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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Tuesday, April 14, 2009

02:16:02 pm , 1395 words, 5330 views     Categories: Animation, Misc

New season thoughts

Before I write a few thoughts on anime I've seen recently, behold Felix's Machines, one of the most ingenious concepts, constructions and videos I've seen in a good while. Felix Thorn, a young electronic musician living in the UK, has been putting together a DIY orchestra of cannibalized instrument parts in his apartment for the last few years, which he connects to his computer, and somehow coerces to play music he has programmed on his computer. Felix's Machines are fascinating on any number of levels. They create a marvelous show of twitching machinery - piano hammers hitting xylophones, a synaesthetic light show, and mediating the coldness of electronic music, which perhaps puts off many people to some of the best music made in the last decade, through the warmth of instrumental sounds. You can see two rawer videos of Felix's Machines in action playing Felix's Music on Youtube.

I've been meaning to write my thoughts about the exit of the last season and entry of the new one, but I've been so uninspired by everything I've seen of the new one so far that I haven't been able to muster the energy yet. Until watching episode 2 of IG's new show Sengoku Basara, that is. Quite obviously, it's been a while since I've been inspired to a post by something I've seen, but this episode is what I was waiting for. Funny it should come not in episode 1 but in episode 2. Episode 1 was fun, but not mind-blowing. Episode 2 was splendiferous. It was a fantastic, entertaining episode jam-packed with the manic energy of which only this form called anime is capable. It was directed by Naoyoshi Shiotani, whom I first noticed now quite a few years back with some animation in the Tsubasa Chronicle movie and the opening of Blood+, I think. He's since done numerous items, each one consistently showing him to be one of the most talented up-and-coming faces at the studio. I wrote about his episode of Chevalier, but not about Tokyo Marble Chocolate, which I really enjoyed. I admired how successfully he managed to pull off its daring structure, and also to create endearing characters in such a short span.

Ep 2 of Sengoku Basara has him on storyboard and directing, with Kyoji Asano on AD. He's backed up by animation from none other than Norio Matsumoto and one of my favorite younger animators, Shingo Natsume, whom I haven't seen in quite a while actually. This episode reminds me of his episode of Chevalier in the feeling of tightness of directing it has. When he's able to focus exclusively on these two tasks, Naoyoshi Shiotani does great work, just like another director who this season debuted as series director - Atsushi Wakabayashi. His Guin Saga so far is pretty much what I was expecting: weak and disappointing from a director who in the capacity of lone episode director was able to do such brilliant work.

Shiotani started out as an animator, and I think it shows up in his work in this episode, in the most basic sense that he creates scenes that have a riveting effect on the viewer by dint of their combination of great animation with exciting pacing and staging. He uses Norio Matsumoto fantastically in the showdown in the field, adding these incredible colors and sketchy effects to convey the intensity of the gimmick of the series, where the battles between the heroes, which might elsewhere have been portrayed by something so mundane as a sword fight, are here magnified to ridiculous, landscape-destroying clashes of brightly colored light. I've never seen anything like these sketchy drawings from Matsumoto before, so I wonder if he himself did them or whether Shiotani modified his work in the studio. He uses Shingo Natsume for the exciting charge of the castle, and creates another great scene. I thought I was seeing Hisashi Mori at first when I saw that scene, but later figured it must be how Natsume is drawing these days. He seems to have been influenced by Mori over the last two years. The showdown with the old man also has the hair-raising intensity that is a perfect match for this series' overtly silly and anachronistic re-visioning of feudal Japan, with all its off-the-wall nekketsu energy, and looks like it might have been animated by Shiotani himself. I recall he seems to have animated the scene with the old man in his Chevalier episode, so he seems to have a fetish for animating old men. A refreshing change of fetish for anime.

I've never been particularly interested in Kenji Kamiyama as a director, mainly because he's so far been devoted almost exclusively to directing Gits, which never did anything for me and I never watched, so I've never really had the chance to examine his work as a director in a neutral context. I was given that chance this season with another show from IG called Eden of the East. In spite of its obvious title, the first episode turned out to be quite enjoyable and intriguing and got me wanting to find out more, which no other first episode this season did (including Sengoku Basara - I only watched it because it was fun). He has a unique perspective that comes through in the odd situation, with its very subtle hint of a political tinge coming through already. The character designs by Satoko Morikawa are very cute, but not cloyingly so, and a refreshing change from the typical cookie-cutter 'cute' that riddles the rest of the season. I've long associated her exclusively with the World Masterpiece Theater, as I learned her name from the amorphous, blob-like characters in Lassie. But she's come a long way, and I like how that lineage has evolved in new directions (although of course she adapts someone's design concept). The fact that Yoshihara Masayuki is co-director makes me particularly eager to see where it goes. I recall liking his work on the sniper scene in Kamiyama's Gits film, so the two appear to be joined at the hip these days. At first glance the show seems to be IG's answer to Denno Coil, with its round kid designs and its tone and content, but I'm sure it will develop in a very different direction.

