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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« McDull, Prince de la BunDarger + Studio 4°C's latest »

Sunday, September 26, 2004

03:44:51 pm , 474 words, 1182 views     Categories: Animation, Animator

Prelude to Reiko Okuyama

My new fave at Studio 4°C, Yasuhiro Aoki, is one of the directors of the first ten eps of Kimagure Robot. In fact, he did the most episodes: 3 in total. Namely episodes 2, 4, and 6. Masahiko Kubo did episode 3, and Nobutake Ito did episode 8. These are the two big animators from Mind Game. Should be interesting to see. The other faces are all familiar from Tweeny Witches.

I haven't read it yet, but the part I'm most looking forward to reading in the new book by Kano Tsuji I just got, Nihon no animeshon wo kizuita hitobito, is the section on Reiko Okuyama, who is the most important female animator of the early period of anime along with Kazuko Nakamura. Both got their start at Toei Doga, but Nakamura defected to Mushi Pro early on. Why I'm looking forward to it more than the sections on Otsuka or Kondo or Kotabe is simple: there's no information about her anywhere else, while there's tons of information available for Otsuka and Kondo and Kotabe. This is about the first book that's taken her up as the pivotal figure of the early Toei Doga period she really is. Perhaps stylistically her work isn't as easily identifiable or striking as the other more famous figures, like her husband Kotabe, but she has definitely always been one of the figures who contributed most to the films in various ways, with ideas or with acutal volume of animation; for example, she is listed second after Yasuji Mori in Horus, and provided animation throughout the film, even though she is never one of the animators usually talked about in discussions of the film.

I've always sensed something about her work that made it stand out for some reason, a real drive and energy, but I had no biographical details to go by, so I couldn't figure out what it was. I knew there had to be an interesting story behind her experience at Toei Doga. In fact it turns out that this image of her as a fighter was right on the mark. From a rudimentary perusal it becomes clear that she was a pioneer of the fight against sexism in the workplace in postwar Japan, in this case within the cultural mirror and microcosm that was Toei Doga, helping to eliminate sexist salary differences, showing that women could be just as creative as men, and taking on major roles hitherto tacitly reserved for men -- as in the case of The Little Mermaid, the film in which she became the first ever female animation director of an animated feature film in Japan - possibly in the world? (okay, skipping early pioneer Lotte Reininger) Once I digest the book I'll write in more detail about this, because it's a fascinating issue. Eventually I'd like to find out more about Kazuko Nakamura, too.

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4 comments

roxfan
roxfan [Visitor]

Isn’t that Kimagure Robot, not Fushigi?

09/26/04 @ 21:57
Ben
Ben [Visitor]

Yeah, my mistake.

Fushigi Robot is doing the music for Kimagure Robot.

09/26/04 @ 22:00
Tsuka
Tsuka [Visitor]

A trailer of Kimagure Robot is avalaible on Yahoo Japan :)

http://streaming.yahoo.co.jp/promo/selection/kimagure-robot/

10/19/04 @ 07:49
Ben
Ben [Visitor]

I’ve watched it several times now to weight the hits. I’ll surely be doing the same for the episodes. I’ve been wondering how they’re planning on gauging viewer response? By hits? Or by sales of the DVD later on? Anyway it looks great, with real variety. The hand in particular caught my eye. I’m all for spending time packing quality into 3 minutes rather than spreading it out over 23. I felt the same thing with Tweeny. 8 minutes is more than enough for an episode. 95% of the time I’m bored by 23-minute anime episodes, which are obviously paced slow only to fill out the time-span, so why not pick up the pace and pack it in a bit? Both lengths are arbitrary.

10/21/04 @ 08:38