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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‹ Tuesday, July 28, 2009 ›

08:53:04 am , 672 words, 3477 views     Categories: Animation

Genga books

A while back I was asked if there were any good collections of key animation that could be bought online. A lot of books have been put out, but most of those went out of print very quickly, and to find them now you'd have to buy them second-hand from an auction site like Yahoo! Japan Auctions. Here's a few that are still in print:

Denno Coil
GITS: SAC (1) (2)
Guren Lagan (1) (2) (3) (Movie)
Eva 1.0

There are actually plenty of others for recent TV series, but the ones above are among the few that are of interest from an animation standpoint. The Denno Coil book I recommend wholeheartedly. It is very big and, needless to say, contains lots of great animation work by some of the best animators in the industry, much of which I was seeing for the first time in the raw. Genga books are really great for getting a better sense of how it is that animators differ from one another, as looking at the actual drawings immediately makes it obvious how different animators differ in terms of line and form. My only beef with the book, and with all genga books that I've seen actually, is that they don't name the animator for each shot, so you're still left guessing. I haven't gotten the Guren Lagan books yet, but there was tons of great work in there, so I'm very tempted to.

Out of print but good if you can find:

A whole slew of Eva books
Dead Leaves
Takaaki Wada

I have the Wada book, and it's a very nice book. Books focused on one animator like this are wonderful, and I wish more were available. There's nothing better for learning how to identify an animator. The Nadia book, like most of Gainax's books, is quite nice and contains the time sheets for the more complicated shots, which is very nice. The only problem again is no attributions.

You can also find a ton of books if you search for 原画集 gengashu (key animation collection) on Yahoo! Japan Auctions. Unfortunately, most of the results are for bishojo-type adult books or for TV series of little animation interest, as "gengashu" also happens to be the generic term for art book, so you really have to search hard to find anything of interest. But fanzines collecting key animations by good animators are indeed put out every year, and you can find these at Comike, which is presumably where most of the items up for sale here came from. Hiroyuki Imaishi, for example, has long been known for putting out genga collections of his own work, and he seems to still be doing it, having hit at least volume 10 so far. Would be nice to see these collected and published for real and available on Amazon. You've got the fans now, Imaishi. You can also find collections for older series like Vifam and Gundam Z made by avid fans, as well as collections of genga by younger animators like Fumiaki Kota. I'd particularly like to get the book of the latter's key animation, as he's one of the more interesting younger faces. I'm sure there's a ton of other good little collections like this, as this is merely a sampling of what I found upon quick perusal. (just remember you have to be in Japan to bid on most of these)

Gundam Z & ZZ
Bubblegum Crisis
Hiroyuki Imaishi collection no. 9
Re: Cutie Honey op/ep 1 (also published by Hiroyuki Imaishi himself)
Fractal (genga by Kota Fumiaki, Toru Yoshida, et al. on various shows)
Fumiaki Kota

I should also mention that the Roman Album books for the Ghibli films contain a smattering of genga. (although not by any means a large number - that is something Ghibli should rectify by putting out genga books like Gainax does) One thing I really liked on the Kemonozume DVD box set was a collection of genga that you could click through. I wish this would be done consistently for series with good animation.



Manuloz [Visitor]  

The GITS SAC book are a bit smaller but they do give the name of the animators. It’s actually organized around animators.

I have vol.2, i was a bit disappointed since there was no Toshiyuki Inoue in there. But Nishio shots are there.
The nice thing about those 2 books, they feature the work of Hisaki Furukawa (apparently he started at Gainax). His gallery is only made of Layouts… 20 pages of them :)

07/28/09 @ 09:56
Régis [Visitor]  

Great post Ben! I too am a big fan of these gengashuu and cherish my own very much - don’t forget the Gunbuster 2 books; they have some great stuff in them. Due to the recession/depression, it’s been a while since I’ve bought one, but I tried to create a couple of pages from my own short film as an homage for these publications. You can check it out here.

Also, do you know how many copies of their own book do these animators manage to actually print? I suspect they probably break even with the costs of self publishing, or maybe in Japan it’s a bit cheaper…

07/28/09 @ 13:40
Leedar [Visitor]  

Did either of the GitS films have art books?

And is that Denno Coil book comprehensive, as far as published DC genga goes? A friend of mine has lent me the book which he bought in Japan, and it feels heavily truncated and biased towards the first few episodes. Are there no major supplements?

07/28/09 @ 18:19
Guilherme [Visitor]  

Hi there!

I was wondering how do they guys from kanada-school, plan their storyboard? The genga books I khown( FLCL, Gurren Lagan … ) are great but they dont give many clues on how the animation starts in its roughness and simplicity.

Thank you for sharing everything!


07/28/09 @ 19:48
Ben [Member]  

Manuloz - I see. Good to know. Any good animation in there?

Régis - Nice work, and thanks for the pointer about the Gunbuster 2 book. The number is probably very small, as you say, perhaps just break-even, as I often hear of these things selling out.

Leedar - The only thing resembling an art book that I know of is a book called Methods in which he discusses his directing methods in Innocence exclusively on the basis of layouts from the film. It includes some genga. It’s got some of the genga from Ohira’s scene, and Oshii obliquely says how he was impressed by the animation, as I recall, though he doesn’t mention Ohira by name. There were lots of other books on Innocence, but most seem to be interviews and stuff. But then again, I’m by no means a GITS expert. I’m sure the making of Innocence contains art material like genga.

I’m fairly sure there is only one Denno Coil genga book, although there also Iso’s kikakusho book.