I enjoyed the first episode of Cross Game at first, despite entering with skepticism about the need to create yet another Adachi Mitsuru anime in this day and age. It was a well paced and had a simple, classical story setup that was a welcome change from everything else I've had to watch, and it had an unexpected punch at the end. But thinking about it, I was turned off by the manipulativeness and ease of hinging the emotional impact on the death a child. I also disliked how the faces were impassive and unchanging across every emotion, as it seems like a good design, one that would warrant more freedom with the expressions, kind of like Ayumu Watanabe's revamped Doraemon. But I still liked the directing by Osamu Sekita, and it's a refreshing change from the look and material that dominates today's anime environment, so I might watch a bit more to see if it's worth it. It's been a long time since I was inspired to watch an entire series based not on its merits in terms of the animation or directing, but on the story and characters. It's interesting how, even in the spring of 2009, we can still get a new baseball anime. It's like without a baseball anime on air, people feel a vacuum that needs to be filled. Do young kids today still enjoy this sort of thing the way young kids (heck, back then the entire country) watched Kyojin no Hoshi in the 1960s? The tenacity of certain genres is impressive to me.

I think I watched or sampled over 20 shows, but that's about it in terms of stuff that was remotely bearable. Nothing too exciting this season. And I probably missed it, but I didn't notice any Madhouse shows this season, which was a real surprise. Instead, IG takes the spotlight this season in terms of interesting shows. Madhouse has been in the spotlight with great shows for quite a while now, so perhaps they're preparing for the next wave. I was honestly kind of sad not to see some more good new Madhouse shows.



animemiz [Visitor]  

Uhh.. you didn’t even mention Chi’s Sweet Home.

That’s a Madhouse production. What makes IG take the spotlight? It is still pretty early in the game.

04/14/09 @ 21:13
Kazu-kun [Visitor]  

The character designs for Eden of the East were done by Chika Umino (author of Honey and Clover), not by Satoko Morikawa. The latter did just the adaptation of said designs.

04/15/09 @ 00:36
pete [Member]

Ben I didnt know that when the word h….e….n…t…a….i… is used it is not possible to post. though when I type a well known swearword it is accepted! Can you fix that?

Thanks for the music video. Instantly added to my favourites.

Regarding kids of today vs those of the 60s I think if enjoyment is taken as something purely subjective they enjoy it, though a little differently, with various gadgets their parents could never think off. Plus now their mothers go to work too. So somehow you have to split this enjoyment. There’s much more than TV and radio, books, comics and newspapers today.

On a side not regarding the WMT titles, first two episodes of Konnichiwa Anne were a dissapointment. It seems digital and WMT do not match for the moment. Reminded me of Les Miserables and Anne was made to act like Fantine. I read also that the director took part in the direction of a yaoi h-anime with underage boys. Not that I mind, but that certainly would not do good to the fame of the WMT titles.

04/15/09 @ 05:14
vosen [Visitor]  

And I probably missed it, but I didn’t notice any Madhouse shows this season

Yes, you did, Madhouse is doing Souten Kouro.

04/15/09 @ 09:09
Ben [Member]  

I did indeed miss both Chi’s Sweet Home and Souten Kouro. There were just too many episode 1s - I knew I’d probably missed a few. Thanks for the heads up, animemiz and vosen. I’m going to check those out now.

Pete - I’ll try to fix it. I tried to have a look at the new Anne, but I haven’t been able to yet. I didn’t expect it would be anything good, so your comments confirm my suspicions. I think very few people could pull off the WMT in this day and age, and I don’t feel there’s any need to bother.

Kazu-kun - Ah, that makes sense. The designs really do look just like H&C, so I doubt there’s too much Morikawa in them. If you had read my post completely, though, you’d have noticed I mentioned I realized she was only adapting someone else’s rough design.

