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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Monday, July 12, 2010

08:13:45 pm , 347 words, 10687 views     Categories: Animation

What do you want to see in anime?

I'm going to try to finish blogging Yojouhan Shinwa Taikei soon, but in the meantime this question popped into my head a few days ago, and got me thinking. I'm pretty much dissatisfied with most anime that's made, and I'll occasionally see something (animated or otherwise) and think, "THIS is what I'd like to see in anime."

One thing I'd like to see is more stuff like Cat Soup - lavishly produced shorts spearheaded a unique artist, filled head to toe with inventive animation and designs, adopting narrative structures that have never been explored in anime, exploring interesting themes without relying on industry tropes and cliches.

In a longer format, I'd like to see more believable down-to-earth drama like Haibane Renmei exploring a serious subject of relevance to us human beings, but with more realistic designs. I'd like to see something without an audience-pandering gimmick - be it anime-style designs or sci-fi trappings - something completely real life.

I'd like to see international collaborations where the Japanese side directs and does everything else, but foreign animators do the animation - not outsourced, but working in Japan. I'd like to see more Japanese animators spend a year in some foreign country learning a non-Japanese approach to expand their palette.

And so on. I pretty much know the reason WHY stuff like this isn't made more often - that's not the question. I just want to plumb the depths and figure out what it is I REALLY want to see, not what I compromise and watch because it was produced and is decent. I'm pretty sure I'm not the only one who feels this way. We all have a director in our heads who has ideas about what would be interesting, what it is that truly interests YOU but that you've never seen addressed in anime. I want to hear some dreams of alternate realities. For once, don't compromise.

So, open question to all the people out there who, like me, AREN'T satisfied with what they see in anime:

What is it you really want to see in anime?

Permalink

50 comments

doktrLucifr
doktrLucifr [Visitor]  

It seems to me that not many people enjoy longer works. I particularly like the Lord of the Rings film trilogy specifically because each film was three hours long, and had the time to detail many things, while having excellent pacing.

I think in anime, the one example of this is Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood. 64 episodes, and it had a well-detailed setting, and gave attention to each of the characters (fleshing out their story, at least somewhat.)

Early Naruto might be an even better example, at least for me. I think what made the earlier chapters so great was the character development. It’s too bad there really isn’t any series (maybe there is, and you could direct me to it) that is particularly long, masterfully paced, with intricately detailed characters and settings.

Basically; I want something epic in scope, with a masterful sense of pacing.

07/12/10 @ 20:51
Pandadice
Pandadice [Visitor]  

@doktrLucifr have you seen Legend of the Galactic Heroes? it gets slow at some parts, but overall it’s a 110 episode OVA detailing every aspect of a large scale war in space/the future. I think it fits what you’re looking for.

As for what I’d like to see in anime.. I admit that I know what I’d like to see is not what is coming out. But what exactly I do want, I’m gonna have to think a bit more on..

I know one adaptation I’d be interested in would be The Wire. Though, I’m afraid it’d get butchered and watered down and ruined..

and I agree I’d love to see more works follow in the footsteps of Cat Soup.

07/12/10 @ 21:16
Neilworms
Neilworms [Visitor]  

I want to see more classy productions. Ones like Jin Roh, Memories, any Satoshi Kon film. Stuff that defies the very nature of animation and pushes it forward as an art form.

More specifically I’d like one more film by Takahata before he dies, and another film by Hiroyuki Okirua. So I don’t sound like I only like the realist end of the anime spectrum, I want more artists that are like Morimoto, Yuasa etc, but younger and even fresher.

07/12/10 @ 21:17
smashingtofu
smashingtofu [Visitor]  

Too many things to list.

Animation films/series done by as few people possible.

Stop motion.

CG animation directed by the various traditional animation schools of Japan.

Incorporation of mix-media in animation itself, not just backgrounds. They have the traditional know-how and they are currently getting comfortable with digital so I see as it as a natural step.

I am much much more knowledgeable in comics but I’m also an aspiring animator. So I’ve been theorizing how to feasibly make these two work together. In fact, I would love to see much traversing from various territories; not just within animation.

Since dotkrLucifr mentioned Naruto, I may as well mention One Piece! > : )

The creator is a rare gift in the shonen world in that there is genuine care for his creation and there are very little mis-steps and tons of great energy and pacing in that series; but I can’t say the same from what I’ve seen of the anime…

I think that is what is lacking in anime. Care for the world that is being created. I can appreciate the great work being done in animation in Japan, but I think there is very little care for what is actually being put on tv.

Maybe another Osamu Tezuka-like figure is what we need in the tv world…

07/12/10 @ 21:45
Sam
Sam [Visitor]  

I don’t know that I need to see more of one particular kind of work as far as anime goes, just more variety in what’s being produced.

I’m extremely tired of highschoolers with super powers, and would love to see work that’s contemporary and pushing in different directions. Naoki Urasawa, Masaaki Yuasa and Hiroyuki Imaishi are certainly people who’s work has a strong sense of style to it, and I’d love to see more work that is as non conformist as some of these artists.

More OVA series, with original settings and story lines. More mid eighties science fiction.

07/12/10 @ 21:51
Lovetta Sangster
Lovetta Sangster [Visitor]  

I like too more variety and tast in all genres.

07/13/10 @ 00:55
gaguri
gaguri [Visitor]  

O boy o boy where do i even begin!

1. Well like you said, anything like cat soup is welcome, since we’re seeing so little of these artistic experiments that are made for the sake of art. Even things like Genius Party I feel that are sort of held back from reaching true limits of creativity because of that sense of commercialism.

2. And I wish they would make a DECENT anime adaptation of Romance of Three Kingdoms for once. No, not the one where all the generals are turned into girls, but a very long, epic, rivetting tale with that historical feel (like Legend of Galactic heroes).

3. Something like Cowboy Bebop, and if we can’t get cowboy bebop level then at least Samurai Champloo. I miss those kind of rogues travelling type of episodic series.

There are more but I’ll stop here. But I think the question you bring up is important; why do we compromise? Back when I first got into anime, I had loads of wonderful titles that I could get into without worrying about compromising. But now I see many anime fans in a situation of, “hmm it’s not as good, but since other shows aren’t as good I might as well settle with this one". Then I ask myself, “then why don’t we find another hobby that truly excites us", and I think many fans do move on from anime, etc. Thankfully it seems like I almost never run out of things that genuinely interest me (like now, I want to watch Aoi Bungaku, Nana, older critically well received gundam ovas, etc), and I still enjoy fairly well-made guilty pleasures like Kannagi and Toradora (you know…the ones with moe and high school girls).

But as long as guys like Yuasa keeps making wacky stuffs like tatami, studios like madhouse deliver gems like Casshern Sins or Mouryou no Hakko (and movies by Kon, Oshii, Hosada, etc every now and then) then I think I can be fairly satisfied with that.

07/13/10 @ 01:46
pete
pete [Member]


gaguri I do not think it is compromise, it is just that most people that watch anime or anything on TV do not take it so seriously (I am often jealous of them that I cant do that).
They might as well leave the TV running and do something else. Only we experts are watching everything to the most minute detail and feel frustrated…..

Everything mentioned so far exist in Japanese animation. Though some features are hard to find and even harder to promote, even inside Japan (eg stop motion, indie and art animators etc) they nonetheless do exist.

The simplest and more affordable solution would be either to stop watching anime altogether (animation does not revolve around Japan) or watch less but good titles.

Years ago there was the import filter on TV and video. Someone else decided what was to be imported from Japan and how it should be presented (ie dubs and censorship). Even if I did not agree with that, those people (distributors, tv producers, translators, voice actors, editors etc) were professionals.

Now you can literally have everything but fansubs are often so amateurish that they fail to give us the spirit of the series. Translation is not something amateurs without literature skills should tamper with. I might sound elitist but the differences are vast and unfortunately there are few exceptions. In that sense I prefer the old import filter.

