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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Saturday, January 30, 2010

07:42:22 pm , 469 words, 6616 views     Categories: Animation, TV

Naruto Shippuden 143

Just to keep track of all of the deluxe Naruto episodes, the next one is episode 143 of Shippuuden. Pretty solid drawings throughout, and several excellent fighting sequences, notably the pre-op, immediately post-op, and about four shots of interesting wobbly-style animation a bit before the midpoint that seems clearly inspired by Hisashi Mori or Shinji Hashimoto. Effects throughout are pretty nice, with some rich smoke shots a bit after the wobbly fight. It's weird, but a lot of the shapes remind me of Norio Matsumoto. I think a lot of the staff working on the show must have been influenced by him, not surprisingly. That applies to a lot of the young animators I see today. I see something that looks like Satoru Utsunomiya in the op, and I see the credits and figure it's probably Kenichi Kutsuna or Niho Tomoyuki, who worked under Utsunomiya. Styles are being passed down and reinterpreted over and over at a very fast pace these days among new animators.

The sakkan was Sesshagoro, who's also listed top in the genga credits, and Hiroyuki Yamashita is there later. These two longtime regulars (mentioned them before) are the only two names I recognize in the creds. The fight after the op is the coolest part in the episode, with a variety of well-timed moves packed into the short scene (maybe even a bit too much too fast, but I like the ambition), and an interesting way of drawing the rapidly swinging sword as this bold triangle, something Masaaki Yuasa first did in his Buriburizaemon shorts. I don't know their styles well enough to guess which one did it, but I guess it's one of the two. Yamashita did the ending, so you can get a feel for his drawings there, but I couldn't correlate that slow ending positively with the fight. Really curious who did the amorphously drawn scene later on. That and that one wonderfully dense shot of the rolling cloud up on the cliff above the Sasuke character. The latter reminds me of Toshiaki Hontani.

Haven't watched much of the new season but just checked Durarara 1 from director Takahiro Omoro. Watchable actually, if nothing new or particularly memorable. The music was my favorite part of the episode. Loved it. It's by a guy called Makoto Yoshimori. Respect to the fansubbers for translating the opening credits instead of putting their names under them. Only names I recognized in the genga credits was Satelight regular Tomoyuki Niho (infamous blocky action sequence in Birdy) and this guy Hideki Nagamachi who I remember was the sakkan on Yasuhiro Aoki's Tweeny Witches OVA episode, which had this really cool sketchy style line thing going on. Maybe one of them did the action sequence at the end.

Heard the last episode of Trapeze had good animation. Need to finish that.



h_park [Member]

The name “Sesshagoro” sounds like a pen name to me. How is it written in Japanese?

Recently, I’ve been discovering alias of various animators as I was going through Animage interviews. So I can’t help myself wondering that the name sounds like an alias.

01/31/10 @ 04:27
Ben [Member]  

Yes, I mentioned that in the post linked. 拙者五郎 sounds like a line from some old jidaigeki - 拙者五郎と申します。

This one’s pretty obvious, and once you start paying attention you’ll notice quite a lot of these weird names. I’ve noticed “Tochigi Ichigo” 栃木苺 (Tochigi strawberry) before somewhere. But some animators use real-sounding aliases. I should put together a list of funny aliases.

01/31/10 @ 11:58
Vailo [Visitor]  

Sesshagoro started out at Kyoto Animation and left some time before Yutaka Yamamoto’s dismissal, afterwards he worked on several occasions for studio Ordet (Kannagi, Sketchbook, etc.) so the KyoAni “deserters” seem to maintain contact. His true name is probably somewhere buried in the key animation/inbetween credits of pre-Lucky Star KyoAni shows.

Speaking of aliases, Shinbou seems to have a new one for his storyboarding credits (even a female name): Satoko Shindou. Officially, she is a young and talented female director, but since the name has absolutely no trackable record of past works, it’s pretty much clear that the name is an alias. And once you’ve watched the episode in question (#1 of the third season of Hidamari Sketch), there’s absolutely no doubt that it’s Shinbou himself, this deliberate choice of shots has written his name all over it, not to forget the skillful use of background animation. He seems to like Hidamari Sketch as he did also storyboarding on the previous two series, otherwise he’s done pretty much only storyboard correcting since his more glorious days (Cossette and Soul Taker). Too bad, this guy knows how to frame an episode in exciting ways.

