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Tuesday, May 27, 2008

07:14:25 am , 170 words, 6542 views     Categories: Animation, Misc, Indie

Tadanari Okamoto licensed?

The Tadanari Okamoto films I uploaded to Crunchyroll have been deleted. The good news is that this was done because they have apparently been licensed. If that is indeed the case, and we're going to be seeing an Okamoto R1 DVD in the very near future, then I couldn't be happier. I'm a little skeptical, so I hope it doesn't take too long to hear some kind of announcement related to this.

In other news, several films about which I'd heard rumors quite a long time ago seem to finally be moving ahead: Tadashi Hiramatsu's debut feature Ghost Rhapsody and Hiroyuki Okiura's long-awaited next feature. The Hiramatsu film isn't confirmed yet, though it's probably go from the look of things (thanks Manuloz). But the Okiura film is, because Production IG is soliciting staff for the new film on their web site. It's been a long time coming (it's been more than 3 years since we first heard about Ghost Rhapsody, and 10 since Jin-Roh), but both should be worth looking forward to.



pete [Member]

Very unlikely to wait for a R1 release.

Probably there was a request of removal by the Japanese distributor.

Even the series “Les Miserables” were removed due to a request by Nippon Animation and they’re not likely to get licensed either. But you can find all the episodes in a chinese streaming site.

Japanese companies dont buy the logic “if it is not licensed in the States or elsewhere, you’re free to distribute or fansub our content without our consent”

Because from what I see in the torrents, many clients are from Japan.

05/28/08 @ 01:19
h_park [Member]

It can’t be helped. Japanese are just starting to grasp the situation. What can I say?

05/28/08 @ 05:08
manuloz [Visitor]  

Thx for the news on Hiroyuki Okiura. It’s good to know it’s finally happening. I wonder if Oshii will be scriptwriter on this like he said like 3 or 4 years ago.

On Ghost Rapsody, it happen that Akemi Hayashi was on the trip to England so she might be the chara deisgner.

05/28/08 @ 05:40
Ben [Member]  

You’re probably right, Pete. I just can’t see who would have requested that the files be taken down. I have no problem accepting big companies hunting around and being vigilant to request their series be taken down, but to me the situation seems quite different. Okamoto is DEAD, for one, and I was under the impression that his company Echo Incorporated consisted solely of him, and it disappeared with his passing. I’m sure the rights for his films transferred to someone with his passing, but it seems to me to be totally out of character with the spirit of what Okamoto was doing with his independently-created and produced films to be taking the same tactics as some big bad corporation who doesn’t want to give an inch of their rights away. If the rights holder is so vigilant, I find it hypocritical that they do this but don’t take some steps to get his work available to consumers. The whole point of taking down films is that they are supposedly infringing on their sales profit, but the whole reason I did it was that there was no commercial release anywhere upon which to infringe. So I’m baffled if it really hasn’t been licensed. (which seemed quite surprising to me anyway)

Of all the anime on there, they remove four unsubbed puppet films…

Then again, there was an R1 release of Kihachiro Kawamoto’s work recently, so I’m holding out hope it’s true.

05/28/08 @ 08:05
J R Smith
J R Smith [Visitor]  

You should also keep in mind that media companies are often quite cavalier about sending out these takedown notices, often mistakenly abusing the DMCA to claim rights to content they don’t actually have rights to. I’m not sure how it works on crunchyroll, but at least on youtube you’re able to find out the name of the entity that made a copyright claim to a video you uploaded. It would probably be worth contacting crunchyroll to find out who sent the takedown notice because that would provide a clue as to whether this was a mistake or a legitimate claim.

05/28/08 @ 15:51
LainEverliving [Visitor]  

So is Ghost Rhapsody going to be made at GAINAX? I mean, it *is* Hiramatsu, so I would certainly expect it, but GAINAX hasn’t done a feature in a really long time… especially not something that wasn’t based off of one of their shows (i.e., a sequel or tie-in). Plus, aren’t they going to be busy with the two Gurren Lagann movies, and the Shikabane Hime TV series? If this were Madhouse, I’d be fine with it, but when has GAINAX ever tried to do that much all at once? Is there some major studio expansion going on that I don’t know about? And what about the staff drain of people going over to Khara for the new Evangelion movies?

Coincidentally, have you seen Evangelion: 1.0 You Are [Not] Alone yet? I know you don’t ordinarily talk too much about the more commerical regular releases, but since it was such a big hit (and won at TAF), I’d like to know your thoughts. Oh, and there’s some little bits of key animation from Masayuki, Tsurumaki, Sadamoto (also AD), and Anno in it, which you can spot if you look carefully.

As for Okiura, I’ve been waiting for this forever. I’m excited to see Sky Crawlers when that’s out, but otherwise I’ve been neglecting I.G. lately… and that isn’t a good thing. I just wish they did more features… I like them so much more than their TV work.

Lastly, totally unrelated to any of this, but for those who’ll be in Los Angeles over 4th of July, Madhouse’s Hiromi Kato will be making his first appearance outside of Japan at Anime Expo. He’s in episode 8 of Kemonozume and Hosoda’s One Piece movie (doing KA), and he did CD, AD, and KA on the wonderful CLAMP in Wonderland 2 video, so he should be fun to see.

05/30/08 @ 02:37
Ben [Member]  

J R Smith -

Good advice. I’m trying to find out now.

LainEverliving -

It seems probable it’ll be made at Gainax (I think Hiramatsu is employed there), but it’s all rumor for now. The only official thing we’ve had was that poster all those years back. I suppose the fact that they’re not Madhouse is why it’s taken them so long to getting around to doing it… But then again, I’ve never really understood Gainax, so I don’t know what they might be thinking.

I haven’t watched those new Eva movies, but thanks for asking. I’ll try to have a look and get back to you. To be honest, I’ve always maintained a healthy distance from all things Eva, being kind of repelled by the aura of hype surrounding the franchise, so I may not be the best person to ask. I’ve seen a good deal of the animation in snippets here and there, but that’s about it. I’m probably not equipped with the background knowledge about the TV series needed to fully appreciate what has been done with the old material in the new movies. But I’m always up for seeing some good animation, so I’ll try to have a look.

I’m also kind of looking forward to the Okiura movie, not so much because it’s produced by Production IG as just becaues I want to see what he’ll do with another film. I’ll keep my expectations reasonable, because I’m not sure he has it in him to surpass or even equal Jin-Roh again, but if he sets his mind to it, perhaps he can. He’s definitely uncompromising, whatever he does.

06/02/08 @ 18:15
LainEverliving [Visitor]  

Ben -

Sorry for posting this so late, but if you are going to check out the new Evangelion movie, there’s some other animator work to look for. Atsushi Okuda, Hidenori Matsubara, Kazuchika Kise, and Yuji Moriyama all did AD and KA, Shunji Suzuki was chief AD and also has KA, Takeshi Honda was the mecha AD and did a great bit of KA (of the camera pull past EVA Unit 01 and the Positron Rifle), Shoichi Masuo was the special effects director (and did some real nice KA of explosions and such), and there’s also KA to be found from Ko Yoshinari, Daizen Komatsuda, Shigeto Koyama, Yasushi Muraki, Akiko Asaki, Atsuko Sasaki, and the ever-awesome Ryochimo. So, if you see the movie, look for their work!

Also, having seen more Sky Crawlers trailers, I think that (other than Ponyo of course) all the other animators putting out movies this year should just give up… let’s face it, we already have a winner. ^__^

As for Okiura, I guess we’ll just have to wait and see… but personally, I think he has it in him to match Jin-Roh. Seriously though, I’m really excited to see what he’ll do with this next film.

06/16/08 @ 19:59
Ben [Member]  

You know how to catch my attention… I really do need to have a look now that I’ve seen all those names. Personally I’m really looking forward to Ponyo, more than any Miyazaki film in years, because it’s supposedly going to be really focused on creating interesting animation, and I’m sure a lot of great animators are going to do great work in there. Even Yuichiro Sueyoshi was involved apparently, a first AFAIK. I wasn’t expecting anything extraordinary in terms of the animation from Sky Crawlers, but Oshii’s film are always very solid on the animation front, so it’s kind of a no-brainer. This is turning out to be one of those years when two or three major new films from the big directors are in production at the same time and steal all the important animators for a while.

Oh, and I’ve asked about this Okamoto fiasco, but still haven’t gotten a straight answer yet. From what I’ve been told, apparently all of the raw videos on the site were marked as licensed at the same time for some reason unknown even to the moderator of the anime section, so I’m guessing it was just a glitch in the system and Okamoto’s films haven’t really been licensed.

06/18/08 @ 22:41
LainEverliving [Visitor]  

That’s too bad to hear about the Okamoto films… it would have been nice if they’d actually been picked up.

