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Took the words right out of my mouth. The staff executed everything so well, and so cohesively in presenting the plant world, that I can’t really think of anything to fault them for. Perhaps the humor is a little more subdued this time around, but I’m okay with that. And now I can pin something on Eunyoung Choi to give me a feel for her work! Gotta keep an eye on her and Aymeric in the future.
I loved the relationship between the father and the daughter. There’s a scene in the middle of the episode where they’re discussing capturing the D-Core (or whatever it was called) and she just chimes in that she’s going with them. I cynically thought the father would tell her no, but instead there’s a wonderful, almost comedic beat in place of where a response would be. There’s a lot of unsaid development like that, that goes on during this episode, and it’s just lovely to watch.
That said, I expect Yuasa’s episode to be absolutely hilarious. Like you noted with Ping Pong, he’ll be heading back to more domestic stuff (which he’s no stranger to, of course). But it’s probably going to be awhile before he does something on the fantastic side again. Here’s hoping he revels in the creative opportunities.
Holy shit, you weren’t kidding about the music - the travel sequence at 11:38 onwards has one of the most forward-sounding instrumentals I’ve ever heard in anime.
Great to know you’re still there reading, Huw. Even I can’t believe I’m still doing episode reviews again after all these years…
I feel like I’m having a little harder time getting down to the essence of this particular show than I did in the past, because so far there just doesn’t seem like there’s that much there to dig up. Yuasa’s shows were so easy to blog because the unique distinguishing quirks were so many and so obvious, and there were so many unusual ideas and styles on display in each episode. This is such a different beast, although each episode is different enough that it’s somewhat worth it to blog episodically.
Strangely enough, Neighbors also sprang to mind for me. Interesting (and sad) how that parable can be retold in such a different context, and different age, and still be relevant.
Really been enjoying these write ups Ben, it’s good to follow a show along with your commentary on each episode. Just like old times!
I think you nailed the appeal of this show - ‘Sublime Idiocy’. I loved that surfing scene, where the catchy music kicked in, and its complete lack of respect for the laws of physics. The episode reminded me of that Norman McLaren short, ‘Neighbours’ - A classic anti-war parable set in a weird, self-contained little world.
Personally I hope that they don’t give some needless literal explanation for the constant resets (or the apparent lack of a need for oxygen in space) - I’d rather see them explore the characters or focus on capturing that feeling of euphoric stupidity. This is a fun cartoon for adult children! Not hard sci-fi.
Did anyone else think the backgrounds of the moon in this episode looked like something the late Jean “Moebius” Giraud would draw? I totally was getting flashbacks to his work in Arzach: http://www.ankaris.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/Old_Arzach_final.jpg
I actually liked this episode, though am well aware of its flaws. I guess what I liked about it was it really felt like a Watanabe show, it could have easily been a Cowboy Bebop episode. The road trip scenes were really nicely paced and good direction turned what could have been a overbearingly sappy moe story into something pretty well made. I guess what I liked the most were the long montages - I think the chief director is pretty good at this kind of stuff.
I still have major reservations about how they handle Dandy himself, he’s like Zap Brannagan from Futurama, but they try to make him likable, when if you were to meet someone like him he’d be completely unlikable - the character doesn’t work.
Yeah, this is probably my favourite episode so far. It doesn’t have the sheer animation extravaganza of eps 1 and 2, but it’s actually quite a feast with a bunch of very nice mechanical animation spread out. I liked the one shot with background animation that didn’t actually look like something you’d want to animate the background for, as it moved little and subtly. Just the fact that whoever did it went to the length of doing that I already like. Nakamura’s part was probably the Aloha Oe getting the burst, the part with all those impact frames he’s known for.
I like this episode as well because the direct comedy wasn’t really working very well in the show, and this episode doesn’t focus on that but on the episode long action set-piece, with sprinkles of jokes here and there. They work better in short doses. The Mickey Mouse/lawyer parody character was particularly amusing, as was the flower caster.
“I wonder if that was also part of Honda’s bit? Reminded me of the crying in the first Digimon movie by Hideki Hamasu.”
Ha, I thought the same. It’s those cheek lines! I’d say Honda is the only one from the KA list that jumps out as someone who might draw crying like that, and in the medium shot of her face when she starts crying she looks just like some character from the latest EVA movie.