Have you checked out the second Gurren Lagann movie? Lots of new awesome animation. There’s some grotesque animation by Hiroki Tanaka that is really amazing.

02/01/10 @ 04:39
neshru [Visitor]  

The fighting sequence right after the OP (4:13 - 5:18) is definitely Yamashita. The style is kind of different from his usual, but there are still a lot of clues that point at him.

02/01/10 @ 16:57
bahi jd
bahi jd [Visitor]  

As Neshru said right know, the fight on 4:13-5:18 is Hiroyuki Yamashita.

OH! Sesshagoro is really written like that!


02/02/10 @ 03:55
neshru [Visitor]  

By the way, about the “wobbly-style animation", there’s a nice fighting scene with that style in Shippuuden 135 (16:45 - 17:18). You should check it out if you haven’t already.

02/02/10 @ 08:49
Ben [Member]  

Thanks for confirming about that action bit, neshru. What are the clues that point to Hiroyuki Yamashita? I’d like to know for future reference. And thanks for pointing out that 135 also has some of that same style animation. Maybe the same animator? Definitely want to see that. Maybe I can figure out who did it.

Interesting to hear about Shinbo’s possible new alias, Vailo. I’ve just had a brief look at the Guren movies, and there seems to be a lot of new stuff. I think it’s silly that they made the movies (really Gainax? again?), but I’ll check them out for the new animation. It kind of makes sense that Imaishi would want to get Hiroki Tanaka onboard.

02/02/10 @ 15:00
neshru [Visitor]  

The way characters are drawn in still and close-up shots, first of all. You can instantly recognize Yamashita’s unique art style there. You can also recognize the squarish, almost paper-like way of drawing fingers that is typical of him. The triangular spinning swords, the way rocks and debris are drawn, the abundance of sparks and the animation in general also remind of other scenes done by him, like Kakashi and Obito vs the bad guy with the blades in episode 120 ( and Sasuke and Itachi fighting with swords in the current OP.
Also if I may add, Yamashita is probably the only animator between the Shippuuden regulars with the skills to come up with such a great action scene, and as you were saying, no other “famous” animator worked on the episode :)

02/02/10 @ 17:48
Ben [Member]  

Smashing. Super kind of you to provide that snippet by way of example. A while back I’d tried to scan a number of his past episodes to get down his stylistic traits, but I crashed and burned. Just couldn’t see it. I see it a bit better now. Though honestly, I think his latest piece is by far the most distinct of the ones I’ve seen. The framing of the fight gives you a chance to ogle the animation closely and sample his distinct style thanks to the long extended shots where the characters plum in the middle of the frame most of the time, whereas in the clip you linked the framing is really claustrophobic and the cutting is frantic. It’s not a question of good or bad - I just find it easier to identify the animator’s hand in the latest ep. The ‘boarding and animation are excellently matched in Shippuuden 143. The more distant framing reminds me of the way Wakabayashi framed the fight in the trees in Naruto 30.

Edit: I watched that fight in NS135, and it was superb! Thanks for pointing it out. Very solid fighting animation and not just quirky. It didn’t feel as Ohira-esque as the bit in NS143, but there were some shots where that wobbliness comes through. I see three names overlapping: Masaharu Tada (top in NS135), Mari Tominaga, and Yasuhide Maruyama. I’m inclined to suspect Masaharu Tada, as he’s a name that’s been seen in a lot of major films over the years, and his name is listed first in NS135. Checking his other episodes might be conclusive: 225, 253, 269, 281, 299, 302, 319, 340, 349, 363.

02/03/10 @ 21:27
neshru [Visitor]  

You’re welcome. If you’re interested, here’s a collection of scenes that are most likely his work:

02/04/10 @ 07:00
gaara [Visitor]  

Check out new Cobra Series. It’s suprisingly good.

02/05/10 @ 08:38