04/15/09 @ 15:08
huw_m [Member]

You really managed to sample over 20 shows?! How masochistic. I’m glad you did it so I don’t have to :) - Trying to find hidden gems like Toradora ep 1 again?

I am enjoying those 2 IG shows as well, and nothing else. The sketchy animation in episode 2 of Basara is just the best thing I’ve seen in ages…I thought the choice of OP/ED animation for EotE was kind of interesting - Helvetica-heavy motion graphics for the OP (with seemingly every trend in mainstream motion graphic design chucked in, and kinda mismatched anime drawing inserts), and the nifty papercraft ED - Two trends I wouldn’t normally associate with anime…I thought the opening was a bit try-hard, but I liked the ending. I’m enjoying the show loads, with that subtle political tinge you mentioned being quite welcome.

I find it kinda interesting how the two directors I am most interested this season are *assistant* directors…I can imagine what Shiotani contributes after seeing his ep 2, maybe putting in ideas for animation and how to make the show more over-the-top or something, but I wonder what Yoshihara does on EotE? I have to wonder where an assistant director slots in to a system where the main director is usually an auteur….

Felix’s Machines is fantastic, what a great concept and execution…

04/16/09 @ 17:23
h_park [Member]

Ben, you just sampled half of this season’s titles which I think quite a feat. I read from somewhere that they released something like 37 titles this season. This reminds me to post that old graph chart of total Anime title releases since 60’s

I was reading Kazu-kun’s comment on who’s doing character design and I have to say something about use of terminology and credits. In the West, “character designer", is such a generalized job title that people mix up their roles. There are some types of titles that I came across when I read Japanese credit.

キャラクター原案: Character Concept (Design)
We see this title applies to artists who are not animators.

オリジナルキャラクターデザイン: Original character design
Not widely used credit, but pretty much the same as character design.

キャラクターデザイン: Character Design
Most widely used and most confusing job title among western fans. This job title ranges from creating original characters to adaptation of existing designs. I think this title only applies to animators.

I think some people get all antsy with who’s doing character designs. I’ve been thinking about past and present designs for a while and this is the conclusion I came up with: Most of popular designs are all style, but no substance. They won’t last for long.

04/16/09 @ 21:51
Andrew Cunningham
Andrew Cunningham [Visitor]  

Kamiyama as director - did you somehow manage to miss all of Seirei no Moribito? I’d definitely call that his strongest work. Eden of the East isn’t quite grabbing me.

Souten Kouro was a fantastic manga, and the anime is doing some decent stuff considering they clearly have no budget at all, but so little actually moves that I doubt it will do anything for you.

Imagawa’s Mazinger is the only show this season that’s really firing on all cylinders.

04/16/09 @ 22:56
Ben [Member]  

Huw - Heh. I’ve heard that somewhere before. I guess I get a sort of self-flagellating itch to sample each ep 1 each season perhaps because I feel it gives me a quick sense of where the various trends are headed. Even if I’m not particularly interested in them, it’s interesting to watch how trends ebb and flow, to see how they reflect changes in taste. A quick look is usually enough to get a sense for what’s being attempted artistically, as usually there isn’t much of anything new on display.

And actually, while I was watching (and I have to emphasize I’ve really been out of it, and have deliberately avoided looking into who’s producing what, or staff, or what to look out for, or anything - which is why I almost missed all the Madhouse shows, for example) I did run across a show that, the moment it came on, reminded me of Toradora, and made me wonder if it wasn’t by the same studio and staff… and it turns out it was. (the same studio; not sure about the staff) It had very much the same atmosphere of a more ‘centrist’, accessible, higher-quality version of the various moe conventions that Toradora did, so it’s clear that JC Staff (was it?) is carving out their own niche with that approach.

Yeah, the OP/ED of EotE were nice and different, particularly the ending. Maybe the opening was trying a little too hard to seem smart and edgy. But the ending was honest and sweet and quite interesting technically. It was directed by someone named David Shoichi Haruyama. And actually Nishio is credited as having done the animation of the ending (and opening, along with Satoru Nakamura). I assume he drew the outlines, which were cut out and animated by ? Toyomura.

But damn… that was only half!? I throw in the towel for this season.

Andrew - Ah, thanks. I forgot he directed Seirei no Moribito. I think the reason it slipped my mind is that I wasn’t compelled enough by the first episode to watch the show, so it was vague in my memory. I found the first episode of his new show a more successful first episode. But I’m sure many people would disagree.

