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, October 14, 2005

08:40:57 pm , 575 words, 812 views     Categories: Animation, TV

Noein 1

The first episode of Noein was certainly the most interesting TV episode I've seen in a while. The animation, the color scheme, the designs, the directing, everything came together very well to form a convincing and gripping whole. It's obvious that they must have spent a long time producing this first ep, which the director says he's very satisfied with. He had apparently been warming the project with designer Takahiro Kishida for more than two years now, and you can feel that he's got conviction about doing it, as this episode does a good job of really pulling you in. It felt like after Aquarion Satelight was swinging the pendulum back from CG-centric to something strongly animation-centric.

The animation was quite remarkable and unlike anything I've seen on TV. It was deliberately aiming for a sort of rough and dynamic style full of extreme perspective, giving the impression that they'd digested and understood the essence of what people like Yuasa and Matsumoto were doing. It could certainly go further, but there was an excellent balance in the way it seemed to swing back and forth between the tightly drawn and the completely unravelled. I loved the wonderful disparity of drawings from scene to scene. Though by his own account inexperienced, animation director Ryo Nakaya did a great job keeping it all together while retaining each person's individual style. Clearly he was indispensible to this ep, as the second episode, presumably not done by him, looks starkly different judging by the preview, full of pretty drawings the absence of which were what made the first ep so pleasant to watch.

I'm not familiar with most of the names in the credits, though many are presumably also in Arjuna and Haibane Renmei, but the impression I got here was that everything was interesting, even the parts that didn't move that much, which is really the ideal. But the opening battle was spectacular, well animated and effectively directed. Near the beginning it looked like something Yutaka Nakamura might have drawn, but the great rough and deformed touch of most of it felt different and very satisfying. Animated backgrounds were used at surprising moments very effectively. Seeing the strong impact that was created by simply having the background moving at a surprising moment makes you think about the power of animation, of movement. A few of the shots in the cemetery stood out as being unlike anything else in the ep, with wobbly full frame movement that reminded me of two shots in Mamoru Hosoda's Secret Island film that I'd long been wondering about, where a character trembles fitfully in full frame to incredible effect. I'd been wishing I could see more animation like that, and the cemetery scene fulfilled that wish somewhat. I'm very curious to know who did it. I hope he does more.

The coloring really stood out. The red-and-blue-hued scenes reminded me strongly of Mind Game, as did much of the animation. It felt like they had learned the open approach to animation that Mind Game seemed to suggest, omitting the needless detail, dropping the tons of shadows, really going for the bravura effect of bold, sketchy drawing. The angular but simple, realistic yet cartoony way of drawing the characters reminds a lot of Yuasa's Shin-chan work, which it feels like you can see shards of in various places over the last decade. Even Tetsuya Takeuchi's work seems kind of descended from Yuasa, probably unconsciously.

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