07/13/10 @ 06:31
doktrLucifr
doktrLucifr [Visitor]  

@Pandadice

No, I have not, but I’ll be sure to look into it!

Thanks for the suggestion.

07/13/10 @ 06:48
onitake
onitake [Visitor]  

i can partially agree with you, as i like experimental stuff very much. this applies to many aspects of a feature though:

- animation: an important criterion. not an absolute must, but if i don’t see a certain amount of care, keenness or nostalgia in the animation, the show will easily be deemed crap.
- character design: it doesn’t have to be top-notch, but i give ++ for uncommon styles. katanagatari is a good example for that.
- character development: breaking borders there is very important. i apply this to anything i watch, and this is one reason why i hate most hollywood productions. there is nothing unexpected, nothing indecent, nothing unorthodox or unethical in there. fortunately, some producers still manage to surprise me in that respect.
- story: many manga/light novel writers center around an idea and add well-known story elements and settings to the concept. that’s why i think it’s important that different people develop the story rather than just one artist.

of course, i admit to be easily lured by certain superficialities, like an appealing character, morbidity, excessive use of sex and violence, etc., but that can just make me start watching a production, not finishing or even liking it.
there is also one thing i hate that likely makes me hate a series: a top-notch first episode with fantastic animation, then mediocre or actually cheap quality from the second one onwards. if you don’t have the budget for it, then don’t try to deceive your audience. a low budget doesn’t mean it has to draw people’s attention purely by being superficial.

07/13/10 @ 07:02
Bahi JD
Bahi JD [Visitor]  

I would like to see Animes with deep stories, stories you won’t forget, even after 10 years.

I would like to see characters in animes wich let you tear and cry like “Grave of the Fireflies".

I would like to see something like Samurai Champloo or Cowboy Bebop….because the characters in those two and their adventures are amazing for me.

I would like to see more historical animes about historical characters.

I would like to see more europe based stories animes with more individual character design.

I would like to see another Hiroyuki Okiura masterpiece like Jin-Roh.

I would like to see an anime, completely with the coloring style of Blood: The Last Vampire Mitsuo Iso scene.

I would like to see anime with realistic stories and realistic character logics, who really feel like real human and not like little cute lolita otaku fantasy moe girls with super cute face expressions.

I would like to see more forrest fantasy adventure animes with a good new story.

I would like to see warrior fantasy anime made in Studio Ghibli.

I would like to see something like Mononoke Hime again with a new story.

I would like to see serious emotional Ghibli film made by Isao Takahata.

I would like to see RED LINE XD.

I would like to see more Hiroyuki Okiura films.

I would like to see a DRAGONBALL movie with a great new and serious story made by a TOP director and TOP animators with cool animation scenes.
(I would like to see a DRAGONBALL movie made in STUDIO GHIBLI XD)

I would like to see Hayao Miyazaki film, better than Mononoke Hime and Spirited Away.

I would like to see something like FLCL again, short but unforgettable.

07/13/10 @ 10:03
Mark
Mark [Visitor]  

I want the most unfeasible and unrealistic thing possible: an animation industry large, secure and intrepid enough to greenlight and provide an outlet for absolutely everything; from the Cat Soup/Mind Game, to the Aria/YKK pastoral SF, to the high school romantic comedies, to the action-packed no-compromises gory action and bawdiness of High School of the Dead, to full-blown SF epics like LoGH, to deviously clever sitcoms like Patlabor TV, to fantasy epics like The Twelve Kingdoms or a _real_ adaptation of the Nausicaa manga, to high-budget, high-minded international collaborations like an NHK/PBS adaptation of War & Peace or Candide, to a lush panoply of different real robot mecha series’ that attract the best mechanical and visual designers from anime and videogames around the world. And creative staff will advance up the ranks through merit and talent, not happenstance and pure ox-like loyalty. So renowned will the merit system in anime production be that artists, designers and writers all across Japan take notice and want to be part. And the audience will be intelligent, open-minded and diverse enough that every niche and subniche will find its place within this vaster ecology of shows.

The closest thing I can find to such an Ecology of Niches is the modern novel publishing industry, and since fiction publishing is slowly dying and finding its new life in emphasizing specialized subniches to the exclusion of everything else, well.

07/13/10 @ 12:53
Novid
Novid [Visitor]  

Finally I decided to make a post. But first i must give my thanks to you Ben, one of the last intellectuals in the fandom. Sadly, the fandom is stuck in the same “Mysterium” (i.e. inauthentic life or lifestyle) their cousins (or brothers or sisters IRL - are in dealing with the rest of Hollywood - its almost amazing to see and write about as i do on my blog at times.

That being said, I am a animation fan first and foremost - and being as such that industry has gone through captuiulating unions complain about “the scabs” while they act as such and so on.

See, what i want from the genre is the dreams and fears of its people. Very Rarely i see shows like this. Its almost doesnt exist outside of the action animation side of the north american industry and Pixar to a lesser extent.

Today the Japanese are losing aspects of there culture due to crime (The sumo scandals of recent years) population and so on. some of the reasons why the genre is being push to the margins that despite its pay grade issues - it has become a political force and has become politically protected. That means it cant be touched - but then again you cannot offend the sensibilities of those in power.

I want a show that has some sense of honesty about itself. I want companies honest on who they promote to. What makes be peeved is the half way the business has become. You either get on the pot or leave the game. Its that simple.

I want a series that shows how modern life has wreaked the human soul. Show man when he is born in the womb as a cave child, brought in this world in to the 21st century and wondering what is going on… what is this confusion he feels?

I want to see that same modern life in the most exaggerated point possible to make the point that not everything in the modern world is for real nor can be touched.

or maybe what i want from the genre is to wake the north american industry every few years or so out of its unnecessarily 5-10 year up and down cycles.

But i want something other than the things we been getting at as the doga industry for the past several seasons.

07/13/10 @ 14:21
Novid
Novid [Visitor]  

oh and as for the comment about the import filter?

I agree with that to a point. The Import filters that brought anime to the dance as it were - were overlevraged. Only recently one of the owners of the those businesses is back in it.

But sadly, the TV industry in the states outside of CBS (and CBS in my mind reeks of bs and is not the CBS of Stringer’s and Tish’s day) needs the big hit - anime needed a brand in order to sell it to the masses. Sailor Moon needed no brand, DBZ needed no Brand - but Toonami helped for the weaker series to get air play. Now the dubbers dont have the Killer Instinct (i.e. there leaders are panty weights) that the Import Filters did. In fact i support one of them - not just because they have been a Import Filter, they also created there own works. And to see it die breaks my heart.

07/13/10 @ 14:36
Ben [Member]  

Much food for thought here. It’s great reading all the different ideas people have about what they want to see in anime.

I second Novid’s notion of wanting to see something that reflects “the dreams and fears of its people", not yet another iteration of a genre populated by predictable ciphers going through predictable anime dramas - something that reflects the specifically Japanese experience of being born, growing up, and living day to day life, that reflects politics, culture and history.

Pete is right that a massive amount of good work is done continuously around the world, so there’s no reason to torture myself by watching anime if I don’t like it. But the point is I feel there are certain types of material or styles that anime is specifically adept or adapted to tackling - that can’t be done or can’t be done as well anywhere else - but that simply haven’t been tackled frequently enough or pursued sufficiently far. Many good one-offs that are never repeated.

And I’d echo what Neil said about wondering why we don’t see more artists like Yuasa and Morimoto in the younger generation: people with an original visual ethos, not just amateurs doing sakuga craziness. I suppose the people with real vision know how long it would take in the industry to attain a status permitting them the sort of freedom to create that Yuasa and Morimoto have, and instead work in indie animation.

I agree Gaguri that the idea of compromise comes about later. At the beginning I loved whatever anime threw my way, then I started to become more particular as I figured out what I liked and didn’t like. I sometimes wish I could go back to those days. I could enjoy so much more. I think most people who watch anime aren’t as dissatisfied as me.

