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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Monday, March 1, 2010

07:30:15 pm , 1169 words, 3841 views     Categories: Animation, Movie

The 2008 Doraemon movie

Though you might be surprised that I'd expect otherwise, this year's Doraemon movie looks terrible. The series had a streak of solid films starting with the revamped 2006 film directed by Ayumu Watanabe and featuring a bevy of great animators headed by animation director Kenichi Konishi. The new film is headed by the guy directing the revamped TV series, Kozo Kuzuha, a Nippon Animation expat who directed many of the studio's World Masterpiece Theater shows during the 80s and 90s, when the shows sucked worse and worse and ratings tanked. Coincidence? Either way, I'm not too sure about the decision to bring him onboard, because I never liked his directing. The previous film from 2009 was directed by Shigeo Koshi, another longtime Nippon Animation figure. There seems to have been a big exodus from Nippon Animation to Shin-Ei in the last few years. I'm not sure how I feel about that, although I view Koshi a little more favorably because he directed the second half of Rascal Raccoon and all of Perrine, two of the only watchable non-Takahata World Masterpiece Theater series. Ex-Nippon Animation director Shinpei Miyashita helped Ayumu storyboard the 2008 film. Their pedigree definitely fits the material, but I'm not too sure it's a good thing. Ayumu Watanabe had real fire, and he elevated Doraemon beyond what you'd expect from such a show.

I just watched the 2008 movie, entitled Nobita and the Legend of the Green Giant (no, not that one), which Ayumu Watanabe directed, and I was very impressed. I seriously think it's a little buried gem. I can't believe it didn't win any awards in Japan. It's every bit as impressive as his 2006 film. The 2007 film was directed by Sachiyo Teramoto with animation supervised by animation director Shizue Kaneko. It was an eminently watchable film, though definitely a step down in terms of the directing. In terms of the animation, it was quite impressive throughout thanks to Shizue Kaneko. The 2008 film features Shizue Kaneko working this time under Ayumu Watanabe, and the result is pure gold. They make a superb team.

I think Green Giant is a pretty successful film - the best after the 2006 film. Ayumu Watanabe goes for something different from the 2006 film, AND it doesn't feel like any other film in the series. Instead of the close realistic observation and deeper character psychology of the 2006 film, Green Giant is Ayumu Watanabe creating expansive fantasy adventure. That's something that's been seen before in the Doraemon movies, but I think he does it better than longtime director Tsutomu Shibayama, great director though he is. It felt like Shibayama got out of touch after a while. Ayumu Watanabe is more modern, bringing new blood into this material. He has a great sense for gear-shifting between different moods and tones and paces that really feels good and believable. He makes movies that feel like movies, not just hopped up TV shows. The detail of the layouts is toned down from the 2006 film, and there's more of an emphasis on coming up with a rich array of interestingly designed alien flora and fauna and bringing them alive in very fun and active animation. There are long sequences with no dialogue and only the characters going through interesting antics on the screen. The staple characters are absent throughout much of the film. And it's an original story not based on one of Fujiko F. Fujio's manga, which is unusual for the series. It really feels like Ayumu Watanabe's baby. Again. That's what I like about Ayumu Watanabe - he creates a film from the ground up, investing it with tremendous love for the material and characters. What I felt watching this film was that Ayumu Watanabe should direct a Ghibli film. I'd love to see him not constrained by these characters and the tone of the show he's worked on for so long. His approach is very much a fit with Ghibli IMO, and I think he would do a great job directing a film there.

The animation is a joy to watch at every moment thanks to Shizue Kaneko and the animators working for her. I love what Shizue Kaneko has brought to these characters. She fills the scene with acting that conveys the characters' personalities and feels good as animation, without going overboard. The forms and volumes of the characters are freer and more pliable than ever before. For a while Doraemon characters felt very static. Here they explode from the screen in lively action sequences, their bodies bending and twisting. They kept the hand-drawn touch of the 2006 film, though here's it's less of a pencil-style line than a sort of ink line that grows thinner and thicker at various places. It gives the drawings a wonderfully tactile feeling, like they were just born from the pen of the animator, and keeps the shapes from growing monotonous and rigid.

