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, February 7, 2005

05:09:10 pm , 767 words, 2233 views     Categories: Animation, Yoshinori Kanada

Happy Birthday, Yoshinori Kanada

If you were to try to pin down the single most famous animator working in commercial Japanese animation over the last thirty years, it'd probably be Yoshinori Kanada, who turned 53 on Saturday. In various ways he fits the bill - influence, uniqueness of style, consistent quality. Regardless of whether people have seen his work, they tend to know his name due to numerous factors including the fact that he's been active as an animator continuously for more than 30 years, during which time he's been regularly covered in animation magazines and talked about among fans because of his revolutionary and inimitable style. This is remarkable considering that he's been active almost exclusively as an animator. There's almost nobody else for whom the same could be said. His fame is based purely on his animation. He was one of the first animators to gain a degree of recognition in the late 70s/early 80s as a unique creator entirely on the basis of his work as an animator, thus paving the way for other 'karisuma animators' who appeared on the scene in the years that followed in the early 80s, including Takashi Nakamura, Yamashita Masahito and Ichiro Itano; and later figures like Takeshi Koike and Hiroyuki Imaishi. He's among the few karisumas who's been continuously active for that long without getting distracted by directing, and there's no sign of him letting up.

Over here the name Yoshinori Kanada will most likely be known more than anything because of the fact that artist Takashi Murakami has included stills of Kanada's work in films like Genma Taisen and Galaxy Express 999 at exhibitions of his artwork, citing his work as an influence. Otherwise there are probably few fans who have a real idea of who he is as an animator. The reason for this is probably quite simply that, despite his massive output, most of the shows on which he worked have not been shown over here, so people haven't had the chance to get to know his work, and to follow its stylistic evolution, the way fans over in Japan have. What is available often does not show him at his most idiosyncratic and interesting; he was the main animator in most of the 80s Ghibli films, but what we see in these films is the ruly, slick version of Kanada, rather than the wild and unruly Kanada of Genma Taisen. There are exceptions; you can see Kanada at his most idiosyncratic best in Genma Taisen and Galaxy Express 999, and Birth was recently released over here. But these are just the tip of the iceberg.

Among the other places one can sample Kanada at his best are the opening of the 1981 TV series Ginga Kifuu Braiger, various late 70s/early 80s TV series like Zambot 3 (5, 10, 16, 22) and Don de la Mancha (6), and the 1992 OVA Download. I particularly recommend the early work, where he was still working out his style. This is when his work felt at its most dynamic and free, as he was in the process of gradually discovering the patented style that makes him so unique, with its rough drawings, extreme perspective, crazy posing and unpredictable timing. His work at its most extreme hasn't lost any of its power to surprise and delight in the intervening 30 years, despite the fact that his style is probably the most imitated in anime. Most of it is pale imitation beside the real thing. Seeing his work helps to understand where the animation in Dead Leaves came from, which is among the first anime successfully based on the Kanada style. It didn't appear out of a void. In 1994 he created the opening for the TV series Tottemo! Lucky Man (coming to DVD in a few months). This is a good introduction to Kanada's work, because it's from his later period, when he had honed his style to perfection, with even more exciting acrobatic posing and extreme perspective dynamism than his early work. Two years ago he did the Popolo Crois episode 6 and opening for the game Hanjuku Eiyu, both among his most characteristic pieces. This year he did the opening for the continuation of that game, which reportedly is no disappointment and goes even further than the previous in pushing the envelope of his style. It's good to see that Kanada hasn't abandoned the personal approach of his youth, perhaps heartened by the appearance of other unruly animators obviously influenced by Kanada's style in recent years. He's less prolific now, but still among the most interesting animators in Japan, and his impressive body of work deserves to finally be appreciated among fans over here.

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10 comments

neilworms
neilworms [Visitor]

Your link in the article is broken, just thought you’d like to know.

02/07/05 @ 21:35
Ben
Ben [Visitor]

Damn.

02/07/05 @ 22:24
Random person
Random person [Visitor]

I wish I could say something on topic for once. Sigh.

Well, anyway: the Vampaiyan Kids Pilot is no longer as obscure as it was, it’s been fansubbed and now on torrent. The subs are inaccurate in some parts but who the hell cares.

