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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Thursday, August 12, 2004

05:01:45 pm , 478 words, 2295 views     Categories: Animation

My animation creed

I wanted to clarify my stand on anime and animation. To me, animation is about movement. If you go back to the beginning, Gerty wasn't well drawn. What was interesting about Gerty was that she (he?) moved. Animation is about breathing life into drawings. The rest of the world became familiar with anime from the picture-book TV shows that were exported in the 70s due to Tezuka's famous invention, but there were always people in Japan who kept in mind that animation was about animation, and went on creating interesting movement. An interesting story can be told with a picture book, but a picture book shouldn't be confused with animation. A beautiful picture is fine and good, but it isn't animation. It's grueling work to create animation, I gather, and I admire people who can somehow magically turn drawings into interesting movement. That's why I'm interested in animators. To me, animators are the heart of animation. Everything else is decoration. Or more accurately, the substrate. They're what keep me watching animation: ever seeking the enchantment of a thrilling movement. Someone once said the animator is an actor. In other words, the task of the animator is to get into the mind of a character; the quality of the performance we see on the screen depends on what kind of interesting ideas the animator can come up with given a situation and a character. Could you imagine a live-action movie where they didn't bother to credit the actors? And yet I've seen anime releases over here that didn't bother to translate the names of the animators! It's just strange to me that people think anime is produced by feeding a story into a computer, and voila, out comes animation. No, it's all done by people, folks. They're called animators. No animators, no anime. That's why I'm so interested in animators. There's no greater pleasure than being surprised by a new kind of movement that you could never have imagined. Given the absurd overproliferation of anime these days, it's understandable that most of it is junk. But there are a few animators out there who have maintained the flame and keep on surprising us with new ideas about what is possible in animation. The pleasure of being able to see the work of this handful of interesting animators is pretty much the only thing that keeps me watching anime, which is frankly more often than not rather thin on original thinking in other areas. And every person is an individual; therefore so is every animator. And right now, ironically enough, just about the only place in the world that seems to be producing (commercial) animation in which the individuality of every animator is clearly reflected in his or her work, is Japan. Everywhere else it's a homogeneous, flat surface of unified movement, which to me is the epitome of boring.



iamNataku [Visitor]

Wonderully written Ben. I feel much the same way that you do. Keep up the great work on alerting me and others to the artists who create these outstanding pieces of animation.

08/13/04 @ 01:06
Ben [Visitor]

Thanks for the support. I was a little embarrassed about this post. I wanted to rename it “My animation screed".

08/14/04 @ 21:15
tim_drage [Member]

Nice article! My only criticism is with “Gerty wasn’t well drawn” - Winsor McKay’s drawings are superb!… but I know what you mean! :)

Anyway, keep up the good work with this blog, really interesting stuff.

08/16/04 @ 10:06
Ben [Visitor]

Yeah, that was a “for the sake of argument” comment that I immediately regretted. I deserved to catch some flak for that. I’m a huge fan of his Nemo.

08/16/04 @ 10:56