The very simple but imaginative character designs are reminiscent of Kaiba, which not coincidentally featured a lot of work by Shin-Ei animator Ryotaro Makihara, who is also here. Like in the 2006 film, there are a number of talented outside animators present livening up the animation. Tamotsu Ogawa, Norio Matsumoto, Masahiro Sato and Fumiaki Kota are present alongside in-house regulars like Masami Otsuka and Shizuka Hayashi. Masakatsu Sasaki has been in all of the recent Doraemon films and he's here, too. Also present: Yoshihiko Umakoshi, Ikuo Kuwana, Kiyotaka Oshiyama, Shigeru Kimishima and a mysterious name: Nobutaka. Could this be a pen name of Nobutake Ito poking fun at how people were misreading his name? I've seen it somewhere else. There's also this young animator named Naoyuki Asano who was praised by Yasuomi Umetsu for his work on Umetsu's recent Kite Liberator TV series. He's been in Kaiba, TokiKake and Summer Wars. There is an effects animation supervisor: Hiroshi Masuda. The effects throughout are nice. Shingo Natsume is there as co-sakkan.

I'm really looking forward to Keiichi Hara's new film Colorful, which hits theaters this summer in Japan. It's a committee production film, but supposedly Sunrise is the studio behind the production. What a change for Hara. Sunrise is the last place I expected him to go after Shin-Ei. The film is based on a novel by a Naoki Award-winning novelist, so it should be interesting. I just hope Sunrise doesn't ask him to change the story so that the protagonist has to pilot a giant walking robot or something. To a lesser extent, I'm also looking forward to The Space Show movie from A-1 Pictures. They're a great upcoming studio, and it's directed by Koji Masunari with long-time collaborator Masashi Ishihama on character designs and animation. I don't really like the character designs, but I'm sure it's going to have a lot of good work in it, as always with this director, so it will be worth a look. The trailer is filled with detailed work.

They're doing this thing with different endings in each episode of the new Gainax show Hanamaru Kindergarten, and Osamu Kobayashi did one. I like it.

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8 comments

bunny
bunny [Visitor]  

Felt the same way about the character designs in ‘Space Show,’ but still looks interesting.

I’m just starting on the Shin Chan films, then it’ll be Digimon, and now Doraemon.

Excuse the highjack, but could you please re-upload the file linked here: http://www.pelleas.net/aniTOP/index.php?title=iso_fun_pack

03/02/10 @ 12:01
bahi jd
bahi jd [Visitor]  

What’s unique on Osamu Kobayashi is the mouth of his characters.

I also liked his Gurren Lagann and Kemonozume episode.

___

A new Doraemon movie is coming where a young animator in my age is included.
He made a short FX animation with some laser or something wich hits some buildings and then the buildings explode after the laser attack. Pretty good animated, but I only saw the raw FLASH made full frame animation.
He said that all the FX Animation where done in full frame, no key-frames. And he worked with FLASH, he was inspired by Ryo-Chimo. I’m also working with flash on some specific scenes in my animation.
It’s actually much better than Easy Toon like this.

03/04/10 @ 12:56
Ben [Member]  

Interesting to hear. Thanks for that. Is it his first Doraemon film, or was he in any of the previous four? I was feeling a little uneasy about this year’s film, but it’s good to know that at least there will still be some good animation, even if the film isn’t as good as Ayumu Watanabe’s films. That’s one good thing about all of the new Doraemon movies - regardless of how good the movies are, there are always good bits of animation here and there. They consistently use a lot of good outside animators. There were some really surprising names in the 2009 one, which I’ll write about once I see it.

I hope Kobayashi sticks to his guns and keeps making stuff in his style. (don’t know if he could do otherwise) I think he must have gone through a rough patch with criticism about those episodes he did, but I love his style.

It’s surprising to hear that people are using Flash of all things to do what sounds like more traditional style full animation. Why is it better?