Yeah, I kind of think that Ponyo and Sky Crawlers have been occupying everyone in the upper echelon this last year / year-and-a-half… and then, there’s also Evangelion: 2.0 Division in production at Khara, so I’m sure they’ve got their share of good people. I know from the artbook I bought that the *permanent staff* at Khara (until the four new Eva films are completed) includes Tsurumaki, Masayuki, Matsubara, Honda, and Masuo, and I honestly think that even though they haven’t taken company credit that Sadamoto and Suzuki will be there until the end too… so we know where they’ll be until (at least) 2009… My personal guess is also that Yo Yoshinari might join his sister if the Gurren Lagann movies are delayed / timed right, so maybe we’ll see him + a repeat performance from Ko in Movie 2. At least, that’s what I’m hoping. Ryochimo, on the other hand, will probably not be returning since he’s doing CD and chief AD on Birdy the Mighty DECODE over at A-1 Pictures (Aniplex’s new production house). Yeah, I could believe it when I saw the CD credit… but it looks like he’s really moving up in the world, and his designs look nice too. I’m also really hoping for Tomoki Kyoda to do more storyboards. I know he’s got the Eureka Seven movie to do, but maybe he’ll find time somehow. I’m less confident about Shinji Higuchi, but maybe…

Also, what about all those movies in the works at Madhouse? Aren’t there like six or seven of them (including new stuff from Hosoda and Kon)? Who’s working on those? I can’t find out anywhere.

06/19/08 @ 02:38
Ben [Member]  

It’s interesting to see that Yoshiyuki Sadamoto is finally back doing actual work as an animator. I don’t know whether he did so before in the course of the series, but I can’t recall seeing almost any animation from him since his student test piece at Telecom way back in the early 80s that Yasuo Otsuka liked so much.

So, wait… sister? Are you trying to tell me something I wasn’t aware of here about Ko Yoshinari??

Anyway, I’m looking through the credits right now and it’s definitely odd to see Ko instead of Yo in there, as I always associated Yo and not Ko with Eva. I noticed a bunch of names that caught my eye, even apart from the names you mentioned… notably Takashi Hashimoto at the top of the list (can’t wait to see his explosions), Muraki, Hideki Takahashi (baseball in Tokikake), Soichiro Matsuda (love his work), Ko Yoshinari and Takashi Mukoda. Whether I’ll be able to identify them is another story.

Actually, I’d never even heard of Shigeto Koyama, Akiko Asaki and Atsuko Sasaki before you mentioned them. Should I know these animators from somewhere? Even Komatsuda Daizen - I’ve heard he’s good, and remember him from the Street Fighter and Eureka 7 credits, but I really don’t know his work well enough to identify it. Similarly, I’m actually not that familiar with the work of the Gainax regulars like Shunji Suzuki, Shoichi Masuo and Hidenori Matsubara either, since I don’t watch much Gainax stuff. So a lot of those names don’t mean much to me. Anno I’m sure will be identifiable from his purple explosions, as will Takeshi Honda. (in my heart of hearts, I wish Honda wasn’t stuck doing Gainax work)

As for the Madhouse movies, unless you have inside connections or something it’s generally pretty hard to find animation credits before a film is released, though I’m sure a few names must have been leaked here and there by now.. You can pretty much guess who’s going to be involved in the Kon film, though I’m hoping there will be some nice surprises as usual in Hosoda’s new film. (which hasn’t been announced yet, has it?)

As for Ryochimo, he’s one of the most amazing success stories among new animators in recent years. Quite some talent he’s got. I would have missed his name in the credits if you hadn’t mentioned it, though, since he’s using his real name here. I liked the work A-1 Productions did on Ookiku Furikabutte (or at least the innovative way they got Junichiro Taniguchi to make all the baseball feel really realistic) so I’m looking forward to this new production.

06/19/08 @ 09:24
manuloz [Visitor]  

On Sadamoto > well i’m not sure it was a big thing other than a static shot of Kaworu at the End and AD-ing the teaser for the second film. he also drew a shot on the last episode of Gurren Lagann and that’s all. Maybe when he will finish eva’s manga, we will see more of him as an animator.

On Honda > I just think he is being loyal to an old friend - we can always wonder if in between the 2 eva movie he got time to squeese somethng else…
I was actually wondering if not for the first movie who would have showed up on Denno Coil. Tsurumaki for sure but Anno ?

Komatsuda drew a really cool illustration for Gainax HP last year :

You can check Birdy teaser here :

06/19/08 @ 11:05
LainEverliving [Visitor]  

First, in regards to the various unfamiliar animators: for the most part, they’re fairly new to the business, and a few of them aren’t specifically known for animation. Shigeto Koyama has done design works for Eureka Seven, Gurren Lagann, and Moribito - Guardian of the Spirit, as well as mechanical designs for GITS:SAC: Solid State Society (specifically, the Tachikomas), Michiko to Hatchin, and Top wo Nerae 2! (i.e. Gunbuster 2). This is his first KA credit. Akiko Asaki has done KA for Aquarion, Blood+, Chrono Crusade, Otogi Zoshi, Paradise Kiss, and Pretear, and was a main animator on Gate Keepers 21 and animation director on episode 7 of Paranoia Agent. Atsuko Sasaki has done AD duties on episodes of Eureka Seven, Jyu Oh Sei, Kurau: Phantom Memory, and Shrine of the Morning Mist, as well as the odd bit of KA here and there. As for Daizen Komatsuda, he started with good in-betweening on Spirited Away and Furi Kuri (he did every episode!), and has since contributed KA to Fullmetal Alchemist and Hosoda’s One Piece movie, plus directed episodes of Eureka Seven and Le Chevalier D’Eon. So, he’s moved up a lot in the past seven years.

Second, with regards to Yo and Ko Yoshinari, I’d always heard that they were twin brother and sister, respectively. I think that Ko is the elder sister, but I’m not sure. There aren’t too many sibling teams in animation these days, and the only other one which comes to mind are the sisters Kazumi and Shoko Ikeda over at Kyoto Animation (which I know always gets a bad rap when it’s mentioned on here, but really, they’re both very talented animators and character designers). But yeah, unless you’ve heard otherwise elsewhere, I’m pretty sure Ko is a *female* animator… and a very talented one at that!

Regarding Sadamoto, I don’t believe he did any actual key animation on the TV series or the End of Evangelion… but I might be wrong. At any rate, if he did, I think it must have been unaccredited, as I’ve not seen his name listed anywhere.

At any rate, his animation in other works is as follows:

Daicon IV (1983) KA
Angel’s Egg (1985) KA
The Tale of Genji (1987) KA
The Wings of Honneamise (1987) AD
F (1988) KA (don’t know which episodes)
Top wo Nerae 2! (i.e. Gunbuster 2) (2004) AD - ep. 1
Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann (2007) KA - ep. 27

Finally, specifically regarding Evangelion: 1.0, the “Rebuild of Evangelion: 1.0 All Collection” artbook on the film identifies by cut some of the work of the animators involved. I’ve copied here what I could from the book for everyone’s information and spotting pleasure. Please note that the animation directors obviously corrected hundreds of additional shots besides the ones I’m mentioning, but as the ones mentioned are specifically confirmed by the artbook, I figured I should note them. The film directors (Masayuki, Tsurumaki, and Anno) also drew over a thousand layouts between them (almost all layouts were handled by them), and even though the book features many notations, it would be overkill to list them all, so I hope what I’ve provided is sufficient. Lastly, note that the cut descriptions may contain spoilers, so don’t read them if you want to be surprised (particularly Tsurumaki’s section).


CUT-1676 KA & Layout (Kaworu awakening)

CUT-1679 KA (Kaworu looks toward the camera [at the white giant])

CUT-1680 KA & Layout (the white giant [Anno’s corrections of the giant’s mask are noted in his section])

CUT-1682 KA (a close up of Kaworu talking [the final shot in the film])

Next Movie Preview:

CUT-0009, CUT-0010, CUT-0012, CUT-0013, CUT-0015, CUT-0017 KA Corrections (shots of Kaji, Gendo, Ritsuko, Misato, Rei, and Kaworu)

CUT-0018 Background Layout (a colored pencil drawing of the sky)

CUT-0018, CUT-0019 KA (shot from behind and a face close-up of the new female character, respectively)


CUT-0010 KA Corrections (first shot of Shinji in the film)

CUT-0216 KA Corrections (injured Rei lying on the ground in pain)

CUT-0522 KA Corrections (drunk Misato leaning towards camera [Shinji’s POV] during dinner)

CUT-0569 KA Corrections (close-up side profile of Misato in the bath)

CUT-1038 KA Corrections (side rear profile of Rei in swimsuit)

CUT-1156 Rough KA Corrections (Rei slapping Shinji)


CUT-1269 KA Corrections (group sitting at table at close of Operation Yashima meeting)

CUT-1673 KA Corrections (Rei smiling)

CUT-1674A KA (Shinji smiling back)


NOTE: Honda’s KA Corrections are where the extremely high level of detail in the mechanical animation was added. The details were seemingly not drawn by the actual key animators, but rather by him.

