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« Departed animatorsKunio Kato wins the Oscar »

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

10:35:00 pm , 3062 words, 13517 views     Categories: Animation, OVA, Movie, TV, Studio: Dove, Director: Toshifumi Takizawa

Dirty Pair

TV Series (1985)
Movie (1987)
OVA (1990)

Dirty Pair was one of the big titles for me back when I was first getting into anime. It probably doesn't get much attention anymore, as the last 'real' installment was made more than 18 years ago, but for people like me who got into anime through fansubs in the early 90s, the Dirty Pair one-offs were fresh and new and among the various titles from the 80s that embodied the mysterious attraction of the form. The movie in particular pushed all the right buttons in terms of what I was wanting to see in my anime at the time, and was stylishly directed and well animated.

Well, I had myself a little Dirty Pair marathon over the last few weeks, and I've now seen every Dirty Pair item ever made. It's a pleasant show to revisit - among the few I've lately been able to watch in its entirety - and its evolution over the five years in which the various installments were in production from 1985 to 1990 offer some insights into the industry during that period.

The director of the TV series from 1985 and the last OVA from 1990 was Toshifumi Takizawa, who more recently will be remembered for having directed Samurai 7, so he serves as a good starting point for examining the series. His directing work seems to act as the guiding spirit for the show, setting the tone at the beginning and making the last statement in the very nice final OVA.

I personally remember Toshifumi Takizawa as having been the line director of my favorite robot anime, the terminal Ideon: Be Invoked movie. Tomino Yoshiyuki is the one who is generally remembered as the director of Ideon overall, and rightfully so. But when it comes to the last movie, reading has led me to realize that, besides animation director Tomonori Kogawa, it's line director Toshifumi Takizawa who was in large part responsible for giving the movie its legendary power and tension. He's the one who did the work of what we usually term director, or 'enshutsu', namely checking the genga, putting together all the material, etc - basically everything after the storyboard.

Takizawa wasn't long after having debuted when he directed the film, having been heavily involved in the TV series drawing storyboards and directing episodes. He relates that episode 39 of the TV series, which he storyboarded and directed, is the one on which he feels he finally achieved what he wanted as a director. He clearly learned much from the speedy, cinematic flow of Tomino's storyboards, and in the film he builds on that to create one of the most terrifyingly tense and perfectly built dramatic flows of any anime movie. This is clearly when Takizawa established the tight and speedy directing style that has come to define his later work. At his best, he is unbeatable at creating a seamless flow that threads breathlessly between drama and exciting action. Notable is that he himself volunteered to direct the film. It was his first great achievement, and remains one of his most impressive.

His next major job would be on that other classic Sunrise 'real robot' anime of the 1980s, Votoms, on which he served under chief director Ryosuke Takahashi as the 'enshutsu chief', in which capacity he drew storyboards and focused on polishing the final quality of the episodes in terms of achieving the right dramatic flow - having just proven his talent for just that on the Ideon film. It's not long after this that he directed the Dirty Pair TV series.

Takizawa only storyboarded the first episode of the Dirty Pair TV series, and directed none of the episodes. He appears to have focused his skills on directing the directors and maintaining the overall tone for the show rather than been in there doing things himself. The first episode is definitely identifiable as his work in terms of the nimble pacing and variety of the scenery and action, and the rest of the series shares something of this feeling, although it's overall not as tight as his own work.

The Dirty Pair series is unique among Sunrise's shows from the 80s, for the obvious reason that it's not a robot show, and for its more lighthearted and tongue-in-cheek tone that sets it decidedly apart from the more serious and 'realistic' tone of the usual robot shows. There are transient moments of seriousness, of course, and people die, but the tone is something akin to that of the Roger Moore James Bond movies, in that the seriousness is subsumed within an encompassing atmosphere of nonchalant whimsy. It would just be ludicrous if they took themselves seriously with stories about cartoon madmen armed with laser satellites out to take over the world. It feels the same with Dirty Pair, and Toshifumi Takizawa is probably the one who guided the show in this direction as the director. He has stated explicitly his his dislike for dark, serious stories, and Dirty Pair provides a unique and grandly entertaining side-show on the menu of 80s Sunrise productions. And of course, this was a seminal show for its unusual protagonists and 'buddy movie' format. It had female protagonists, but was aimed at boys rather than girls, and they were strong female protagonists in commanding roles, rather than the docile girls of love comedies.