Personally it was one of the nicest animation moments so far in the series, and since I did enjoy the episode it fit right in. I guess it comes down to how much the ’safeness’ of the episode bothers you. I revel in those montages set to poppy songs and Hayashi’s style of cutting, even if it’s not something daring or trying to break new ground. It simply pleases me at an aesthetic level and provides for an entertaining episode. And highly produced entertainment is what Dandy presents itself as from the beginning, after all.
Love Mihara. Like you say, he has a strong sense of dimension and anatomy, and I love how his characters have both a sense of heftiness and spindly movement. There’s a goofy elegance to how they behave, like they’re gesturing and shaping these invisible spaces around their bodies. There’s also a few backgrounds that stood out rather nicely.
The highlight of the episode where Dandy surfs away on the planet’s explosion is the perfect indicator as to what the show is about. Aside from setting up the surfboards in an earlier scene, there is no indication in the events prior, that Dandy would ever have to use them like that. It comes out of nowhere, and feels like it’s just there so that they can animate a sequence of a man surfing on the cel-shaded detritus of an exploding planet. And yet, why not? There’s a purity to that inane image, since it encapsulates the mixture of physicality, fluidity, and grace that makes surfing so… well, awesome. If dicking around the universe with half-purposes and unexpected bits of glory is what this show wants to do, then make it so.
There’s also a tiny scene at the beginning, where they show Meow’s room, that feels like a shout-out to Lain. Probably the darkened wire-laden, monitor-covered decor.
Well said. I think that they had their priorities wrong. To make us root for her, they would have been better off developing her and giving her personality rather than just stringing together all the cliched montage sequences they could. The animation of the crying was nice and all, but it felt like it was there just to hit a beat, like everything else, and wasn’t affecting at all. The whole ep just felt like reruns of cutesy scenes I’ve seen before in other shows. The plot was trite and a blatant play for sympathy in a way that would require some kind of subversive or smart touch to make it actually interesting.
The train sequence felt like it was there only by necessity, and felt lacking in the rhythm and tension needed to make it work. I suppose it was meant to be ironic, combining comedy with action with the slo-mo shot of the fat Dandy penguin floating there for an interminably long time until he suddenly launches into the train, but it just felt awkward, like lazy action choreography.
It was indeed pretty simple, and didn’t have as much of the patented Dai Sato craziness as his best Champloo episodes. I think he was basically trying to work with Mihara’s idea here and didn’t have completely free rein, so maybe that wound up cramping his style. I chalk it up to going for a fable-like feeling, but I agree that the episode feels a little less than what it could have been, a little underdeveloped. There really isn’t much more to it than the synopsis.
Contrast this with episode 2 on handling drama. Looking back on my other comment, it’s kind of hard for me to say that anything feels “right” for such a chameleon-esque show. That said, I still don’t like this episode.
It’s very hard to make me like orphan-looking-for family stories, and gluing the front and back with two montage pretty much sunk the episode for me. The girl had hints of mischievousness at the beginning, but that diffuses because it’s more important to the writers for her to be cute and vulnerable. Any real contention or fire is traded in favour of hitting the same beats.
And that pretty much describes the whole thing. It’s polished and uniform, soft gradients and unvarying lines. As a standard of quality, it’s not a bad place to be. It’s just all so staid. Even the train chase sequence feels (to me) like it has no steam. Something about the timing of the cuts and poses that feel like it lacks the necessary urgency and snappiness of a better action scene. Or maybe it’s the focus on Dandy in his fat, stuffed penguin body trying to catch up with the bad guys that makes it feel slow. Which is kind of funny, now that I think about it. Like some antithesis to action.
On a more positive note, this episode reminded me of that Amazing Nuts! short, Global Astroliner.
I can see why people would like it, and it wasn’t badly done at all. In this case it’s largely a question of personal taste. I would rather see a well done episode like this that just isn’t my cup of tea than a flat-out badly done episode. I might have liked the episode better if it didn’t feel like it was trying so hard to play the cuteness card and let the story play out a little more deadpan. I’m less surprised that episode 6 would be divisive. That crying sequence was well animated. I wonder if that was also part of Honda’s bit? Reminded me of the crying in the first Digimon movie by Hideki Hamasu.
The drawings were definitely cartoonishly stylized in a way that was effective in its own way, I agree. It’s always cool to see how a different sakkan will approach the characters.