CUT-0250E KA Corrections (EVA Unit 01 being brought to the launch catapult [only the EVA, and not the crew or surrounding equipment, drawn by Honda])

CUT-1021 Rough KA (close-up of EVA Unit 00’s handcuffs [detail KA of the cuffs by Anno in this same CUT noted in his section])

CUT-1025 Rough KA (close-up of Unit 00’s head [detail KA of the mouth area by Anno in this same CUT noted in his section])

CUT-1409 Rough KA (large pan shot of the back side of the Shield held by Unit 00)

CUT-1512 KA Corrections (pan shot of EVA Unit 01 lying prone with the Positron Rifle)

CUT-1520 KA (pull past Unit 01 and the Positron Rifle as the countdown to firing begins)

CUT-1588 KA Corrections (close-up side profile of barrel of Positron Rifle [corrections do not include smoke effects])

CUT-1589 KA Corrections (Unit 01 with the Positron Rifle [corrections do not include smoke effects])

CUT-1598 KA Corrections (Unit 01 hoists the Positron Rifle aloft and starts to carry it [corrections do not include smoke effects])


CUT-0036 Effects KA (debris and smoke fly as 4th Angel lifts off [later augmented with CG effects of shingles being blown off a roof for the 1.01 DVD version])

CUT-0486 KA (ships in the Tokyo-III harbor as buildings rise [Masuo only drew the ships, and nothing else])

CUT-0685 KA (railway cannons and hillside battery guns shooting at the 5th Angel [does not include the firing effects])

CUT-0686A KA (large battleship-style guns near playground firing at the 5th Angel [does not include the firing effects])

CUT-0707 Effects KA (electrical bolts discharge as EVA Unit 01 is launched to fight the 5th Angel [later augmented with CG effects])


CUT-00097 Rough KA (4th Angel’s second head emerges)

CUT-0814 KA Corrections (EVA Unit 01 draws Progressive Knife while fighting 5th Angel [for the 1.01 DVD version])


NOTE: All of Tsurumaki’s KA noted here is 3D Effects Guideline KA, which means that the drawings were not meant to be used in the final film, but were rather shot as a pencil test and then used as a guide for the 3D CGI effects teams. All of the following KA was later replaced with CG effects.

CUT-1182 3D Effects Guideline KA (6th Angel splits into box platforms)

CUT-1496 3D Effects Guideline KA (6th Angel splits into circular pointed shield pattern, deflects artillery shots, then changes into ‘gattling’ mode and fires back)

CUT-1543 3D Effects Guideline KA (6th Angel restores itself from exploded star pattern back into a diamond)

CUT-1550 3D Effects Guideline KA (6th Angel unfolds into ultimate firing mode)


CUT-0033 Detail KA (close-up of two VTOL aircraft fighting the 4th Angel)

CUT-0044 Detail KA (VTOL aircraft firing at the 4th Angel)

CUT-1021 Detail KA (close-up of EVA Unit 00’s handcuffs [Anno’s details are of the cuffs themselves, and not the hands])

CUT-1022 Detail KA (close-up of cross inserted into Unit 00’s entry plug holder [Anno’s details are for the cross, the tarp covering the plug entry hatch, and the entry hatch itself])

CUT-1025 Detail KA (close-up of Unit 00’s head [Anno’s details are of the muzzle over the EVA’s mouth area])

CUT-1394 KA Corrections (large shot Lilith on the red cross [Anno drew corrections on the face mask and chest scars])

CUT-1395 KA Corrections (close-up of Lilith’s face mask)

CUT-1680 KA Corrections (the white giant [Anno drew corrections of the giant’s mask])

I hope you enjoyed the read! ^__^

06/20/08 @ 02:22
Ben [Member]  

That was quite a maniacal reply, thank you! I never expected you to go into such detail. It is greatly appreciated, and I will definitely be using your list of Eva shots to make some spots while I watch.

As I suspected with Eva, the work of the main figures is very cross-hatched. In other words, it’s not that one person simply drew all the key animation for Shots X through X; rather, a lot of the time, it’s that they corrected a bit of the detail here, corrected the layouts there, drew reference drawings for the CGI here, etc. I suspected that was how the main figures at Gainax worked on this series, which always seemed to preclude the usual notion of simply ‘identifying’ shots drawn by someone or other. It’s more complicated than that in this case. The work is in bits and pieces, combined with other people’s work, so it’s more ephemeral and difficult to pinpoint than if they’d just drawn a whole scene by themselves in their own idiosyncratic style. It’s the nature of the teamwork they’ve got going on for this particular series. The look of Eva seems to be the product of this correction-intense style of working on the part of the animation directors in achieving this crazy density of detail in the various mechanical paraphernalia and effects.

I notice that most of the shots listed are of corrections, with only Shoichi Masuo’s shots being mostly pure KA. I think with Eva due to the nature of the work it’s somewhat of a pedantic distinction between whether they did corrections and KA, so it’s an unusual situation. At any rate, I’m particularly glad to be able to identify Masuo’s effects, as I’m always glad to be able to identify another FX man’s work.

As for Sadamoto, the list of work you posted is pretty much what I recalled - a few things from Daicon to Honneamise and then… nothing for more than a decade. The F bit was from the first episode, as I recall, the part where the protagonist is racing another pair of characters in a tractor. I remember seeing just that section clipped out up on Youtube a long time ago, though I don’t know if it’s still there anymore.

That’s really interesting that you’ve always heard that Ko Yoshinari was a woman. Believe me, I am quite aware that Ko Yoshinari is a talented animator. I’ve mentioned as much before on my blog. But I simply was given to the impression that Ko was a man by everything I have ever read about Ko on the net. Ko Yoshinari is referenced as being Yo Yoshinari’s elder brother wherever you look. But that’s the problem with the net - a lot of it is just hearsay being propagated. I hate to be shitsukoi, but do you know of a printed source confirming this? Ko’s done a lot of work on video game designs, so I’m sure there must be a brief bio somewhere at least making passing mention of Ko’s gender.

And finally, as for the new animators, again, that was really quite a detailed reply, thank you. It makes sense that I didn’t hear of some of them if they’re not primarily known as animators. You certainly have to wonder what kind of animation Shigeto Koyama might draw considering how talented he must be as a designer, so it’s interesting to hear about his involvement. I generally tend to only follow animators about whom I think I have some sense of their work as animators, for the obvious reason that if I’m following an animator it’s because I like their animation, so the number of animators I follow is pretty limited. There are just so many people working in the industry, after all, especially if you look beyond animators, that it’s impossible to remember everyone. However, I know there are a lot of really talented people like Koyama Shigeto out there, so it’s good to keep an eye out in this way for interesting new faces. Sometimes a talented person will cross over to another entirely different field and do quite good work there too. As for Akiko Asaki, I think I’ve probably seen episodes on which she worked, but I never noted her name as standing out, though I’m sure that’s happened with a lot of people who have done good work on episodes but I just didn’t know it. If you have any details of what specific animation she did that would be great if you think she’s an animator worth following.

As for Atsuko Sasaki, it makes sense that I wouldn’t have heard of her if all she has done is AD work, because I don’t really follow ADs that closely. I guess my feeling is that there are so many people in the industry who can draw well, but so few who can create movement that feels good, and my own priorities lie more with the latter. Personally I’ve never really cared whether a person could draw well or not, because to me animation isn’t about how well you can draw, but how good a movement you can create. I think that’s why I tend not to follow ADs that much, but to focus on the animators who catch my attention. I don’t want to disparage her or any other good AD, of course, as there are certainly ADs whose work I enjoy, and it’s entirely possible that Atsuko Sasaki might be a stupendous animator if given the chance (thinking of someone like Kazuchika Kise here, who is always turned to for AD work even though on the rare occasion when he does do animation it’s always really great). I guess I feel more admiration when I see a young and inexperienced animator struggling to find his or her voice purely through movement than I could for any AD who can draw these super-detailed drawings, because to me that’s totally extraneous to what makes animation interesting. I know for a fact that many people disagree simply going on what kind of anime sells, but to each his own I guess. Which I guess is why I like the newcomers like Shingo Natsume and Ryotaro Makihara, who are not only really talented as movers for such young people, but also have a very unique approach to drawing and timing that makes their work immediately identifiable. Another reason I think I’m attracted to these guys’ work is that I like to be able to identify the individual, human touch behind a piece of work, be it animation or anything else. When there is too much going on (as in big Hollywood spectacles for example), I feel kind of lost at sea, struggling to grasp who did what, kind of overwhelmed by the information overload. I feel the same way when there’s too much detail in anime. Anyway, I remember distinctly enjoying a recent episode of Soul Eater AD’d by Kazumi Inadome, so there are definitely some ADs who excel in both roles… and quite a lot of them are women I’m increasingly noticing.

