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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Friday, February 17, 2006

07:30:08 pm , 630 words, 1622 views     Categories: Animation, Misc

Sunset Blvd.

Weird how just seeing a sunset can be revitalizing when you're starting to feel like a pile of sludge on the inside. It helps you get outside of yourself for a moment. Is there anything more hackneyed than a photo of a sunset? Yet why is there this urge to want to capture a beautiful sunset in a photo? To stop time, perhaps.

I don't know how long I've been waiting for Iso's new project to be announced, so I have to say that I'm excited about this. I haven't looked forward to anything this much in a while. It's good to have that feeling back. I guess I'm addicted.

I wonder how long Iso has been warming this project. A number on the drawing would seem to suggest it was drawn six years ago. I know he's been working on it for several years, but I didn't think it went back that far. If so, it seems like he might have gotten involved in RahXephon to get a sense of what it was like directing, as a warm-up for what was to come. In that sense it will be interesting to look back on Childhood's End when the project is complete, to see how much was hinted by the episode and how he evolved.

Up until now Iso has been an animator, and a truly great one, so I have to confess that part of me is concerned to see him going to directing. I have confidence it will be worth the wait, but the animation fan in me finds it hard to give up Iso animation. It will definitely help if the animation turns out to be everything I would expect it to be for the directing debut of Mitsuo Iso. Considering how many people he influenced, and the long span of production, I'd hope that there should be no problem getting the obvious big names onboard.

Only six episodes left in Noein. Have to admit I'm going to miss the show. They really put the effort into making the animation as interesting as possible within the difficult confines of TV anime, something few shows have bothered to try to do lately, so it's going to be a shame to see it go. In each episode you could expect at least one bit of interesting animation - 18 had Hiroshi Okubo; 17 had more Matsumoto; 15 had Utsunomiya - and all that in addition to the occasional explosion like 12 bringing them all together, which honestly would have been entirely sufficient. (Even 16, a recap, advanced the story in an interesting way while providing some good new animation by Kishida, Ryochimo et al.) That was a wonderful thing for the "congregation", but I'm sure it'll have just the effect they're hoping it does, imbedding itself as a memory of something different and interesting in the young people watching it now, unaccustomed to that sort of thing, perhaps awakening a few to the path of animation.

It seems I was right all along in suspecting that Kishida has been in there laboring over the layouts throughout the show, uncredited. It was particularly clear in episode 1, with all its wonderfully handled extreme perspective shots. There's a certain sense of unity in the compositions that can only come from having a single layout man there to keep things straight, like in Heidi or Gamba, and I can't think of any other show in recent decades where that's been attempted. Kishida has surely come as close as humanly possible as it is in this day and age to accomplishing that feat. In every single episode I could feel Kishida's hand, either in the layout or animation. It's a level of devotion you rarely see in a TV show these days, and clearly it attracted a good staff.

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14 comments

Random person
Random person [Visitor]

I read that interview on ANime Style as well. So now we know what Matsumoto did in the OP… I was really impressed that Hiroshi Okubo did the WHOLE of the first episode pre-OP fight - you mentioned that way before (what an uncanny knack you have! Someday I’ll be able to do it too, grr) but I couldn’t believe it. Still can’t! He really impresses me. The fight in episode 18 was great too. So I guess he did that extra section in the OP as well with the flying beams?

Honestly though, I’m quite impressed by the real zeal that the staff has for the production of the show. There’s really a soul behind it. It’s very heartening to see people and studios, like Animal-ya in your more recent post, really putting their heart into animation; they don’t see animation as purely a job to make money but as a kind of extension of their life. And they live their life to help others improve theirs. I guess it’s been going on for ages but it seems so much more of a contrast these days.

I saw Sushio and Hiramatsu in Mushishi 16 but I can’t, for the life of me, figure out which part they actually did. 19 features Akitaro Daichi. I wonder when Hiramatsu, Nagahama and (Nagisa) Miyazaki became his sort-of protegees.