After directing the series, Takizawa was away from Dirty Pair until 1990, when he came back to direct the last OVA in the series. In between, he worked on various Sunrise shows, including drawing storyboard for ZZ Gundam and directing the Dunbine and Crusher Joe OVAs. Crusher Joe was originally a movie released in 1983, and it's in this movie that the first anime adaptation of Dirty Pair appeared briefly, showing up as a program on TV. Going back further, Dirty Pair was originally published as a novel in 1980.

While Takizawa was away, quite a bit of Dirty Pair got made by other directors. Right when the TV series was about to end in December 1985, an OVA entitled The Nolandia Affair was released. Revisited today, it's the blandest entry in the series, and not interesting in terms of the animation. The protagonists have a more adult design that comes across as a departure from everything else. The TV series had ended prematurely on episode 24, even though the script for the last two episodes had been written, so the last two episodes got produced and released as an OVA just prior to the release of a movie in March 1987, as a lead-in. Episode 25 in particular features some of the better animation of the entire series.

As much as I like Takizawa's work on the show, if you only watch one item of Dirty Pair, it'll probably be the movie, which is itself quite well directed by Koichi Mashimo, but just in a very different style. His distinct style with garish color schemes and loud musical interludes is on full display here and has actually never worked so well. The film also has the richest animation of the series, featuring plenty of great animators like Hitoshi Ueda, Sachiko Kamimura, Koji Ito, Koichi Hashimoto and even Satoru Utsunomiya.

A few months after the movie came a 10-episode OVA series released over the first few months of 1988. The OVA series is also directed by a different director, but holds up quite well nonetheless, and comes across as a higher quality version of the more light-hearted, variety-style TV series. Surprising names like Shinji Hashimoto and Norimoto Tokura even turn up.

Finally, after completing his work on the Crusher Joe OVAs, Takizawa returned to direct what turned out to be the final installment of the series in an OVA entitled Conspiracy on Flight 005. There was technically an OVA series entitled Dirty Pair Flash made a few years later, but it looks and feels nothing like the rest of the series, and comes across as a failed experiment to take the series in a new direction. The 005 OVA comes across as the true final word, the ultimate expression of how the Dirty Pair universe should be handled.

The final OVA is quite a nice OVA, and is one of the most satisfying installments in the series. It benefits from five years of added experience for the entire staff that was involved, including the director, the animators and the animation director, and so things have the assured feeling of the work of people who have learned how best to handle material they've been handling for years. Takizawa's directing is tighter than ever, with a dramatic finale that recalls the action of the Ideon movie, and most of all, the designs and animation are perhaps the most refined in the series. Character designer Tsukasa Dokite had by then continuously honed the character designs, and he brings to the drawings as animation director a more controlled line that gives the drawings new strength. The line and form of his work by this time kind of reminds me of Tomonori Kogawa's best work a few years earlier.

Which brings us to the other, more obvious, star of the Dirty Pair series - character designer Tsukasa Dokite, the man who created the sexy, daringly costumed designs that made the characters iconic and undoubtedly played a big part in making the series the hit it was. Dokite had worked extensively on Urusei Yatsura and then Maison Ikkoku, and this clearly influenced the development of his style, as the drawings in the TV series still have a whiff of Maison Ikkoku about them in terms of the arrangement of the features and the jawline. Dokite's drawings continued to evolve over the course of the series. The characters took a sharp turn towards the older and more realistic in the Nolandia Affair OVA, while for the movie he returned towards the younger TV series design, changed the costume a bit, and honed the design in a more cartoony direction. He continued to soften the edges over the course of the OVAs, and the 005 OVA represents his final word on the designs. You can see this evolution clearly in his character design drawings from each installment above. This evolution is obviously not something that's limited to this series, and probably to some extent is simply a reflection of evolving stylitic tendencies in the industry.

The opening for the TV series and OVA series, incidentally, are nice little films that showcase Dokite and Takizawa at their best at each particular period - Takizawa creating richly conceived, dense flows of entertaining imagery, and character designer Tsukasa Dokite providing some of his best rendered drawings of his own characters.

