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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Friday, June 13, 2008

04:17:42 pm , 577 words, 2726 views     Categories: Animation

Keiji Hayakawa

I've been working my way through Spaceship Sagittarius over the last few weeks, and recently I ran across an episode that stood out as being very different in quality, episode 18. I thought maybe it was my imagination, but it was really quite different, with an almost Miyazaki style to the pacing and framing. I wondered briefly if maybe Miyazaki might not have done it under a pen name, but quickly ruled that out. Looking into the credits revealed it was storyboarded by Keiji Hayakawa. The rest of the episodes were storyboarded in a not particularly remarkable fashion by folks like Kazuyoshi Yokota and Takayoshi Suzuki, who were both heavily involved in Nippon Animation's World Masterpiece Theater shows. Another episode storyboarded by Hayakawa, 21, proved to be equally distinguished, confirming it was Hayakawa's work that stood out. (he also handled 10, 15, 31, 33, 34, 47, 58)

I remembered seeing Hayakawa before in a Miyazaki work, but I couldn't remember which, maybe Sherlock Hound. Looking into it, I found out that he was indeed one of the main people behind Hound, but only the portion done by Studio Gallop after Miyazaki left. He was actually involved in Conan as co-storyboarder/co-director of almost every episode, which is unusual since Miyazaki usually does the storyboard himself. Under the difficult circumstances of directing an entire TV show for the first time, Hayakawa is the guy Miyazaki turned to to help him complete each episode. That is clearly a major part of where his Miyazaki-influenced storyboarding style came from. Up until Conan Hayakawa had mostly only worked as an assistant director. He had started out at Toei as an assistant director on Himitsu no Akko-chan in 1969 and trained there in that capacity for the next few years on shows like Sarutobi no Ecchan and Gegege no Kitaro before leaving to do the same on Samurai Giants (1973), Heidi (1974) and Sinbad's Adventures (1975). This was a guy who had started out with a clear goal - directing. He storyboarded ep 36 of Heidi, which is certainly one of his earliest if not his first storyboards. So he had a solid foundation in the Toei school of directing even before coming to Conan.

What happened to him after that? I couldn't remember ever seeing his name afterwards, even though he seemed to have a pretty good directing sense. Looking into it, he was quite active, and still is. He debuted as a series director with Attack to Tomorrow in 1977, and went on to direct Jolie for Visual 80 in 1981 before moving to Studio Gallop with a bunch of ex-Telecom animators like Toshio Yamauchi and Tsukasa Tannai in 1983, where he directed a number of shows including Chikkun Takkun (1984), Spoon Obasan (1988) and the longest-running non-ShinEi Fujiko Fujio anime, Kiteretsu Daihyakka (1988). He was also director of an old OVA I liked a lot back in the day - Prefectural Earth Defense Force (1986). Nowadays it looks like he focuses on storyboarding & directing episodes, having done episodes for Digimon Adventure (1999 / 10, 15, 20, 27), Hajime no Ippo (2001 / 35), Kyo Kara Majo (2004 / 15, 22, 27, 33, 38) and Kiba (2006 / 19, 28, 35, 42).

This is a classic case of a storyboard 'stand-out' of the kind I've talked about in the past. It shows how the storyboard is the critical element of directing. Each of Hayakawa's episodes was directed by someone else, but the blueprint is there. It all starts with the storyboard, and the film is basically all in the storyboard. The surface details of the final product will vary dramatically depending on what happens afterwards, but you can always see the storyboarder underneath.



pete [Member]

Actually the series “Meiken Jolie” resembles a lot some of the Nippon Animation titles in the direction in some episodes.

This had also to do with the character design by Junichi Seki who worked also in some WMT shows and also some other noticable animated adaptations of literature in other studios.

Sadly those great Euro-Japanese co-productions dont take place anymore.

It really is a challenge for all these artists to keep up with technology, like moving from the classic storyboard to the digitall one and watch how the medium changes. So I wonder whether the new technology is actually limiting them since computers require other sort of reflexes and they also have to keep up with computer literacy.

From the late 60s till today, 40 years of experience without retiring and seing so much is really remarkable.