02/19/06 @ 04:37
Ben
Ben [Visitor]

I’ve kind of let my Mushishi fall behind… but I just watched 16. Wonderful stuff. I get a really Sushio vibe from the scene on the boat at the beginning, with the funny faces, and the sneeze feels kind of Hiramatsu… but it’s really pushing things to try to figure out who did what on this show (Hiramatsu not having a particularly individual style to begin with). They really do get it looking even, don’t they. It’s amazing how they manage to maintain everything such an even tone - not just the animation but also the directing. Gives the show a unique distant quality. I also just watched 11, and throughout I was thinking the animation was particularly nice, and it turns out Umakoshi was first. It just had a nice feeling to the animation throughout like that, rather than on a shot basis. Combined with the story and the directing it’s a great effect.

Sorry I never mentioned the part Matsumoto did in the op. It was pretty obvious to me (or rather became so after a while) because he did a similar twirling thing in ep 2 of Macross Plus. But I totally don’t blame you for not being able to beleive me about Okubo. Without seeing his other work to connect the style it can be hard to beleive. I think he did the extra shot in the op, yes. His key animation was actually reproduced in the box of the first DVD. It’s wonderful to hear Akane praising the guy like that… almost enough to make me an Akane fan. I was quite pleased with that interview.

Oh, and I don’t know if you noticed, but I was curious about the person they mentioned as having improvised a lot of that soccer ball scene, so I checked the credits, but he’s not even listed in the credits! First that ep of Eureka, now this… it’s curious how often they seem to ‘forget’ to list people, even often people who did good work in the eps.

I remember Yuasa making a comment that if he had his life to live over again, he wouldn’t work in an office. There are more important things out there than animation, and that’s the world and the people living in it. I know that’s a truth that can be hard to face.

02/22/06 @ 15:10
Random person
Random person [Visitor]

Animation would obviously be the most rich when one hasn’t spent a large chunk of their working life in their office staring only at animation… but I guess as long as it remains as something you have to work like mad at to eke out a living, it’ll have to be up to the individual’s courage. (Though I hear some more wealthy/influential directors take their main staff for overseas trips to show them different things.)
Freelance is probably the easier way to stay sane and live a bit of life, I guess.

As for the soccer dude is it possible he did it under a pseudonym? Unless he asked not to be listed. (I wonder if Matsumoto specifically requested not to be listed in Haibane Renmei and why. Oh, and it’s really OK that you didn’t mention which part he did in the OP.)
I really am glad, though, that there’s people like Kishida and Akane who can use their clout and position as experienced people to make such an interesting project possible. But perhaps thanks should also go to the producers, they actually allowed Satelight to have their own way. Then again because it’s lodged in an obscure time and station they’d allow anything…
I can only hope that this kind of effort will continue and in shows like Noein which normal anime fans can be convinced to watch. I’m sure the effect of doing things that way on the animators must be very positive as well.
And if Akane’s the kind of person who can embrace animation over pretty still pictures, surely he must be able to appreciate Ohkubo to some extent, unless he had some bone to pick with the man…

Thanks for the bit about Mushishi. And it is true, the animation is extremely even. What I also like is how they have a colour designer for each episode. They actually have a theme colour for each episode which is reflected in the animation colours and the background art. They don’t forget to consider the story when picking the colour, too. Same thing with the per-episode theme BGM and ending images… Production must have been planned very well for this to go on smoothly. It’s quite a nice touch, really.

Also there’s Utsunomiya in Noein 19. Ryo-chimo did a nice bit with a character kicking someone in the stomach.

02/23/06 @ 04:45
tim_drage [Member]

Sunrise is good too…

Minds grim with nihilism still find first light inspiring. Mild pink in tint, its shining twilight brings bright tidings which lift sinking spirits. (from my current obsession; Eunoia by Christian Bok.)

02/23/06 @ 12:29
Ben
Ben [Visitor]

I’m never up early enough to catch the sunrise, which kind of makes it even more special. That Bok is amazing.

RP> You’re pretty good if you could spot Ryochimo like that. Even I had to rewatch it a few times, and I’m still not sure. It kind of looked like Utsunomiya at first, but then Utsunomiya’s part in the board room later on had that unmistakable Utsunomiya look, so it makes it obvious the earlier bit probably wasn’t him. Utsunomiya did scout the guy, after all, so perhaps Ryo was influenced by him.

02/24/06 @ 18:26
Random person
Random person [Visitor]

I’m just guessing myself really, I wouldn’t be surprised if I was completely wrong. It’s intuition entirely. I honestly don’t know anything!