I really enjoyed the first episode of Souten Kouro, much to my own surprise. I think it’s thanks to Toyoo Ashida. I was surprised to see the founder of Studio Live directing a series at Madhouse.

Mazinger is another one that slipped through my fingers. I’ll have to check that out. Any new Imagawa piece is worth a look. He’s always full of energy.

04/16/09 @ 23:18
William Massie
William Massie [Visitor]  

I can’t think to sit through most of the schlock they pass through each season. I tried K-ON, it just wasn’t my thing even with the Kyoto polish. If you don’t buy into the cute, then there’s really nothing.

EofE is shaping up to be a crackerjack show. Great mystery but not overwrought or too heavy in mood (like some think GitS is, although I like SAC and 2nd GIG) so as not to alienate the female audience. Hopefully ratings will keep the seat warm for BONES crack at a Noitamina original, Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 which seems fairly interesting.

Oh yea, can’t forget Basara Its the perfect weekend anime!

04/17/09 @ 04:12
huw_m [Member]

Huh, I get the impression from your comment that you only saw the first episode of Moribito, Ben? If so, you gotta check out episode 3. I’ve been meaning to ask about that episode for a while - Storyboard by Masaki Tachibana (the IG King of Fighters thingy, the upcoming Tokyo Magnitude 8.0) and AD’d by Satoru Nakamura. A combo which equals great fight scenes early on, with some particularly well-animated bits that I’ve been wondering forever who did…and IIRC, it’s a nicely directed/made episode besides that.

I wonder if Masaki Tachibana will be like Atsushi Wakabayashi - Great on a small scale, dissapointing on a larger one? Hope not…But I kinda suspect so.

04/17/09 @ 05:27
Ben [Member]  

You’re right, William. There’s really no reason to do what I do. I guess it’s just that if I don’t do that, I practically don’t watch almost any anime anymore. I also always find myself wondering if, just maybe, there’s some new person somewhere I haven’t heard of doing good work. Occasionally there’ll be an ep 1 like Toradora that surprises me, for example.

Weekend anime - the perfect phrase for Basara. I actually enjoyed the third episode, even though it was jarringly quiet after the second episode. I’m kind of liking the show. The script is pretty interesting. Though the antics with the token scantily clad woman are irritatingly repetitive. We get it already.

Thanks for the pointer about Moribito 3, Huw. You’re right. I’ve only seen episode 1. I’ll see if I can find 3 (it seems to have been licensed). I don’t know this Tachibana person at all, so you’ve got me really curious, especially if he’s directing an upcoming Bones show. A pretty good endorsement right there. But I’m disappointed in them for caving to the temptation of doing a continuation of their megahit FMA.

I think I liked the second episode of EotE even more than the first. Loving the show. My favorite scene was the tete-a-tete while waiting for the boat, where Takizawa snaps his fingers. Felt very heartfelt and real.

04/17/09 @ 13:24
Ben [Member]  

Huw, I just watched that episode, and it was magnificent. Thanks for bringing it to my attention. If they’d opened with an episode like this, I surely would have watched more of the show. Just a perfectly directed episode in every sense, from the great choreography and animation of the quite extensive opening fight, which was full of nice gritty detail, and the way the atmosphere keeps up the tension through the second half in which you get into the skin of the little prince’s emotional state. I’m sure the storyboard is a big part of why it worked so well, although I wonder to what extent the director Toshiya Niidome was also responsible. But yeah, for the animation, that really stood out in quantity and skill, so since I don’t know anyone in the credits, if I were to try to figure out who did it, I’d guess the guy who’s credited separately from everyone else at the top - Naoki Furukawa. Never heard of him, so I can’t say. The sense of timing wasn’t particularly outstanding, but there was just so much movement packed in there, with every little nuance of the motions being depicted in painstaking detail that is quite unusual for fight scenes. Though honestly, I think I liked the atmosphere of the episode overall even more than the fight scene specifically. It had an unusual feeling of unflagging building tension maintained from start to end. And the way they handled the lady’s flashback while she’s lying supine in the forest was really classy.

04/18/09 @ 21:42
huw_m [Member]

Glad you liked it! Happy to help.

