action sequences it comes alive.
The battle with the jizo statue at the beginning of episode one is a good opener. I like the drawings of the statue here. I'm not sure who did it, but Kazuchika Kise was assistant sakkan, so perhaps he was involved. There's an unusually long pause right before the battle that's quite striking. It's classic Mizushima. Timing is a key element in all of his shows. He's adept at timing shots just so to achieve precisely the intended effect. His debut Hare Nochi Guu was known for its super-fast humor.
IG perennial Yasunori Miyazawa appears twice in the show: In episode 2 he animates the train monster and in episode 12 he animates part of the climax with the bunny monsters. He's a regular in Mizushima anime. He did a lot of work on the XXHolic show. He's ideally suited to animating monsters.
The armor monster in episode 8 was nicely drawn. I don't know who it could be, but animators Takuro Jinbo and Mamoru Kurosawa are present.
Episode 9 is the most impressive in terms of animation, but also one of the most gruesome. It puts me in the difficult position of not liking the material being animated, but admiring the technique with which it's animated. Most of the scenes with the spider monster are well animated. The layouts are strong and three-dimensional and the line work stands out. The monster feels very alive. A lot of relish was put into animating it.
Youngish IG animators Shin Itadaki and Takayoshi Katagiri are the sakkans of this episode, and they're credited separately at the top of the genga credits together with Takuya Saito and Kazuchika Kise, so presumably this group handled the good parts of this episode.
The climactic episode 12 also features some nice animation at the climax with the bunny monsters, but it's also the most gory and distasteful scene in the show. Animators include Tetsuya Nishio, Minoru Maeda, Shuichi Kaneko and Yasunori Miyazawa. I could only pick out Miyazawa's section.
This is really one of my favorite destinations on the web. I am very glad you’re back to posting often, Ben.
As always, you give us great tips on series that otherwise I would do everything to avoid. I would never have thought of watching Blood C if I hadn’t read this post.
In any case, I wondered if you could post briefly about the hierarchy and general distribution of staff in Japanese animation. I feel I don’t fully understand the basics of what the job titles mean in terms of actual work done on a show. It seems there’s usually the general director, the episode director, and the animation director. I would like to understand better what each of those people are expected to do, and just how rigid the system is. For instance, it seems to me that some scenes are done entirely by one animator.
Also, I understand there is a difference between “key animator", and “in-between animator", but I don’t really know what the difference is between the key animator and his/her immediate superior (the animation director?). Does the animation director draw frames or just instruct the animators? What about the other directors?
Anyway, these are some of the questions that have been formulating in my head. If you could be so kind as to write about it, it would be awesome.
Oh, and I would like to make a logo for the contest. But I am not sure if I will have time, so I was wondering if you’re thinking of a deadline. That would help me organize my time better. I actually work with graphic design, and would love to try and make something for this awesome blog.
Keep up the great work!
Thank you for the nice comment, AzureNimbus. Your support means a lot.
I will definitely try to write something on this subject in the near future, and will make sure your questions are addressed in the post. I suspect other people must also have these questions on their minds, so it’s probably a good idea to write this. I wrote something on the subject in a comment a long time ago, but I don’t remember where, and I guess not many people saw that. And I know this has been written about on forums here and there. But this is a good opportunity to do my version.
I’d love to have you participate in the blog contest. I would like to wrap it up within about the next two weeks, if possible, but that will depend on what kind of submissions I get.