It seems like Toei’s most recent Gaiking #12 has some awesome names there. I’m getting it right now…

Other individual episodes I’m checking out (not because of the series) are
Black Cat #18 (Imaishi storyboard)
ARIA #11 (Wada KA)
Daa Daa Daa #15 (apparently, Wada)

02/24/06 @ 21:15
Random person
Random person [Visitor]

Sorry for the double post, but here’s some references if you can’t get the episode:
Screenshots A
Screenshots B
Short animation clip [gif]
3 minute animation clip [avi]

The last one has some really great air circus animation, maybe you could call it Itano Circus-esque, yet somehow I feel that it’s different (in that there’s only 2 objects, and something about the movement).

02/24/06 @ 21:54
Random person
Random person [Visitor]

Urgh, I could shoot myself. Sorry, it’s not episode 12. It’s 13.

02/25/06 @ 05:17
Manuloz
Manuloz [Visitor]

I remember checking Gaiking #1 because of Imaishi but never manage to find where… But this episode was great, overal the animation was good, so i wonder who is AD?

On the last newtype came a booklet which feature some great artwork for Evangelion done by Gainax animators :
http://www.manganimation.net/forum/index.php?showtopic=23&st=45&#

The ones made by Sushio and Ayumi shiraishi are great.

02/26/06 @ 12:36
Ben
Ben [Visitor]

You remember Tatsuzo Nishida? The young animator who did the tidal wave and elongating neck in Secret Island that Hosoda liked so much? Well, this was his first job as AD at Toei, so to celebrate apparently a lot of interesting folks decided to drop in - half are people who worked on Secret Island and are presumably working on Hosoda’s next film, and the rest are from Bones for some reason.

> The last one has some really great air circus animation

You know who did it, right?

02/26/06 @ 15:22
Random person
Random person [Visitor]

Wow, it’s amazing to see how many awesome animators came together on that episode because they heard of someone (who is a relative newbie, even!) being AD! Such support… they must all really believe in him.

And er… air circus, by Takashi Hashimoto? Since his forte is effects. Eh, I’m really bad at guessing this, I’m telling you… Either him or Yutaka Nakamura.(I bet I’ll get it wrong anyway.)

The Aria episode wasn’t really outstanding or anythig, but that Imaishi-storyboarded ep of Black Cat was indeed very fast-paced. He even did a bit of KA (I think in this bit in the middle) I didn’t know he had done KA for the OP too. I could imagine that it would have been quite good if it was produced a bit better.

I also found, at the same place, this nice clip of a part (presumably Shinya Ohira’s?) of the XXXHolic movie, no sound but the animation alone makes you really feel the booms and the swooshes. I’m really impressed by it.

02/27/06 @ 01:41
Manuloz
Manuloz [Visitor]

RP > First thx for the clip, there’s great animation on them.

I manage to dl a raw from the Holic movie, and there was this little sequence which feature nice animation too:
http://manuloz.free.fr/video/holic.avi

Anime style as an article for a bit of animation of Okiura on the movie here :
http://www.style.fm/as/02_topics/top_060227.shtml

Ben >that was a nice initiative from Toei, he has pulled of a great job.
Too bas for me, i though the tidal wave was the work of matsumoto, i’m not trained enough.

02/27/06 @ 09:03
Ben
Ben [Visitor]

RP> Takashi Hashimoto doesn’t do that sort of thing. His part might actually be kind of a challenge to pick out this time. It’s Matsuda Soichiro, the guy who did the circus in the Futakoi Alternative op and eps of Eureka 7 that we talked about recently. And Nakamura’s part should have been easy to spot. Nobody else draws exploding rocks as a collection of differently sized cubes the way he does. He drew the same thing in Eureka 7 and the FMA movie. Personally I liked Takaaki Yamashita’s scene (the hand).

02/27/06 @ 15:51
Random person
Random person [Visitor]

Hm… to borrow a Japanese emoticon, OTL. I told you I’m hopeless at guessing! Well, at least I’m enlightened now.

Web Anime Style now not only has Okiura’s genga as Manuloz posted, but also has Yasunori Miyazawa’s, Shinji Hashimoto and Ohira’s genga. Ohira’s genga really has that convincingly eerie feeling… especially that last one…

Thanks for the clip manuloz. There’s some rather quirky and funny movement in it.

02/28/06 @ 05:11