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The next candidate for introduction after the previous episode was obvious: Goemon. And so it turned out. Now all the players have been introduced. How will they converge?
This episode was super weak. I may have been dissatisfied with the first episode for whatever reason, but at least it was technically well made. This one had the weakest animation so far, and even the directing and story weren't very compelling. The first episode was filled with Sayo Yamamoto touches, the second had great tension and atmosphere, but this one is just kind of bland and safe. It sadly seems to suggest the project didn't have as long a schedule as I was hoping. They were clearly struggling with the drawings on this one. Five sakkans, and they even outsourced 2nd key animation. Some of the drawings in there were painful to see. I don't mean to pick on them, because I'm sure they wanted to do better, but I wish they'd have spent less time putting hatch marks on the characters and more time animating them.
I wouldn't have minded so much that the animation wasn't great - episode 2's animation wasn't that great - but the story and directing didn't make up for that shortfall. I was surprised to find the story to be somewhat tame because I'd heard Sato Dai was writing it and expected something with the irreverent humor and unpredictability of his Samurai Champloo episodes, or at least something to distinguish it as a Sato Dai episode, but there wasn't much. The team of Sato Dai and Sayo Yamamoto did amazing work on that show. It's their episodes I liked best in the show, and it's seeing those episodes that I knew Sayo Yamamoto was a name to watch.
The story isn't bad per se, but it just didn't have many surprises. There was a good train episode early on in the 2nd Lupin III series with some great animation from Kazuhide Tomonaga, so I couldn't help but compare the two and find this one lacking. This episode felt basically like a standard episode from the second series - okay, but nothing remarkable. As a way of introducing Goemon it didn't really tell us anything we didn't know already. The good thing about the episode is that Goemon's character was pretty well captured. He really felt like Goemon. I also liked how Fujiko was never called by name until the very end of the episode. It took me a few minutes into the episode to figure out that she was the tutor and hence was up to something. (partly because her face wasn't recognizable from the poor drawings) The episode felt true to the spirit of Goemon and the old Lupin III - hard-boiled in that Goemon is a hired killer, but not cold-blooded, because he has a personal sense of justice and won't cross a certain line. And of course, we got to hear the first historical instance of his trademark line - "mata tsumaranai mono wo kitta".
For Goemon's introduction I was hoping they would do something special to fill it with good samurai action, dare I hope even perhaps invite Kazuto Nakazawa to sakkan the episode? You know, a reunion tour from the Samurai Champloo team - Sato Dai, Sayo Yamamoto, Nakazawa. But it was not to be. There was one short scene where Goemon does his bullet-cutting trick where suddenly - bizarrely, even - the animation gets extremely fluid. It's decent (albeit short), but honestly the movement isn't particularly interesting. It's nice that they tried, but it only goes to show how amazing the old animators were. With just a few drawings Yasuo Otsuka could have Goemon whip his sword around in a way that felt infinitely better and more convincing. There are tons of contemporary animators who I'm sure could have done some good samurai action. It's sad that they didn't have the budget/schedule to get them.
The weird thing to me about this show so far is... Where's Takeshi Koike? I was expecting the show to be rife with his touch, but for the most part in this episode I couldn't even tell he was the character designer. It seems odd to call him in and then create a show that had nothing whatsoever of his style. I know he's just the character designer, but I guess I was hoping that he would be involved on the same level that Kazuto Nakazawa was involved in Samurai Champloo. Nakazawa made that show his by his amazing and voluminous work as a sakkan/animator on the show. Different directors have different styles and priorities, I guess. Perhaps that will happen in future episodes, but it's a pretty short show, so I hope it happens soon if it's going to happen.
The joke with the European city names was weird - Poris, Dinajon, etc. I didn't quite see the point in doing that.
I’m waiting for the official Funimation stream to watch this one, so I won’t be able to share my thoughts on it for a few days… About the lazy-looking art, apparently the production is pretty far behind schedule, with the episodes still being worked on at the last minute. It wasn’t noticeable during the first two, but hopefully the rushed visuals don’t continue through the rest of the series. Anything horrendous will probably be fixed for a DVD release down the road.
If you’re looking for where the Takeshi Koike touch is, it’s in how rushed the production is turning out to be! Seriously, the guy’s perfectionism is not suited to the constraints of television. When you push pre-production so long you’re still working on the third episode a week before the show goes on air and then have to have your staff working 24/7 just to make the deadlines, even sleeping at the studio, you’re asking for trouble. It’s too bad they didn’t delay the show another season, because right now it’s in serious danger of failing.