Guilherme - Good question. I think each artist is different. Imaishi I know has drawn certain scenes with a certain animator in mind, in which case I think he’ll provide the skeleton of the action but leave a lot of freedom, but again, I don’t really know for sure, as I haven’t seen his storyboards. I suspect the show-off scenes might might be drawn in less detail to let the animator have more freedom in animating. Speaking of Kanada-school storyboard, it would be nice to see some of Kanada’s storyboards, particularly for Popolo Crois and Don De La Mancha, since those are the ones that were storyboarded by him but animated by other people. They would be instructive in showing how much is pinned down or not in the storyboard of the original Kanada-school animator. Although also consider that there is also the layout step in which the storyboarder/director can provide input to the animator constructing a scene in more detail than the storyboard.

Addendum to my post: The Akira Archive, the grandaddy of the key animation books. This is the first one I ever obtained, and remains my favorite, for the quality presentation, with attributions most of the time and text discussing what makes each shot good, as well as the variety and the quality of the work.

07/29/09 @ 07:54
Manuloz [Visitor]  

Vol.2 features : Kyuoji Asano, Ryota Niino, SSatoru Nakamura, Hisaki Furukawa, Tetsuya Nishio, and Takayuki Goto. I think the best they got at IG studio. That’s why i think they could give the names of the animator, maybe they asked persmission.

Tetsuya Nishio was nice, there was some shots from the episode focused on Saito the Sniper guy. Apparently he was uncredited but he did animate some scenes. Like the one i liked from the end of the epiosde where Mokoto stabs him.

I should recommand Mandarake to buy doujins, a lot easier i think.

I got Imaishi collection #9, it 60 p pretty small but good nontheless.
Balack got #10, 160 pages of gurren lagann.
Today i got Sushio max # 2 & 3 :)

07/29/09 @ 10:59
Nico Morrison
Nico Morrison [Visitor]  

There seem to be two Denno Coil books, since I can’t read Japanese, here are the links: at £22 at £36

07/29/09 @ 23:03
Leedar [Visitor]  

I’ve found five in total, though I don’t know the content or redundancy between all of them:

Denno Coil Character Book (電脳コイル キャラクターブック)
Denno Coil Access Guide Book (電脳コイル アクセスガイドBOOK)
Denno Coil (電脳コイル)
Denno Coil Visual Collection (電脳コイル ビジュアルコレクション)
Denno Coil Project Book (電脳コイル企画書)

07/30/09 @ 00:52
Siete [Visitor]  

Guilherme, if you want to look at rough storyboards for FLCL and Gurren-Lagann, you could buy FLCL’s own collection of rough storyboards or get Gurren-Lagann’s Basic Drill and Final Drill mooks, which feature Imaishi’s storyboards for episodes 1 and 27.

07/30/09 @ 15:01
h_park [Member]

Leedar, I may sound biased, but this is what I know.

Denno Coil Character Book (電脳コイル キャラクターブック)
A kiddie book focused on characters’ details and worldview. Not worth your time.

Denno Coil Access Guide Book (電脳コイル アクセスガイドBOOK)
Another guide book about Denno Coil. Thank god I didn’t buy one when I saw it.

Denno Coil (電脳コイル)
General Anime book that covers story, interviews, and art. This sounds weird, but this book actually covers animator identification on some scenes which the Genga book never does.

Denno Coil Visual Collection (電脳コイル ビジュアルコレクション)
The Genga book that Ben talked about

Denno Coil Project Book (電脳コイル企画書)
Project proposal full of concept sketches and story ideas. Basically it’s a Japanese style animation pitch book to get production green light.

07/30/09 @ 21:03
Leedar [Visitor]  

So the latter three are fairly complementary?

07/30/09 @ 22:40
h_park [Member]

Yeah, you can say that. It all depends on on your main interest.

07/31/09 @ 11:21
CMWilly [Visitor]  

I was able to pick up a Imaishi’s and a couple of other gengashu shinkans at last winters Comiket. They’re really amazing and worth the find if you can get your hands on it.

07/31/09 @ 17:13
LainEverliving [Visitor]  

I have most of the GAINAX books, which I can recommend highly. Right now I’m in the midst of the Eva 1.0 book (which admittedly is Khara, not GAINAX), and I have to say that it’s among the best I’ve seen if you’re looking for effects animation. Normally these books can be a bit skimpy on the effects (at least the ones I’ve seen), but every major effects shot in Eva 1.0 is covered here, so you get a whole lot to look at. There’s also some good shots of the Eva and Angels battles, but sadly not much of the characters. I’d recommend it to all Eva fans, and probably anyone interested in effects work or mecha animation technique (there’s a lot, like in the Gurren Lagann books, that shows how the mecha are moved about the screen in terms of the drawings and timing).

08/09/09 @ 15:07
H.K. [Visitor]  

Do you have or can get any first edition official Japanese release (not bootleg) of the Samurai Deeper Kyo “You” Artbook (with official obi and extra features (tickets, coupons, poster, postcard, cd, dvd, etc. included) and in near excellent/excellent condition)? Please let me know, even if it is from a store or a special collector.

Specifications I wish for when looking for the Samurai Deeper Kyo “You” Artbook? I would like…

- First edition
- Official obi
- Coupon(s) attached to obi
- Inventory Ticket that is inserted into the artbook by the store/publisher (I have a picture of it if you need to know what I am talking about)
- All the original extras that are included with the artbook
- Near Excellent condition (I am willing to budge alittle on this if necessary)
- Nothing removed from the artbook or obi
- Minimal (little) damage to the artbook or obi (only small scratches or tears)
-Pictures are a plus

I know this is quite a hefty request but let me know if there is any like this (or close to this) where you are.

Thank You!

01/03/10 @ 09:33