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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« Ayakashi 9Recent viewing »

Thursday, March 9, 2006

03:23:21 pm , 1070 words, 1505 views     Categories: Animation

Sundry rambling

I discovered another Norimitsu Suzuki ending - the third season of Galaxy Angel A, from 2002. When I started watching the ending, I thought movements were suspiciously good, so I had a feeling it had to be someone I was familiar with. This is the oldest of his endings I've seen. The reason I checked the show out was to see some more work by Shigehito Takayanagi, the director of the third season, because I rather liked what he did with ep 4 of 1998's Popolo Crois. He's directing a new show called Himesama Goyojin that starts next month.

I watched the first episode of Tomomi Mochizuki's Shinigami no Ballad, and I actually preferred it in its simplicity to his previous show. I guess I'm just a softie for stories like that.

Norio Matsumoto was in Noein 21. While watching the episode I got the feeling the drawings were somehow different. It felt like the staff had all been consciously influenced by Matsumoto or something. As it turns out it was because Akira Takada was the AD. He was one of the main staff behind Haibane Renmei and has worked together with Matsumoto on a number of occasions, so that probably explains the similarity. I really like his drawings. And right from the first shot I thought there was something different about the directing. It was much tighter, showed a clearly better sense for drama, so I was wondering who did it. On seeing the credit at the very end I finally remembered I'd been told beforehand that it would be a Hiroyuki Morita storyboard. It showed. And Matsumoto was well used here again, providing the pivotal scene revealing Atori's true motivation with just the sort of nuanced expression and acting required to give the scene the proper impact. Which leads me to wonder aloud to myself something I've long wondered: Who assigns shots? The storyboarder, the ep director, the director? Surely not the animation director? I'd suppose the storyboarder, but I've never seen shot assignments in storyboards. Either it's just written somewhere else, or the person who processes the storyboard (ep director) must do it.

I enjoyed Ergo Proxy, though it's nothing nearly as new as I would have hoped. The moody directing and laid back Blade Runner-esque storytelling of Dai Sato (how many shows is he juggling?!) are obviously the attraction of the show and not the animation, but I thought the animation was quite nice in its own way and entirely sufficient. Anything more would probably be a distraction. The first episode seemed to veer between two or three completely different styles, which is explained by the fact that Naoyuki Onda (Z Gundam New Translation) was one of the three ADs. I'm usually not a fan of animators who are only good at drawing drawings, but I still rather like his drawings, even though they strike me as being somewhat lifeless. The scene in the mall in episode 2 seemed to provide the best example of what it was they were aiming for with the show in terms of mood and directing, with the music and slo-mo action combining to riveting effect. I look forward to a nice dystopian vision of a consumerist society run amok, just the sort of thing I'd expect from Dai. At the same time I wish they'd had the guts to set it in the real world, which is infinitely more strange than any science fiction I've ever seen. But I guess anything more direct in that direction would be like biting the hand that feeds them.

Are there any properly drawn cats in anime? It seems like whenever I see a cat it's so hideously drawn I have to avert my eyes. Cats, dogs, animals in general. I get the craving to see a properly drawn animal every once in a while, and it's a desire that's rarely consummated. There seems a definite deficiency in life-drawing skills among the rank and file over there. And I don't think it's something that can be blamed on fashion or preference. I've seen some shows where the cats were definitely supposed to be drawn realistically, and the results made it quite clear why severe stylization is opted for in almost all cases. People can't draw cats. I don't mean to sound harsh, I guess it's just that I like cats and want to see them properly drawn. Today I was re-watching The Heroic Legend of Arslan, which I haven't seen in more than a decade - quite a nostalgia rush! - and I was quite impressed to see that the horses were properly drawn. Explanation: AD Kazuchika Kise. (not Kazuya, though I don't blame them for misspelling it, as I did the same thing at first) So right now I'm looking forward to the last arc of Ayakashi to see if there are going to be some properly drawn cats in there. Even if there aren't it sounds promising. Supposedly Takashi Hashimoto will actually be involved in the actual work on the episodes, rather than just a distant "original design concept". Nakura's episodes (or at least the one I could stand to check) were a disaster, no surprise, because he wasn't even involved.

Ryutaro Nakamura's getting super meta on us again with a new show about a girl trying to break into the seiyuu biz played by a girl trying to break into the seiyuu biz. Also seems to be his way of wrangling the moe phenom into his own more realistic terms, and it's kind of fun.

I'd long wanted to see a bit of Space Pirate Mito and got to see the first two eps. It was just the sort of fun, well made children's series I'd thought it was, with the old-fashioned spirit of Animal Treasure Island. A shot in the opening actually had a whole bunch of pirates swarming over a ship as if in homage to the old inspiration. Susumu Yamaguchi was an animator in the op (and ep 3), so I suspect he must have done that section. I know almost none of the names in the show, but Takamitsu Kondo's characters are great - cute and catchy, but with few lines and easy to move, so that even without any great animators the drawings and movement are always nice to look at. The only names I recognize come in ep 12, where Nobutake Ito and Takashi Tomioka co-AD'd the episode, which sounds incredible.



