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|3x3 Eyes #4, 1991|
|FLCL #4, 2000|
|Tottemo! Lucky Man op, 1994|
|Yu Yu Hakusho movie, 1994|
I've been thinking about trademarks that can serve to identify animators. First and foremost, of course, is the movement. In many cases, as with more style-heavy animators like Shinya Ohira or Shinji Hashimoto, you can simply tell from the movement that it is a certain animator's work, even if the drawings have been corrected, as witness Ohira's section in Howl (Howl's airborne transformation) or Hashimoto's scene in Perfect Blue (Murano's murder). However, in other cases, particularly when an animator's drawings go uncorrected, as happens more often in TV work, and in rare shows like FLCL that are more tolerant of open displays of animator idiosyncrasy, you can even tell just from the drawings. Norio Matsumoto's animation is easily identifiable from the movement, but even during still scenes, his work can often be identified by a single drawing. For example, take the ears and hands: He tends to draw big round ears in one elegant arc, and has a knack for flawlessly drawing beautiful hands, something that is not very common among animators. Tokura Norimoto is also identifiable from his beautiful, bilbous hands. In shows as disparate in time and style as 3x3 Eyes and FLCL you can identify a trademark of Koichi Arai in a shot here and there - his way of drawing the mouth. Nobutake Ito can often be identified by his teeth, which are amongst the most meticulously rendered I'd ever seen. Other animators might tend to favor certain poses in their animation. A trademark of Yoshinori Kanada's is the pose seen at right, which you can see fairly often throughout his work.
Sometimes it's not as specific as a certain way of drawing hands or the mouth, but rather simply a certain style of line. Hisashi Mori tends to draw with a wobbly, spontaneous line, whereas Satoru Utsunomiya favors a cleaner line. Hisashi Mori liberally uses lots of effects and lines throughout the screen. Animators across the board from Norio Matsumoto to Toshiyuki Inoue use speed effects, ie, little jagged teeth extending from a line, to express speed, some less frequently than others, each in their own personal way. Then there are shapes. Hisashi Mori tends to favor blocky, geometric shapes, whereas Shinya Ohira's shapes seem more abstract and flowing. In the end, of course, the movement is the most important thing, but drawings are the building block of movement, so both the movement and the drawings can be used to identify an animator's style.
I remember Kanada Yoshinori’s trademark pose mostly from some of the earlier Urusei Yatsura episodes and the first two UY movies. I guess the whole scene with the running biseinen men towards the end of “UY- Only You” is the work of either Kanada Yoshinori or his protégé Yamashita Masahito. The characters are running with their arms lifted upwards and when they’re jumping, they take similar poses like the one illustrated here. I like this distinctive style with those extreme angles.
Bingo, that was Masahito Yamashita, who sort of pushed Kanada’s distinct style to all new heights of absurd posing. I recommend the UY episodes “Old man of the willow tree” and “From gardenia with love” if you’d like to see some of Yamashita’s best work in this vein.