I was expecting a more unabashed departure from the show’s usual look from a solo Mihara episode, but it was still quite nice indeed. The ‘climactic’ fight between the aliens was bizarre and amusing, and I like the concept on paper -good for satire, and offbeat in the good way, like you say-, but if anything I was disappointed by Sato’s actual script. The story structure is so simple and basic, with the action going back and forth between the groups, the dialogues of the aliens essentially being identical copies, and that’s pretty much the whole episode up until the climax. It came off as played out and trite writing, and it was off in the context of everything else on display.
I loved the look of this episode. It was extremely well drawn in a way very different from all the other episodes, looking much more unique and stylized. I’m not familiar with this episode’s AD, but I think he did a great job.
There are those who feel this episode was their favorite, even a few weeks after the fact, which is to be expected since with so many different setups and creative teams not everyone is going to always react the same way to every single episode.
Conversely, there are certainly those who like it the least. Episode 6 also tends to be a bit divisive, I’ve found, though most people liked the ending of that one anyway.
I honestly liked episode 5 a fair amount myself, despite being relatively standard content underneath everything else. Sometimes you don’t need to break new ground.
I felt the direction managed to effectively transmit enough of a feeling of warmth and cuteness. The animation wasn’t spectacular yet supported that sensation a couple of times, including but not limited to the girl’s crying sequence near the end. The space penguin stuff also caused me a bit of a chuckle, though I suppose humor is also a personal matter.
Other than that…well, I thought the character wasn’t too developed but came across as surprisingly tolerable. That said, like with a couple of other episodes in my opinion, this one might have been better off as a two-parter to give the story and the characters a little more room.
I completely see where you’re coming from. The episodes have been well produced so far overall, but there isn’t much of a pull other than that - no strong characterization, interesting story, or any pull at the emotions. Those are the things that usually get people to LOVE a series, and short of having these, Space Dandy is admittedly just nice eye candy for now.
Bumping this topic again!
While Nippon Animation series were quite popular, during the early 90s TMS tried to compete with WMT by producing similar series based on literature.
What is noteworthy is that character designer J.Seiki worked freelance on both studios! Some series of TMS and Nippon were broadcasted at the same year too. Same character design, yet different studio and under a different broadcaster!
Most notable series were adaptations of “The Twins at St Clare’s", “A Dog of Flanders” and perhaps their most notable work, the adaptation of “Lottie and Lisa".
While the first two were popular in mainland Europe, the latter remains unknown and there isnt even a Japanese DVD release. With 29 episodes instead of 26 to boot at.
I wanted to see this series for years and now that they uploaded it with mediocre VHS quality, I think this series is more WMT than the WMT series of that period. It is also noteworthy that it takes place simultaneously in Vienna and Munich.
though some inaccuracies are unavoidable, attention to detail reminds of the older Nippon Titles.
perhaps this is the most down-to-earth adaptation of the 90s. One reason probably it wasnt exported abroad. Unjust for such a high quality series.
This was the first episode of the series that I found legitimately funny. Unfortunately so far, the series as a whole seems to be carried only by its visuals and the skill of the people behind the episodes. I enjoyed episodes 1 and 2 (and 5, even if you haven’t covered it yet) because they looked fantastic, but as soon as the animation comes down to more human levels like in episode 3, the show starts to lose its appeal. Fortunately the show looks amazing more often than not, but if it wasn’t for that it would be quite the disappointment.
Oh, cool to know they’re revealing the designs and designers for each episode on the official site.
The monster and the girl were designed by the same person, Namaniku ATK. Katsuya Terada designed the country aliens.
Well put about Sayo Yamamoto’s ability to deftly balance the humorous with the weighty. This may be a bit of a stretch as far as comparisons go, but it reminds me a bit of the Son of Stimpy episode of Ren & Stimpy - it tells a ridiculous story completely straight-faced, and is all the more funny for it. She has more range and flexibility in her tone than most directors.
The show seems deliberately slapdash in how it doles out screen time to the players, as you note with Scarlet, even killing them off randomly.
I have heard of Yuasa’s new show. I avoided looking at the trailer to not spoil the surprise, but I had a look at it just now and it seems like a match made in heaven. Although honestly I would have preferred to see Yuasa adapt one of his more fantastical stories like Number Five.