My god, I didn’t realize production was that far behind schedule. I feel really bad for the staff, I know it’s not their fault. I know rushed schedules are the norm in Japan, but this one sounds particularly bad. I don’t understand why the higher-ups bother to plan such a fancy project, and then don’t bother to provide the studio enough time to make a decent product.
Aaron, I’m also fearful now - if episode 3 is like this, what’s in store… I hope this is just the episode that they decided to let take a hit for the show to allow time to do the other episode properly. Even the (apparently also rushed) Kemonozume had one such episode right around the same point, but was otherwise great.
I agree with Christopher. Koike-san is not really meant for the schedule of television. Though it looks great, his line mileage is far too much for TV animation. I even remember hearing people not wanting to take Redline shots because of how heavy the workload was…
Delaying it for another season or not, if this is happening now, it would happen either way because you can change people’s habits.
Relax fellers, the sky isn’t falling.
OK, this ep WAS weak and the animation did sorta suck but that’s the norm for TV. I remember Champloo having some BLECH animation in eps as well.
Hopefully other eps won’t be as lame as this one, but we’ve been around the block before. This stuff happens.
There’s an upcoming episode with Hiroshi Shimizu as animation director and another one that’s directed by Shouko Nakamura, so hopefully things should be better in the near future.
But yeah, given how much time Koike spent on Redline, I’d always wondered how things would turn out if he had to work on a TV schedule and we’re all seeing it’s turning out. We’ll probably get to see more of his touches on the home video release.
Maybe you guys were expecting too much from this show, and that’s why you’re disappointed. I pretty much threw expectations out of the window after the first episode, and I have to say I’m enjoying the show a lot for what it is.
About the low quality of the animation, I don’t think that’s what you have to look for in this show. The show is in my opinion completely defined by the unique art style, and that’s what you have look for. For example, I loved how well they adapted the CG train in the third episode to the the general drawing style of the show. Also, the impression that some of the really bad animation in the second episode gave me is that they are trying to create a true prequel to the first Lupin series by recreating the same kind of limited animation, and by going for an art style that is similarly rought.
Looking at this episode I’m pretty sure the cross hatching is just an overlayed effect so it shouldn’t be too taxing on the animators more on the compositors.
I didn’t mind this episode actually. I dug the fast sword swipes and the clothes just exploding off in pieces. Especially that guy with the hat. I liked how he was in a later shot still in his underwear. I thought that was pretty funny
neshru: I really can’t agree with the “intentionally bad animation” thing at all. The 70s green jacket show was often pretty meh looking, sure, but when it DID try to look good it was really cool and dynamic. I’d understand using limited animation for stylistic reasons in other ways (see: Kanada style) but I really doubt they’re trying to imitate the limited look of the cheaper, more rushed episodes of the 70s anime with this when they could be aiming for the great parts instead.
The high expectations come from all the great names attached to the project and the anniversary moniker of the project. It’s a shame they couldn’t fully tap into the shared genius of the people involved because of time and/or money constraints.
That being said, I’ve been enjoying the second and third episodes and look forward to the upcoming episodes. It might be lacking but it’s still much better than the average TV production. I really like the old-school style of the series and maybe that’s why I didn’t mind the animation in the third episode.
@busterbeam I don’t know, that’s the impression I got. I can’t remember anything looking cool or dynamic about the first Lupin TV series, all I remember was very limited animation that was embarassing more often than not. But it’s not just the animation. The rough drawings on the new show remind me a lot of the original series, and are a big reason why I think they’re trying to mimic it. I could be wrong, of course.
“I can’t remember anything looking cool or dynamic about the first Lupin TV series, all I remember was very limited animation that was embarassing more often than not” Yeah, can’t agree here. It was limited, sure, but that doesn’t have to equal “bad” and some episodes made very good use of what they had. It didn’t really have bits that stood out really, really blatantly like, say, a Norio Matsumoto sequence stands out in Naruto today, but it was certainly nice at times and certain episodes clearly stood out from the rest. For something obviously dynamic, refer to the bit where Goemon fights Lupin at the very end of his introduction episode, mainly the bit where Lupin starts jumping on a bunch of cars as they’re driving past.