04/19/09 @ 05:08
Muffin [Visitor]

Hey Ben, always good to hear your thoughts on the new tv shows. I like Adachi Mitsuru, particulary(I think) his short stories. Interesting that you mention the impassive faces of the charachters as that’s clearly a huge part of Adachi’s very particular dramatic sensibility. And perhaps something that comes off best in his own manga works. Eden of the East does seem to be one of the most interesting series this season. The first episode feels like the first 20 minutes of a witty and well-structured spy thriller.

Speaking of the exit of the last season. I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed Birdy: 02, since I pretty much ended up feeling plainly insulted by the wishy-washy first season. As much as there were things I really appreciated in season 2 though, it’s difficult to shake the feeling that this new adaptation was rather ill-conceived and a missed opportunity on many levels.

And Ben, I know you’re quite a fan of Akiyuki Shinbou, I wonder if you’ve seen his 1999 OAV Tenamonya Voyagers? I’m practically watching it right now and it’s really a blast.

04/22/09 @ 13:05
Ben [Member]  

Yeah, Cross Game got me to wondering about the whole notion of fidelity to manga designs. Manga designs can work wonders in the form of manga, but ported into the form of animation might not necessarily be the best answer, even if they’re drawn as well as they are in this adaptation. Things like Shin-chan and Doraemon are interesting in that sense, and show how given a longer period of time, designs based even on popular characters tend to evolve at the hands of the animators in the direction of more expressive freedom. Though of course I’m sure there are plenty of counter-examples where more control is maintained… But I like the way Doraemon, for example, has evolved in a direction that maintains the spirit of the original but makes the characters more expressive in a way better suited to animation. I like Adachi’s designs, actually, and it’s not that it doesn’t work, but sometimes it feels like the mask-like quality is serving simply as a refuge from having to do any animation. That is, after all, one of the virtues of the anime aesthetic. And of course, in this case, the boy’s emotional immaturity is part of the theme, so at a stretch you could even claim his lack of expression as being very much intentional, but something struck me as odd here, because all of the characters had the same mask-like face.

There was plenty more I wanted to write about the exit of the last season, because I really enjoyed both Soul Eater and Casshern Sins down to the end (particularly the latter). Birdy: 02, though, I never gave a chance, mostly because the entire ethos, atmosphere and approach to the characters of the first season did nothing for me and I assumed that the second season would not be wildly different. What were the reasons the second season pleased you and not the first?

Tenamonya Voyagers is totally one of my favorite things by Shinbo. It’s interesting, because it feels completely random and all over the place in terms of the story progression - I memorably recall the “swimsuit” episode -, and his work these days also very much has that feeling of random layouts, inserts, graphics, etc, yet there’s a big difference between his old and new stuff somewhere, somehow. I wonder what it is. I haven’t enjoyed a Shinbo series in a good long while, sadly.

04/23/09 @ 18:11
Muffin [Visitor]

I haven’t actually watched Cross Game, but I’ve seen some screenshots, and my feeling was that it was being faithful to Adachi’s designs in an artistically unimaginative sort of way. Sort of tracing his designs carefully, but losing the delicate impressionistic touches of the original artist. Adachi also displays an extremely cinematic and fluid sense of composition and layout in his manga that plays a big part in making his particular designs come to life.

As to why I enjoyed(if not loved) Birdy 02. Well, I obviously quite agree the overall tone and approach to the material in this adaptation was neither particulary faithful nor well-conceived. But it probably wasn’t any worse than it could be made a good deal more palatable by some subtle refinements. I thought the new story was pretty effective this time around, with a better feeling of steady momentum. Even ignoring the more controversial sakuga adventures, Ryochimo’s designs frequently looked stronger and more compelling than ever.

I think I particulary liked the second episode of Tenamonya Voyagers. The overall way the charachters were drawn struck me as the most imaginative and appealing, and they really kept up an extremely tight level of inventive, complex visual direction in this one. As for more recent Shinbou-series, I watched the entire Moon Phase series and thought it was clever and likeable(and that oddly addictive opening sequence). Though it’s obviously not the sort of thing that is carried by relentless visual onslaught through all 20+ episodes. I liked how the wash buckets kept falling on people even in the serious episodes.

04/29/09 @ 04:06
Wiiliam Massie
Wiiliam Massie [Visitor]  

I am digging Shinbou’s work

As far as Shinbou is concerned, I have been inhaling Sayonara zetsubou sensei eps when not writing papers for finals.

I also tried out Natsu no Arashi, nothing earthshaking but decent (although the animation is pretty ropey).