Good of you to point out the empty shop at the end. It’s easier for me to think it’s a hiccup in the writing.
This my favorite episode as of now. It’s just really fun, and it finds a sweet spot between the humorous and the weighty. Most importantly it does it in a way that feels right for a comedy show: the Nagai alien’s story has some ridiculous touches to keep it from getting too dour or hokey, but it’s still treated with all the dignity and pathos of a more serious show. I like empathy in humor, and it’s something I wish I saw more of.
And yes, the animators should be commended for bringing to life food that looks both mouth-watering, and also really, really bizarre. As it should, since the ramen is the centerpiece of the episode. It reads like a testament to all the work that goes into creating something, as well as the accumulation of emotions, experiences, whole lifetimes that are often invisible but still felt by strangers. The writers also get to build on Dandy’s more cultured side (outside of his expertise on Boobies).
That inspector lady also needs another episode. She got a half before not appearing again.
This is also rather off-topic, but have you heard that Yuasa is getting a new show? This time it’s an adaptation of Taiyo Matsumoto’s manga, Ping Pong. Here’s the teaser trailer if you haven’t seen it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lmZVuMDlw-w
Glad to help. Hope I didn’t overhype.
I’m really looking forward to the rest of the show now that I’ve seen how much care is being put into preserving animator personality, not to mention bringing in animators with very different styles. Looks like the show will have a lot of variety, though as seanny says this might also translate to uneven.
Yep, totally agree. I watched and was really impressed by ep 2, so I will probably be blogging the rest of the show, as each ep seems to have its unique staff-driven pull.
Dunno if you’ll be covering the full series (I’ve found it to be extremely uneven so far), but I’d love to hear your thoughts on episode 2, which was a nice parade of character/comedy animation.
The fact that the animators’ work went mostly untouched is the thing I love the most about this first episode. For every scene I can pinpoint the exact moment when an animator’s work ends and a different animator takes over, and I think that’s awesome.
And of course the actual animation is some of the best animation I’ve seen on a TV series. The action part at the end was glorious, but even the talking scenes had some great animators.
I also have to join Ben in his praise for Bahi’s part. Even if I still find his Kids on the Slope cuts to have more impressive/unique character movement, the kind of momentum that he was able to create with his Dandy scene is quite amazing. The scene is so alive that even without knowing the number of drawings, I can tell a gigantic amount of effort went into it. It’s the kind of animation that I can watch over and over without getting tired of it, so kudos to Bahi for coming up with it.
Thanks for posting. I was going to skip this series (and in fact this whole season) but now I’ll take a look.
I stop by to post a comment in order to inform you that 久貝典史 is Norifumi Kugai (http://bit.ly/19YYTZw), not Hisagai as you mention it in the eleventh paragraph.
Beyond this, good post.
I hate reading articles and have no patience for most of them.
This was an exception. This caught my eye.
Perhaps I had an easy time reading it.
Or maybe because I’ve seen a few drawings of hers.
Either way, this was a very captivating read and I have probably reread it three times.
I can really relate to her and the author or this article.
I actually cried a little.
Danke for the great read! <3
Napoleon’s Dictionary is indeed animated quite poorly and I remember the jumpy shot Ben posted. But it was pretty funny at moments. I still have the VHS fansub somewhere…
The thing I remember most about it is that it’s not even internally consistent. Early on, Lupin tells the story of how one of the Lupin women shuffled away the Lupin Family treasure and noted the location in the dictionary to prevent it being spent/lost/whatever, but when Lupin and Co. find the treasure, it’s accompanied by an explanatory letter from Lupin I, his grandpa, and not the lady of the house.
8 years later, is it still possible to see that pack? I would like to download it.
Wow, thanks for the post! I watched “Bakabon” (the first three series) regularly as a kid, so this post speaks to me.
Nice to know who worked on what.
I guess I just appreciate animated works much differently from you; I’m surprised to read you say that EVERY story is boring almost as an afterthought. I’m inclined to call that a fatal problem. I started Lupin series 3 a little while ago and I’m not enjoying it very much for exactly that reason.
This is such a good review,made me really want to see it; I do get jaded & finding the existence of such a fine old series is a pleasure. Can’t find it available anywhere, even in French.