The blog Omonomono has weighed in on the issue with an interesting take.

07/13/10 @ 17:57
Hogart
Hogart [Visitor]  

I just want them to put some minimal effort into their writing. It seems more and more shows just slap together all the classic tropes they can, and call it a day.

I’m not looking for award-winning works of literature, I just don’t want to feel like I was better off watching a Hollywood movie for the plot or characters.

I mean I’ll gladly settle for a “Birdy the Mighty: Decode” season one if they don’t have the talent to create a “Birdy the Mighty: Decode” season two.

I guess I just want to feel like there were at least 11 or 12 episodes of content in a 13-episode show?

07/13/10 @ 18:14
Greg W
Greg W [Visitor]  

One thing I’d like to see is a different approach to storytelling. After seeing the Hubley’s films, like Of Stars and Men and Everybody Rides the Carousel, it’s made me realize what sorts of storytelling are being completely ignored.

Everybody Rides the Carousel explores how people behave in different stages of their life. It doesn’t focus too extensively on particular characters but lets the themes run the movie. Since the anime industry is the only place which seems capable of regularly producing animated television series with actual plots, I’d like to see them take this on.

I wish more people would realize that there’s ways to intrigue an audience without a fixed plot. Nature documentaries often intrigue people by showing them something as simple as different seasons from the perspective of underneath the ocean.

For example, you could focus on transportation and address everything from silly pet toys to airplanes. If you want a conflict, all you have to do is look in a 1984 U.S. worldbook. It uses one of the tactics that it mentions in the propaganda article in its own article on the U.S. military. That’s how I’d like to see somebody order this sort of television series. You have to order the details in a way that no person trying to make a serious documentary would because it undermines the credibility of the presentation. That’s the sort of thing I’d like to see, but I doubt that it will ever happen.

07/13/10 @ 23:22
Timothy Merks
Timothy Merks [Visitor]  

Because my day job is working in animation, these days I enjoy shows that look fun to work on. I’m really looking forward to “Redline” (that is going to screen in Aus in september woo) since Trava Fist Planet really blew me away with it’s all in fun and energy and of course Dead Leaves went as far off the deep end as you could go with insane fun. In a similar style I love watching anything new from Robert Valley. Be it that beatles clip he did or some of the latest Gorrilaz vids. It be great if he did a series. I do of course love watching Yuassa’s work (more catsoup and Kaiba) and I loved ‘Trapeze’ and ‘Mononoke’ (more of those films would be rad). Although I did like Gurren Lagann I was a little disappointed that it had a toned down Imaishi. Maybe because he wasnt in there animating enough. His style just brings a smile to my face and makes me love animation so I do hope there is more works from him (maybe a flcl-esque).

If I did want films that look like way too much work I guess I would love another ‘Akira’ style film (not another akira film though). Just that film had everything for me, strong characters, beautiful design/animation and just sheer craftsmanship that I’ve never seen matched even with disney features (bold statement I know haha). It be great to have another Rintaro/Otomo teamup, (Metropolis was great) and definitely more work from Kon, since that guy cant make a bad film.

It’s interesting Pandadice wrote a series like ‘The Wire’ as I always felt that series had a very Japanese feel to it. Durrara is probably the closest series in structure to the Wire. but yeah that does sound interesting.

this is a great post Ben

07/14/10 @ 09:44
TheBigN
TheBigN [Visitor]  

If there was anything, I’d like to see more foreign influences in anime. Not in terms of animation being outsourced, but in the source material itself, or in the creators of the material thereof. However, it’s not to say that I have problems with what’s currently being shown today, nor is it a critique of what anime does have today. And that’s the kind of thing that I’m worried about with some of the thoughts that this question can raise.

07/14/10 @ 14:26
skot herrin
skot herrin [Visitor]  

I love this site.

1. I would like to see an animated film that makes me feel the same way Wings of Honneamise did; watching an unsubbed tape from the local Japanese video store back in 1992 (I was 16).

2. I think the recent Evangelion rebuilds (1.11, 2.22);have been really good. I’d like those to serve as a new bench mark for quality.

3. I can do without the heightened interest in up-skirt, panties, and huge pubic mounds that seem to be showing up in increasing numbers in animated series, and OVA’s.

4. Anything by Takahata is golden. More Koji Yamamura…

5. I’d like to see the influence of Antonin Artaud in Japanese animation. More visceral and difficult films made by poets who grew up with Dorvack and Jaques Prevert.

07/14/10 @ 22:46
h_park
h_park [Member]

Wow, look at all these posts.

I have a lot of things to say about improvement of Anime. So here it goes:

1. Go out there and see what is happening in real life. Reality is stranger than fiction.

I always welcome Anime’s unique visual experimentation of their animations, but don’t overdo it at the expense of good storytelling. Good balance of art and entertainment has to be maintained.

2. Nostalgia never brings back the glory days. Japanese seem to have virtually unlimited source materials for animation adaptations. It’s matter of picking out the most inspirational material.

3. Broaden the horizon. Look for visual inspiration from non-manga materials. There are plenty of talented foreign and non-industry artists out there who want to work with Anime industry for its unique balance of art and entertainment in its commercial animation realm. In my opinion, Japan has the BEST TV animation production system which is unrivaled.

There are plenty of beautifully animated films in the world, and yet many of them are still undiscovered.

4. Offer livable wage to all artists. Many talented artist don’t join the Anime industry because of it’s notorious reputation of mediocre pay. In my opinion, they need to have seriously good pre-production team (director, writer, and producer) who cares about the result rather than process. They could throw in gorgeous visuals, but if there is no sizable audience, then that’s just complete waste of every production staff’s time and effort. Good result generates long term benefits which attract good people with full of productivity.

Japanese production system always has a room for creative freedom that allows great visual experimentation which could be thrown in at any moment. That is something which Hollywood couldn’t pull off.

5. Stop pandering to Otakus for their immature taste and limited income. Regular audience is what really pays for the production.

07/15/10 @ 04:12
Muffin
Muffin [Visitor]

What would I want to see in anime? I’m probably not nearly as despondent as I mostly just shrug off the cheesy shows(though there are a lot of them…). And lots of stuff just seems well enough produced these days to not feel all that aggravating.

Someone also mentioned Toradora and Kannagi as guilty pleasures. And from what I’ve seen, those are honest-to-goodness good shows with solid aesthetics whose worst vices seem to be that they appeal to teenage-sensibilities. The problem seems to be that the rest of the programming is filled with an inordinate amount of inferior variations of this theme.

Though personally, it’s probably with middlingly “ambitious” films like “Sword of the Stranger” or “Gin-iro no kami no Agito", that I feel more of an inclination to be disappointed when they fail to deliver or fall apart.

And then of course, there are all those films in other genres that *aren’t* being made…

And you make a great point in mentioning “Many good one-off that are never repeated". Going back to the late 80’s/early 90’s, lots of (particulary)OVA’s were being made that just seemed to nail something awesome. And you sort of expected that as the industry matured, you’d see lots of films that felt like fully-fleshed out variations of these early experiments. But a lot of the time things have simply gone the way of streamlining things in a disappointingly rote manner.

Still, an industry that gave us Casshern Sins, Sky Crawlers, Wanwa, Dimension Bomb and Tokikake in the last few years can’t be all bad. And that’s just a brief mentioning of the top-shelf stuff.

A quick list of things I’d like to see in anime:

*Another Rintaro/Atsuko Fukushima collaboration on an artistic short movie. Also, Manabu Ohashi doing something similar. And more Morimoto the merrier.

*Satoshi Kon following the direction of his Tokyo Godfathers movie. Not necessarily a comedy, but a realistic contemporary drama or thriller without *too much* of his fussy meta-cleverness. Each shot filled in with rich, idiosyncratic and nuanced animation.

*A non-stilted Hokuto no Ken/Fist of the North Star movie directed by Shigeyasu Yamauchi with animation direction by Shinji Hashimoto(or someone along his lines).

