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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« Crayon Shin-chanTakaaki Wada »

Friday, November 26, 2004

02:55:05 pm , 1000 words, 15493 views     Categories: Animation, Misc


Natural animation by Andy GoldsworthOsamu Kobayashi is back in the driver's seat in Beck 8, with Norio Matsumoto along for the ride. The latter is in good form, with volume and wonted background animation. The previous episode featured Takeshi "master" Honda. Compare with his shot in the opening to get a sense of his current style. Satoru Utsunomiya did some work in FMA 47.

Been revisiting Nadia, and was impressed by the script of Hisao Okawa, one of the Heidi writers. Choice animation catch: Honda's bits (1, 3, 8, 12, 16, 20, 22, 39 + lanky AD on 30 & 35), Hiramatsu's King in 11, Masayuki's boars in 30. Mahiro Maeda storyboarded the episodes that I remembered being more dramatically weighty and convincing (16, 22, 35). Tsurumaki was present, but I don't know his style enough to pick it out.

I talked about Takaaki Wada in the last post. Well, a collection of his key animation for Kaleido Star is coming out soon. It will be nice to see just how this special movement was created. It's being put together by Studio You, the editorial branch of Anime Style, so it should be extremely solid, albeit brief in light of the limits of the subject matter. It's common to see self-published books devoted entirely to the key animation of a particular animator, typically sold at cons in Japan (Hiroyuki Imaishi has regularly put together books of his own key animation), but it's not as common to see solid books on interesting animators like this published via the normal route. The Akira Archive is one published in recent years that offered a sizeable and carefully presented collection of key animation by major animators.

Takaaki Wada started from a circle. Aihara Nobuhiro started a circle, Earth Club, in 1980. Reiko Yokosuka, from Winter Days, started from that circle. Norihito Iki started from a circle, Maunac, founded 1995, and Yuko Asano, also in Winter Days, started from a circle, Animation 80, founded fifteen years earlier in 1980 at the same school, Musashino. Hideaki Anno started making anime during high school at a circle, Group Shado, in 1980. The list goes on. "Circles" (clubs), an outgrowth of the do-it-yourself spirit of the Animation Sannin no Kai, are one of the hidden currents that have historically fed the industry and indie animator pool in Japan.

What has Kihachiro Kawamoto been up to since Winter Days? Working on his next film: The Book of the Dead. It's not what you're thinking, though. He hasn't moved from early Japan to ancient Egypt. This is an adaptation of seminal anthropologist Shinobu Orikuchi's same-titled story, set in the Nara period (8th century), which relates the story of the empress who took it upon herself to promulgate the newly arrived religion of Buddhism to hitherto animist Japan.

Kawamoto continutes his pursuit of the Japanese spirit in this new film, again delicately crafting his own handmade puppets, but the interesting new development is that rather than relying on corporate support to fund the project, this project is entirely funded by fan contributions, which can be made online via his web site. After forging a new paradigm for independent animation filmmaking in Winter Days, Kawamoto has again managed to come up with an approach that bolsters the integrity of the independent animator.

At present more than 50% of the film has been photographed at the studio set up in the Hachioji campus of Tama Art School. Roughly 5 to 10 seconds are photographed daily. It seems that the project is going to be a success. It would be nice if a similar system could be set up to fund Yuri Norstein's Overcoat.

One of the animators who is helping to animate the film is Shin Hosokawa, whose own recently completed short Oni just won the Debut Prize at the Hiroshima International Animation Festival, and has gone on to win prizes at numerous other festivals. Over the next two days, this film is being screened at the Tama Art School's Graphic Design College festival alongside other student films, several of which were showcased on Digital Stadium in the recent past, including Junpei Fujita's Mind the Gap and Mirai Mizue's Fantastic Cell.

Fantastic CellThe latter didn't make it into the Hall of Fame, but sounds fascinating as a concept: 9 minutes of cells replicating endlessly (and encounting - it was unfinished at the time of airing). As judge Makoto Tezuka describes it, you don't know what the hell is going on for the first minute, then after a while it grosses you out, and then it starts to mesmerise you, until it almost becomes a test to see just how much you can stand to watch. It sounds like it would work well as a looping installation in a modern art gallery, 30 minutes or so. Though I haven't seen it to say for sure, if I was the judge on the panel that day, I might well have picked this one for that compelling feeling of unlimited potential for expansion inherent in the concept, and just as importantly to salute the bravura act of having drawn each and every one of the 6000 minutely detailed drawings that make up the piece.