Still what I don’t get is how Shinbou is doing all these shows, there was his recent Sensei kick (which has been signed on for a 3rd series) Arashi and Bakeneko to be aired in July (the same time Sensei is!)

I have heard about directors doing double duty before (Kazuhiro Furuhashi did it recently with both Real Drive and Ayakashi) but HOW DO THEY DO THAT.

I guess that’s why there were so many assistant directors on Zetsubou Sensei, huh?

05/11/09 @ 21:29
Wiiliam Massie
Wiiliam Massie [Visitor]  

Sorry I meant to say Bakemonogatari

05/11/09 @ 21:32
Wiiliam Massie
Wiiliam Massie [Visitor]  

Oh yea, does anyone know just what the difference is between Chief, Assistant, Series and (just plain) Director? I honestly am at sea.

05/11/09 @ 23:03
john.m. [Visitor]  

Ben: Kaiba, episode 12?

in episode 6 of Basquash!, having recovered a little animation and drawing (not in the episode, but almost all), and finally sees a clear line in the plot. I am seeing what a good time, is a show of “sports” with “mechas", very silly.

05/18/09 @ 08:20
Ben [Member]  

John - Good question. I haven’t watched it yet. I was meaning to buy the DVDs and watch it and assimilate all the extra material before writing about it, but sundry expenses and extreme busyness overtook me over the last few months (work first and now moving to a new place), so I never got the chance. Maybe I should just bite the bullet and watch it sans box.

I remember the only thing that really caught my eye about the first episode of Basquash was the amazing backgrounds. The rest didn’t do much for me, and I didn’t have time to follow it to see if it went anywhere more worthwhile over a few episodes, which I suspected it might. I might give a few more episodes a try, if just to see some more of those backgrounds.

05/19/09 @ 00:56
LainEverliving [Visitor]  

Ben - Sorry for posting a response to this so late. Better late than never thou, ne?

The reason for the severe lack of Madhouse shows is that they’re trying to finish their SIX MOVIES (seven if you count Ninja Scroll 2, which is still apparently moving forward) right now. I mean, Redline had to drop out of Annecy because it won’t be finished on time, Summer Wars is due in August, they’re giving an advance preview of the Trigun Movie at Anime Expo in a little over a month, and while Yona Yona Penguin has been almost entirely done at other studios, they’re still trying to work out details on that for a December release. Of those, we already know that Summer Wars is taking lots of freelancers as well as the creme of Madhouse’s staff people (like TokiKake), and that Redline is a freakin’ joke as far as animation in concerned, even if it is primarily Takeshi Koike’s baby that he’s slaved over endlessly. Regarding Redline, I sometimes wonder (and worry) that it’ll be the kind of movie that sakuga fans go berserk over and the rest of the world totally ignores. I mean, it’s basically a feature length car chase. What more can you say?

As far as upcoming Madhouse TV stuff, we are getting Needless in July (although I don’t know if that’ll be anything special animation wise), and Kobato. in October. The interesting thing about those two shows is that both are featuring Hiromi Kato designs (who I’ve developed a fondness for since meeting last year at AX, and also from his mostly one-man work on the CLAMP in Wonderland 2 music video), so we’ll see a bit more of him later in the year. But I kind of think that the 2008 Fall season was a beautiful moment for Madhouse, in that the last major flurry of commission work came through before the economic bottom fell out. Honestly, I don’t think they’ve got the money to make anything really above average right now (and by average, I mean Madhouse average, which of course is better than industry average). But still, it’s a letdown for this year. Hopefully at least, the movie stuff will turn out well.

As far as other worthwhile work, Kyoto Animation finally has started releasing new episodes of Haruhi Suzumiya just this last week, so even though they’re buried in the rebroadcast of the original series, you could look at those. I don’t know what they’ll be like animation wise (I haven’t seen them yet), especially since Satoshi Kadowaki and Yutaka Yamamoto (who seemed to have the lock on the Haruhi quality that everyone remembers) are gone, but maybe there’ll be something decent. Strangely, I also like Saki for some reason… I think I’m just emotionally resonating with Gonzo’s troubles right now, and I am pulling for them to do something good. Even if it’s just a simple fanservice game show like this, I’m happy to see them not giving up. And yeah, Eden of the East is the best thing on TV right now, so you can’t go wrong with that. Even Basara, which I just laugh at, does as you say have good moments and excellent animation. As a Madhouse guy, I’m burning with envy at Production I.G’s success right now. I guess I wish them luck while they can have it… it’s a tough world right now, and I don’t want to see anyone else fall into Gonzo’s hardship, so I’ll pull for them, at least for the moment.

