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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Wednesday, July 27, 2005

11:30:51 pm , 538 words, 546 views     Categories: Animation

Water

More thoughts about the animation of Omatsuri Danshaku after a second viewing. I was able to identify a few other spots with more or less certainty - Nobutake Ito, Takaaki Wada, maybe Hideki Hamasu, though ironically Imaishi I couldn't spot. Not surprisingly, my favorite spots were Hisashi Mori's, Matsumoto's and Ito's, though really there's so much great work in here it's almost impossible to narrow it down to just a few spots. There was plenty of great work I couldn't identify. I particularly liked the spot where character x attempts to cut character y. I don't know who did it, but it's stylistically very assured and unique in terms of the timing and drawings, so it's definitely someone good. And boy it feels good to see Hisashi Mori given the climax of the film. I was feeling deprived of Mori from his virtual absence in Spigura.

The waves at the beginning seemed like a deliberate homage to Yoichi Kotabe's classic waves in Animal Treasure Island, the original Toei Doga/Animation pirate movie. His waves perfectly captured that undulating feeling of the surface of the ocean, with different planes bobbing up and down the screen in perspective towards the horizon, creating an almost abstract effect, like the natural version of Norman McLaren's Lines Horizontal. Norio Matsumoto is one of the best water animators of recent years, as evidenced by his Naruto work, but his water is cut of a very different cloth. He draws smoke with an incredibly clean and beautiful shape, but water tends to be a jagged mass of splashes. He's got a real genius for drawing water in any conceivable situation in a way that's both naturalistic and incredibly thrilling as animation. Nobutake Ito has done some of the best water I've seen in the last year or so, in Mind Game and SamCham and now Omatsuri Danshaku - which is quite a lot of water for just a year's work. His water is closer to Matsumoto's than to Kotabe's stylistically, more naturalistic in the timing and shape, though he's got his own unmistakable approach. I think nobody can draw a better splash than Nobutake Ito. I can't imagine seeing animation anywhere else where people would still be trying to come up with their own new approaches towards these basic phenomena, and that's what I most enjoy about seeing these guys' work. Toshiyuki Inoue is probably also quite good at water, though the closest I've seen from him recently was the amorphous mass in Paranoia Agent 13. Before that his water at the start of Peek was quite spectacular. I wish he would have the chance to do more natural effects.

Incidentally the number of key animators was not fifty but 73, to be exact, which is even more impressive than I'd thought, though Toei does usually have quite a lot of key animators in their films. In the end I came away feeling the way this movie was done was common sense - you get the best animators out there together to work on the same film, rather than having them do bits and pieces in different movies. Certainly most of the animators were Toei animators, but many of the best were from other studios or freelance.

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2 comments

Josh
Josh [Visitor]

Even though most people would think of it just as a background thing, it’s really incredible how much effects animation can affect the final product. I remember rewatching Pinocchio a couple years back…the effects animation was so dull and repetitive that I never wanted to see a splash of water again. Guess that’s what happens when you don’t give effects animators the respect they deserve.

Also, am I the only one who keeps misreading “Spigura” as “Spurigan” ?

07/28/05 @ 19:36
Ben
Ben [Visitor]

I agree. Although impressive, Disney’s FX always left me cold for some reason, and I think the reason is that the homogeneity renders it kind of bland and hard to grab a handhold on. After a while it all winds up looking the same. This film is a prime example of how the Japanese approach differs - you have each animator bringing his own totally unique style of FX to the mix, rather than the committee approach of Disney, which makes for a much richer, more varied and hence more interesting animated texture as you’re watching the film. I think whether people notice that sort of thing or not it has an effect on how they enjoy the film.

And I’ll avoid using that term from now on… who wants to be reminded of that film.

07/28/05 @ 23:52