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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« Tokikake takes the BunkachoKemonozume #12 »

Monday, December 11, 2006

11:12:48 pm , 558 words, 1701 views     Categories: Animation, Misc, Movie, TV

Tidbits

Just some quick bits here and there. Have a few things on the backburner that I've been meaning to get around to, though I'm not quite there yet. Welcome to the NHK is about to end on ep 24. There were good stretches where I completely lost interest, but there would be the occasional shot in the arm of good animation and middling good directing that revived my interest, and in the end I'm kind of sad to see it go, though it's probably best not to drag out the agony much longer. I suppose studios take a different approach for a morning/prime time show and a late-night show, and this show is just an example of that. There were about five people doing good work on that series, and the rest was essentially unwatchable. I liked Erukin Kawabata's directing in ep 19.

My big catch from this series was Shingo Natsume, who just did some more cool work in 19, with all those thick black shadows, and now 23 (also 4 8 16). He also seems to be in the last ep. He's about the only animator on the show who was actually conscious about what he was doing, actively trying to carve out his own style. I'd be curious to know his influences. It's always reassuring to see that there are still young faces entering the biz with enough love of hand drawn animation to undertake the thankless task of trying to develop their own style and draw interesting animation in this day and age, particularly within the ridiculously tight schedules of TV animation. It always strikes me as a miracle that people like Yutaka Nakamura or Norio Matsumoto can produce reams of work of that level within such schedules. I was kind of worried that there would be less and less interesting people appearing with the changing technologies, but just the opposite, here we are almost in 2007 and there still seem to be new, interesting, really talented faces appearing regularly these days renewing that flame.

Speaking of Gonzo, I also just had the chance to watch Brave Story, which is a good contrast with NHK in terms of showing the two sides of this studio. When they want to, they can create some good quality. I don't know much about their approach, but in a number of productions I get a vibe of a kind of committee approach reminiscent of the old Toei Doga films, with various people contributing to designing and storyboarding and so on. Could be totally wrong. The animation was very full and nuanced, showing they approached this film seriously. What was it about the film that makes it so insubstantial then? Not the directing or the animation (though the animation was rich and pretty but also staid and plain). There were lots of imaginative ideas, but they didn't really seem to gel into a compelling whole. There was no sense of guiding vision. Nothing seemed genuinely unexpected. The script was good in the micro, but it all felt so uninspired and hackneyed. Typical of Gonzo was the active use of CG, but they seemed to have learned their lesson and be trying to hide it a little more with dark shading so it didn't stick out so much. Quibbles aside, no contest: Brave Story takes this year's award for Best Engrish Title for a Feature Length Film.

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7 comments

William Masssie
William Masssie [Visitor]

Hey, Mr. E. This is the first time of me posting here, and let me just say, I love this blog. Really helps me identify animators in populist productions worth of notice. I have to say that on the whole, NHK was nice (as far as i am, which is 20). Gonzo had a habit of being too “otaku-ish” with their source material and reliance on cgi as a gimmick. But this is a total 180, no cgi, and a wonderfull treatment of a meaningful, atypical story, even if the animation sucked for the most part.
Also, have you seen Bones’s new entry for the season; Tempo Ibun Ayakashi Ayashi? It’s overall a good show, although for the most part, the animation is nothing to scream about (and this dissapoints me, given bones’s track record). At any rate, there was a fine bit of interestingly animated action in episode 6, when a demond attacks and the group of hunters fight it. Especially interesting was some nuanced dancing by a priestess that looked like ice skating of all things! I was wondering (if you seen the show) if it was by anyone that youd recognize.

12/11/06 @ 23:33
tim_drage [Member]

I couldn’t manage to download beyond the 1st episode of NHK but i’ve been reading the Manga which is pretty good. Some really harsh/dark stuff in there, looks like the anime is maybe a bit toned down? Lots of too close for comfort humour! ^_^;

12/12/06 @ 08:02
Ben [Member]  

Hi William. Thanks very much. I concur with regards to NHK. It’s a story that sure had a lot of meaning to me personally.

And thank you for mentioning that episode of Ayakashi Ayashi. I had watched a bit of episode 1 out of curiosity, but had given up on the show after that, not expecting to see any interesting animators turn up. But I just had a look at that dance sequence in ep 6, and I quite liked it. You’re right, there is some really nice feeling in that dance. Unfortunately I’m at a total loss as to who could have done it. The only person who worked on the ep whom I recognize is Shinnosuke Kon, who’s a real veteran who’s been active for around 30 years; but I’d be really surprised if it was him, as I’ve never heard any good things about him as an animator. I can only make a random guess that it might be either Keizo Shimizu, who has also had a fairly active career, or the episode’s animation director Ippei Masui. Otherwise, most of the rest of the folks who worked on the ep appear to be newcomers. Hopefully I can figure it out eventually. It’s so hard to keep an eye on every new show, so I appreciate it when people point out things like this that I might have missed.

12/12/06 @ 23:37
William Masssie
William Masssie [Visitor]

No problem. Glad to be of service. I have to admit, there are less and less shows I’m watching during the course of each season, there’s too much moe for my tastes and being in college does take up time.
One thing to keep an eye out for is Gainax’s new spring anime Gurren-Langan. Hiroyuki Imaishi is heading it and i hear Sushio is lead animator. The story is pure shonen-robot cheese but I have a feeling that it’s totally intentional to be. Just looking at Atsuishi Nishigori’s character designs get me fired up, I can tell when designs are made for movement and not just for pretty pictures. Should be a blast.

12/13/06 @ 00:04
Random person
Random person [Visitor]

I share the same thoughts with you on NHK. I’m glad that they ventured with such an idea, at least.

I wish I had something interesting to offer you but as a pathetic excuse for a Christmas ‘thanks’ present, here’s a terrible scan by yours truly from January’s Animage magazine. I hope you can read the blurred words at the edge.
It’s Gisaburo Sugii talking about Tekkon Kinkreet. I wonder how many directors actually think about 「動きで何を伝えてるか」 these days…

I kind of feel the same way as him about the length of animated features, too.

12/15/06 @ 01:37
Random person
Random person [Visitor]

Stupid me forgot to include the link… pardon me… here you go. http://s01.imagehost.org/0707/gisaburo_4c.jpg

12/15/06 @ 01:38
Ben [Member]  

Wow, thanks a million. :) Very much appreciated. I can read everything just fine. I’d heard about Sugii’s column but never seen it, so this is great. It’s just as interesting as I expected. He makes a lot of interesting points, particularly the one you noted about ‘ensuring that the movement is conveying something’. I also agree with the length idea. I remember how Toei Doga used to make 50-60 minute films, like Ali Baba and Flying Ghost Ship and the length felt perfect for those films. But that seems less common now (though you do still see short films for kids shows like Kaiketsu Zorori and Keroro Gunso). What was really interesting was when he notes that lengths seem to have gotten longer since animation photography moved into digital. It makes sense, since you can now fiddle around and add stuff on the fly. I can see how this might lead to losing perspective and getting carried away and adding too much. Anyway, great stuff, lots of food for thought. Thanks! That was very nice of you. Oh, and merry xmas.

12/15/06 @ 14:43