*Koichi Ohata being invited to a Genius Party-style anthology with full creative freedom. If they’re gonna let Kawamori phone it in. Why not give Ohata a shot?

*Some fun and clever show that makes good use of the more playful aspects of Yukiko Horiguchi’s animation style.

*An adventure/sci-fi type movie that takes the graphic and motion sensibilities of Tatsuyuki Tanaka’s Green Legend Ran to the next level.

*Another Sky Crawlers-esque film from Mamoru Oshii, in a different time and setting.

*More of a general awareness among Japanese animation filmmakers neither to conform to, or reject the classical stylistic tropes, but to transcend them.

07/15/10 @ 12:12
Fuzzen
Fuzzen [Visitor]  

Most of what I want to see come out of anime nowadays has already been mentioned above, so I won’t bother reiterating. I would, however, like to see TV stations give anime more freedom in terms of scheduling. Rather than selling slots by season, selling slots by episode would work out much better. Seirei no Moribito, for example, was a show with the potential to be a masterpiece but it had too much content to fit into 13 episodes, while still having too little to fill out 24. This was the same case for Dennou Coil, and on the other side of the spectrum, Angel Beats. Moribito would have fared better if it was an 18 episode show; it wouldn’t have had to largely expand upon the middle of the first book and create such a slow atmosphere.

Angel Beats, on the other hand, had too much content to fit into one season, but not nearly enough to manage two. If TV stations sold slots by episodes rather than seasons, I feel a lot of pacing problems would be avoided. Ultimately, though, that’s just wishful thinking.

07/15/10 @ 13:24
Dogway
Dogway [Visitor]  

hey, just wait a little, Morimoto is just in the fin-tuning stage of his long awaited film. I smell something good. But yes, lately I only watch animes I skipped from the 90’s. Actually I feel more excited with the new 2D style coming from Gobelins or Headless productions.

07/16/10 @ 08:06
Reverse
Reverse [Visitor]  

All I wanted is more stuff like TBD02 or Naruto action/fight scene. with more room for the animator to use of balance art whatever their please. I for one, believe a fight scene should not be beautiful, it should be rough and raw as fitting with it prospect

07/17/10 @ 07:00
GhaleonQ
GhaleonQ [Visitor]  

Basically, what you said. I think far more art gets made in Japanese commercial animation compared to the United States, but far fewer art animations get made overall. http://nishikataeiga.blogspot.com Nishikata Film Review is the best coverage I’ve seen. I’m not sure where you’re based, but Japan’s largest festival is happening this August. Cover that in Hiroshima! http://hiroanim.org

07/19/10 @ 07:56
Peter Chung
Peter Chung [Visitor]  

To be surprised by something I didn’t realize I’d like.
So– episode 1 of High School of the Dead.

07/20/10 @ 01:42
LainEverliving
LainEverliving [Visitor]  

Before I begin, I should say I’m not entirely dissatisfied with anime as it is now. A lot of good works continue to be made, and many creators are just now beginning to show their potential. But because people like ourselves who follow animation closely always want to see things becoming better, and because the anime industry on the whole is in a lot of trouble in terms of appealing to both a broader audience and in satisfying its most critical fans (i.e., us) while simultaneously remaining artistically challenging and worthwhile, improvements are in order.

First and foremost I would like to see more original stories being made. There are not nearly enough original concepts that are not based on an existing game, light novel, or manga being developed right now, and that in and of itself is the biggest problem. Think of how many of the greatest anime started as original ideas: Gundam, Evangelion, Escaflowne, Cowboy Bebop, Denno Coil, Kaiba, Haibane Renmei, Serial Experiments Lain, nearly all the Ghibli films, Summer Wars… the list goes on and on. Original ideas are the hotbed of innovation from a storytelling point of view, and when one of these ideas catches on, it can be the birth of a franchise. Anime today does not have enough new franchises being born, therefore as the old ones become stale or reach the end of their lifespan, not only is there a dearth of new projects to fill the gaps, but all that is left to do is make stop-gap shows to fill the void (often with poor results). Anime financiers must be more willing to take risks with original projects (as they are doing with things like Eden of the East these days) if there is hope to have another Evangelion-like title in the near future.

Second, I want to see overall quality of writing improved dramatically. Right now, there are only a tiny handful of screenwriters who I know by name and can trust for reliable good works. This is not a good situation, as during the 1990s there was a higher total of reliable writers who could do both original stories and adaptations than there are now. Furthermore, while there are some extremely good adaptation writers (Fumihiko Shimo comes to mind immediately as my personal favorite), they are very few and are usually only able to do one series per year (Shimo in particular writes every episode of his shows, meaning everything is very uniform in high quality but that the result is that he can only do that one series at a time). Furthermore, writers are too specialized and cannot break out a given genre frequently enough, to the detriment of their writing ability. The only writer I can think of who writes regularly in all genres in both original and adaptation projects is Reiko Yoshida, and even she is currently being forced into moe adaptations with greater frequency thanks to K-ON!. So, more freedom of project choice for writers is a must to improve quality, and writers must be willing to try new things and take more risks.

Third, I think anime needs to try and make better character animation with regards to nuance and performance. While you see this from time to time, it really can’t compare with Disney when they are doing their best work (observe Princess and the Frog). But when anime does try for performance animation, like in Tokyo Godfathers, it looks wonderful. So, more of this is needed. I would like to see Japanese animators learn and apply more Disney techniques to improve their performance work, and perhaps to make anime more ‘readable’ to a non-Japanese audience (if there’s one common criticism in American reviews of even the best-animated anime movies, it’s that the characters don’t express personality in their motion consistently from shot to shot).

Fourth, I would like to see a genuine collaboration between Disney and an anime studio to make a joint American-Japanese production that combines both styles. A Disney-anime (or an anime with more Disney elements) would be great, and if a commercial justification is needed, why not use Kingdom Hearts as a test project? This would seem a natural choice to me. But long-term, I think both styles should interact with each other more often, and animators from both countries should visit the other and work there in order to learn new techniques and form relationships with their international counterparts. This is the solution to outsourcing: you can’t send it to “somebody else who’s cheap” if everyone is working together with a shared sense of purpose and a shared salary.

Fifth, bouncing off of this, I would like to see the same happen but with all the Asian animation countries (Japan, Korea, China, etc.) working together on a massive group project. The origination point can be from any country, but the key is that everyone should come together to work on it. If the style ends up not looking like ordinary anime, so much the better.

Sixth, I want to see a greater emphasis on theatrical films rather than TV series. For one, the TV series format is the most vulnerable to piracy and fansubbing, thus contributing to destroying the industry. For another, theatrical films are self-contained stories (unless they are serialized movies like the Kara no Kyoukai films) that can allow for greater experimentation on the parts of the artists, writers, and directors. Theatrical also makes the most sense in terms of global distribution. I would rather see more of these than short direct-to-video projects that can’t make back their money or potentially be seen by many people. And as for serialized films, these can be wonderful and a good bridge point between a series and film format, and for successful properties would be perfect.

Seventh, I want to see better manga chosen for adaptations in the future. During the 1990s there were many great manga to adapt from creators like CLAMP, but today there are far fewer, and those that do warrant great series are often shortchanged. Publishing companies who finance these adaptation series or films need to dedicate more resources to ensuring they are done with proper budgets and quality staff. If it is too difficult to contract independent studios, then the publishing companies should create in-house animation studios (similar to how Aniplex, the Sony Music subsidiary, created A-1 Pictures) to make their works or at least handle development.

Eighth, I would like to see a movie or series made by all the independent / freelance animators currently active. If all the freelancers made their own studio it would be the best studio in Japan, so having a project like that would be amazing.