One of the things that most interested me in watching the TV series and examining the contrasting styles of each animation director is that so many different studios were involved in the animation of the show. Everybody knows it's common practice for the various parts of anime episodes to be outsourced, and I know it happened on other Sunrise shows of the same period (Anime R in Osaka and Nakamura Pro were major collaborators throughout Sunrise's history), but I was surprised at the extent to which this show seems to have been produced largely by outside staff, in looking up the names. It's obvious that this was not the Sunrise of today, with its ten studios allowing it to run any number of productions simultaneously.

I've been able to associate animators with no less than 10 different studios, partly because many times the studios are actually credited, and partly because I've been able to identify certain animators who were affiliated with certain studios at this time. I'm sure there are other animators who I haven't listed here who may have been affiliated with some studio at this time, but at the very least, from what I've been able to gather, the following studios were involved in the animation of the TV series. I list it here because it's an interesting list. It's testament to the intricacy of the web of interconnections that underpin anime production in Japan that they were able to produce a TV series using a small handful of animators scattered around at a dozen different studios.

  5, 8, 9, 12, 25, 26
  10, 15, 17, 19, 24
  SATO Yuzo, TSUJI Hatsuki, ICHISHITA Satoshi, KOBAYASHI Kazumi,
  6, 7, 11
  MORIKAWA Sadami, OZAWA Naoko, YOSHIMOTO Kinji, YUKI Nobuteru,
  13, 16, 25
  MURANAKA Hiromi, NAKASHIMA Miko, YAMAMOTO Sawako, KISE Kazuchika,
  OSHIMA Yasuhiro
Minamimachi Bugyosho
  2, 3, 7
  1, 5, 8, 12, 21, 25, 26
  ISONO Satoshi
  2, 4, 7
Doga Kobo
Last House
Anime Roman

The proliferation of studios is enough to make you wonder if any of the show was actually produced at Sunrise, but there are plenty of staff I can't account for, and I'm sure that many of them must have been in-house animators. The first four studios listed were obviously the big ones in this series. The rest were more piecemeal. Some episodes appear to have been wholesaled out to certain studios, but mostly it's more of a mix of different animators from different studios. For example, episodes 10, 15, 17, 19 and 24 appear to have been entirely wholesaled to Gallop, whereas Dove animators handled only a portion of the episodes they're involved in. The same applies to the other studios listed above.

Studio Dove perhaps deserves special mention, as its members are credited by studio in every installment of the series from the TV series to the movie to the OVAs. The reason for this is pretty obvious - Dove was founded by an ex-Sunriser who had to move back to his hometown due to illness, where he continued to work for the company, and eventually started his own subcontractor. His company was the training ground for two of my favorite animators - Nobutake Ito and Susumu Yamaguchi. They've got numerous other Asian branches, including Seoul Dove, Shanghai Dove and Vietnam Dove.

Although some studios like Dove are credited, in other cases it took research to figure out that a particular animator was involved at a particular studio at this point in time. Dove is credited, but Gallop is not. I was able to figure out that those animators are probably Gallop animators because just the year before, most of them are listed under Gallop in the credits of Sherlock Hound, which was itself a Gallop production.

Studio Mu, the sister studio of Anime R in Osaka, is credited, and under the Mu credit you find the names of the animators involved from the studio - most famously perhaps Kazuchika Kise. Artland is credited in episodes 6 and 7, but not in episode 11, but episode 11 involves Nobuteru Yuki and Hideki Futamura, who were either credited under Artland in the previous episodes or I know to have started out at Artland. This is of course early in the career of these two animators who since this went on to make a name for themselves elsewhere with two very different approaches.

Osamu Tsuruyama and Kenichi Onuki, two of the main animation directors on the TV series, were among the founding members of subcontracting studio Minamimachi Bugyosho, whose ranks also include an animator named Osamu Yamasaki, who was involved in episode 2, 3 and 7 alongside one or the other of the former. Kugatsusha I don't know much about other than that it was Yoshikazu Yasuhiko's studio and it's where Kumiko Takahashi started out a few years earlier and was presumably still involved at this point in time.

Hibari isn't credited, but animation director Satoshi Isono of Hibari is present. He debuted as an inbetweener on the TV show and was one of the staff most ubiquitous throughout the various productions, working as an animator on the movie, as an animation director and animator in the OVA series, and as an animator in the final OVA. Anime Roman, Last House and Doga Kobo are credited, but at the bottom, so I don't know which animators credited, if any, were involved in those studios.