Thanks, Aaron. I’m sure you would enjoy this show. All of the A Pro gag shows starting from Tensai Bakabon are worth checking out. It’s too bad none of them are available over here: Tensai Bakabon, Dokonjo Gaeru, Hajime Ningen Gyators, Ganso Tensai Bakabon… And Gamba no Boken, though not a straight gag show, had some great slapstick/experimental episodes.
Thanks, Pete. I don’t know if it had any influence, but it’s an amusing anti-war piece.
Great article!! This show looks like a a lot of fun, and I really enjoyed reading about the distinctions of each animation house’s style. These gag shows are a big gap in my knowledge of 70s anime.
Plus, lots of staff cross-over with Lupin, which is always cool. I love how crazy and playful a lot of the distortions are on the characters in these stills.
I had read about the influence of “Bunpuku Chagama Daimaoh” on “Tatami Voyage", but I’d never actually seen it until now. It’s interesting to see the result of that inspiration and makes me imagine what Hashimoto might have done with an adaptation of “Bunpuku” (or even some of Santa Inoue’s other early work).
Nice review Ben. I think this short film must also have had some sort of influence. I wanted to see it for ages, but only recently was it uploaded. Made in 1969 btw:
Mickey Mouse in Vietnam
Puppetry in Japan has a long, wonderful tradition. There are many fantastic films using puppets. Here’s a Youtube clip http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ruxx1Jog0oM of Kihachiro Kawamoto’s films. Enjoy!
Ben, I would probably say the film IS worth seeing for the consistently worked animation style. And the overall art direction is fairly subtle and nice(if a bit middling). But all the same, I just wasn’t terribly excited about the whole.
I guess it’s just one of those anime productions I find kind of frustrating. Because it’s actually kind of creative and well-crafted up to a point, but nevertheless feels oddly arbitrary and halting.
I guess you could make a similar claim about something like Green Legend Ran. But with Ran, I did feel the best aspects, or parts were so awesomely convincing they outshined the unevenness or flaws.
Btw, he has a kickstarter out for a video game, its adequately funded, (no thanks to having a very popular developer that he teamed up with), but still interesting nonetheless. http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1307515311/night-in-the-woods
One of my animator friends actually hangs out with him on skype sessions where he gathers non-LA animators, its really cool what he’s doing - doing excellent work far removed from the traditional centers of the industry (he’s based in Pittsburgh).
I think the schedule was super rushed, so he didn’t really give it that much conceptual thought, and he was after all a first time director. The big hands were a thing at the time among this school of animators - you see huge hands in Hakkenden, Ys II, etc. The transformation scene may have been done by Kakita. Utsunomiya may have done something before then. Not quite sure.
The tone of the piece is definitely peculiar, deliberately so, with the strange offbeat music and the bizarre scene of the stranger confronting that thug like a schoolteacher reprimanding a bad child. I actually like the strange tone, though it’s never developed enough. Ohira’s short is definitely more confidently conceived and executed. But I give Hashimoto credit for going in a daring direction that he conceived himself and doesn’t really have any analogue to copy from.
A happy ending where the salaryman’s future was changed or something would have been silly, so the bleakness doesn’t bother me. I just wonder what happened after the short ends and his friends are looking at him holding a fetus on the street! I agree, maybe it’s a little petty of me, but I like how Ohira makes the vomiting as gross sounding as possible. I completely understand what you mean about the touch of this film without the Yuasa touch. I envision Masatsugu Arakawa’s pared down style in Yukiwari no Hana would be a good match with the pared down realism Ohira created here. Maybe Arakawa was even influenced by Ohira.
My pleasure, glad you enjoyed it. The Hashimoto short is amazing, and the Picasso observation is interesting. There is indeed a 20th century art feeling to the compositions.
I see your point. The stories do have a similar direction, like a Haruo Sato pitiful watakushi-shosetsu played through he filter of a ghost story. Personally I love pathetic stories about lost souls, so I didn’t mind.
Yes, I knew about the Tanaka bit. It’s nice and all, but I don’t really think it fits in the scene and kind of wrecks the atmosphere. The show turns all cartoony and bouncy right at the climactic moment when it’s supposed to be heaviest and darkest. I love Tanaka’s work at this period, but I think he fits better in Download, Hakkenden, Ran, Explorer Woman Ray.