Ninth, I want to see characters developed with more respect, especially female characters. Right now characters are far too cliched and improperly developed, and they are just not interesting. It seems the only kind of development many anime want to give their female cast is in the bust line, and this doesn’t improve the sophistication or quality of the work in the long run. If we want to have fan service, we should have it in a more innocent and old-fashioned form (ala Gurren Lagann) where it is honest and upfront while still allowing for a story and decent character personality. Cuteness / hotness does not equal character, so more must be invested in making the characters relatable and believable if they are to carry stories.

Tenth and most important, the pay of the animator must be improved. No one can continue to create quality work on the starvation wages paid at some studios. This is obviously not the fault of the studios but instead is due to the lack of control production companies have over the profits generated by their works. If this could be reformed and made more equitable, and salaries and work conditions could be improved, then anime could compete more effectively on a global scale in terms of quality, as well as ensuring the sustainability of the companies and employees who make it.

07/20/10 @ 01:56
tim_drage [Member]

All I want is John K to make Popeye X One Piece

07/20/10 @ 09:51
sanafabich
sanafabich [Member]  

I could go and say: traditional cell animation, but I know that’s never going to happen. So I’ll keep it simple: apocaliptic anime, like the one we used to see in the 80’s. And regarding anime series, more titles like FMA, Evangelion, Gurren Lagann, where the stories and characters are well designed and they are going somewhere, not just making stuff up along the way.

07/20/10 @ 09:59
pete
pete [Member]

LainEL, regarding Disney and anime, actually some important animators like Yoshiharu Sato (Studio Ghibili and Nippon Animation), worked also in the Disney movie “The Tigger Movie".

07/20/10 @ 13:00
leedar
leedar [Member]  

This got everyone out of the woodwork, didn’t it?

I find that wishlists lead to depression at the reality. Personally, I try to funnel my desires into self-creation, but that still hasn’t managed to get very far.

*

I would like to see some real effort put into acting.

07/20/10 @ 20:00
huw_m
huw_m [Member]

I want to see anything of significance, whether crazy animation or personal filmmaking - So long as it marks me in a way that when I recall it years later I’ll still be able to remember the smell of the room I was in and the chair I was sitting on when I saw it. That’s the unifying Proustian principal behind everything I want from art/anime/animation/film/human endeavour at 24fps, from Kubrick to Koike.

07/21/10 @ 03:46
LainEverliving
LainEverliving [Visitor]  

pete -

I’m aware of the work animators like Sato have done for the Disney direct-to-video films, but what I’m more talking about is learning first-hand from the main Feature Animation Disney animators in Burbank about acting. The key difference between Japanese style and Disney style in terms of character animation is that in Japanese animation one animator generally draws everything in a given scene (however many characters there may be) and thus doesn’t spend time developing a particular characterized movement for a particular character. In Disney, generally one animator only works on one character, except for during pinch times where they need extra scenes taken care of. In Japan, there’s almost never a supervising animator who handles a single character.

These are areas that Japan could experiment with, and I’d be interested to see how things would turn out. I don’t want to lose the ‘one animator, one shot’ principle that currently exists, since that creates moments of great individually (ala Shinya Ohira) that couldn’t exist in Disney. On the other hand, I’d like to see more emphasis on nuanced character animation that is unique to a particular character and recurs from shot to shot. What would be best would be a melding of the two techniques. If it’s not too much to ask, I’d like to see the ‘one shot’ animators also do the character-specific animation, maybe which could be determined or overseen by the animation director, so that you get visually unique moments AND more character acting. The perfect example of something like that happening without Disney influence is Shinji Otsuka’s shot of Hana yelling in the hospital corridor in Tokyo Godfathers. But since not every animator is Shinji Otsuka, I think other people might be able to learn if they met with some of the Disney greats, like Eric Goldberg and Andreas Deja, and spent some time seeing how they do things. At the same time, I bet Goldberg and Deja would be fascinated to see how it’s done in Japan, and maybe they’d want to go more experimental or trying drawing their own effects shots. I just think it would be awesome to see more of a hybrid style.

07/21/10 @ 16:14
h_park
h_park [Member]

Lain,

I know that you do understand how Japanese animation production system is like. It’s always a TV system. One animator for one character seems inefficient for tight TV schedule. It would be nice if an animator can spend ample time on one character’s emotional state. However, in reality, it’s not feasible. How can a Japanese studios embrace such method, even the financial might of Disney can’t pull off the one animator=one character on their TV production on their own?

On character animation, isn’t it better for Japanese to find out their own unique expression of motion rather than following the pre-established set of rules of Disney or any other senior level studios? I already thought that Japanese have their own way of expressing motion which is subtle realism of limited full animation. Sometimes it’s better to mask certain expression to heighten the overall effect. Is it just me or is it a western tendency to demand everything now and direct?

Hybrid is not a bad thing if it’s done right. There is the problem of language and cultural difference and the best artists aren’t necessarily international. Unless there is some kind of condition to bridge the difference, it’s still a difficult road ahead.

Personally I hate Japan & US co-production where good talents got wasted on some mediocre omnibus DVD. It’s basically a fancy subcontracting where most of contracted artists are somewhat detached from the film’s content. You’re not going to see the good film if there is no passion.

I know it’s old, but didn’t Japanese made pretty damn good full animation film by Sanrio? Guess what happened? Reality is too harsh for them to continue such method.

07/22/10 @ 00:12
Cameron Koller
Cameron Koller [Visitor]  

HPark,

Nobody’s asking for Japan to abandon their current methodology. What I think Nicholas is positing, and I would agree, is that the two industries have their own philosophies about animation, and trading ideas could cause new ones to arise from the collaboration. I think it would be fascinating to watch American animators play around with limited animation and effects the way the Japanese do, as it would be interesting to watch Japanese products that incorporate CGI character animation with as much believability as Pixar’s. In fact, I think European studios also have much to teach animators from both countries about working with style and story on a shoestring budget. Every country has a different visual and storytelling culture that has certain components that other countries could explore.

Imagine America, lovers of adventure and spectacle, learning and incorporating a few things from Japanese action animators, for example. On the flipside, imagine more Japanese animators who can tell a story like a traditional Disney animator, but with a very Japanese sensibility.

This isn’t all that a radical an idea, actually. Look at live-action cinema. John Ford and Howard Hawks taught Akira Kurosawa all he knew about filmmaking, which he spun using his art training and upbringing to create his own sort of film, which in turn influenced Sam Peckinpah, Steven Spielberg, Francis Ford Coppola, and countless others in the States. Of course, Kurosawa was always talking with these filmmakers, both the influences and the influenced.

But go back even further to the days of painting. It was ukiyo-e that inspired Van Gogh and Lautrec to break the rules of western painting. And what happened in the early twentieth century? Printmakers in Japan began to incorporate western influences to give their work more life. That’s the kind of influence I’d like to see happen in animation.

As for the constraints of a television budget, I don’t see any reason why one can’t still try to bring nuance to animation, especially when the chance to make a feature arises, nor any reason why such training could hurt. If anything, I think American cartoons are in desperate need of some of Japan’s tricks to making effective animation work with a lower budget, since so much of it looks like a watered down version of the traditional Disney methodology.

Concerning omnibuses, I haven’t been impressed by any in particular. But I think this largely stems from the money involved, which may cause safe decisions to be taken to appeal to both broad national demographics rather than to find a hybrid style that’s different from either (that or the motives are just to plum save money, like on Thundercats or The Last Unicorn). I’d imagine a strong singular director or team of directors given enough artistic freedom could create a project that works as a film/show rather than a marketing gimmick. This may be wishful thinking, but I’ve seen enough to know the idea of international teams of animators working on projects outside the system could soon become a reality, and the internet is making distribution easier and easier. Combine with that the fact that certain low budget student films throughout Europe are starting to approach or even surpass the look of big budget animation, and I could see a worthwhile project of this sort taking off within the next decade or two.