I wrote about Shoichi Masuo recently, and he was involved in the TV series. He was at Studio Graviton at the time. There are a few great mecha/missile action shots in episode 7 of the TV series that I suspect might be the work of Masuo. Other members of Studio Graviton were involved later in the series - Koji Ito and Tomohiro Hirata in the movie, Tomohiro Hirata and Toshiyuki Kubooka in the episodes 3, 6 (Hirata AD) and 8 of the OVA series, and Tomohiro Hirata in the final OVA.

The OVA series was similarly the product of a number of different studios. Studio Mu animators Harumi Muranaka, Sawako Yamamoto and Kazuchika Kise were involved in episodes 1, 5 and 9, credited as Studio Mu. DAST is credited in episode 4, Tatsu Production in 7, and Kino Production in 8. Katsuhiko Nishijima of Studio Live was in the movie and in episode 5 of the OVA series.

An animator named Tatsuyuki Tanaka is credited in the final OVA alongside Akira animator Hitoshi Ueda. The thing is, the last kanji in his name is different from 'the' Tatsuyuki Tanaka, so I can't be sure it's really him. But Hitoshi Ueda was involved in the TV series and movie, so it would certainly jive if he had discovered Tanaka while working on Akira between the movie and the final OVA and brought him onboard.

As far as the animation goes, there are numerous nice bits throughout the show. In the TV series, I quite liked the work of Atsushi Tsukamoto of Gallop, whom I presume to have drawn the handful of peculiarly timed but tasty mecha action shots that grace episodes 10, 15, 17 and 19. Masuo's work I mentioned before. Episode 25 of the TV series and 9 of the OVA series are two of the eps with the most interesting overall animation.

Dokite created his own home page over ten years ago, and put up a page featuring the cover sheet for the design sheets for each episode. Normally this isn't done for a TV series, but they had fun with it and got a different person to draw the cover for each episode's sheets. You can see drawings by a lot of the names mentioned above here - 1 is Dokite, 2 is probably Kenichi Onuki, 3 is probably Hiroaki Goda, 5 is Hiroyuki Kitakubo, 6 is Yuji Moriyama (who Dokite says drew one shot uncredited), 7 is Shoichi Masuo, 12 is Yuki Nobuteru, 13 is Hideku Futamura, etc... Surprising to see what kind of drawing certain figures were doing at this time.



robin [Visitor]  

Ah, the Dirty Pair … I mean, “Lovely Angels".

Next to Bubblegum Crisis, this was the other anime series that got me hooked. Like you, I’ve seen them all, even ‘Flash’ and I’ve always had a soft spot for Kei (I love red heads). The movie is my favorite and a prized piece in my DVD Collection.

It’s wonderful to see fans still remember these classic shows.

02/25/09 @ 12:39
ialda [Member]

Funny to see a post about DP here ^^

About the chara design, I thought it was Fujihiko Hosono who acted as a “bridge” between the original art from Yas and Dokite final rendition for the TV series ?

Of DP, I have pretty fond memories of the first episode and especially of the movie; great piece of 80s-style action cel-anime, dynamic, fun and a joy to watch. I think Mashimo has never been a better director than back then at the end of the 80s, with that and Kaze no tairiku. I would have never have expected to see Satoru Utsunomiya name in the credits, thought. Out of curiosity, do you know which scenes any of this great animators have done ?

02/25/09 @ 14:40
Ben [Member]  

I try to mix things up. :)

You’re absolutely right. Even Dokite has said that before he came on there were already roughs by Hosono and Yas. Obviously, Yas’s drawings for the novel came first, and then his designs for the Crusher Joe movie cameo, after which I suppose Hosono was called in for the TV series, but had to duck out for whatever reason, after which Dokite was called in. Thing is, I’ve never seen those Hosono designs (they were supposedly published in a mag back then), so I don’t know how the two differ, and honestly I wanted to keep things simple without getting too into too much needless detail. Fujihiko Hosono is even credited with ‘costume design’ in the first TV series, even though obviously the idea for the daring costumes date back to Yas’s novel illustrations. I think maybe this credit has to do with the fact that Fujihiko pushed the daringness of the costumes a bit more, according to what Dokite has said. But I’m pretty sure it’s Dokite who from that point on continued to improve the designs, and made the costume changes for the movie, so I kept it at that so as not to throw too much extraneous info at people.