As for Daizen Komatsuda, yes, I distinctly remember noting his presence in any number of productions over the last few years since Street Fighter, particularly so Eureka 7, and feeling that he seemed to be a young face quickly working his way up, though I didn’t have any concrete sense of his work because I don’t know what shots he animated. That feeling came through in particular when I saw how much work he was doing in Eureka 7, and not just animation, which suggested he was making progress very quickly. (I wonder if Yoshida Kenichi had anything to do with that. I’ve heard stories about him bringing on talented people he liked and thought would do good work on the show but without really consulting the company.) But I really wish I knew specifically what animation he did. Otherwise I find it hard to bother following him, as it’s all so vague, which in the end seems kind of pointless to me, just following names for the sake of following names. I’m sure he’s one of the cases that’s worth following anyway because I suspect he’ll eventually do good work whatever he does.

You mentioned you didn’t know many sibling teams in the industry. The one sibling team other than the Yoshinaris that springs to mind immediately when I think of animator sibling teams is the Suzuki brothers, Takuya and Tatsuya, who did a lot of nice work animating (presumably) the action sequences of many episodes of Samurai Champloo. Actually, I even wrote a post about brothers a long time ago, noting a few sibling teams I was aware of.

Anyway, it was very generous of you to post such a detailed reply. Thanks again.

06/20/08 @ 08:09
LainEverliving [Visitor]  

Okay, I’ve tried to provide some references to Ko Yoshinari’s gender that I could find. It’s hard to find things in English (as my Japanese kanji ability is limited), especially print sources, but here are the pages I was able to locate quickly:

[Note the reference in the above link to his older sister]

However, Japanese Wikipedia backs up your version, so I’m probably wrong. English language sources can get mixed up sometimes… I just wish there was a way to be sure. Here’s the link below.

I’m sure looking around more would turn up additional sources, but I’m more inclined to believe Japanese Wikipedia, so I guess I’ll change my gender notes… or at the very least put an ‘unknown / undecided’ in there! ^__^

As for the rest… well, I’m sadly not too informed on who did what shots in the Evangelion: 1.0 movie besides what I listed. I have some guesses (there are some very Anno-like explosions, for example), but I can’t be sure. There’s one shot in particular, CUT-1519 (the one just before Honda’s KA), which is a pull past Shinji in the EVA cockpit, that I *really* want to know who did. Naturally, when you see amazing shots, you assume that the amazing animators involved must have done them, but just because Ryochimo worked on the film doesn’t mean that he drew the shots I liked the best. So, it’s tough, especially on movies. There’s another shot, during the battle with the 5th Angel, of shell casings falling and crushing a car which looks really familiar too, like something out of Furi Kuri. I’m sure Tsurumaki must have at least drawn the storyboard / layout for that shot, but as to who animated it… no idea. Maybe he did? It sure looks like his stuff, but you never know.

I have the Groundwork book for the movie, but I haven’t opened it yet (I’m still reading the ‘’All Collection'’ and I want to finish that and the two storyboard books first). Maybe in that book there will be additional hints. They’ve never identified specific genga as belonging to a specific artist in those books before, but maybe it will be easier to tell if I can see it myself.

Note also that, while much of the staff of the new movies originates from GAINAX, the actual credited studio is Khara. Anno set up a new production company (it’s in West Shinjuku, in case you’re curious) so that he could have total control and so that strain on GAINAX proper could be lessened. Also, I have a feeling (although this is total speculation) that setting up a new company allowed him to re-negotiate the extremely bad financial deals GAINAX had to make with financiers to make the original Evangelion. Whatever the reasons for creating the new studio, however, it’s been specifically set up just to make these movies. Afterwards, I think they’ll probably dissolve it. So, for the duration, the main people involved (Anno, Tsurumaki, Masayuki, and on the animation end Honda, Suzuki, Masuo, and Sadamoto) are going to be handling all the toughest elements of the production, and specifically the pre-animation production stages. Based on the fact that the top people are doing all the layouts and not leaving anything for the individual animators (or even the non-Sadamoto animation directors), that’s got to be taking up most of the time. Plus, Anno is writing the scripts alone, and doing storyboards with Tsurumaki, and of course Tsurumaki and Masayuki are actually directing the films. Of the three directors, Masayuki has the most time left over to do real animation (which he did do several seconds of, based on the non-correction note I made). I’m sure he did more beyond what the book mentions, but I can’t speculate as to what. Likewise, I suspect Anno has more stuff in there (the explosions), and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if some of Tsurumaki’s genga survived. As for Anno’s detail genga, those are mostly single held shots, which means that he drew the original keys without any help or later alteration. So, for those shots, you’re seeing his work in the film. I also know that the in-betweens of his detail shots were sometimes skipped, or that he directly oversaw the Khara in-betweeners to be sure they did it right. As for the corrections / detail work of Honda, Masuo, Suzuki, and Sadamoto, in some cases the corrections (such as Suzuki’s shot of Rei slapping Shinji) are essentially regular KA. It isn’t just making sure the characters are on model… its completely creating the motion. That shot is completely Suzuki’s, based on looking at it frame by frame in the book. Also, Sadamoto’s stuff at the end is basically all his too (he designed the sets for the last sequence, although I didn’t note that earlier), and my guess is that he did a few additional cuts in there too that weren’t noted in the book. Matsubara, I’m guessing, did the Operation Yashima meeting, as Misato is drawn in a completely different style (which is awesome that they left it in!). I think he tried to keep the feeling of Tomoki Kyoda’s storyboards in his shots, because a lot of it really feels like that. You’ll even see a shot of Misato and Shinji holding hands that looks remarkably suspect to the one in the first Eureka Seven OP. I think Tsurumaki drew the layout of that cut, by if I had to guess, Kyoda probably did the storyboard, and Matsubara probably was AD on that shot (maybe he even drew it or did corrections). And then, there’s the other ADs who aren’t interviewed in the book (the pictured genga are mostly in the interview sections), so I don’t know what parts they did.

Probably at this point, the best thing to do is to start looking over the Groundwork book and trying to determine what (if anything) looks familiar. I wish I could tell you which scenes the new animators did, but as of right now, I’m still not good enough to be able to pick out most people based on seeing it in the film. Once in a while, sure, but not that often. However, just because I can’t tell who did it doesn’t mean that it’s not good, so generally, I take note whenever there’s an animator whose credits span several good episodes or movies that I’ve seen. I’ve compiled an ‘Animators to Meet’ list (including Japanese and American talents) of people like that, and currently, it’s over 150 names and 55 pages long (the page count includes a list of each of their credits). So, I take interest in a lot more people than perhaps is normal. Nevertheless, that gives me a greater opportunity to try and track people down, and doing that has given me a lot of information about things I hadn’t even thought of. Taking Disney people for instance, I recently met an animator who worked on one of my favorite scenes in The Hunchback of Notre Dame, and the meeting (and revelation of scenes) was totally by accident. I knew that some animators were going to be at a book faire, so I checked my list, found the person’s name, and decided to go talk to him. Now, I have some knowledge as to which scenes he did, and I have a nice autograph on my movie poster, so everything comes out ahead. But, I can understand why you would want to try and limit the number of people you’re following, as it can be a bit daunting at times realizing that there are *so many* people out there to watch out for. I’ll admit that of the list of names, I only have (maybe) a third of them memorized… but having the reference is still invaluable.