05/26/09 @ 20:17
vitalik [Visitor]  

I thought im gonna die, at viewingGENIUS party BEYOND. I on am shaken so much that there are no words

06/02/09 @ 02:34
zuiyo [Member]  

“Most of popular designs are all style, but no substance. They won’t last for long.”

That had me thinking for a while. I came up with Kazuko Tadano, whose work on Sailor Moon and Wedding Peach has shaped all mainstream shojo anime for years after it. Pretty Cure is a perfect example.

06/03/09 @ 01:22
Ben [Member]  

I really appreciate the update on what’s going on with Madhouse, LainEverliving. No worries about lateness on this blog - just witness the lightning speed of my posting over the last few months. I’m out of it in terms of news, so your info is very helpful to a fellow Madhouse fan like myself. Personally I don’t mind that they’re switching things up and not just pumping out TV series every season. I like it when they make awesome high quality movies. And as you say, you gotta really admire Madhouse for letting Takeshi Koike go on making his own personal animation fiesta of a film for years on end the way he is, when the payoff may not even be there in the end. It’s a blessing that there isn’t only one studio in Japan (4C) dedicated to making quality films like that, audience be damned.

I’ve never been a big Gonzo fan, but I’d never wish bankruptcy on anyone. I’ve always wanted to like them, because they often conceive of projects that seem amazing in print, headlined by a terrific bevy of staff, but things more often than not seem to go terribly awry somewhere along the way. Afro Samurai, though, was really enjoyable and well executed if you accept it for what it is. (I must say that opening animation in ep 1 by Keisuke Watabe was the perfect hook)

06/16/09 @ 00:06
Erika [Visitor]  

“Great mystery but not overwrought or too heavy in mood (like some think GitS is, although I like SAC and 2nd GIG) so as not to alienate the female audience. “
Well excuse me. Not 100% of us females buy into the self-perpetuating misconception that we are inherently governed by the emotional side of some reason-emotion dichotomy and thus base our taste around that mindset. Granted though, I know what you’re trying to get across. Sadly, I’m a minority in my gender and if I tried to show an intelligent, rationally emotional show like GitS SAC to my girl friends I’m sure most would be bored to death/confused as hell.
Speaking of GitS SAC, if you’re (the author of this article) holding off on watching it because of the GitS franchise as whole doing nothing for you, I’d still give it a watch. It’s difficult not to call it perfect, especially cinematographically (which is a word ^_^). While I love Oshii’s incarnation too, Kamiyama’s has characters that are more believably human rather than mouth-pieces for the director’s philosophy, which seems to alienate people from Oshii’s work who are fonder of more traditional narrative structures.

03/19/11 @ 17:33
pete [Member]

I guarantee you that you are not a minority at all (in the quality animation loving audience at least which as you’ve concluded is not that wide).

Gits remains my least favourite of Oshiis work for the reason you mentioned. In the live action movie Avalon he succeeded better

I liked his more light hearted Patlabor ova and series direction where characters appear more human too.

Though I see he directed some episodes of my favourite childhood series too (nils holgersson)

03/20/11 @ 07:16
Erika [Visitor]  

“I guarantee you that you are not a minority at all (in the quality animation loving audience at least which as you’ve concluded is not that wide).”
You obviously don’t know that many young, American, women, or even young, American, women otakus for that matter.

Also, if you’re interested, check out Bob Clark’s review of GitS SAC here:
He essentially addresses the same points I brought up but in a much more in-depth and graceful manner.

03/26/11 @ 13:28
pete [Member]

thanks for the link. Yes I preferred the second Gits SAC series rather than the heavier first one.

I never liked the manga however. the second GITS manga was very painful to read and I gave up. Appleseed manga on the other hand, though difficult read as well, was much more engaging.

“You obviously don’t know that many young, American, women, or even young, American, women otakus for that matter.”

I know women otaku (not American though) and the ones I know know much more about anime than male otaku and recommend the best series too. I was rather talking about animated features in general. I struggle in the offline world to find a person that is delved into animation, besides the CGI crop we get every year. But perhaps it is because I know too much in comparison to other non-professionals. Also if it is regarded as kids fare, the more difficult it is to start a conversation.

03/26/11 @ 14:04