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 15, 2004

07:09:42 pm , 401 words, 1103 views     Categories: Animation, Studio

Shinei Doga and Asia-Do

Earlier this year a series called Kaiketsu Zorori started. It's animated principally by Asia-Do, a studio perhaps best known for Chibi Maruko-chan. It's the studio where Masaaki Yuasa got his start as an animator. After a few years working there, Yuasa went freelance and spent the next 8 years working on Crayon Shin-chan for studio Shinei Doga, while also doing various projects on the side. These two studios can be considered the descendent of A Pro. Both Shinei Doga and Asia-Do were founded by ex-members of A Pro in the late 70s. The Shin-chan films in particular are among the few films of the last decade that really feel like they've carried on the legacy of the A Pro style. Shinei (which means "New A") does both planning and animation, and has focused on anime by Fujio Fujiko since it was founded (eg, Doraemon). Asia-Do, on the other hand, is purely an animation studio, and they don't get involved in the production side.

Though obviously Mind Game is a Studio 4°C film, Yuasa is probably the best representative of the A Pro school today, which, as unlikely as it may seem at first sight, could be said to put Mind Game on the same timeline as the A Pro classics like Dokonjo Gaeru. It's well known that he joined Asia-Do precisely because he was a fan of the old A Pro series like Dokonjo Gaeru, the animation directors of which, Osamu Kobayashi and Tsutomu Shibayama, were the people who founded Asia-Do. Perusal of the scenes he animated over the years will clearly show the influence of the animation of Yoshifumi Kondo and particularly Yoshiyuki Momose, with his more fluid style, from Dokonjo Gaeru. Yuasa says he studied their animation in this series actively over the years. Curious what other influences are behind Mind Game? Would you believe Tom & Jerry and Tex Avery? Two of Yuasa's favorite films are Blue Cat Blues, with its poignant comedy and film-like atmosphere, and Rock-a-bye Bear, with its brilliantly timed and hilarious gags. I'll just say that fans of the Piano Concerto episode of Tom & Jerry are in for a special treat in Mind Game. Yuasa truly brings together a range of influences unlike any other creator active in anime today, and that is certainly one of the factors that made it possible for him to create a movie as singular as Mind Game.

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