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, April 9, 2008

12:48:48 pm , 619 words, 1783 views     Categories: Animation, Misc

Still watching

Just a few comments on the new season after having seen a few episode 1s. By far the most impressive so far has been Bones' Soul Eater (no relation to Soul Taker), directed by the always reliable Takuya Igarashi. Directing was great and solid throughout, but more than anything, with first Sword of the Stranger and now this show, Bones show they really understand action animation. This episode 1 was packed with more stellar animation than I've seen in an episode in a while, from tip to toe - an amazing one-man opening by Yasuhiro Irie, yet another one-man ending by Norimitsu Suzuki, and between the two, two nice fight sequences, one by Nakamura Yutaka, and one I presume to have been by Norimitsu Suzuki, who dominates the proceedings with this double-whammy of action scene + ending. The sublimely rendered explosion in the ending, in particular, sent the fx nerd in me into nerdgasms. I'll be following the show, if just to see how far they can maintain this quality, but also because it's obvious that they're focusing squarely on something that they are proving to be better at than any other studio at the moment - action. I presume we'll be seeing action from Irie, and I noted a woman animator named Kazumi Inadome credited as the main animator, so perhaps we'll be seeing action from her, or at least a good amount of regular animation. Once again I'm left to wonder about the nature of the "main animator" role that is a staple of Bones' shows. Few other studios use the role, so it's something unique to Bones, and it clearly is a major part of their MO that speaks to how they approach and conceive their shows. I like the way there's a sort of 'guiding spirit' animator for each of their shows. It shows an appreciation of and respect for the role of the animator.

Other than that, I was happy to note three new shows directed by women, which is more than I can recall seeing in any season before. Takamitsu Kondo had the simple characters of the kids' show Pipopa going through some nice kinetic action. Ichiro Itano was back with Blassreiter, a new series about CGI motorcycles/robots that was more watchable than I'd anticipated. Gonzo's Aegis was a wan and late take on D&D parody, but was nonetheless watchable, and had a nice section of craziness by Itsuki Imazaki. I don't like his work that much because he seems nothing more than a Yoshinori Kanada epigone without bringing anything new to the mix, but he's sure enthusiastic about it. And hard to believe as it may be, Shoji Kawamori is back with yet another re-hashing of Macross. And it was watchable, with considerable effort put into the first episode technically. It seems to closely follow the pattern of the original show. Not part of the new season, but the last episode of one of last season's shows, Dragonaut, had a nice bit by Toei animator Tatsuzo Nishita, and this episode (and show) was a strong effort overall from Torapezoid's Manabu Ono. I'd like to see him team up with Susumu Yamaguchi again someday for something. The new xxxHolic series by Tsutomu Mizushima didn't do anything new for me, though here's hoping for Yasunori Miyazawa. Finally, for the last of what I'll bother to mention, JC Staff's Nabari no Ou left a mildly nice impression for the vigor and looseness of drawing of some of the action (Ken Kato?). Felt like young staff giving the action a nice go. Most of the rest of the credits this season are dominated by names I've never heard of, so I feel really at sea.



William Massie
William Massie [Visitor]  

heehee. Nice to see you liked it. Another thing that really helped was Norifumi Nakamura’s art design, really nifty and gave the show character. Inadome was a prominent FMA animator btw.

Only other things I saw were the aforemention Macross F, big thing is the CGI as the 2d animation didn’t really get me.

I admit to looking at Geass R2, Yuriko Chiba and Seiichi Nakatani have been working on it, but overall it’s nothing that special. I always did like Takahiro Kimura’s designs though.

IG’s Real Drive was a nice treat, lotsa nice realistic work there.

04/09/08 @ 22:52
A [Visitor]  

Sunrise seems to use the Main/Chief Animator credit from time to time. I noticed it in Zegapain and in Code Geass (Shared between Takahiro Kimura/Seiichi Nakatani/Yuriko Chiba/Eiji Nakada).

As far as Soul Eater, I agree it was really impressive, and studio BONES seems to have woken up in a big way this year compared to the last, with 2 new shows on the way as well as a movie (though that might not be ready until 09)

04/10/08 @ 01:39
Ben [Member]  

True, the look of Soul Eater was a new direction for Bones that I rather liked. I appreciate how they’re not bound to one ‘look’ or aesthetic. I kind of felt like Bones was taking hints from other shows like Tweeny Witches in terms of the art, and Toei stuff like Ojamajo Doremi in terms of the mood/directing, the latter of which would make sense since that’s where Igarashi started.

