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I don't know much about western animators, but I love effects animators, and the effects in Michel Gagné's Prelude to Eden are pretty nice. I'd like to see more of his FX work. He has apparently been the man behind the effects in a number of features over the last two decades including The Iron Giant and The Incredibles. Striking how different the approach to FX is compared to a Takashi Hashimoto or a Soichiro Matsuda. Also, though I'm not a gamer, I like animation-based video games, and Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet seems like a great application of animator talent to create a unique gaming look and feel - Dragon's Lair via Lotte Reiniger. Apparently Shinya Ohira animated a lot of the old Blood game. It would be nice to see that work some day.
Yasuhiko Yoshikasu's The Song of Wind and Trees (1987) was one of the quintessential shojo anime movies for me, but Toshio Hirata's earlier adaptation of a manga by the same author Doorway to Summer (1981) looks even better. Hirata's very slow and image-oriented directing style seems a better match with the characteristic atmosphere and look of shojo manga than Yoshikazu's more fluid animation and cinematic pacing. From the few clips in this video, it looks like one of the best anime renditions of a shojo manga I've seen. Maybe it's exaggerating a little, but it seems like an audiovisual equivalent of a shojo manga, rather than simply an anime based on a shojo manga. I'd like to see it in full one day. I'm not particularly a fan of shojo manga/anime, but it's a rare thing to see it adapted in a way that captures its true spirit, and find it admirable when that is done well. Yoshiaki Kawajiri did layout, Kazuo Tomisawa was sakkan, and the art director was the incomparable Yamako Ishikawa (art director of Rintaro's Labyrinth Labyrinthos). Seems like an undeservedly neglected early Madhouse gem.
I've always loved a good animated music video. I think it's the ideal form for animation in many ways - animation at its most operatic and expressive. Digital production seems to be fueling a boom in animated music videos. I've found any number of them made in the just the last year or so. I just started an Animated Music Video blog to collect all the good animated music videos out there in one place. Let me know if you want to post vids on there and I'll set up an account for you. A lot of the official vids I've seen aren't even that good. Some fan made ones, like this one by Charles Huettner for a great Animal Collective song, beat a lot of the official vids, with its perfect match of colorful, richly morphing abstract visuals to a pulsing, driving song. There is a huge range of style and imagination on display in animated music videos, and some have excellent storytelling going on.
Another video that I guess you could call a 'fan made' video is this great video by Yusuke Nagano, the father of the singer of the song in the video. Very nice song and animation, with a simple lo-fi feel that I appreciate. Regular Philip Rogosky tipped me off about this one, and also about Yusuke Nagano's illustrations, which much to my own surprise I wound up poring over for well over an hour after thinking I'd just have a quick look. I couldn't tear my eyes away. His tasteful approach to color, the elegant and creative compositions, the great posing captured in tasty lines - all very appealing. The retro nostalgia for the freer days of his childhood is brilliant stuff, and I also really dig the stylish and sexy drawings of svelte beauties.