Lastly, with regard to animation directors, I understand totally where you’re coming from. The motion in animation *is* the thing, and the details are usually an additional bonus, and not the main draw. What I would like to argue, though, is that the AD can set the tone for the whole episode / movie, and that artistic mood has important ripple-down effects through the whole staff. A few years ago, I met AD Akihiko Yamashita (just after he finished Howl’s Moving Castle), and I asked him what it was like working on the film. Specifically, what I wanted to know was how he got his personal strong feeling out there and onto the animation paper. His response was far too long and detailed to report with any clarity here, but suffice to say, he put every bit of himself into his scenes and into trying to inspire the staff to do their best. Of all the projects he’d worked on, he said, Howl was the one that he felt he came the closest to an unfiltered connection directly between himself and the audience. He truly felt that his spirit was imparted into the drawings. I heard something similar from the master Disney animator Ollie Johnston, who just recently past away (he was the last of the Nine Old Men of lore). In his words, the drawings weren’t just pictures, they were alive. A little bit of his soul went into creating Bambi, and whenever he watched the drawings move, he felt that Bambi was a real deer, but a deer with some of himself in it. Since the sentiments between animator and animation director are so similar, at least in this case, I can’t help but regard them as being in some ways equal. Now, I know not everyone will have such a strong emotional connection to their work, but I do get the feeling from having talked to these people (and quite a few others) that there’s much more to the animation art process than establishing movement. Even in a still drawing, a tremendous amount of passion can come through. And, the longer you work on something, the more of yourself (literally, your lifetime) resides within it. I used to be really obsessed only with the directors and the voice actors (like most fans), but over time, I’ve come to realize just how important everyone is to a production, and likewise how important the production is to everyone. As a consequence of this, I want to meet ADs, key animators, in-betweeners, art directors, background painters, digital paint artists, everyone… because they all have stories to tell, and one way or another, all of their collective work is in the films and shows I love. I once read (I believe it was in John Canemaker’s Nine Old Men book) that Snow White took a collective 60 (it may have even been 80) man years of labor to make. When you consider that unbelievable accomplishment, it’s suddenly very hard, for me at least, to value some artists over the others. What I come to respect the most are the scenes I love the most, so I try to find people who worked on them. For the most part, the fundamental requirement level that must be met for liking a scene is liking the motion, so I do gravitate towards the animators. I guess, maybe my feelings on this change a bit with time… sometimes I really like stand-out bits that don’t move or look like the rest, and other times, I feel it hurts the episode / film because it’s so different. It’s such a hard balance to achieve. Truly, if every scene of a movie looked and moved completely different, it might be easy (and fun) to spot animators, but it wouldn’t work as a solid whole (assuming the film was trying to make narrative and stylistic sense). Honestly, I have a problem with Mind Game, because half of me loves the constant change, and the other half just wants things to settle so I can focus on the story. So, it’s difficult… but maybe that’s where some of the enjoyment of these things exists, in the uneasy balance between the two. At any rate, I don’t think it’s entirely fair to say that because there’s lots of people who can draw well that ADs aren’t worth paying as much attention to. I think they do have a lot to say and a lot to give to productions, beyond simply the most visually obvious elements like the movement. In terms of Evangelion: 1.0, the movie could never be as beautiful as it is without all the details. The fact that Honda worked for so many months on shots that go by in a flash leaves me almost with a Kensuke-esque reaction from episode 8 of the series ("What a waste!” he wails as million dollar UN jet fighters are knocked from the deck of an aircraft carrier), but at the same time, I’m in awe not only of him, but of the fact that right now, in this time and space, a studio exists that actually would care enough about those things to let him do it. I love re-watching the film, because every time, I see even more that I didn’t notice before, and it’s remarkable just how exciting that is. Just like TokiKake has incredible nuance in the animated performances, Evangelion has, to use a cliché, the devil in the details. And yeah, I think it is particularly collaborative-intensive, so that makes it harder to tell who did what a lot of the time. What I do know is this: there were approximately 50 key animators (and maybe 15 or 20 secondary key animators) who worked on the film, and the movie is 98 minutes long. That means that, on average, each key animator drew a forty-five seconds to a minute (or even a minute and a half) of animation, spread across multiple cuts. So, the work is in there… it’s just a matter of finding it. And personally, I suspect the best way of knowing for sure will be meeting some of the people, and asking them first-hand.

At any rate, I’m glad you enjoyed the cut notations, and please do post your thoughts on the film when you see it. Also, although this is completely unrelated, are you at all familiar with the Ikeda sisters or their works? No one seems to ever discuss them, but I think they’re really good, and I just can’t understand why they don’t get more attention. Anyway, if you don’t want to talk or write about KyotoAni I understand, but I do think it would be worth having a look at some of their stuff and evaluating it on its own merits.

06/20/08 @ 12:57
Ben [Member]  

I’m impressed by the dedication and enthusiasm you obviously have for learning about the people behind the productions. That has been what I’ve been interested in for many years now, and I’ve tried to raise awareness about the faceless people behind the curtains as best I could. But I’ve never had the opportunity to interview people, and probably never will, so I’m in something of a different situation from you. If I weren’t, I think I would do exactly as you do and try to interview as many different people representing as many different facets of productions as possible, because I could not agree more when you say that it is the cumulative effort of all of the people behind a production that counts, and not just an animator, or even a director for that matter. I don’t limit myself to just looking into animators. I’m like you in that, if there’s a scene I like, I just want to know what was good about it, and who was responsible for creating what was good about it. Oftentimes in my case what I find to be good about a scene is the animation. Other times it will be the directing, the storyboarding, the coloring, the voice-acting, the music. A combination of these. It really varies. I by no means ever intended to disparage animation directors or dismiss them as being mere face correctors. I think the role is reduced to that in many cases when schedules are tight, but one of the main things I make sure to talk about when I talk about an episode of Kaiba, for example, is the animation director and what that person brought to the episode, precisely because Kaiba happens to be of those rare exceptions when it’s not just about being a face corrector, but about really defining the look and feel of that episode. In fact, that’s precisely what I love about Kaiba - that it’s not just about the animation. It’s the directing, the writing, the animation, the voice-acting, the backgrounds, the inbetweens (though I have yet to figure out how to evaluate the quality of inbetweens!). For once you can see every person in every different niche of production shining their best, in their own spotlight, without being obscured by lots of hands taking a part in their work. I’m not saying each thing was done by one person, but it’s just an instance where you can really savor what every person brought to the production, and I really adore that, far more than when I see a great animated scene I love within a production that is otherwise OK but nothing exciting to me.

Anyway, as I was saying, if I were in a position to be interviewing these people, I would be doing just as you do, and noting down every person in different roles who did interesting work, or whom I suspect might have done interesting work because I’ve noticed their names in episodes that had work I liked but couldn’t identify, for the purpose of eventually possibly interviewing them to confirm their contribution. To an extent I’ve done that instinctively since the very beginning, but just mentally and not on paper. That’s how I discovered most of the animators I love - by looking at the credits and correlating across episodes to figure out who might have done this or that. I guess I’ve always had kind of a casual attitude about this sort of thing and tried not to be too obsessive, because I can get obsessive. This whole process of cross-referencing and figuring out who did what just happens to be easier with animators and directors than any other role, at least in my case, because individuality will out much more easily in those positions I find. In my previous comment I tried to emphasize that I did not intend to disparage ADs as being inconsequential to a production. I’m not that naive. What I was talking about was more an aesthetic choice of preferring to focus on animators who have an individual style. There are certainly times when I’ve seen scenes by a very individualistic animator whose work I love, and felt that they were kind of out of place, miscast if you will, and the results were somewhat unfortunate. I’m not a purist or single-minded about this sort of thing. One of the reasons I tend to focus on animators who stick out is the simple fact that they’re easy to identify. There are situations where it works, and situations where it’s inappropriate. I guess I tend to favor production styles that allow for people to have fun with the animation, for the simple fact that oftentimes that’s the animation that excites me the most. It’s all about enjoyment, right? But at the same time, I have equal love for impressively detailed animation by a Hideki Hamasu or the like that totally fits within the production but is simply majestic in its craftsmanship. I really am not dogmatic about these things. It’s whatever best works for the production. But at the same time, if there’s a great piece of animation that doesn’t quite fit, but I still love the animation, I can accept that I like the animation while admitting that maybe it didn’t fit within the context. Ko Yoshinari’s work has done this for me at times. The animation of Mind Game spoke to me on a gut level, and I enjoyed every moment of the imaginative variation of style, because it was intrinsically tied to the theme and story and not random, but I have absolutely no problem with anybody who was not able to appreciate that aspect, because I understand that it is something of an unusual approach that people are not used to.

In the same vein, I love it more than anything if an AD plays a big role in giving a production its character of movement. I think Nobutake Ito is a shining example of this kind of animation director - he doesn’t just correct drawings, he is responsible for coming up with an innovative way of moving them that is unique to the series in question. And there are plenty of episodes I love just because of the work of that episode’s animation director. What I was talking about when I mentioned that I tend not to follow ADs is more than anything is a systemic thing: The fact that, in Japan, animation directors are usually there just to correct drawings to model. There are plenty of animation directors who do great work even just correcting jobs to model. I’m sure there are plenty of great background painters, colorists and inbetweeners, too. I’d praise them if I I liked a particular shot or scene they did and I knew how to identify their work by name. I just don’t in most cases. For example in Kaiba there are a number of backgrounds I thought were exquisitely beautiful and I would have liked to know who drew them. And I’m sure there are many instances where an animation director goes above and beyond the call of duty like Akihiko Yamashita and truly defines not just the drawings but also the movement and thereby affects the tone of the film. I loved Kenichi Konishi’s work on Tokyo Godfathers and Doraemon 2006 because he did just that.

Anyway, about Eva, I’ve just started watching it, and so far I’ve gotten through the portion covered by episode 1. I actually know this episode quite well, so I was able to notice things that were changed. There were new explosions added when they bomb the first angel, if I’m not mistaken. But something baffles me. The scene animated by Mitsuo Iso (where the car skids out) is there in its entirety, unchanged, if I’m not mistaken. I skipped ahead a bit and noticed that another scene whose animation I’ve liked for a long time, the scene where Ayanami puts on her underwear and bra, animated by Norio Matsumoto, also appears unchanged. So I have two questions, since you seem to be amazingly informed about this film. Why aren’t they credited? And more to the gist of the matter, how did they deal with all the existing material? A lot of it, like these scenes, look unchanged. (or what I mean to say is that they’re using the same keys) I vaguely remember hearing they newly inbetweened all the existing keys or something. Then there’s the famous battle by Yo Yoshinari from the beginning of ep 2 that also looks to be in there. I don’t quite understand why none of these people are credited. Anyway, I’ll write my full impressions later once I’ve seen the whole film, but a first impression is just that a lot of it is really hard to see - it’s so dark.