Also, after posting this I checked out Kurenai, which you mentioned before, William, and it was an interesting piece, with a lot of effort put into the acting throughout, particularly of the little girl. I was impressed by that effort. And director Matsuo has a pretty strong sense of how he wants to structure the drama.

04/10/08 @ 20:10
William Massie
William Massie [Visitor]  

Hmm, Omajou mood? Wouldn’t know cause I haven’t seen it, could you elaborate?

I’m intrigued by Kurenai, even though it didn’t move as much as Kamichu did, the drawings were awesome and the direction was nice too.

BTW, did you hear about Bones’s working on a movie version of e7, I hear Muraki’s on board. (yay).

04/10/08 @ 23:33
Ben [Member]  

Well, I’d say it’s more of a Toei mood than a specifically Ojamajo mood. That’s more what I’m trying to get at - the fact that you can sense that Toei lineage here. Ojamajo just happens to be a handy reference in this case, since that is one the major gigs from Igarashi’s Toei period. I’ve only seen maybe two or three episodes of Ojamajo, and those were Hosoda’s episodes and not Igarashi’s, so I’m not actually too sure what the overall mood of Ojamajo is, or how Igarashi’s work then compares to this new show… But the Toei shows of that era (down to Digimon, actually) seem to share a certain fundamental approach. It’s like Toei has a set of rules that underlie their shows that they’ve learned over the years as the oldest animation studio in Japan: The Toei Pattern for Success. It’s hard to put my finger on exactly what those rules are, but you get a sense of a sort of continuity of approach from one show to the next with them, even more than with other studios. Maybe it’s the tone of slapstick humor, or maybe something about this trope of having a large cast of kid characters going through some fantastical training/quest situation overseen by some form of guidance, as if to mirror what the kid viewers might be experiencing at school, just in a more exciting way, with them having to defeat a new monster every week or learn a new spell or something - but always with a sort of humanistic message that relates it to the real world and feels very different from Pierrot, who obviously also have their own pattern book. Maybe it’s more technical, like a very formal and patterned but highly entertaining style of storyboarding that unifies the great Toei directors’ work (Igarashi, Hosoda, Ikuhara). I’m afraid I’m really not too sure how to explain it. Just that something about it all strikes me as having distant echoes of the Toei TV shows of the late 80s/early 90s that I’ve seen. I don’t want to push the comparison too far, because obviously it will only go so far. Just want to note that I get a sense of that lineage there. Hey, I could be totally off base.

I haven’t been paying much attention to anime news lately, but I do vaguely remember hearing about an E7 movie somewhere a while back, so that’s nice if it’s true.

04/11/08 @ 10:10
Random person
Random person [Visitor]  

If you’re looking for Miyazawa, try the first episode of I.G.’s Toshokan Sensou, he’s there with Takashi Mukaida. Would’ve mentioned this earlier, but I’ve been having a lot of problems accessing the site lately (RSS is fine though).

Looking forward to anything you have to say on Kaiba. Was rewatching bits of Kemonozume yesterday and was reminded of how refreshing it felt back then (and even now).

04/11/08 @ 20:09
Ben [Member]  

I actually watched that show and was baffled to see Miyazawa’s name there. I couldn’t figure out what he could have done, although I suppose Mukoda must have done the bit with the judo, which was the only bit that caught my eye. Maybe it’s my imagination, but I’ve noticed Miyazawa tending to get cast doing more ordinary acting scenes lately, like in Ghost Hound, when what I really want to see from him is craziness like in the previous xxxHolic TV series.

Really sorry for the site troubles… didn’t know there was anything wrong. I’m having trouble posting this comment, so I see there’s something odd going on, though I have no idea what it could be.

04/11/08 @ 23:15
manuloz [Visitor]  

So Mukouda made the Judo part that’s what i thought too because of those little feet that felt Denno Coil-ish.

Miyazawa is credited as set designer on Kaiba so he might show up there but he was not on the first episode, i think.
Recently he has worked on action sequences on Tsubasa chronicles OAV.

04/12/08 @ 00:06
huw_m [Member]

Yeah, for more classic Miyazawa, it looks like he did the big worm things in the first episode of that Tsubasa Chronicles OVA. They looked like the larvae thing he did for Dead Leaves. He also did a shot in the opening for the Star Ocean remake PSP game, which is pretty easy to spot.

04/12/08 @ 20:03
Ben [Member]  

Thanks, I’ll check that out. Always up for more good Miyazawa.

04/13/08 @ 15:09