As for the animators, Utsunomiya did the light saber fight between the two guys on the catwalk at the end (at least up until the bloody spurting fills the screen - after that it looks like someone else). It’s actually pretty characteristic of him, if you compare it with the karate fight Utsunomiya did right around the same time in Battle Royale High School, for example. I don’t know what scenes the others did. I wish I did. There are any number of ones that I really like, such as the one after the laser brings the monster eggs alive at about the midway point. The rest of the movie after that is like one great big action scene with lots of nice parts.

02/25/09 @ 16:10
ialda [Member]

“Tea Time” has an illustration of one of these early designs :
and indeed, the art looks like Hosono’s style, so it should be genuine ?

Arf, I’d never have guessed about Utsunomiya, the art is to dissemblable for me to take note. Got to train my skills :)
Too bad for the others, I was especially curious about Sachiko Kamimura and Hashimoto, and to who exactly animated the flying platform sequence, which also striked me as particulary well done and full of superfluous movements.
Thanks for your answer !

02/26/09 @ 10:53
pete [Member]

So you watched the show in VHS with original audio and subs? Must have been quite an experience.

Were you living in Canada during that time? Because regarding the first series, I wonder whether any French-Canadian broadcasters had imported the French version during that time ("Dan et Danny” was the title in French and it was first broadcasted in France in 1989). Or was reception impossible?.

02/27/09 @ 04:48
Ben [Member]  

Yes, VHS with original audio and fansubs. (still have hundreds of fansub VHS tapes from those days in storage) But I only got to see the movie and Norlandia and 005 OVAs back then. The TV series and OVA series were new discoveries for me. It was nice enough re-discovering those three items, but it was even nicer discovering that there was so much more to explore.

Maybe in Quebec they showed the French dub, but I don’t know, because I grew up in Texas, which is where I was when I was re-discovering anime.

02/27/09 @ 10:28
William Massie
William Massie [Visitor]  

Enlightening post as always, sir.

I only recently discovered the Dirty Pair TV series via youtube I am happy that I have reached a Japanese level where I can watch most of it raw with 75% and up comprehension rate. True to word, the show is a lot of fun. I had seen some of the original OAVs and have the Mashimo film on DVD. I was taken aback by how handsome it is even after all these years.

In addition, I have been taking stock of a few other 80s shows, primarily Tomino joints.

Heavy Metal L-Gaim is very fun, with a sense of fleeting light heartedness bordering on whimsy combined with Tomino’s direction and world building. While I had to adjust to the tone and pacing of Zeta Gundam, L-Gaim is very easy to get into.Mamoru Nagano’s designs I found much more interesting than it’s contemporary work. It’s also fun to see work of Hidetoshi Omori and Hiroyuki Kitazume directing the animation (Tomonori Kogawa even shows up under a pen name in a few eps). There is also a couple of Imagawa directed episodes in there and I find that they are the most fun.

I only have seen one ep of Dunbine but it was beautiful from an 80s TV standpoint, (It was the series opener). I was surprised how well coordinated the animation was and Kogawa’s linework and use of color were sumptious.

Kitazume’s work I found in best form in the latter half of Z Gundam and Double Z. Every once in a while you had some interesting battle MOVEMENT that snuck up on you, but really what helped was the fast cutting, tight storyboarding and handsome drawings. Z had some really neat battle scenes in the last half to third of the show.

08/17/09 @ 16:21
Ben [Member]  

Ah, so you’ve been sucked into the vortex of 80s anime. Glad you’re enjoying DP. I like that it’s really light viewing, unlike Gundam or whatever. It’s so much easier to dip into and out of whenever you want.

Thanks for the words on these shows. I’ve seen the first few episodes of L Gaim and Dunbine, but virtually none of Gundam Z and ZZ. I’m really curious to see more of all of these for Tomino’s directing and the work by the Bebow animators. That’s one good thing about these mid-80s Tomino shows - they actually did have some decent animation. A lot of Tomino’s other shows are decent but have really bad animation - I think in particular of Zambot 3 and Gundam V. The shows Tomino made with Tomonori Kogawa and Yasuhiko Yoshikazu were really the high point of his career in a sense, in their combination of great stories, interesting world creation, and solid and inventive animation and design. There are some really wonderfully animated moments and episodes in the series they did together. Dunbine I’ve only seen the first episode of, but I remember the animation being very sumptuous. I’d like to see more of Kogawa’s work on this show, which is his last major effort with Tomino.

