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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« DocsTide-Line Blue #1 »

‹ Saturday, July 9, 2005 ›

03:50:20 pm , 654 words, 1884 views     Categories: Animation

The Blue Carbuncle

One of my favorite parts in all of the Sherlock Hound episodes has always been the final part of the chase through the middle of town in the Blue Carbuncle episode. So naturally I've always been curious to know who did it. What surprised me was to find out that none other than Yasuo Otsuka did it. It surprised me because he's not listed in the credits, but otherwise it made perfect sense - only he could have created that movement! It was wonderfully vindicating, and it made me sad that nobody else seemed able to make animation that had that particular thrill after Otsuka stopped animating. Even though there are obviously other good animators who have appeared on the scene since then, many influenced by Otsuka, I just can't help but feeling none of it tops Otsuka's animation, even looked at today. Otsuka knew how to make movement that felt good, movement that made you go YEAH! There still aren't many animators who do that for me the way he did.

These episodes are filled with so much wonderful movement that in many ways they're my ideal TV episodes, and I think that's a big reason of why I can rewatch them so often. Blue Carbuncle stands out as probably the best of the set, with the most key animators and inbetweeners, making it the most movemented episode, the one packed with the most Telecom goodness of all, pointing the way to the much fuller Telecom of subsequent years. It epitomizes what it is I like about Telecom, with its focus on the creation of exhilirating movement, which is what I hope to see in Telecom's new series. What may have been lacking all this time was merely the person similarly able to balance a good story with effective animation, as Umanosuke Iida showed himself capable of doing in Space Miners.

A very kind person who worked at TMS for a year recently sent me a full listing of the animators and the shots they did, so I thought I'd provide the full listing here in case anyone wants to know. This list also reveals that, in addition to Otsuka's section, there were also two quiet scenes animated by Tsukasa Tannai that went uncredited. One curious thing is that I've run into two versions of the credits for this episode only. Credit listings for the TV series list only six key animators and six inbetweeners, whereas the credit listing for the movie version that was shown together with Nausicaa in 1984 lists 9 key animators and 24 inbetweeners, which seems to suggest this episode alone was redone for the big screen, with Otsuka's and Tsukasa's contributions presumably being done for the new version. So here are both lists as well, for reference purposes.

1982 TV version

Kazuhide Tomonaga
Toshio Yamauchi
Yoshinobu Michihata
Yoko Sakurai
Masaaki Endo
Makiko Futaki

1984 Movie version

Kazuhide Tomonaga
Toshio Yamauchi
Yoshinobu Michihata
Yoko Sakurai
Masaaki Endo
Makiko Futaki
Koichi Maruyama
Atsuko Tanaka
Masako Shinohara

Shot assignments

Scene 1: The mechanical pterodactyl, shots 1-46
Toshio Yamauchi

Scene 2: Polly's hideout, shots 47-62
Tsukasa Tannai

Scene 3: Holmes making perfume, shots 63-78
Koichi Maruyama

Scene 4: Talking with the banker, shots 79-102
Yoshinobu Michihata

Scene 5: The chase in the steam car, shots 103-121 (from Polly turning the corner)
Makiko Futaki

shots 122-137 (from "Great, they're after the kid too")
Masaaki Endo

shots 138-164 (from the shot after Holmes pulls Polly into his car)
Yasuo Otsuka

Scene 6: Tea and crumpets, shots 166-178
Tannai Tsukasa

Scene 6 cont'd & Scene 7: Moriarti's hideout, shots 179-199 (from Tod & Smiley turning the corner)
Michiyo Sakurai

Scene 8: Dinner at Holmes's & Scene 9: Polly's abduction, shots 200-237
Koichi Maruyama

Scene 9 cont'd & Scene 10: Chase in the mechanical pterodactyl, shots 238-267 (from around Watson peeking out the door)
Masako Shinohara

shots 268-326 (from around cars entering park)
Atsuko Tanaka

shots 327-351 (from around "they're heading for the river Thames")
Kazuhide Tomonaga

Scene 11: Finale, shots 352-366
Michiyo Sakurai

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3 comments

Régis
Régis [Visitor]

Ah yes, the Blue Carbuncle episode. Couldn’t agree with you more. Every once in a while I pop those dvds and freeze frame them back and forth to study (similarly the car chase scene in Cagliostro as well.) Which brings me to this inquiry: the first two dvd’s of the Pioneer (Geneon) release of the series are full of incredible episodes, and I was wondering if the rest of the releases (volumes 3-6) also maintain that level of quality. Now, I know Miyazaki only boarded (and directed?) 6 episodes, and I’ve heard that the other episodes are not as good as the first 12 or 13, but I was wondering if Kazuhide Tomonaga was involved in the rest of the series. In other words, would you recommend the rest of the episodes (after eps 13)? Lastly, the tea and crumpets scene in Blue Carbuncle (TV) is one the best pieces of animation of characters eating at a table that I have ever seen.

Régis

PS: Again, many kudos to your wonderful blog and articles. I check it daily as well as recommend it to anyone who hasn’t check it out yet. Congratulations on a wonderful site.

07/09/05 @ 20:59
Ben
Ben [Visitor]

Thank you so much. I will try to pick up the pace with posting. I’ve been down and out lately.

Yes, Miyazaki directed and storyboarded five of the first six early “good” episodes done at Telecom (Tomizawa did the other one). I’m not sure how the early episodes were integrated into the series. One list I see says 3, 4, 5, 9, 10, 11? In any case, at one point I sampled one of the non-Miyazaki episodes just to see what they were like, but was so underwhelmed that I immediately lost interest in watching the rest, so I suspect that what people say is true, though I can’t confirm it firsthand since I haven’t seen them. In short, probably not worth the time. To answer your question, Kazuhide Tomonaga was definitely not involved in any of the other episodes. There was one single episode animated by Telecom, #21 in the list I have, but to my knowledge he wasn’t directly involved, although Tsukasa Tannai, who did part of the tea and crumpets scene you liked, was involved as an animator in #7 at Studio Gallop. The rest seem to have been done by other studios.

07/10/05 @ 09:25
Tsuka
Tsuka [Visitor]

Relatively on-topic : I just made a website about a french animated tv-series project called “Buta". The author is Christophe Ferreira, and he started to develop his project when he was working at Telecom studio, Otsuka enjoyed it. http://www.lebuta.com

07/10/05 @ 13:34