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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Sunday, May 20, 2007

01:43:32 am , 614 words, 2238 views     Categories: Animation, Denno Coil, TV

Denno Coil #2

Episode 2 maintains the same high level of quality as the first. Takeshi Honda is again the AD, and Toshiyuki Inoue again heads the animator list, joined by a bevy of impressive names including Honda himself, Nobutake Ito, Koichi Arai and the star guest, Takaaki Yamashita, who alongside Iso handled the art settei for the episode, which presumably means that together they came up with the various ideas for the interior decoration of the house. Yamashita is the man for bringing to life realistic everyday situations with a plethora of imaginative details, so I was hoping that he would be involved, but was unsure, since he's a Toei person and all. Thankfully Denno Coil has the gravitational pull of a black hole, and it appears to be pulling in all the major names in the industry. Ito and Arai are perhaps less surprising, since they were just recently seen in Kemonozume at Madhouse, but it's still a delight to see them.

Another wonderful episode. After Oyaji and Densuke, in this episode we are introduced to some more denno creatures, Sacchi and the... Mojo? Iso has a clear talent for creating simple but charming creatures that the audience is immediately drawn to. Now that I've seen two episodes of his new series I am beginning to be able to see the common thread with his previous work from a few years back, that ep of Rahxephon. The calm pacing is similar, the atmosphere deftly gear-shifts between a charming, light whimsy and a wistful feeling of loss. The mysteries outnumber the answers as of yet in this series, and clues continue to be dropped, and similarly we have yet to see the yin side of the series. This episode in particular focused on the charming character of the children, but the dark side is probably coming. Iso talked about the main theme of the series as being to explore the distance that separates everyone. Upon watching the opening of episode 2 I finally caught on to the wistful tone of the lyrics in the opening, and linked it to the entire relationship between Yasako and Densuke, a beloved pet whom she can't even touch. She wonders in this episode what he feels like, if he's soft, right as she's petting him, which is a nicely understated, touching moment. I had no idea that Iso could be as charming and fun as he has shown himself to be in these two episodes, but I had a sure sense of his ability to create drama that felt genuine and touched deep emotions and feelings of loss from his ep of Rahxephon, and I am eager to see in what way that theme will begin to come to the fore.

A moment I appreciated in the ep was where Yasako was looking at the torii trying to remember something. It was a moment that felt genuine. Perhaps one thing that distinguishes this series is that it is sprinkled with moments like this. These unemphasized, opaque moments inbetween the plot points are the moments that leave the strongest impression on me. I could relate to her feeling of seeing something that suddenly brought back a distant, nearly forgotten scene from childhood. Iso has an uncanny ability to succinctly evoke this kind of evanescant feeling. I've re-watched each episode a number of times and find that I discover something new each time. I don't know whether that's more testament to how careless a viewer I am or to how carefully crafted the script is, but the script is a miracle of economy in terms of how much it conveys and suggests with just a few words, leaving the visuals to do the rest.

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7 comments

William Massie
William Massie [Visitor]  

Very interesting, I saw some of the first episode and the animation was just as great as you said it was, unfortunetly it took a while for it to be recognized by the fansub community.

On the flip side of sakuga anime this season, i think you should take serious note of Gurren Lagann no. 8. All episodes have been great all around, but Imaishi storyboarded this climactic episode and the results were outstanding.

05/21/07 @ 13:15
Ben [Member]  

Yeah, I haven’t gotten around to watching it yet, but I peeked at the credit for Guren 8, and knew it was going to be something amazing.

05/21/07 @ 16:00
William Massie
William Massie [Visitor]  

Mr. E, wasn’t Takaaki Yamashita originally a Toei person? You know some of the stuff he worked on besides the digimon movie? I think he worked on Hell Teacher Nube.

05/24/07 @ 12:10
huw_m
huw_m [Member]

Just saw episode 2. I found it strange that though Takeshi Honda was the AD again, the eyes of the characters are drawn more in line with the model sheets as simple thin lines, for the most part. Were the more detailed eyes in episode 1 for more commerical appeal or something? Brilliant animation nonetheless. And I am getting a definite Haibane vibe off it. By the way, have you any idea if Iso has released any manga/artbooks? Seems like he is bursting with ideas that went unrealised in all his years doing commercial animation.

05/24/07 @ 22:47
Ben [Member]  

William:
Yes, he was, as I said in the post. He’s been involved in most of the big Toei productions of the last decade, so he’s not too hard to find. Most recently he did the T-rex as the beginning of the Doraemon Nobita’s Dinosaur 2007 movie. An old classic of Yamashita’s is Crying Freeman, specifically the last two episodes. There’s a MAD out there to save people the bother of having to do any actual searching themselves.

Huw M:
I was surprised too. I saw the preview for ep 2 and at first thought it was a different AD because the look was quite different. Strange. I wonder why the change in style. I doubt Iso has released any manga/artbooks. I’ve never heard of such a thing.

05/25/07 @ 11:10
Benjamin Sanders
Benjamin Sanders [Visitor]  

I’ve now seen this second episode (I have to wait for subs unfortunately, I wish I could understand Japanese, still another good reason to try and learn), and have to say this is really quite remarkable for a tv series, the quality seems incredibly high.

Everything seems quite understated in a way, but with a richness and depth far beyond what you see in most anime. As you suggested, it really does feel like a feature in many ways.

I very much like your comment “A moment I appreciated in the ep was where Yasako was looking at the torii trying to remember something. It was a moment that felt genuine.”

Because this moment really stood out for me too, and especially as it didn’t over do things by using flashbacks or doing anything fancy it just let the moment breath by itself.

A lot of praise for the animation, but I think the overall design, the background art (I love the subtle and brief change of colour at sunset in one shot) the sense of place, of a complete world that you want to learn more about that it achieves is also worthy of mention. Indeed it’s the care and attention to detail in this area that made that moment at the shrine sing.

There’s certainly a Ghibli feel to it too in these early episodes, especially in the handling of the little girl, and the children in general, that charm you mention. This seems rather like Miyazaki, but Mitsuo Iso seems to have the capacity to explore richer drama and the more subtle and complex emotions of life in his work that I associate more with Takahata. I hope we get to see more of that side develop as the series proceeds.

And I hope you keep writing about it too. As always they are great posts. It has to be everyones wish here that you will one day manage to compile all of your ideas thoughts and depth of knowledge into the book this area of animation richly deserves.

05/26/07 @ 03:23
Ben [Member]  

Thank you very much for the comments and the nice praise, Benjamin. I don’t know if that will ever happen, but in the meantime, I am definitely planning to write about each episode of the series.

05/27/07 @ 13:08