What you say about ZZ being the best place to sample Kitazume’s work confirms what I’ve heard in various places. Personally I’ve never really liked Mamoru Nagano’s characters designs because I find them kind of amateurish, but I’m really curious to see how they’re handled by Tomonori Kogawa and the other sakkans. L Gaim does have a certain atmosphere that sets it apart from the other shows. I like that each of the shows Tomino did in the early 80s with Kogawa has a different visual style and atmosphere.

I wonder if you know how many, if any, episodes Yoshinobu Inano was in in Dunbine? He animated the ending using the pen name Yoichi Akino. He might not be in there at all other than the ending, but I’m curious to see more from his work in the 80s to get a sense of his work, as he was one of the major influences on Mitsuo Iso and is supposed to be quite good.

08/18/09 @ 19:21
William Massie
William Massie [Visitor]  

Hey Mr. E, surprised you actually read this.

He (Inano) is who animated the ending? Do you know how his kanji is read? I love that ending (along with MIO’s singing).

Z Gundam I find a very good show. I had to accustom myself to the old style, but much like me watching The Third Man or Citizen Kane, I soon learned to appreciate it.

Kitazume really left his mark on Z, ZZ and L-Gaim to an extent. The best looking character drawings and animation are when Kitazume is the AD, often doing key animation as well. The clean up is strongest,lines strongest and faces most expressive on his episodes. The animation in these also has the best coordination. Tomonori Kogawa is an AD and storyboarder on there too with a pen name.

Hidetoshi Oomori’s stuff doesn’t strike out and grab me in the show yet, but it’s decent enough. He is normally paired with Imagawa on either his storyboards or EP direction. Really snappy work he (YasuIma) does compliments the pace of the overall story.

Just looking at Z, I would think that ‘Zume designed the chars and Yaz, cause he really made them his own. The rising visual quality of the show surprised me when I first watched it. I haven’t closely examined each episode yet, but I do know that Kitazume turned in fine eps. Naoyuki Onda became an AD in the latter half-third, it will be interesting to see what how his stuff looks.

When you say “good animation” I guess it’s relative.

When I first went back to look at anything pre 90s that wasnt an OVA, I jeered. Particualry on TV work. Scince I am of the western animation school of thought, when I think of “Good Animation” in old anime TV, invariably that conjures up pictures of the work of Tokyo Movie/A Pro.

But after learning to appreciate limited animation via UPA and very very early Hanna Barbera, I learned that it can be applied to anime too.

The Tomino real robot calvacade at Sunrise I see having stronger DRAFTSMANSHIP than most other stuff out there, specially compared to most TOEI junk.

Part of the appreciation of some of the actual animation in the shows is from the COORDINATION, as I said above. Naturally frame rate is generally a problem aside from individual eps (Dunbine ep 1, Xabungle OP various eps) and animator work (Itano).

I have a better time stomaching more Tatsunoko school stuff as long as the drawings aren’t really wobbly,clean up is good with strong lines and highlights (like the Dezaki/Sugino type of pictures) and there is still adequate representation of 3d form as the better eps in Tomino’s 80s shows showcase.

Two questions;

Regarding credits, AD normally refers to someone who AT LEAST does a lot of clean up and redrawings (along with prolly some Key Animation too) right?

I ask cause Tomonori Kogawa is credited as (Series) Animation Director in L-Gaim, yet I don’t get the same feeling when watcing Dunbine or Xabungle, in that I haven’t seen a drawing that says DAMN that’s KOGAWA right there!!

Kitazume seems a much larger influence (In then contemporary illustrations of the characters on books, etc. they basically become his own.)

Where as Chief animation superviser or animation chief prolly wouldn’t be as hands on and is there to make sure that a certain level of quality is maintained, right?

Second Question;

WHERE THE HELL DO YOU GET ALL THIS INFORMATION???!!, it’s hard as a mother to track on the internet. I suppose from offical artbooks and such. Still it’s rare that I see detailed explaination of who did what scene where, ESPECIALLY in TV work.

Sorry for the long post.