I appreciate you asking me about the Ikeda sisters, because I have no idea who they are and if they are good animators I would sure like to see their work. Where might you suggest I start to do so, and what is it about their work that you like, if I might ask? I don’t at all mind discussing KyoAni. If I haven’t ever said anything about KyoAni before in my blog, it’s only because I’ve never watched any of their shows because the material doesn’t interest me.

06/20/08 @ 14:39
manuloz [Visitor]  

I think they did not credit the animators behind the “old” animation. Just recently Macross F used animation (?) + background from Macross Zero, and they put on the credit Thx to ALL STaff from Macross Z so maybe they have done the same here.

On the pamphlet of EVa 1.0 there was info on the work that was put on correcting the old animation, you can check it here :

Since i don’t read japanese, i’ll leave you the appreciation of what is explain.

On Gainax, they were not really involved in the animation i think, except for Sushio (credited as Toshio Ishizaki) there was no one else. I don’t add those that were alrealdy involved as D/AD/CD ^^
Katsuzo Hirata said Gainax animators might be a bit involved in the second movie since Gurren Lagann ended but their new show is coming fast, apparently this fall. So we can wonder how much they got involved.

By the way Takashi Mukouda was there too, i don’t know what part but it’s good to know he works on the “hot stuff".

06/21/08 @ 00:55
LainEverliving [Visitor]  

Wow, this has really turned into quite a dialogue here! It’s a shame that it’s in the thread of a basically unrelated topic… oh well. I’m sure, if you end up making a separate post for the Eva movie, we can write more on there (and perhaps people who are interested can read those comments).

I guess I should start by asking… are you watching the movie online? I would assume that unless you imported the DVD (as I did) that’s how you’re doing it, so that may be part of the reason for it being dark. I assume that by now the version of the film online is taken from the DVD, but an earlier version that was circulating was a ‘camera rip’ filmed inside a theater… and the quality level on that was very poor. I don’t know what the current versions are like these days, but at any rate, believe me when I say that it’s brighter and easier to see on DVD. I also saw two-thirds of the movie in a theater (it’s a long story… but basically, I was able to get into a ’special’ screening, but not until after the first battle sequence), and watching it on a large screen, there weren’t too many problems with clarity. Instead, the issue I had was with overwhelming light and brightness (not to mention deafening sound) at the film’s climax… but I won’t go into that now, to avoid spoilers.

Anyway, with regards to the key animation… as far as I know, nothing is reused from the series, so that’s why Mitsuo Iso and Norio Matsumoto aren’t credited. I can tell, from watching multiple times *very* closely, that the Yo Yoshinari battle (originally from episode 2) has been re-animated by someone else. The timing is different, and it’s not just being sped up by running the film faster. Also, positions of the EVA’s arms are slightly different in certain shots, so that’s a clue. I haven’t done a side-by-side comparison, as I don’t have two TVs, but I have run the scenes from the episodes and then watched the movie, and I see differences. I know it’s not just new inbetweens… there’s a different feeling to the movement, although it’s extremely slight. So, what accounts for all this? Again, I think the ‘’All Collection'’ book has the answer. There’s an interview with production supervisor Hiroshi Haraguchi (who works for Doga Kobo presently), and although I can’t read most of what’s written, I was able to figure out a little bit. What seems to have happened is this: for all the scenes that have matches in the original (as in, all the scenes that are being matched), the original keys (or most likely copies) were re-assembled as a guide to the movie key animators. Because many of the original keys were of such high quality, they were a good source. The animators then drew their own versions of everything, either subtly re-interpreting the original keys, or changing things, or attempting to copy as closely as possible. I think it varied a lot, and I’m not really too sure about how this was done (or if it was even done by most people at all). Also, I’m not sure which key animators were doing these tasks. It may have been that complicated re-interpretations were given to the veterans, while the secondary key animators did the rest… I’m really not sure. I can tell from the book that the answers are in there, but I just can’t read enough of it to make sense of it all. Anyway, there is also the issue that, when blown up to theatrical size, some of the original key animation isn’t highly detailed enough or has artistic flaws that the directors wanted to correct / redo. Earlier, I mentioned EVA Unit 01’s arm during the first battle. There’s a picture in the interview section of (what I believe is) an original genga from the show. Specifically, it’s the shot where the Angel is holding the EVA aloft by the head. In the original, the arm is bent back slightly and arched, making it look a little strange. This was redone in the new movie, so that the arm now hangs straight down limply. The comparison genga is shown next to it (along with a layout). Finally, there’s a doga (inbetween) of the same shot. From that and the accompanying text, I’m inferring that the majority of the redrawn genga consist of stuff like that. As for the movements themselves, I think for many scenes they were based on the original keys, but there is definitely a lot of re-interpretation going on. Don’t forget that, presented with original genga copies, just about any talented artist can reproduce the timing correctly. I know they had the timing sheets all in records too, so that part is easy. Since they ran clips from the show over and over, and since they had reference materials, I think that’s how it was done. But in any case, all the key animation in the film is redone as advertised, although a fair amount of it is ‘inspired’ by the original works.

I think the reason that the original animators aren’t being credited is because their work is no longer being used or seen directly on the screen. Because of re-interpretation, it’s now someone else’s shot. At first, I just couldn’t (and didn’t want to) believe that another animator could match Mitsuo Iso’s cuts. But, after watching it over and over, I’ve come to accept the fact that, given the genga and timing sheet to interpret, it’s possible for another animator to match the work. Whether or not the animators would have come up with it on their own… now there’s the question. Also, it’s debatable whether or not the re-animation is an improvement on the original on a shot-by-shot basis. Right now, I guess I would tend to fall on the side of it being, for the most part, slightly better. I think some of this has to do with the inbetweening, and also to the stronger lines (more on that later) and the use of digital coloring (which removes many inconsistencies), but I do see in some cases minor improvements. In other cases, it pretty much just seems the same. It’s so hard to tell, though. I’m sure if you had Iso in the room with you, you could run the new versions of his animation and he could tell you what was changed… but for a non-animator, in many cases, it’s nearly impossible to see. I think that’s why so much seems familiar. But, to set doubts aside, the key animation is different. I know they reused some storyboards, but even in those cases, I think what actually happened was that Anno and Tsurumaki redrew everything from the originals. That may be what you heard about. But keep in mind: genga drawn for TV (as you probably already know) has a different aspect ratio taken into consideration on the paper, and hence won’t like entirely right when blown up to movie screen size. This is why, for the Death and Rebirth Eva movie, they redid some scenes that looked poor when projected on a large screen (and also, they wanted to boast of new and improved animation). So, while the individual drawings likely couldn’t be used, what could be replicated was the movement… and maybe more importantly, the timing of that movement. Those are things which, like I said, can be matched. And, based on everything I’ve heard and read so far, I think that’s exactly what happened. If I find out more, I’ll be sure to let you know, either in this thread discussion or another.

One thing I’ve really noticed, since the book goes through everything shot-by-shot with examples of the finished and colored animation, is that the lines in the new movie are a lot bolder and stronger than before. I’m sure a great deal of this has to do with the time difficulties in producing for TV, and also lacking inbetweens in the original, but the lines are so much cleaner now than they were. Look at shots of Shinji, for example. I’m not sure how much of this is coming from the corrections, but his defining lines are really strong, especially in his face. There’s a scene where he’s looking up at the sky (the camera) after being punched, and the expression is just so much stronger than before… it’s like a whole new Shinji. I mean, it’s not like the acting is dramatically improved or anything (since it’s a held shot), but the lines are clear. It’s not like anything is being held back. I know that the final image that’s seen in the movie is always defined by the inbetween, but I can’t help but think that this was done at the key animation stage. Based on the genga reproduced in the book, the lines are a lot more defined and less sketchy than they were. It’s really remarkable. The result, I think, is that Shinji seems a lot less indecisive in the new film, even though he’s still the same character. I didn’t notice it the first time, but I started to on the second viewing, and by the third time is had fully occurred to me, but I couldn’t quite place why. Only by looking at it in freeze frame did it finally become clear. It’s also absolutely the case for the mechanical animation and held-shots, I’m sure because Honda and Anno went psycho and filled every last millimeter of genga space with details. I think that for one shot (the EVA Unit 01 head in the bay that stands in front of Shinji when he decides to pilot) that Anno even drew the *doga* to be sure it looked exactly right. It’s the line and the detail that I’ve noticed the most so far… although, I’m not even all the way through examining the movie, so there probably will be more. Oh, and this is unrelated to the actual animation, but the coloring in the film is maniacal! There’s too many freaking colors, and they’re all so bright! It’s like Gundam SEED visited the Eva universe and left some of the afterglow (although thankfully, not the bubble-gum pinks). I recently saw a color set-up cel from Disney’s classic Sleeping Beauty, and that had 12 ink colors and 32 paint colors for a single shot. I don’t think the Eva movie quite matches that (which is just totally insane), but it sure is close in some shots. Just amazing stuff. Khara has to really get points for making, outside of Ghibli, one of the most beautiful looking anime films (or even animated films) of all time.