Random person
Random person [Visitor]

I liked Kazuchika Kise’s cats in Otogizoushi.

And there was an Utsunomiya bash for a good chunk of Shinichiro Watanabe’s ep 22 of Noein, he was even an AD. Very worth watching. Really. I get the feeling he was allowed to come up with the designs of some of the subcharacters, even.

03/15/06 @ 02:24
Ben [Visitor]

Amazing the storyboarders they’ve gotten for this show. Can’t wait to see it.

I’d like to see Kise’s cats. What ep? I checked out one near the end that had some of the worst cat drawings I’ve ever seen.

03/15/06 @ 09:16
Random person
Random person [Visitor]

Not really in the show, but the designs here Unfortunately the picture is small… I managed to swipe a bigger version from some mysterious source a long time ago but I think I lost it in a hard drive crash. I think it looks nice, anyway…

According to the Yoji Nakaza’s blog, seems like the last ep of Noein is such a bash that there’s 480 cuts and 5 enshutsu… five…

03/15/06 @ 10:15
Ben [Visitor]

I love that cat! I suppose there must be an ep or two where he drew that cat, since he designed it. I remember hearing a story about Kise going out and staring at crows through the viewfinder of his camera all day when he had to draw crows for Innocence or something or other. He didn’t take a single shot, just observed and based his drawings on that. Now that’s kakkoii.

As for Noein, I’ve heard that all of the big names (animators) involved so far will be involved in the last ep, so…

03/15/06 @ 11:58
Random person
Random person [Visitor]

I can’t remember the cats looking too good in Otogizoushi really, then again my memory of it is very fuzzy except for the OPs and Shinya Ohira’s wave in 6 (according to an interview on the IG site, he did a dragon in 12 or something like that), and episode 16 was Kise AD, iirc…

As for the gathering of animators for the last ep of Noein, I heard about it too, that even Atsushi Wakabayashi was involved… I wonder how good he is supposed to be as an animator. This is something I’m really eager to see, at any rate. I wonder how long they spent doing it…

By the way, have you seen this game (Hanjuku Eiyuu Tai) OP done by Yoshinori Kanada, it’s rather intense and also very energy-packed. He, er, seems to have had fun doing it. It’s this one (video quality not too high) I really enjoyed watching it…whereas I saw what seemed to be (?) Imaishi’s OP for a Namco x Capcom game, the explosions were nice but otherwise… eh

03/16/06 @ 11:42
Ben [Visitor]

Yep, I’ve seen that op before. I think I must have mentioned it before on the blog, but I don’t remember. Got it in good quality myself… Imaishi’s piece was indeed nice as far as it went. Feels like he did the best he could with those characters. Obviously he couldn’t go crazy with property like that.

Been meaning to check out that dragon by Ohira ever since I read that mention in the interview… I’ve absolutely got to see it if it’s his stab at the patented Kanada dragon, or even if isn’t. (probably isn’t, since he’s more of a Yamashita man) Some people have been saying he’s in the new Doraemon movie, but he’s not credited, so I’m pretty sure they’re just mistaking Mori for him the way I did at first.

03/16/06 @ 19:26
Random person
Random person [Visitor]

I think Ohira did the dragons and the light pillars - upon rewatching it it’s practically the only thing in the episode worth watching, and it’s kind of nice but a bit short. I’m far from experienced enough to say whether it’s in the Kanada or Yamashita style, but either way I wish he did a bit more…

03/17/06 @ 00:34
Ben [Visitor]

Natch I’ve always felt the same way with Ohira’s bits, but there’s the obvious contradiction that what makes his work so great would be impossible to produce in large quantities, so I can sort of understand why his bits usually only last a few shots. His bits in the recent IG films were a decent length, but I guess it seems unlikely we’ll ever see something like a half-ep drawn by Ohira. Ohira’s work has always seemed more suited to features than TV work, so I’m just happy to be able to see the occasional TV piece like this.

03/17/06 @ 14:51
Tsuka [Visitor]

Kanada’s Hanjuku Hero 3D and Hanjuku Hero 4 openings are availaible on Catsuka since last year.

03/18/06 @ 09:12
Random person
Random person [Visitor]

Ahh, thank you very much!! Next time I should actually try looking for these things…

03/18/06 @ 21:08
Random person
Random person [Visitor]

Hm, what’s this I hear about Yuasa doing a TV show with madhouse on the WOWOW channel? Kemonozume… Horror x Adventure x Love Story, potential for lots of quirky stuff.


03/22/06 @ 07:50
Ben [Visitor]

Ah, so they finally announced it. Good to hear.

03/22/06 @ 09:35