The DigiSta Hall of Famer that impressed me most so far this year is Maya Asakura's Tarachine, for the totally assured sense of purpose, expressive maturity, technical skill, and convincing structuring and pacing of the material. She is 22 and it was her first film. She has my vote for the grand prix because I want to see more from her. There are other films more conceptually novel and technically innovative, but none captivated me and spoke to me like this one, which with no dialogue and only measured action manages to probe an inner world of emotions that few of the other participants seem interested in exploring. She strikes me as a profoundly feminist creator, an animation analogue of manga-ka Murasaki Yamada. The most succinct thing I can think to say about this fragment is that it seems to point to an expressive world that has been lacking in animation up until now, and it would be a tremendous shame if she didn't follow it up.



Otaprince [Visitor]

yo benj- could give us a rundown sometime on thesources are for your extensive anime knowledge? obviously, japanese sources, but are they websites, magazines? which ones?

also, your Hiramatsu translation was greatly appreciated. can we twist your arm into transcribing at least the interesting parts of Takami Akai over at the Kodansha Gainax site?

11/29/04 @ 02:42
Ben [Visitor]

Websites, mostly.

The Takami Akai interview touches on a subject that deserves to be examined, but I prefer to let someone else do that and focus on what I like.

11/30/04 @ 11:11
Otaprince [Visitor]

ah, well- the Hiramatsu one was appreciated, anyhow.

what sites, though? post some links!

11/30/04 @ 19:55
Random person
Random person [Visitor]

Hi, just dropping by on this site after seeing a link on the forums. I find your blog very very educational (I’m very interested in animation but I realise I have a looong way to go…). Do keep writing more entries.

I only recently began finally reading the credits after watching anime. I think it started with ep 18 or was it 19 of Monster which stood out because it was so well done and the animation was superb… to find out it was storyboarded and directed and key animation also done by Hiroyuki Morita! I like to check who does what now so your site is really helpful. I can’t figure out which key animator does which part though… I really appreciate your interviews with the animators as well.

Really great site! I went to rewatch Otogizoushi 6 after you mentioned Shinya Ohira did the key animation for the last part (was it the whole waves-hitting-stuff bit?)… It seems like for the OP of that particular series, there’s one particular part I like that stands out from the rest, it’s when Tsuna’s cutting through stuff and baring his teeth. I wonder which key animator did that section, out of Akiko Asaki (Asako?), Hiroyuki Horiuchi, Hiroyuki Okiura, Toshiyuki Inoue, and Yoshihiko Umakoshi.

12/05/04 @ 22:38
Ben [Visitor]

Thanks. I’ll try to start again soon. For Monster, thanks for the tip. Looks like he didn’t direct, though. I haven’t really followed his work, but I noticed he did some animation in Paranoia Agent 6.

I have a hard time correlating animators to parts most of the time myself. The cases where it’s obvious are the exception. There are lots of reasons why it’s difficult, not least because of the AD system that’s there to keep the drawings looking even. Some animators are just less readily identifiable than others. Some are identifiable from drawing style, some from style of movement, some both. Norio Matsumoto, for example, I can ID from a still or a piece of movement, like in the recent ep of Beck. Sometimes the parts they are assigned simply don’t require as much of them. Some don’t have a strong style or one that remains constant. There are a lot of factors. Every animator is unique. There are really only a handful of animators whose work I can identify just by looking at it.

For the Ohira bit in Otogizoushi 6, the whole tidal wave section. I’m not sure if he did everything, but some parts are unmistakable, like where the boat is being tossed about on the waves. Ohira has been doing character animation in recent years, but before that he was well known as an FX animator, so it’s a nice scene since there’s both characters and FX.

Other parts are unmistakably not. At one point there’s a close-up where the characters suddenly look normal. It obviously wasn’t drawn by Ohira. The stark contrast is kind of funny. But the other parts look pure. One case in which the AD obviously must have corrected his work was Spirited Away. You can still tell it’s him just from the movement. That’s why I like Ohira.

For the shot in question in the opening, I can’t say for sure. I would have to guess either Okiura or Inoue. The fast bit before might be Umakoshi. Yasunori Miyazawa, who did the ending of Dead Leaves, did animation in the first ep.

12/07/04 @ 00:00