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A little late on this, but I didn’t want to miss the chance to congratulate you for these 10 years keeping on one of the most astounding and complete blogs about japanimation one can find around.
This is truly a place of reference for any enthusiast on the matter and I hope we can enjoy it for even 10 more years. Thank you for all your hard work and for all the deep and interesting info you managed to gather. :)
Wow. I’d heard people say Kimura looks like a yakuza, but they weren’t exaggerating… I remember like 10 years ago he was trying to gather funding for a short animation to be done entirely by himself like this. So it’s going to be 5 minutes straight of a samurai killing people. Very like him. Rock on, Kimura!
This one might interest you, too:
Wow, congrats!! Enjoyed reading and posting over the years, looking forward to many more :)
Thanks, Shergal. Glad you liked it. I was also really looking forward to this one, and I won’t say I was disappointed - far from it - but it left me with a strange aftertaste.
That’s a good question… I’m not sure why that is, which is why I left that part kind of vague. Basically I suppose the story simply didn’t grip me the way his previous films did, because it’s quite simple. You don’t get the kind of sensitive and realistic web of interpersonal relationships and character development building towards a meaningful climax like you do in Only Yesterday or Pompoko. I suppose he tried to do that as best he could by intricately depicting the emotional growth of Kaguya Hime over the course of the film, but there’s only so far you can go with this material.
Another thing is that the visuals and story weren’t really conceptualized together - he basically wanted to do something with Tanabe, and had various other ideas before finally coming to this one. The visuals are a good match to the story, but perhaps because it’s an extension of Yamadas visually it doesn’t feel like his previous films, when he took a totally new visual approach suited to each film’s material. Also, there’s a tension between the intricate, realistic character delineation that typifies Takahata and the cypher-like nature of folktale characters that gives the film something of a different character from his previous work.
That’s not to say it’s not a moving film. The characters grow on you and develop into people in typical Takahata fashion. But because of the graphic style, and especially the weird, blocky designs of the parents (which took me a lot of getting used to), it seems like the film deliberately tries to keep you from investing emotionally into the story. Each previous Takahata film was tremendously moving (whether Takahata likes it or not!) so that was something that felt different here.
I really enjoyed reading your impressions on the film, Ben. I have been waiting for it since it got announced, being a big Takahata fan, and the trailers haven’t made it any easier.
I’m curious as to what exactly you felt unsatisfied with, since you don’t quite go over that in the post. Is it the potential of something else that could’ve been, from that early pilot? Or do you think the source material is ultimately at odds with the direction Takahata tried to take it?
I also thought about Hitchhiker’s Guide during the footnote about the war (the visual style even evokes the BBC TV serial), as well as earlier when Gel speculates about luck manipulation (similar to the Infinite Improbability Drive).
On top of that, a library planet and an alien you forget immediately after you stop looking at it are also both concepts Steven Moffat contributed to Doctor Who in recent years.
I’m not familiar with Enjo Toh or Japanese SF in general but watching the episode I got a general feeling that the writer had a specific interest in British science fiction.
Currently catching up on Space Dandy. This episode evoked Hosoda so strongly to me that if I were told that he was secretly behind it I would have believed it.
I didn’t even think of Groundhog Day while watching it; there are so many Japanese stories involving time loops (Urusei Yatsura 2, Haruhi’s Endless Eight arc, All You Need Is Kill…) that I thought of the narrator’s quick explanation of what was happening as an acknowledgment that the audience is probably familiar with this sort of thing and doesn’t need to waste time figuring it out.
i am Searching to find lost and mystery animation from 70s
this is a Puppet animation about Orphaned child that make a toy by a Straw and a Bee .he get fortune by it
It’s been 10 years already?
To me, your blog always has been the oasis for Japanese and independent animation appreciation.
One of these days, you need to write a book.
I can’t believe I’ve been following your blog for 7 years already…
Ahh. And thanks for all the hours, days and years that you dedicate to investigate this apasionant art.