03/04/10 @ 17:16
bunny
bunny [Visitor]  

Who’s the animator, and do they have a site?

03/04/10 @ 19:05
Bahi JD
Bahi JD [Visitor]  

The animator I told about works on the new .HACK OVA now.
The production was done here—>
http://www.kinemacitrus.co.jp/

This is his official Site—>
http://mazurka.moo.jp/

I can’t remember but somehow I came into the circle of young japanese animators and illustrators form the industry on Skype, so I had the chance to talk with them, that’s an great honor for me.
I’ve also have Yotube and Desuran there.

Check out this page, it’s quite interesting with a lot of young gif animators–>
http://chikasen.hp.infoseek.co.jp/
I will upload my gifs there too.

I’ve started working on my graduation work for the next year now, (Had to stop the process of the animation I was working on) because this one is gonna be over 10 minutes as planned. I work with other students, they help me with the 3D backrounds wich will be included in the work. As I said, other students actually start next year to work on their graduation diploma project, but I have to start now because it’s an 2D animation (combined with some 2D textured CG backrounds, I was inspired by the works of Studio 4°c, I like the backrounds in Animatrix Beyond, they are 3D but the 2D texture on it let it become on with the 2D animation.)
We are a group of five people.
I write the screenplay, draw the storyboard, do the animation, illustrate the backrounds and to the directing.
The coloring will be made by me and two other students wich I will assist.
And the rest like color grading, special effects, sound design and the rest of the post prpduction will be done by the other but I have to assist them all the time, because non of them knows anything about 2D animation.
It will be very hard, because I’m the only one who can draw but I won’t give up, thanks to people like Ukiさん, Mebaeさん and Teteさん, they show me that everything is possible with passion and love for animation.
This time I have to push again and go over my limits, when I see SHITHEAD ACTION know, the FX animation especially looks very worst, I don’t like the smoke effects I made there.
The animation will be finished in one and a half year.
My first goal is to create a story where people won’t get bored and where they can identify and feel the emotions of the characters.
My second goal is to create something that can be called “professional animated short-film by young students".

Thanks again to Anipages, for all the huge information about animation wich is filled here by Ben and all the others.

03/06/10 @ 14:45
Ben [Member]  

Good luck on your new project, Bahi. You’ve got a rare genius for this animation stuff, developing as quickly as you have without any professional training, so it’s been a blast watching your talent flower over the last year. I’m sure you’ve got what it takes to make it big. (as big as one can get in animation ;)

I’m sad to hear that we’re going to have to wait one and a half years to see another film from you, but I’m excited to hear about this big project you’ve embarked upon. I’m sure everyone here is going to be rooting for you and looking forward to it as much as me.

Your smoke in Shithead Action was very impressive for someone of your level, Bahi, so don’t sell yourself short. But it’s a good thing that after each film you’re quick to start to feel that you could do much better. People who are satisfied with their work never get better. You clearly put a lot of work studying the great animation out there, so I’m proud if Anipages has been able to help in your development a bit.

I just looked at Majiro’s page, and his work is good. But frankly, if he can find professional work in anime so quickly and at such a young age just on the merit of the little clips he’s uploaded on his web site, then I’m sure you could find work in anime. Gif animation seems to be becoming the port of entry for many of the best young animators in anime - they’re the ones who are really interested in creating good movement.

I will keep an eye out for Majiro’s work in this year’s Doraemon movie.

On another subject, I just looked at the site of Kinema Citrus (they’re the new studio that produced Tokyo Magnitude 8.0) and noticed that Koichi Arai is one of the executives there. Interesting to know.

03/08/10 @ 18:32
Bahi JD
Bahi JD [Visitor]  

Thanks Ben. (^_^)
Maybe I put some little animation here if I get time.
Oh, I didn’t knew that Koichi Arai is on KINEMA CITRUS! (°.°)

03/12/10 @ 12:50
bunny
bunny [Visitor]  

Oh, I’ve visited Majiro’s site before! I’ve got all of their gifs saved to my HDD!

03/15/10 @ 13:52