I hope that basically answered you questions for Evangelion. If not, I’ll try to be more specific and find out additional details, but as I said, the biggest boundary for me is the language barrier. That comes up when I’ve tried to ask animators questions too. I know you described me as having ‘interviews’ with the animators, and I should clarify and say that it’s never been anything that formal. Usually, what’s happened is that I’ve had the opportunity to hear the person in question speak at a convention or special event, and then either through audience questions or going up to her / him afterwards, I’ve been able to ask specific things. I’m pretty well-known at Anime Expo (in California) these days for always having hard questions to translate (my favorite tends to be a variation on “When you were working on this, at what point did you start to feel the barriers between yourself and the work breaking down, so that you could become one with it in spirit?"). So, that’s usually how I’ve been able to find things out. In a few cases, I’ve been able to sit down directly with an animator / artist and ask questions at more length, and that’s where I’ve usually found out about specific scenes. This year, I’m looking forward to talking to Akemi Takada, Hiromi Kato, and Masahiro Ando (I’m especially keen to talk to him). My hope is that I’ll be able to continue to do this in the future, and meet more people in animation on both sides of the Pacific.

As for the whole animation director thing… yeah, I understand what you’re saying, and I basically agree with you. It’s often the case that the AD is there for correction purposes, and in the situations when they do more, it tends to really show. I think generally, the best ADs can be pretty much found at the core group of top-notch studios, and those are the people really worth keeping an eye on. Also, ADs who also do character design are usually used for corrections, but in a lot of cases (like Yutaka Minowa at Madhouse) they’re so amazing on other things that they’re forces you can’t ignore. I’m particularly a big fan of Minowa, as his designs, corrections, layouts, storyboards, and even animation are all just incredible. He’s also a special case as, essentially, he’s the creator of the look of the Kawajiri School these days. He’s one of the people who I really have to put at the top of the game. So, I guess my main attraction to ADs would be primarily for people like him. For TV ADs, there aren’t as many who are really interesting for their animation, but absolutely, even on a big assembly line show like Gundam SEED, I can tell when Hisashi Hirai did AD or KA on an episode. The quality bump is just that obvious. That’s what a good AD will bring: overall quality. In the best cases, you can have someone like Nobutaka Ito who’s got that special something, but even when you’re not that lucky, the AD can make a world of difference. What I would say, in regards to becoming better versed with that job, would be to try and watch more examples of regular mainstream TV series, and pick out the episodes you like. I did this with Gundam SEED (which I slowly came to love for the voice acting and unfolding story), and lo and behold, by series end I had about twenty-five animators and ADs who I *knew* had to be responsible for the stuff I liked, based on seeing them credited over and over again. I even realized that Studio One Pack (sometimes credited as Wanpack) is worth paying attention to for outsourcing companies, along with Studio Wombat. I bet that if you did that with any currently airing (and preferably long) show, you’d find a lot of people buried in there who are awesome in their own right (even if they’re not the next Iso or Matsumoto). That’s been my way of going about things, anyway. At any rate, thanks for talking about the ADs, as I know that (strangely) they too are ignored by general populace fans who are more interested in voice talent.

Lastly, you requested some info on the Ikeda sisters… Ah, where should I begin? Both work for Kyoto Animation, and have worked there exclusively for almost their whole careers. Kazumi is the elder sister, and is probably most famous as a character designer. Her design works include Akachan to Boku (back in the day, for Studio Pierrot), Kanon (the 2006 Kyoto Animation version), and Clannad (the TV version). Besides doing designs, she’s an extremely prolific animation director, having worked on (besides the already mentioned shows) episodes of Air, Fancy Lala, Full Metal Panic? Fumoffu, Jungle Wa Itsumo Hale Nochi Guu Final, Lucky Star, The Daichis - Earth Defense Family, and Haruhi Suzumiya. She even did AD work on the Pokemon Heroes - Latias & Latios movie. Her key animation can be found in tons of episodes of KyotoAni shows, so if you watched any of their work, you would undoubtedly see it after an episode or two. Shoko is the younger sister, and so far has only one character design credit. It’s a pretty big one, though: The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya. Otherwise, she’s like her sister in being an intensively working AD. Her credits for this duty are basically for the same shows, although she also worked on some episodes of Inuyasha as well (and she did key animation for Fancy Lala, instead of AD). Key animation work is extensive at KyoAni (and occasionally outside too… she even did some in one of the Digimon movies, although I’m not sure if it was Hosoda’s or not), and can be found in just about every episode her sister *isn’t* in. Usually, they try to split duties so that one or the other is represented at all times.

I really like their work because it has a feeling of natural effortlessness to it. Nothing feels forced in the drawings… they’re just completely pure, like there was no struggle involved. Normally, I like animators who really had to fight to get it right (particularly the old Disney guys), but in some cases, people who are just incredible draughtsman (or women) can astound with perfection straight out of the pencil. These two sisters seem, to me at least, to have that gift. Since they’re so central to the Kyoto Animation approach (they’ve designed the characters in half of ALL the shows the studio has ever made), I think they impart a lot to the staff. Kyoto Animation is a really unique company these days, because all of the elements of production are still all under one roof. They’re not just doing the KA there… they’ve got all the inbetweeners, the digital paint artists, the background artists, even the animation photographers, compositors, and special effects people. There’s so little outsourcing going on that it’s truly amazing, and most of the outside work done is over at Animation Do… which is their sister studio. The result of all this is that, on any given KyoAni show, there’s on average only about 8 key animators (sometimes less) doing all the work, and the AD is frequently (in fact, almost always) one of them. For inbetweening, that’s just done in the next room down the hall (the studio is really tiny!), so the AD (who is likely one of the Ikedas) can just walk over and oversee things, or even help out. I’ve found that the final animation, particularly in Ikeda-overseen episodes, has a rare performance-oriented nature to it that really captures the personalities of the characters. This has been a real source of controversy in the fandom: a lot of people see this as just capitalizing on moe aspects, such as giving the female characters certain behavioral traits. While I think this is true, it doesn’t change the fact that the animation completely sells the characters, and that, while watching, I never feel in the slightest that I’m watching fictional characters. Rather, the people in KyoAni shows *feel alive,* and a lot of that has to do with the attention to detail put into everything. Additionally, it’s not like they just give the attention to the females… the guys have great character animation too, and are among the more likable and believable in anime these days. Being able to move effortlessly between comedy, romance, and outright tragedy is very, very hard, and yet KyoAni does it with such ease (thanks in large part to the Ikedas) that they’re frankly unmatched in this. You won’t see anything out of Mind Game, or any crazy or revolutionary action scenes (although I think the FMP shows have some good stuff, ‘though I’ve not seen any of it), but what you do get is very understated, believable performances. Plus, every episode tends to have at least one standout scene, where things really come together with beauty of movement. For a great example, check out the scene in episode 3 of Kanon (where Makoto is surprised during a midnight snack) to really get a sense of what I mean. The scene, by the way, starts at about 8:30 into the episode, and finished at about 9:30. That episode doesn’t have either of the Ikedas in it, but it gives a good idea of what I like about KyoAni. If you want, I’ll give you more scenes to check out in other shows at a later date.

I guess what I would advise you to check out most for a profile of the Ikeda’s work would be the OP for Kanon. Kazumi was the AD on it, and Shoko did KA for some of the shots. You could also look at the ED, but it’s a lot less movement oriented, so the OP is better. The Haruhi OP features AD and KA by Shoko, so that’s worth taking a peek at too. Lastly, you can check out the Clannad OP for another Kazumi AD example. So far, of the Kyoto Animation shows, I’ve only watched Air all the way through, and I’m currently in the middle of Haruhi and Kanon (and I’ve seen three episodes of Clannad online, although that doesn’t really count and I’m basically waiting for a DVD release), but even in that handful of episodes, there are dozens of example scenes I could point you to for showcases of their contributions and style, if not their actual animation. More than any other company right now, KyoAni has the ‘female touch,’ an indescribable feeling of gentle ease in the art (not just the animation, but the backgrounds too) that makes the comedy all the more entertaining, and the tragedy all the more affecting. People can complain about the moe style (I think with a lot of justification), but at least for the shows they’re making, the style fits the subject matter, and the subject matter fits the studio (and creators) perfectly. This isn’t to say that moe is the only appeal here… in fact, even talking about KyoAni in passing without mentioning the amazing screenwriter Fumihiko Shimo (who’s done so much for making the shows great) would be a crime, and certainly, director Tatsuya Ishihara is in a very rare position right now in having a perfect record of hits. The talent here goes far beyond any specific style, and it shows that even within the contexts of what is currently popular, it is possible to create astounding work. Again, I don’t want to set the bar too high… this isn’t Mind Game or Denno Coil, nor is it what you could expect in a BONES action show or in more experimental projects… but what it is still is remarkable. No where else, in virtually no other shows, do I feel really like the characters are people I know. This ability to sell character motivation, feeling, personality, and ultimately loss and death (as most of the KyoAni shows end with sadness) is rare in animation and, based at least on my viewing, unmatched in anime. I really do think that it’s at least in part the ‘female touch’ at play, and if so, Kazumi and Shoko Ikeda are at the center of it as the studio’s most prominent pair of women. I don’t think that KyoAni would be the fascinating company it is, or capable of such quality work, if not for them.

