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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Wednesday, September 2, 2009

03:54:08 pm , 267 words, 1587 views     Categories: Animation, Misc

Odds and ends

This has probably been reposted on every person and their dog's blog, but this time-lapse footage of the Los Angeles wildfire is quite amazing. Nature's devastating FX animation. OB sakuga nerd comment: Reminds me of Toshiaki Hontani's Akira smoke.

I thought this illustration by awesome Japanese indie animator Kei Oyama was pretty funny. It reminded me of a certain drawing by H Park in the forums.

The Photograph of Jesus short by Laurie Hill is a superb example of animation in a documentary context.

Indie animator Hiroshi Matsumoto has a cool style, using cutout animation to bring alive a lush fantasy world. I just wish the clips on his site were longer. Fun site design, too. Reminds me of Samorost 1.

The next Naruto animation folly has been served up. This time it's episode 1-2-3 of Naruto Shippuden, and strangely enough, I don't see Naruto at all. It's a Hirobumi Suzuki episode, and not an Atsushi Wakabayashi episode, so not as cunningly paced and digitally caressed and kind of sloooow and dragged out as Suzuki's episodes always are. But the animation of the episode is sharp, and there are the good bits of action you'd expect from Norio Matsumoto, who as usual is joined by his progeny Yama and Ryo-timo. Assorted Naruto riff-raff animators who did self-indulgent/show-offy work on the show over the years like Hiroyuki Yamashita and Sesshagoro (presumably somebody's infantile pen name) are here too; all the Naruto movers collected together. I'm not sure whether it's because it's a Suzuki episode or what, but it doesn't really excite me like in the old days.

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5 comments

Huw M
Huw M [Visitor]  

Watching that Naruto episode wasn’t the same mind-blowing experience that 133 was for me either. But I did really like that bit at the start with clay-guy and his puking hands and those wobbly clay monsters. Hm, it looks like it was made with photoshop brushes in bits…It kinda looks like Yama’s work. I think part of the reason its not as exciting as 133 is because it didn’t take advantage of the fact that it was animated like that episode did. It felt less like an insane action film ramping up and up and was more just the usual shonen manga problem-solving formula. You’d imagine it was copied directly from the manga, which I suppose is what the fans want.

Beautifully grotesque imagery there by Kei Oyama. And just plain beautiful stuff by Hiroshi Matsumoto. That Los Angeles wildfire footage I hadn’t seen, and is just stunning…You can easily see how an animator like Hontani would be able to spend so long studying how to make his FX stuff when the source material is so captivating.

09/02/09 @ 17:12
Ben [Member]  

Astute comment on the Naruto episode. Hadn’t thought of that. I remember when 133 came out hearing many fans complaining that they had changed this great battle in the manga, and that it was unacceptable to do so. I don’t know whether 123 was slavishly faithful to the manga, but it did feel like it wasn’t ‘thinking for itself’, like Wakabayashi’s episodes, in the sense of prioritizing creating an exciting audiovisual flow instead of being needlessly faithful to the original material. Some of the best manga adaptations I find are the ones that aren’t so faithful, ironically, but rather reproduce the mindset of the original manga in a way that works better in the new medium.

Nature is endlessly fascinating… more interesting animation could be made if people paid a little more attention to it.

09/03/09 @ 13:12
Vailo
Vailo [Visitor]  

Those cut-out style animations by Hiroshi Matsumoto are really nice, thanks for bringing them to attention. Very imaginative work indeed, I really like that kind of work, this very old form of animation reincarnated with modern computer graphics and digital technology, a very refreshing blending of different concepts.
Speaking of cut-out animation: the C part of “Zan Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei” #8 is really interesting, in this season Shinbou is even more experimental concerning styles than in its predecessors or his other recent works. “Gekidan inu curry” did this unusual cut-out part, the two person team consisting of former Gainax animator Ayumi Shiraishi and Yousuke Anai, who did also some work on other Shinbou/Shaft works (Maria Holic ending, some bits in Bakemonogatari, etc.). They are oriented towards Russian and Czech animation and thus the results can be very exceptional through their background in commercial Japanese animation. Here the link to that part: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w0Pm9QnzgSE

Naruto Shippuuden #123 has indeed some great animation, but overall it’s rather powerless and lacks the kind of tension that Wakabayashi created in his episodes. Not that this episode is bad or something, but my memories of #133 of the original Naruto are still vivid. But it’s interesting to hear the Naruto fanboys complain about the quality in NS #123 (like they did with #133), most fans seem to prefer on-design still drawings over measured movements. It’s probably the different drawing styles of those great animators that leads them to the assumption that the quality is low. Especially Yamashita’s drawings look pretty distinct during motions, that’s probably too much for people who judge quality alone based on the designs.

09/07/09 @ 04:23
leedar
leedar [Member]  

Why are the lines thinner on the fancy episodes? Is that indicative of higher quality douga studios?

09/07/09 @ 05:47
Ben [Member]  

I appreciate the tip, Vailo. Thanks for the info about Gekidan Inu Curry. Didn’t know about them, though of course I knew about Shiraishi Ayumi. Great animator, always good to see more from her. As it happens, I just checked out this recent interesting bit in Zan ep 8C. I’d seen the half-episode of the previous series done by Takahiro Yoshimatsu in all those different animation styles, and thought it was amusing enough, though I felt a little ambivalent about the whole thing. This new episode was visually more satisfying, very nice work, though again it leaves me with something of the same feeling - more puzzlement than delight. Shinbo’s recent work has certainly featured a lot of experimentation with the visuals in various ways, which is a very welcome thing and should certainly be encourages, but personally the material doesn’t really please me so I’m disappointed that the bountiful visual inventiveness on display here isn’t put to better use.

Good question about the thinness of lines, Leedar, but I don’t know. I thought it was more of a conscious decision on the part of the episode director.

I can kind of understand why fans say what they do… after all, they’re used to watching a show that has mostly still drawings all drawn (if listlessly) on model. It’s sadly ironic that the occasional burst in quality should leave the reverse impression on regular viewers. Speaking of Shinbo, his episodes of Yu Yu Hakusho really stood out in a similar way from the other episodes - the original stand-out fighting anime episodes. (I’m guessing if you go back in history a bit there may be other examples - Fist of the North Star, for example, I haven’t seen almost any of)

09/11/09 @ 23:50