06/17/08 @ 14:27
LainEverliving [Visitor]  

Yeah, I’ve really wondered about what the shift to digital storyboards will actually mean for anime production. Based on what I’ve seen done in the industry (either first hand or via storyboards I’ve checked out in books or from stores), it seems that nearly all the Japanese studios are still doing it the old fashioned way (i.e., drawing on the e-konte sheets and writing the dialogue, sound effects, instructions, etc.). There are storyreels put together for some big productions (like movies) on the computer, and I’ve even seen one with temp voices, but they consist of hand-drawn storyboard sketches that have been scanned into the computer. It’s not like the all-digital storyboards at, say, DreamWorks Animation, which are literally created within the computer and just look like crude CG animation (which, essentially, they are). So, it seems to me like the transition (just like from cels to digital painting) is happening, but just a lot more slowly then elsewhere. For me, that’s a good thing, as I prefer keeping things drawn versus animated digitally. The computer is a great tool, but if it ultimately ends up limitting creative expression, it’s better not to use it.

As for storyboards, I’ll always like the classic e-konte better than the digital alternative. Take a look at Mamoru Hosoda’s e-konte for ‘The Girl Who Leapt Through Time’ and you’ll see what I mean. Or, look at Yutaka Minowa’s stuff… it’s almost like a fully illustrated comic book (not a manga, but a Western-style graphic novel). Or how about Shinji Higuchi when he does anime? To take these kinds of works out of the industry would to me be a real shame, so I sincerely hope it doesn’t happen.

06/18/08 @ 12:06
Ben [Member]  

I’ve been reading this book that was recently published with interviews from the creators of Genius Party, and Atsuko Fukushima made comments that relate to this issue of older animators trained in the analog age having to adapt to digital age production styles… she says it was an ‘Urashimataro’ experience for her coming back to anime after so many years to find things so changed. I found it interesting to hear her say that she misses the tactility of the old style, the smell of the materials. I’m not an animator, but I can totally understand that. I’ve always thought it seemed cold and distant to do everything into a computer, lacking in the feeling of contact with pencil and paper that has for long been part and parcel of the act of drawing. So I definitely agree that it’s impressive for someone wo started out more than 40 years ago to have successfully made that transition and be handling episodes (presumably) digitally. It would be interesting to hear from older figures like this about their experiences handling the transition.

I can’t say that I’ve ever seen a digital storyboard, but I’m very glad people in Japan continue to do it the old fashioned way. Yasuhiro Aoki, Masaaki Yuasa, Mamoru Hosoda - all of them draw their storyboards in the old way, and they’re gorgeous works to behold, like you say - they’re practically self-contained works of art entirely on their own, with all the instructions and everything there for you to piece together the sequencing of the shots. And you get so much out of the drawings of each director in the storyboard that defines the character of the film that would be lost if there were no drawn storyboard. I adore leafing through those storyboard books every once in a while for inspiration, and to peek into the mind of a great director to try to understand how he works. There are a few pages from each director’s storyboard for the first Genius Party film in that book, and each one has such a dramatically different drawing style. It really mirrors how completely different the approach of each director is, in these films specifically and also more generally as creators. So much comes through in the storyboard.

06/18/08 @ 22:19
h_park [Member]

Since Laineverliving brought up the subject of digital storyboarding, I want to say a few things. Being a storyboard art major, my art school is debating whether or to buy expensive-as-hell Wacom tablet for digital storyboarding. Honestly I really don’t care. Personally I prefer good ol’ paper & board. Doing old way seems more organic to me.
We all know that direction of digital storyboarding is to create a film simulation even before they make one single CG model or a shot. Somehow American animation industry relies heavily on technology more than ever. Is it a good thing? Well…as long as they don’t shove down some kind of mandate to traditional artists’ throats, I’m fine with it. Using technology to refine the quality of story through numerous simulation is brilliant, however the industry should tolerate diversity.

06/23/08 @ 05:38
Naspa [Visitor]  

I am a spaceship sagittarius fan. I tried to find the series for years with no success. One week ago I found a torrent with all 77 episodes…there’s only one problem, they’re in japanese, they’re dvdrip and there’s no dvd on the market. I would really appreciate it if you would give me some information on how I could get an english or french subtitle or maybe the whole series in english, if you have them or if you know where i could find/buy them. Thanks a lot!

10/08/08 @ 08:16
Marian [Visitor]  

For free Spaceship Sagittarius English subtitles come to “Aventurierii Spatiului” Yahoo Group.

12/07/08 @ 02:56