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They finally fixed that damn R in Beck. The final ep of Re: Cutey Honey is coming soon, after a month's delay in the production schedule, so they're obviously putting in the effort.
Apparently Osamu Kobayashi drew storyboard for a new series based on Monkey Punch stories. But I think this is the Asia-Do Kobayashi, not the one doing Beck right now. He's joined by another figure from the A Pro era, Tsutomu Shibayama, who is most famous for being the layout man on the 1975 Gamba's Adventures.
The series has an unusual format, consisting of a "grand stage" and then a "mini stage" and then a "short part" with 8 shorts. Shibayama and Kobayashi participated in the latter. There haven't been many shows that seemed suited to their talents over the last two decades, which is perhaps why we haven't seen as much of them (Shibayama has been busy with Doraemon). The animators of the shorts are apparently given a high degree of freedom with the designs and so on, so this offers a rare opportunity to see these veterans making animation the way they want. Incidentally, Shinji Arakawa, the designer of IG's recent Windy Tales, animated one of the shorts storyboarded by Shibayama (the one pictured here) and was AD of the one by Kobayashi in the same episode.
Yoshinori Kanemori drew a short in the first episode. I talked about Kanemori in the Toshio Hirata post. He's done a lot of great animation, like the Kenji Miyazawa OVA Kaze no Matasaburo, directed by Rintaro. He just recently did the animation for a new Minna no Uta episode called The Moon Waltz, directed by Atsuko Ishizuka, a Madhouse person, which I've heard is incredible. Possibly a major new female animator on the scene. It's nice to finally find an anime person who doesn't draw the same old hackneyed anime characters. I really like her line. Prior to entering Madhouse last year Ishizuka appears to have done a number of other shorts that look nice.
It's unfortunate that it's hard to get to see Minna no Uta over here, because there's been quite a bit of animation by interesting figures in it over the years. Seiichi Hayashi made a new short just last year. There's actually a DVD box available, released in April of this year, but the price (¥40,320) is a little prohibitive, though the set does contain 12 DVDs. One good thing is that there's an online list of exactly what's included, so one knows what to expect.