It’s kinda nice. The part where the Vampire Hunter was going after the Vampaiyans really was great, especially him chasing them on that weird flying thing. And the chopped off feet behind the screen was hilarious. Apparently the proper Vampaiyan Kids show itself didn’t incorporate most of the pilot stuff in the end… One of the key animators was Yuuichirou Sueyoshi.

02/10/05 @ 04:46
Tsuka
Tsuka [Visitor]

Yes I get this pilot yesterday and it’s very fun. All the animations with the vampire hunter are great. Yuasa style in some backgrounds, and also in the screenplay (some arrows to locate the characters …)

02/10/05 @ 05:21
Ben
Ben [Visitor]

I also watched it last night, so I guess I’ll write a post about it.

02/10/05 @ 12:22
jay smith
jay smith [Visitor]

i watched it as well, good stuff!

02/10/05 @ 14:43
DRMECHA
DRMECHA [Visitor]  

Assemble the history of Ikou Kaneda is very difficult because exist two Studio Z and two Studio Number One:

The first works of Kaneda is for Tiger Pro. a Little Studio subcontracted by Toei since 1970 to 1972. In 1972 passes to Studio Z of Shingo Araki (who before the Studio Z foundation works in Studio Jaguard with other ex-members of Mushi Pro. Akihiro Kanayama, NobuyoshiSasakado and Akio sugino, etc). In this Studio Z (the first Studio Z of the Kanedda’s career) works with his future chief and first partners: Takuo Toda and Kazuo Tomizawa. In 1974 Araki’s Studio Z is divided: Araki form Araki Pro. meanwhile Takuo Noda form Studio Number One (the first St. Number One during the Kaneda’s career). In this first Studio Number One works during this years: Noda (president), Kaneda, Tomizawa, Shinya Sadamitsu, Masakatsu Iijima and Osamu Nabeshima, etc.
In 1977 various members quit the Takuo noda’s Studio Number One for form a new Studio Z. The Members: Shinya Sadamitsu (president), Ikou Kaneda, Kazuo Tomizawa, Osamu Nabeshima, Kazuhiro Ochi, Satoshi hirayama, Hajime Kamegaki, etc.
Meanwhile, during this years Toshihiro Hirano debuted in the Takuo noda’s Number One.

This new Studio Z of Sadamitsu with Kaneda and the others closes in 1979.

In 1979 tomizawa passes to Madhouse.

In 1980 Kanedas form a new Studio Number One with Kazuhiro Ochi, Masahito Yamashita meanwhile Noda (who closes the first Studio number One in 1979) passes from Toei (freelance?) and after to Madhouse.
Sadamitsu after various years of freelance direcions (Birth)pases to Tatsunoko/IG Tatsunoko.

Various ex-members of the Sadamitsu’s Studio Z and Araki Productions form in 1980 Studio Z-5 (Hideyuki Motohashi of Araki Pro. with Hirayama, Kamegami and Nabeshima).

Kaneda’s Studio number One and Motohashi’s Studio Z-5 (today in XebecM2 ¿president?) are friends and works subcontracted in much works of TMS during the 80s and 90s.

07/27/07 @ 10:37
vitalikshu
vitalikshu [Visitor]  

Naruto bring happines. naruto shippuden 82 and 85 are blowing mind animation and direction. intresting to know you opinion. this is the best series sinse naruto 133. ( sorry my english…)

11/23/08 @ 12:23
Ben [Member]  

Yes. I saw them and became somewhat happier, at least briefly. Funny how brief happiness is. I’ll try to write some comments soon. I don’t understand why this post, tho…

11/23/08 @ 15:55
DRMECHA
DRMECHA [Visitor]  

I’m viewed Danguard Ace (1977) in Pandora TV (web page) and I view the most Kaneda proto-style present in Gaiking!!!

In the first episode Kaneda/Noda works with his old chief Araki!! (Studio Nº1 + Araki Pro)!!!

View this great page!!! Only problem: translate de kanji caracters in korean caracters. But it’s no hard with google korea.

12/04/08 @ 02:59