06/21/08 @ 01:47
LainEverliving [Visitor]  

manuloz -

Thanks for the heads up on Mukouda! I hadn’t spotted him in the credits.

Checking the credits, Sushio is just listed as Sushio, not Toshio Ishizaki. It’s right there in hiragana in the credits, just under Shigeto Koyama (who’s had his name written all in katakana), so it’s an easy one to spot.

Looking through the animator name kanji list, I also found Hideki Takahashi and Hideto Komori, both of whom worked on TokiKake and the Fullmetal Alchemist movie. It seems like there are a lot of connections on the animation end between these three films (there are other animators who I’ve already named who worked on TokiKake or FMA: The Movie, or both), which is rather interesting. Maybe there was a common thread that linked these particular animators to the trio of productions… one can never tell.

06/21/08 @ 02:45
Muffin [Visitor]

Regarding the dark image quality of the Eva movie, I remember reading a while back that some fans were indeed noticing the DVD image was a little dark, but that this was a result of a special process(don’t remember any specifics, sorry) used to transfer the film to DVD, overseen by Anno in order to attain a specific type of image quality(or something like that…).

Luckily, I first watched the movie at night with the lights out, but I agree it’s a bit tough to view the dark scenes sitting in daylight…

And Ben, Lain. This is really developing into a very fascinating dialogue.

06/21/08 @ 07:53
LainEverliving [Visitor]  

Yeah, that’s true about the image quality, even on the DVD. You must have *absolute darkness* in the room where you are watching, otherwise it doesn’t look as good. However, if you’re in a movie theater, or just a dark room (preferably with a big TV), it looks just fine.

Also, only the earlier dark scenes (the first EVA / Angel battle) are like that. The night scenes later on are plenty bright, believe me! ^__^

06/21/08 @ 13:17
Ben [Member]  

I just did a side-by-side comparison of the new/old scenes drawn by Mitsuo Iso and Norio Matsumoto. Unless I’m going crazy here, they’re identical. Now obviously the lighting and inbetweens and other visual aspects have been drastically modified, and they added and cut out some stuff. (For example, they cut out the angel catching the missile and added new animation of explosions afterwards.) But as far as I can tell, the movement itself is identical in terms of the timing and the posing. Heck, it seems really obvious to me. You don’t need to have the actual animator or some kind of expert there. Just use your own eyes. I suspected they were the same the first time I saw them because I’ve watched each scene surely over a dozen times over the years, but it just didn’t make sense based on what your comments suggested, so I suspected maybe they’d made subtle changes I wasn’t noticing. I know you didn’t do a close comparison of those two scenes, so I understand that you would attempt to come up with a reasonable justification to what otherwise doesn’t make sense. I’m sure what you say applies for other scenes that may have been more modified. But I don’t see how anyone, versed in animation or not, could look at the new and old version of the scenes by Mitsuo Iso and Norio Matsumoto side by side and say they bear so little relation to one another as to justify dropping the names of the original key animators from the credits. They traced over the original drawings with new, cleaner lines and touched up the faces, sure, but other than that they are the same. And not just broadly speaking. The timing and movement are identical, to a T. So if anything I’m even more baffled than before I did a close comparison as to why they do not list the names of the animators who drew those scenes in the credits. I haven’t done a comparison for Yoshinari’s scene, so it’s entirely possible that you’re right about his scene having been completely redone. (Though that seems absurd to me, because it was good animation to begin with, like Iso’s and Matsumoto’s scenes, and the latter were left intact.) Even so, I see no possible justification for not crediting Iso and Matsumoto. I’m hoping Iso’s and Matsumoto’s scenes are the exception, and the other scenes were modified to a greater extent justifying dropping the names of the original animators, as you suggest. Apologies if I’m being pedantic. I guess I have a personal attachment to those scenes. They’ve long been among my favorite animated bits.

I’m afraid I’ve probably given you the wrong impression due to clumsy wording, but I actually have a pretty good sense of what an AD does and brings to a production. I’ve been doing what you suggest - keeping track of not just ADs but all the main staff from episode to episode in a series to get a sense of each person’s style - instinctively since I began actively watching anime some 15 years ago. I’ve written fairly often about my finds in this regard in my blog for the last few years, though it’s understandable that you probably haven’t read all of my windy posts. Certainly, I watch less now and am more picky about what I write about, which is perhaps why you don’t see me writing about ADs very often in my blog anymore, unless it’s something that really impresses me. I guess I’m not that impressed by what I see very often anymore. I do check out a lot of shows other than what I write about in here, but perhaps I’ve grown picky over the years, as little I see anymore does anything for me. But if something does do something for me, I usually write about it. But yeah, I figured out that a lot of ADs’ (and directors’ and animators’) personalities could be identified by looking at their work from episode to episode. But I guess in my case it’s simply that the drawing aspect alone was rarely sufficient to excite me. I could tell which ADs did particularly good work, and were among the best in their class at what they did. (Although it’s hard to really guess to what extent an AD’s work is reflected in an episode because you often don’t know what is a correction and what is not, and you don’t know what kind of schedule they were working with.) For example, in older shows like Ideon I remember noticing a huge difference when character designer Tomonori Kogawa came onboard, as I’ve mentioned in my blog in the past. But apart from these exceptions, for the most part the AD aspect of the work was simply not that interesting to me. In other words, that’s not where I thought the interesting work was being done. The interesting work to me was more often being done in the animation and the directing, and less often in the ADing. That said, I have plenty of favorite ADs whom I follow, and I continue to discover ADs who I like. The point I’m trying to make is that, if I tended not to pay as much attention to ADs as to animators, it’s not because I was not aware of their role or impact, or because I do not know how to appreciate their work, but because due to questions of taste most of the time the ADs aren’t what caught my attention, but rather the animators or directors - with numerous exceptions, every instance of which I try to note. I think I’ve made it clear through my blog over the years that, if I do run across interesting AD work, then I will write about it. I love seeing me some interesting AD work. I just don’t see it that often anymore, probably just because I don’t watch that much anime anymore (believe it or not). Anyway, I’m starting to beat this dead horse into the ground, so I’ll stop there.

Thanks for the information about the Ikeda sisters. I will try to have a look at their work some time, and will try to get back to you with my comments about the Eva movie once I’ve watched it.

By the way, Manuloz and Laineverliving, I guess you missed it, but I had pointed out that Takashi Mukoda and Hideki Takahashi were in the credits in an earlier comment.

06/23/08 @ 13:08
LainEverliving [Visitor]  

Hey Ben.

Most likely, for those particular scenes, the timing was reproduced according to the sheets that were in records. Iso does make detailed timing notes, right? At least, that’s what I thought I had heard about his work style (correct me if I’m wrong). I know less about Matsumoto, so I can’t say in that case, but as I wrote before, I think that Khara called up from the GAINAX archive all the appropriate timing sheets and such (some of which are even shown in the Groundwork books), and then had someone match them *exactly.* Since you’ve done side-by-side comparisons, that would be the only explaination, other than that they reused the same genga (or genga copies) and then drew new inbetweens.

Honestly, I can’t say *for sure* for sure that they didn’t do the later for certain shots. I can only go on the ‘’All Collection'’ book and what I’ve read online or heard. But I do believe that everything was re-animated, even if it was essentially copied from the existing genga. Why Iso and Matsumoto weren’t given special credits for ‘original work’ or something, I don’t know (especially Iso, since he’s well-regarded for working with GAINAX, Anno, and Tsurumaki). Certainly, if they did copy their genga exactly (and use their timing), they should have gotten some kind of recognision. I don’t really know what to say, other than that.

This is a rather interesting question, so if you’re able to find out anything else that might reveal answers, let me know. I don’t think it would make sense not to credit them if the animation was the same, and it doesn’t seem like something Anno would let happen accidentally, so I think it’s worth checking out. Also, if you can find out more about the film’s production, maybe there will be some useful information. I still hold by what I’ve heard and read (that the genga were redrawn or re-interpreted, even if only slightly), but if it turns out that isn’t true, I’d like to know.

Anyway, I’ll look forward to your responses to the full movie. I know we’ve been discussing things here, but if you can, try to make a new post out of it, as this discussion thread really has nothing to do with Evangelion (other than me making it that way!), and it probably would make more sense anyway to continue the conversation elsewhere. Also, let me know if you get to check out KyoAni or the Ikedas. Thanks for replying to all my comments!

06/23/08 @ 14:29