07/22/10 @ 10:51
Muffin
Muffin [Visitor]

I think most of us can more or less relate to what Laineverliving is meaning to say regarding anime “learning” from disney etc etc…

But I think some of us may also be kinda touchy about how this is expressed. There is a persistant and pervading shallowness regarding the what’s and why’s of anime in the west. As well as an overbearing superiority complex regarding certain aspects of animation style. And bringing in the cookie-cutter american complaints about the stilted alien-ness of anime as an incentive for the japanese to “change” and make their work more “readable” to an non-japanese audience perhaps just wasn’t the most…palatable style of argument.

I also get a kinda amusing image in my head of american animators sitting down japans top anime creators in a classroom and going: “Right kids, today we’re going to learn something NEW: Nuanced drama and emotional expression in animated films and shows!”

Right, right…I know I’m being kinda touchy and snide. But I just can’t help feeling compelled to be a bit pedantic about these things.

Seriously, for the sake of clarity, what I mean is that while I’m critical of the character-animation in a lot of anime, I don’t see the disney “model” as the one-size fits-all solution to all problems. “Nuance” in relation to character and emotion is not some trademark owned by the american style.
And I could easily turn the tables and say that I find even the best western features “lacking” in the sense that they preclude subtle conceptual character design/construction ideas and motion sensibilities of japanese animation.

The common stereotype is, of course, that anime as a general rule has “BAD character animation” compared to western features, but sometimes make up for it with (vaguely defined)"good direction". It’s a back-handed compliment where the implicit point is that a western feature with equal quality “direction” would invariably be superior in every way.

It’s taking a impressionist painting, praising the motif, the colours and the composition. But going on to add that a similar work in a classicist style would make the impressionist work obsolete because of the supposedly greater clarity and consistency of detail in the latter work.

I’m not saying, of course, that the fluid and complex mechanisms of japanese and american animated filmmaking are incompatible(I think they’re influencing each other as we speak). But you simply cannot make everything for everybody in a single work.

Phew, thanks for listening to me preach to the choir. I’ll go cool off now.

07/22/10 @ 15:35
Cameron Koller
Cameron Koller [Visitor]  

Muffin, I think your concerns are valid, but more rooted in anxiety over some very uncalled for stereotypes about Japanese animation than anything else. It’s unfortunate that we hold our masters on a pedestal but distance ourselves from foreign animators when, in the live-action world, so many great directors are influenced heavily by masters from other cultural styles.

While there’s more attention given to character animation in the American style, it’s not necessarily superior to the Japanese style, which employs an equally effective “less is more” sort of aesthetic. But there are also a fair number of anime artists who don’t seem to get acting at all (but are fabulous at raw technique), and I think spreading a little wisdom around could help. Look at American theaters influence on Kurosawa. Look at Bresson, the “anti-acting” director, and his minimalist influence on American film.

Look at what anime can do that American animation hasn’t yet attempted! Look at what they can express with motion and timing that we haven’t even dreamed of. Look at the kind of rigid formula we teach in animation schools that could be expanded to include many of the advancements they’ve put forth. This isn’t to put their own style down, it’s to expand everyone’s ideas of what animation can be and use in telling a story.

Frankly, this is much less for Japan and more for the American industry in my case. There’s so little knowledge of the Japanese or European styles in our country, and I find that pathetic. I want to learn these styles and sensibilities so I can bring something new to American animation. Should I just sit back and appreciate this kind of animation while dreaming of taking some of the concepts I find interesting and applying them to my own work? I can make approximations, but I want to know EXACTLY how it’s done so I’m not just guessing my whole life.

And I think the problem with what you say in regards to painting is that many of the great impressionists, cubists, neo-primitivists, symbolists etc. had in common was a familiarity with the classical styles of paintings. They knew all the conventions and accepted norms, which allowed them to more effectively OBLITERATE what was considered respectable. A Japanese animator could take the idea of squash & stretch and do something so bizarre and fantastic with it that American animators would wonder why they ever stuck so close to the model. Look what happened to Mikhail Vrubel, who started as a classical painter then was so transfixed by Medieval style that he morphed into one of the most innovative and complex painters of the twentieth century.

It’s not a matter of replacement. It’s a matter of expansion to add to an animator’s repertoire. Just like I think all Hollywood screenwriters could stand to watch some Alejandro Jodorowsky or some Bela Tarr to learn how classical Hollywood screenwriting is not the only kind that can be applied.

Anyway, I’m still an amateur, so I may be completely off on everything, but that’s my impression. So much has been written about the cultural impact of anime. I want a book to be written for American audiences about its raw technique, maybe something to match the Richard Williams or the Preston Blair books.

07/23/10 @ 19:06
pete
pete [Member]

Cameron, since you mentioned kurosawa he made films for western audiences. The narrative of the movie rashomon could appeal only to a westerner.
The hollywood writers certainly watch foreign movies.though one of the reasons of hollywoods golden age were the european directors and actors moving to america.
I read an interview of coppola where he said that every director makes good and bad films. When the interviewer said there were exceptions like bergmann and tarkovsky, he replied that they never produced for hollywood and were established by their own.
Regarding internet distribution it certainly can help. In an interview with film directors though, one mentioned that we are talking about a professional product where individuals have to be paid and not a hobbyist video so some problems remain.
I read that the scandinavian countries imposed a tax on the erotic movies and the money gathered would go to the local film industry. If the same occured to anime…

07/24/10 @ 01:13
Muffin
Muffin [Visitor]

Cameron,

Thanks for expanding on my rant. Yeah, as I think the tone of my post suggested, I was pretty much blurting out a lot of common anxieties about the perceptions of anime.

What’s sad though, is that I honestly think these anachronisms I lined up are still a pervasive reality outside Anipages.

And in reality, I think me and Laineverliving are pretty much on the same page(I certainly love Tokyo Godfathers). Though I don’t necessarily think we need to make anime more animator/performance-centric. It’s more about having a strong guiding vision by the director/storyboarder, right down to the minutiae of a scene. And trusting good, committed animators to fill them out.

Of course, no-one is saying you need to follow any one model.

07/24/10 @ 01:58
William Massie
William Massie [Visitor]  

It’s all relative.

I see on an agregatte, a higher amount of unique “creator driven” works now. Aside from maybe the OVA boom in the 80s. There are more channels and more studios. I can always find at least one or two shows a year that catch my attention.

However, the MAIN problem is pandering to the otaku subculture. That’s the only real thing I see wrong with the industry.

Simply put, anime seems to be getting more and more pigeonholed into dating sim/ecchi/giant robo nonsense. In that way it’s becoming “inbred” ala American comic books (DC/Marvel and it’s knockoffs) or the endless Tolkien ripoffs of western medieval style fantasy. It’s anathema to newbies.

Such elements ALWAYS existed, but with the eroding traditional media platforms (the big terrestrial tv channels’ market share), corporations find that they can rely on the otaku subculture becaue they will buy or view things come hell or high water.

Similar to Noitamina, Bebop and some NTV/N HK works, we need more anime that is for NON-OTAKU over the age of 16.After being bit by the Toonami bug, watching my mom’s Manga Entertainment tapes helped keep the fandom alive for me in High School.

While there is some stuff like this made every year, there is not nearly enough to offset the very “inbred” otaku pandering stuff that fills the airwaves.

Look I can watch trash too, I am DIGGING high school of the dead (DON’T THROW THAT ROCK AT ME!!!) but the Moe subculture isn’t doing anything creatively for the industry in the mainstream.

07/26/10 @ 11:31
LainEverliving
LainEverliving [Visitor]  

Wow, looks like I started a net brawl (or what passes for a brawl on pages as generally polite as these). That’s new for me.