Good point about the impressionistic designs being grounded in realistic posing and acting. The root is still realism, but with a surface of artistic stylization. I guess in a sense that’s Hashimoto basic style. His movement is always real and the acting down to earth and believable, but he never draws photorealistically, usually quite the opposite. He can even make characters like the Yamadas move realistically.
I don’t doubt you’re probably in large measure right about the Christania film. I confess I didn’t bother to rewatch the film and OVAs for this post, so my memory is somewhat vague about the particulars of the story, directing and animation style. Maybe it’s not as good as I remember. I think my memory of being bowled over by the unusual Utsunomiya/Miyazawa animation dominates my memory of the show, so I should probably revisit it to see.
I agree, children’s anime seems to bring out the more creative side in Japanese animators. That’s why most of my favorite anime are kids shows - Little Jumbo, Slime Adventures, Gamba no Boken, Manga Sekai Mukashibanashi, etc.
He did cover a lot of bases in his career, and if anything didn’t seem to have hit any home runs recently, so you can’t say he was cut off short, but I still think he had a lot left in him. Maybe he just wan’t able to get interesting projects off the ground as easily after 2000. You’re right about stalled projects not being anything uncommon, but getting a whole movie completely made only to have it shelved without being seen by anyone, that’s a different story. (though the film was shown in halls)
I guess by its nature background art is meant to be in the background and not the focus of attention, so most of the time it rightfully doesn’t receive much focus from fans. An artist like Kimura whose vision is compelling enough to stand on its own feet is more the exception. There are probably many good artists doing quality work on backgrounds that aren’t necessarily interesting in their own right like Kimura’s more eyecatching style. I also think most anime today don’t require particularly artsy backgrounds, or don’t have the interest in exploring novel visual concepts in the background art. In the 70s there were artists like Shichiro Kobayashi creating very hand-drawn, expressive art almost by default on each production they worked on.
Thanks for pointing out those artists. I myself don’t watch enough new shows to be able to say who is interesting today, but I’m sure there must be a lot of noteworthy art directors and background painters that deserve more recognition. I will bring the subject up if I see an anime with art direction that strikes me as particularly good, but I’ll admit it doesn’t happen that often to me.
The Gotham Knight short is very nice, but the credits seem a little off to me… maybe I’m wrong.
Thanks, that’s very nice to hear. It’s good to be back writing again. I’ve actually written about things other than the animation since the very beginning, but I guess the animation part gets focused on. I try to give an overall picture including the writing, directing, art and animation, though I guess in the end my main interest is the animation. What I most like to see is a production where all these elements are compelling. I don’t much go in for great animation in a show I don’t like anymore like I did in the old days. I just don’t have the time/patience any more.
Yes, the writing of the Blue Exorcist movie was charming and pleasant without straying far from formula, which I don’t particularly mind. I’m the same, it’s not unless a background really sticks out like this that I pay attention to it, which is perhaps doing a disservice to the talented background artists out there who slave away producing beautiful and meticulous art that functions as a part of the whole rather than being more expressive than the rest of the production like Kimura’s art is here. I still think 80s Madhouse productions struck an ideal balance between art, animation and directing in which each is expressive in its own right while contributing to the whole. I don’t see that many anime these days that feel that way. There’s too much focus on getting all the little details right and people lose sight of the forest for the trees. Any random roughly drawn/lightly animated ep of Manga Nihon/Sekai Mukashibanashi seems more appealing to me.
Great to finally see the OVA in its entirety. My only real critique is that they’re all kind of about the same pitiful man, at various points of losing/loss with his life and his ephemeral/doomed/past woman symbol (I know, I know, adapted material). Thematically, it’s sound. I just would’ve liked to see some variance, even if I can appreciate the familiarity of the message and the careful presentation.
I’ve only seen a cut of Ohira’s piece in a Tatsuyuki Tanaka MAD: the shot of the woman being shoved into the table. Supposedly, he animated that part, along with the shot of the fetus in the man’s hand. It’s saved here on Catsuka (bless ‘em) if you want to maybe verify: http://www.catsuka.com/player/mad_Tatsuyuki_Tanaka2 (at about 1:09-1:30) Anyway, much love for Ohira, and anything more would just be repeating what you said.