08/19/09 @ 23:59
William Massie
William Massie [Visitor]  

just a clarification the third paragraph indicated that Zume and Kogawa was on L-Gaim. Kinda read it was like they were on all 3 shows, which I know to be untrue.

Just wanted to clarify cause it read kinda funny.

08/20/09 @ 00:02
William Massie
William Massie [Visitor]  

Oh yea, interesting trivia.

The Sunrise studio (Studio 2) that did the 80s Tomino robo cavalcade would eventually morph into the studio 2 that would do Escaflowne, Bebop and breakoff and become BONES.

(This mean that there is no more studio 2, wiki doesn’t have any credited shows beyond bebop, the Iogi studio that did Goro Taniguchi stuff must be it’s replacement).

08/20/09 @ 00:08
Ben [Member]  

Long posts welcome. I’m vicariously enjoying your exploration of these shows. You’re the first person I’ve talked to who has a handle on this group of people (Kogawa, Kitazume et al).

I’ve been trying to find out more info on what the deal was with Kogawa’s credt as “animation director” (in katakana) in El Gaim as opposed to SAKKAN in the preceding shows… The best I’ve been able to figure is that he was just a supervisor. He’s said in an interview that his goal was to ‘nurture young staff’ through this show, as opposed to leaving his stamp on the actual animation like he did previous shows… which is probably what accounts for what you say about nothing feeling like “DAMN that’s KOGAWA right there!” as you phrase it so well. I know that feeling!

Long story short, your instinctive guess was right on. Though confusingly, he was credited as “animation director” on the Ideon movie, and in that one the credit had just the opposite meaning, as he was so heavily involved that he practically drew all the character shots from scratch himself.

Fascinating comments all around… especially about how you think Z feel like it was designed by Kitazume and not Yas. I’ve got to see that. He was really at his peak powers in 1985-7, one of the most interesting animators anywhere over those years. Also, from what I’ve seen of the designs by Yas, they feel much more generic and accessible and round and less patently ‘Yas’ than his earlier stuff (though I could be totally wrong about this, as I’ve only seen a little). In their more generic rendering they seem more conducive to permitting animators to imprint their mark. I’m sensing that maybe approached the job more like Kogawa approached L-Gaim, not like the Yas of Gundam or Giant Gorg who was out to control every shot as an animator dynamo.

Especially interesting is your epiphany about how “good animation” is relative, both on culture and experience. It’s really interesting how there are different ways of appreciating animation in anime from different generations… to say nothing of different creators in each of those periods. Yas couldn’t be more different from Kogawa, but somehow they’re both a pure example of 80s anime animation at its best, in their own different ways. I myself couldn’t appreciate 80s stuff just a few years ago, but I find that I’m starting to appreciate it a lot more these days… we all evolve and change in our tastes. It’s a constant process of learning and finding new ways to appreciate animation.

And as for where I get the info…. in the case of the Dirty Pair post, mostly it’s just extrapolation from credits and that sort of basic material. I do have a Dirty Pair art book with lots of character designs and a few genga that helped a bit, but mostly - and I actually went out of my way to explain this in the post - it’s just detective work based on the credits. There isn’t that much IDing here. I think the few things I did manage to ID were just spots that really stood out dramatically and were new and interesting discoveries for me.

Oh, and here’s some more info about Yoshinobu Inano - his work in the Tomino shows. Both for you and for me, because I’m curious to see if his work is IDable or not in these various episodes. More likely than not it won’t, but I’m curious to see.

Yoshinobu Inano 稲野義信
(aka Yoichi Akino 秋野洋一)

Ideon 14, 19, 24, 27, 31, 35
Xabungle 18, 23, 29, 36, 43
Dunbine 2, 13, 18, 24, 31, 36, 41, 46
El Gaim 44

08/25/09 @ 20:12
William Massie
William Massie [Visitor]  

Hehe, thanks. This will be prolly last writeup on L-Gaim until I finish it and finish rewatching Zeta.

A few odds and ends,

A part that gave me a Tomogawa tingle in L-Gaim was in ep 15 (’Tomo was on SB) where two characters were talking. There was a use of only blue of the nightsky shining in the room that was in total contrast to the rest of the scene, I was like “THAT’S KOGAWA right there” (at least thats how I felt).

The visual quality between L-Gaim and Zeta jumps noticably in my opinion, not just in character and mecha artwork but in art design too.

(Note I am only half way through L-Gaim).