First, I guess I’ve got to answer Pete and say that a generalization as broad as “the narrative of the movie Rashomon could appeal only to a westerner” is simply a joke… or at least I hope it’s a joke. In 1950, the film was well-regarded by many in Japan, and critical responses in Japan tended to reflect bafflement not with the film itself, but with Western fascination with it. It made the Top 10 list of the year issued by Kinema Junpo, won the Mainichi Film Award for Best Actress (Machiko Kyo), and won the Blue Ribbon Award for Best Screenplay, so it was hardly overlooked in Japan. Furthermore, as I’ve just stated, it won a prestigious screenwriting award, so clearly the narrative (which was based on a story by the famed writer Ryunosuke Akutagawa) was understood and appreciated. At any rate, laying Rashomon aside, Kurosawa made plenty of films that have greater appeal to a Japanese viewer (or a non-Japanese viewer with a fair amount of knowledge of Japanese culture and history), such as Kagemusha. If anything, Kurosawa as a perfect example of someone who could work in both spheres: the international (some would say Western-oriented), and the domestic, with many successes in each.

As to clarify my earlier points, I think they’ve been pretty well talked over by now, but I really do think that a hybrid style and production approach would be interesting. I’m not advocating throwing out anime as it is now, but what I’m saying is that it might be cool to see a real collaboration take place once in a while. Obviously Disney technique can’t be adopted for all anime, because far too much of it is being made and the schedules wouldn’t allow it. As has been pointed out, Disney doesn’t follow their own principles of feature animation for their TV stuff or Direct-to-Video projects, so using the name “Disney” is all a bit off anyway. I merely mean the style Disney animation created in the 1930s and 1940s and has continued to develop up through to today. Needless to say, Japanese animators are aware of Disney’s style, and some like it while others don’t. For those that do or want to expand their horizons, I don’t think it would hurt to learn about how Disney approaches things like character acting directly from the animators that work there. It’s better than reading about it in a book. Likewise, American animators need to know more about how Japanese animators approach their scenes, and Disney artists in particular (who are super specialized and often segregated into different departments that don’t interact with one another) need to learn more about how to be ‘jacks of all trades’ with regards to being able to expressively draw anythings (characters, effects, whatever). I probably also need to say, just to be clear, that I’m talking primarily on a feature film basis here, not for TV animation. It’s just not practical to expect TV animation to be like feature animation, wherever it’s coming from or who’s drawing it. But since a lot of Japanese animators cross over between the TV and feature worlds (unlike Disney animators, who NEVER do TV unless they’ve left the company and are desperate), I feel the potential for there to be more learning, improvement, and forward progression on the Japanese end (in terms of benefiting from a collaboration) is far greater than what American animators would get out of it. Maybe that’s why there’s no great eagerness for a collaboration from an American perspective. But I think for the good of the medium in both countries, it’s totally necessary.

I’ll come right out and say the unpopular: Disney feature character animation is, on the whole, better. You have master animators spending far longer on each shot (and each character) than ordinarily happens on a Japanese film. Even short shots may have more drawings, and therefore more potential for additional expressions. I know, I’ve looked at a lot of animation from both Disney and all the major Japanese studios (both in final screen form and in genga / key animation form), and you can tell. What’s missing from Disney that anime key animation has? Insane detail. You have amazing quality of drawings that far exceeds a lot of what even the best Disney animators can do. Nobody in their right mind at Disney would ever want to draw a CLAMP character, or an Evangelion, or something like that, because it’s too detailed and time consuming and hard to make move. Yet, the Japanese animators DO make them move, and move beautifully. So, you have a basic trade off: more range of acting with largely very simple designs, or greater complexity of drawings and images with a more reduced range. My perfect world is where you have both in the same shot. You do get that in both American and Japanese films from time to time, but I’d like to see it more often, since it always gives me such a thrill. I’m not advocating anyone sitting at anyone else’s knee to learn the great secrets of animation, since on both ends of the Pacific we’re talking about people who are working on an amazing and largely equal level, but I do think both sides are deficient in certain things that the other side possesses, and if they teamed up, their strengths could cancel out their weaknesses. Goodness knows how many times I’ve seen beautifully-animated American films and walked out thinking, “if only they could have had a Japanese story, this could have worked.” More than anything else, what American animation lacks in the confidence and seriousness that lets great stories be told. Compared to getting better at expressing a character’s emotions with fluid reaction shots, that’s a whole lot more to learn. So I’m hardly badmouthing anime, nor do I intend to badmouth Disney or American animation in general. But since this is basically a wishful thinking thread, I am indulging in some very Disney-esque wishing on a star.

Lastly, one other thing I’d like to see related to all this is a project where everyone has more ability to contribute. Muffin made a comment about how a good director can guide even the tiniest details of a scene so that an animator can then follow it through, and while that yields a lot of very consistent work in anime, I also like the freeform idea of animators just throwing caution to the wind and pushing for it. This is a nice thing about Disney letting animators sometimes pitch staging for scenes or how they want to execute gags. While this gets out of hand a lot of the time and ruins otherwise good scripts, it does encourage a lot of individuality. Individuality is something that vanishes on many animated films that don’t give much freedom, regardless of where they come from, and in anime generally the idea is fulfilling your portion of the grand design so that the group’s work stands out, rather than your own. But I love that loud voice to occasionally break through the choir, so I think projects that let everyone go a little crazy can turn out good too. It’s tough for me to say that, since I’m a wannabe writer and wish people would follow the script all the time (I don’t want to be overruled by someone who doesn’t know as much as I do about why a scene runs the way it does), but for certain projects, I think people throwing caution to the wind is useful and exuberant.

I guess in conclusion, I should just say that I’m not Michael Barrier and thus don’t have a specific, very firmly thought-out idea of what character animation ’should or must be.’ Therefore, I like to see all kinds, anime and Disney and European, and I get something out of all of it. But I do think it’s counterproductive to hold to just one style or theory (as Barrier sometimes does, particularly in discussing his seeming dislike for anime), since you end up losing out on what are good alternatives that may have something to offer you. I suspect I don’t need to say this given that the people on here are extremely educated about animation, but liking anime doesn’t mean you have to dislike Disney or other things, or that each of these forms has to stay ‘pure’ and not come into contact with the other. Just like in nature, obsessive pure-breeding is really just inbreeding, and it leads to weaker forms more prone to disease and ruin. Stylistic xenophobia never helps anything evolve. And since we just about all agree that anime needs to keep evolving to improve and stay good, I’d like to see some more mixing of the styles and artists, as equals and co-creators, in the future.

07/27/10 @ 00:01
pete
pete [Member]

Regarding Kurosawa, actually I did not mean it in a derogatory sense. It is just that the narrative (seen it all from 3 different viewpoints) is something developed in Western cinema and literature. Actually I read it in a book of a movie and literature critic. I dont have the book in front of me to explain things more precisely and its been some months since I read it.

The writer did not mean it in a negative way. He also mentions the movie “Hiroshima mon amour” and “Zazi dans la metro” and information about the directors and actors. He also makes an analysis on Marcel Proust.

Sorry, such things are not my specialty and I make errors

07/27/10 @ 12:57
Ben [Member]  

Addenda:

I want more articulate and critical-minded anime fans like you guys - people who care enough to want to see better work being done.

I want to see something that has the power to shock, and to stir emotions and controversy, like this Time magazine cover.

Most of all, I want to see something I’ve never seen before. That’s why I watch movies.

07/30/10 @ 08:16
Muffin
Muffin [Visitor]

Hey Lain,

I don’t think it’s an unpopular or particulary controversial point that the disney animation style generally features more frames and a more consistently complex/fluid kind of motion pattern. It’s an ingrained and fundamental aspect of how they conceptualize animation. Japanese (particulary character)animation is quite different in this respect, even when they really “move” things. They are fundamantally(culturally) more in tune with distilling meaning and nuance into the still image or the single frame, and sequential motion is more like an extension of, or something that works in unison with the individual frames/shots rather than something that has to be choreographed at a consistent rate in front of the camera in order to be *convincing*. While american animation may always have more “range” in terms of character-motion, I also think that a good percentage of this is a sort of “illusion of range". By that I don’t mean to belittle the style or achievements of american animation. But rather that we’re still talking about one very particular style of “range"(even as motion goes). For example: japanese animation can (at best)encompass more nuance within the “range” of their limited-style(even when working in a minimalist graphic style). Whereas greater real-time compelexity in motion-choreograhy is how american animation traditionally “achieves” nuance. And while I think there is a sort of middle-ground for both styles. Or different approaches that attempts to incorporate as many good aspects of both, I also don’t think you can always have a FULL version of all the extremes of both styles at once. You obviously have to make some choices. Not between two cookie-cutter extremes, but picking, discarding and mixing subtle “aspects” of both in a way that fits the particular needs of the dish you are making.