As for the others, Hashimoto’s short surprised me by how much I liked it; particularly everything after the opening. Martin’s Picasso comment is pretty apt; my favorite thing is the impressionistic look of the characters grounded by the naturalistic poses and increasingly vibrant movement. That final sequence is real visceral stuff, even if I’m left rather unsatisfied on the whole. It’s probably the most radical I’ve seen Shinji Hashimoto.
I can even like Suzuki’s part, despite my rather limited understanding of Japanese (wasn’t the best student, a-heh). On a personal level, it reminded me of the hiking/camping trips my father would take, often alone, and some of the ones I’ve been on. I’m sure it’s even more suspenseful with the dialogue.
Also, ditto on Umetsu. That guy is so frustrating; like you said, he’s technically very good. His understanding of the character, pose-to-pose, and in relation to the environment/plane is all really solid. He’s also never lost his ability to direct punchy action sequences, or his bold use of light and shadows. But his works are flawed and so very much pap. It’s all superficial sheen that never goes far enough as a visual or personal statement. I feel like his best work is between AD-ing for Megazone 23 and his Mezzo Forte OVA, where he’s at his most honest about his love for pulp/noir goofiness.
i loved the tatami voyage short. in regards to the character design, the style looks like it was partly influenced by pablo picasso and maybe van gogh’s early figure sketches.
thanks a bunch for covering this OVA. it was a treat to watch.
So the full omnibus is finally available. I had only seen Ohira’s short before, but Hashimoto’s is quite nice. I didn’t watch the other two because without understanding the dialogue they are a bit hard to get through.
Hashimoto’s short was interesting in its approach, though I wish he’d had the chance to flesh out the style a bit more as it seemed like he was still playing around and seeing what he liked. I liked the big, plump limbs (and hands) that were exploited in the acting, and the constant shifting of the faces which moved enough without having the characters ‘flail around randomly’ to use your words. Even when they only used few drawings, the expressions are timely and fitting. I liked the short bit where the man is telling the girl not to open the door, for example.
The transformation scene looks like it could only be Utsunomiya, I can’t think of anyone else who draws the lips and ‘dolljoints’ like that.
The story seemed quite silly from what I could gather, and those synth tunes contributed to the cheese. Completely different to Ohira’s short which feels more accomplished as an overall package, and more confident in its directing.
I really like Ohira’s. It doesn’t overstay its welcome and tells a depressing but real story skilfully. Although I don’t see the ‘loving’ you speak of, the short’s world-view seems almost nihilistic in how none of it really mattered at the end- he’ll still be a depressed salaryman without purpose the next day.
I really liked the sound effect used for the vomiting. It contributes just as much if not more than the animation in making that bit visceral and gross.
The design is, as you said in your previous post about the short, going in the direction of Hamaji with its pared down realism highlighting little features. I would have liked to see something more developed along these lines, but without the Yuasa touch that is present in Hamaji. I like Yuasa but he does a different kind of thing; something like the shot of the woman above. It’s more plain, but also more down to earth, while a lot of Hamaji feels more surreal and out-there. I guess each of the approaches fits the film they were in. Of course Ohira’s own animation is undisputed when it comes to this brand of realism (he actually went back to a Hamaji-like look in his cut for Rainbow Fireflies, you might like what he did there!).
I’m 16 and currently wondering what I want to do with my life. I have always loved watching anime and even reading manga. This interview has inspired me to aim to become an animator. Thank you so much for all your insight on this topic, it has helped me greatly, Bahi.
A few follow-up comments:
If it seemed like I was being overtly disparaging of the animation style in Crystania, then yeah, my impression was probably coloured somewhat by my overall lukewarm experience of the film. But no doubt it’s the single most compelling component of the film. And puts in a noble effort in guiding and maintaining the viewer’s interest throughout.
Maybe it didn’t quite knock me over in this particular context, but it’s obvious there was a lot of effort and creativity involved. I should probably get around to re-watching the follow-up OVA, which I seem to have more fond memories of.
On another note, Nakamura seems to be the director who really understood how to fully utilize the talents of Takahiro Kishida. Though perhaps it was also the spirit of the period.
Following the OVA experiments of the early 90’s, the immediate post-Evangelion era also seemed a pretty exciting time in anime. With Anno following it up with KareKano. And directors like Nakamura crafting highly artistic tv shows like Lain that used a sparse and effortless sort of aesthetic in a powerful manner that seemed to point at anime as a highly potent medium of artistically imaginative storytelling.