One problem I have with most pre 90s tv anime background art that aim for realism is that while you may have cool design concepts, the resulting paintings are so washed out they seem unfinished with little impact (Ashita No Joe is a BIG exception from what I have seen)

L-Gaim was by Shigemi Ikeda who did good work on InuYasha IMHO while Zeta was done by Junichi Higashi of Studio Easter who I remember most fondly from Bebop.

I chalk it up to budget I guess.

On DP, I rewatched the Movie yesterday and was still agape at how great the damn thing looked, it knocked me for a loop the first time I saw it. Can’t remember much with my still growing Kanji skills but I noticed people like Sachiko Kamimura and Kumiko Takahashi on it, if I remember correctly.

I first thought the movie was a little long but now it’s breezy.

On the animation it’s one of the few old franchise movies that really feels like it’s of movie caliber (I like 999’s design works and work by Kanada and Tominaga but it didn’t make me tingle like say DP or Caliogstro or even certain parts of Mamo did.)

On another note;

I don’t know if you saw my forum post (best forum evar btw) but I MUST recommend at least a peek at the new Shinbou/SHAFT treat; Bakemonogatari.

You once used the word “meticulous” to describe the design styles of Hosoda and Igurashi. I would DEFINETLY use it for this show. It’s very deliberately staged, with stark colors and realistic but graphic backgrounds and lighting. Animation is rationed (this also feels very deliberate as opposed to by necessity) but when it moves it moves well and characters are always drawn well.

Beyond that, the show is damned funny. Anime comdedies are hit and miss, but this is a show that has comedic dialogue that is witty yet very natural, with little to no slapstick, overt fanservice or pop culture references (a few sneak in).

It’s the dichotomy of say quirky individual Curb Your Enthusiasm/The Office vs. more generic Friends/Fraiser in terms of how distinct it is from the rest of the pack. For more info read my post, but seriously check the show out when you get the chance.

08/26/09 @ 00:14
Ben [Member]  

I’m on such an 80s anime binge these days. I’m not actually watching anything from the new season, but I’m watching lots of old 80s OVAs and stuff. I hope to get around to those Tomino shows eventually.

I was really impressed by the first two episodes of Bakemonogatari, visually, but I just couldn’t get into the characters, story or sense of humor, so I stopped watching. But I’ll probably pick it up again because this is definitely A-game Shinbo. It’s astounding to me that they can pack so many design and art ideas into a TV episode the way they did in those first two episodes. But honestly, I’m of mixed feelings about how well it works. It’s imaginative and compelling but also kind of alienating to me for some reason. I will hold off on passing judgment until I’ve seen more of it. Regardless, from a purely visual and directing standpoint, it’s obviously the highlight of the season and then some.

It’s cool to hear you’re such a big Ashita no Joe fan. People over here really need to discover this early masterpiece. It’s one of the only shows from that period that I found so riveting as to go out of my way to rent every video tape from the local Japanese grocery story that had it where I was living at the time (back in 2002 or so) and watch in its entirety - and it’s like what, 70+ episodes? Yeah, I need to write about that show. People need to appreciate the early Dezaki more. He was the original anime auteur.

Glad you liked the DP movie. Quintessential 80s anime right there. It’s very much an anime movie and not a movie, certainly, but it has a blast doing what it does, and it does it with such care and pep that you gotta love it.

You’ve really been paying attention to the art directors… I saw some images from the art in Gokinjo Monogatari that look really awesome, by the Yuki Shinzo/Yukie husband-wife team that did great work on Casshan Sins more recently. I’d like to check that out. So many good art directors in anime.

09/01/09 @ 14:25
drmecha [Visitor]

Osamu Yamasaki is not a simple animator of Minamimachi Bugyosho, is the president of these studio :)

10/26/11 @ 05:02
pete [Member]

I am currently watching the series and the OVA.

What struck me was that in certain funny moments I’d hear a piece of music that I already heard in another series. Exactly the same piece! Then, as I guessed, the composer of that series was the same! The series is called Igano Kabamaru, a school comedy, made in 1983.

I did not expect he’d use the same music for two different series. Very practical on the other hand, though fortunately for him the series was not that popular in Japan or else there’d be copyright problems.

Dirty Pair is a very good series overall, one of the best series that never take themselves too seriously.

02/11/12 @ 10:53