I also think that there are some aesthetic nuances(probably with anime in particular) that are too particular to the artistic culture of their country of origin to really adapt in any meaningful way.

What may be unpopular here, is the magical leap some people make from these fairly rote technical observations about framerates/patterns to a sort of: “the disney *principle* encompasses and transcends all!"-sort of mentality. A kind of taking credit for everything that’s good about animated expression throughout history and transcending all culture, style and content.

That’s probably the only thing that I really “dislike” about Disney(or the cult of worship that surrounds them). While I don’t take the most active interest in their work, I find their films are mostly very good and rarely below average(there are plenty of mediocre anime films being made too).

If anything, the bad reputation of disney films as insufferably trite in some circles has probably got less to do with the particular quality of disney films and more to do with The United states broadly foistering a culture of generic kiddie disney rip-offs being all that animation is good for.

And perhaps it is best not to mention most of their own straight-to-video sequels or tv work?

08/02/10 @ 11:20
ridiculus
ridiculus [Visitor]  

Sorry for not reading all the comments, but I’ve just wanted to say, in contrary to the original post, that I ABSOLUTILY do not want to see “more real life” in anime. That is the stuff which live-action does better, I think. What I want to see is more independence from manga. Don’t get me wrong, manga, not anime, is my primary hobby, but in order to fullfil its potential, anime must seek its own unique expression based on its strenghts, not on the strenghts of some other medium.

Like, for example, the distinction between film and manga. Many people think that the language of manga is “borrowed” from film, and while it was true in the beginning, today the language of manga is “meta-cinematic” and can express things that the films are not capable of, at least successfully. The same would apply to anime.

08/03/10 @ 02:10
LainEverliving
LainEverliving [Visitor]  

Muffin -

I agree with what you’ve said about mixing the styles. Obviously the two styles can’t simply be combined in their most refined or extreme forms, but you can take little elements of each and blend them to create a third style. That’s what I’d like to see, and I think the points you raised help point in that general direction.

And yeah, as far as their direct-to-video work, I’m not really considering those, since the Disney animators themselves (at least, the ones in the United States at the Burbank and Florida studios) didn’t work on them. If you simply have other studios around the world (mostly in Australia, but also Japan and France) doing the animation under the Disney name, then technically yes it is Disney, but it’s not the Disney that animators are really trying to talk about. Hence why most of the Burbank crew, some of whom I’ve met and talked to, don’t really know about what the direct-to-video films even are or when they were made. The same goes for the TV stuff. Unfortunately, Disney has been very bad historically about not using the same staff to work on all their projects, as is done in Japan. It might really have helped them maintain their great reputation if they’d used the same animators on all their projects and made fewer poor-quality works, but profit and not art was the driver there, and unfortunately what’s done is done. On the positive side, it at least gave a lot of other animators around the world opportunity, training, and work for a few years, although most of them now have been left in even worse shape than the American animators who haven’t moved on to CG.

The biggest thing I think anime could benefit from by creating a hybrid third style would simply be maintaining a more continuous character movement feeling across shots. It would be neat to see an occasional anime film (I wouldn’t expect it from TV, since Disney didn’t try it on their own shows) that was more ‘Disneyesque’ in it’s approach to acting, but wasn’t afraid to go totally wild in terms of its action scenes and extreme poses and motion. Disney’s character acting is good, but an awful lot of their other movement is too conservative for my taste. I’d love to see a movie that was, as I said, Disneyesque in its character acting but anime-esque in everything else, including the storytelling, approach to directing, approach to voice acting, and those non-animation aspects that we’ve sort of been ignoring. Or, I’d like to see a Disney movie that totally embraced the anime style by employing a Japanese crew, or merging a Japanese and American crew, so that the end result wouldn’t simply be a copy or imitation (which we’ve already seen to a limited extent in some Disney films from the last decade). Even if it was just a one-off, I think the end result would be unique and very interesting.

08/04/10 @ 11:11
leedar
leedar [Member]  

I’ll come right out and say the unpopular: Disney feature character animation is, on the whole, overrated.

I would be very grateful if your blog comments were forum-based, Mr Ettinger. Would make these massive discussions much less awkward.

08/04/10 @ 19:30
LainEverliving
LainEverliving [Visitor]  

leedar -

I don’t think that’s a necessarily unpopular position, at least among anime fans. I used to be of the opinion it wasn’t just overrated, but downright bad. But I’ve changed my mind bit by bit as I tried not to be outright biased, and actually my investigation into more Disney productions (meaning me watching them, talking to the animators, trying to learn animation technique) has led me to appreciate Disney character animation (and Disney films in general) in a way I never did before. That doesn’t mean I think they’re better than anime, or European films, or other types of animation, but I am happy to see that style still going on and fighting to survive in films like Princess and the Frog. I sort of now am of the opinion that Disney feature character animation can’t be overrated by nature of the fact that it’s an endangered art that many people, even inside the company, are constantly trying to kill. If it were so overrated, then it wouldn’t be an endangered form. I suppose you could argue that among fans it’s overrated, but even if that were true, why didn’t more of them go to Disney’s films? Why did Princess and the Frog just miss breaking even in the US? So I’m skeptical of all that, to be honest. I see a lot of the same problems facing anime applying just as much to Disney’s hand-drawn animators, so I want to believe in them and hope they will survive in the same way I hope the anime studios I like will be able to go on. In short, I don’t think the statement that Disney is overrated is unpopular, but I do think that opinion is perhaps a little different from the point of view of someone who’s watching from the outside than from someone who’s trying to think from the studio and animator POV. To be honest, that’s why I think that a co-production might work: the animators on both sides of the Pacific are very similar in terms of their concerns, problems, hopes, and goals, so I think they’d work well together on a purely human level.

Sometimes though, I think I’d be a better critic of all this if I wasn’t trying to think from the point of view of the animators (and trying to keep their jobs and personal satisfaction somehow intact in my mental imaginings). Doing that makes me think about the art they make in a really different fashion, and probably influences my appreciation of the movies I’m watching. I recently was (very tangentially) involved in a charity auction for a Disney animator who was very sick, and even though I didn’t know him personally, I ended up getting very close to his work by nature of the fact that it was now intimately connected with a person. When he died several weeks later, not only was I personally devastated, but I knew I wouldn’t ever be able to watch the films he’d worked on the same way. In the back of my mind, I knew I’d be thinking about how he’d died far too young, with so much work left to be done, the same way that I can’t watch Princess Mononoke without thinking of Yoshifumi Kondo. Except for that I never met Yoshifumi Kondo, and only knew about him years after he’d died. So when I talk about Disney and other American animation and animators, I can’t just look at their work without also thinking about the people. I have the same thing happen with me for the Japanese productions that I’ve met the staff for. It’s a very interesting way of watching animation and movies, but I do wish sometimes that it was a little more removed, that I didn’t care so much as I do, and that I could discuss things more impartially. It would help me approach discussions like this without so much feeling being involved.

08/04/10 @ 20:58
Nic
Nic [Visitor]

I think this anime would make great episodes of monster musume no Iru Nichijou. That will make people laugh and funny on the anime. The boy Kurusu Kimihito is funny and cool and all? But when he got monsters girls liveing in the same roof with him he gets beat up and chase around with them? So i think this monster musume no Iru Nichijou will make a get anime episodes

07/04/13 @ 14:36