I really know it’s a big sacrifice.
Thanks Ben. :)
Congratulations for the 10th anniversary Ben !!!!
Believe it or not, I am a old follower of the site (although I write very little) since 2004 (or 2003? or before???!!! I have strang memories from 2003!), when a fellow in the animation career (2001-2003) had told me about that you write info about the old years from Toei Animation .
In those years we were like crazy with the Toei classic movies and the Nippon Animatin classic series. And we been touring our state in searching VHS of those works. beautiful season.
Thanks for the hours of entertainment you have given us. Thanks for all the work done. And share it with everyone !!!!!
Thank you for everything, I learned so much reading your blog, it really helped me in clarifying my view on animation while I was studying it and everything was confused.
You have extremely good taste, and your writing is so deep and articulated it’s always a pleasure to read.
I can only hope you will keep it going for as long as it may be…
You can contact him on Twitter: https://twitter.com/Pontaney
I’d be interested to hear more about your experiences working with Toshiaki Hontani - either animation-related or extracurricular. Despite being so talented, he’s a hard animator to find information about. I didn’t even know he was involved in Cadillacs and Dinosaurs. I checked the credits for episode 1 just now and I didn’t see a single Japanese name. If Japanese animators were involved, the producers did a good job of hiding the fact.
Thank you so much, everyone. Gambarimasu! It’s great to see a mix of new and longtime readers.
ialda - I didn’t think anyone still remembered that! It shows how long you’ve been around that you remember the WMTdb. I will try to see if there is some way I can resurrect it, although it sounds like doing so would require a lot of effort to implement and update the incomplete/incorrect info. I can’t make any promises, but knowing someone is interested in seeing it revived certainly gives me some motivation to give it a shot.
I worked in Tokyo in 1993 on Cadillacs and Dinosaurs TV show ( it got cancelled ) for a few months and was thrilled to work closely with Toshiaki !
He even lent me one of his motorcycles and challenged me to try to keep up as we drove through Tokyo…..it was all I could do to follow a tiny little white helmet in the distance and pray I wouldn’t get lost or killed.
I would LOVE to be able to contact him again !
Congratulations! This blog is treasure chest of priseless information for me. I follow your posts since 2006! Thank you !!!
Congratulations Ben! Your blog will always be one of the best animation-related websites. I can’t thank you enough for all the work you’ve put into this blog - I can’t count how many amazing OVAs or movies I’ve discovered through your writing, and the industry and historical knowledge you share on the site is a fantastic resource for everyone, particularly those of us who can’t read/speak Japanese.
I hope you keep doing it for a long time. I’ll be reading.
It’s very much appreciated, Ben. As an animator and fan of animation history it’s great to see hidden gems from Japan that would never be covered by an English-language book. Gives me lots of ideas about where to take my art and how others have solved artistic problems.
Thank YOU for writing this blog, Ben. Your incredibly deep knowledge and your detailed, professional writing make this an invaluable resource for fans of Japanese animation.
Congrats Ben. this blog is something special, and its the only place whee i can get my “fix". and if i could spotlight one of your phrases- “nitty-gritty animation discussion", i like that you use the word animation instead of anime.
i hope you keep it up and keep dropping well written comprehensive posts on japanese animation. someone’s gotta do it.
thanks for sticking around this long.
Congratulations Ben! Time flies!
Anipages has always been a great source of discovery for animation enthusiasts and students, it’s both interesting and educative.
Keep it up with the blog!
Congratulations ! It has been a constant pleasure reading your blog these past ten years. Some of your posts (I’m thinking the A pro / Shin’ei, for example) cover as much ground as one would dream to do in a whole life.
btw, do you plan to bring back the WMT encyclopedia one of these days ? Its absence is dearly missed :)
I have discover your marvellous pages merely 6 months ago, and it is nothing but a mine of informations filled with very interesting texts which are all of my delights.
Your “meandering writings about random obscure/ancient subject” are maybe among the ones I love the most. Even if your articles on each episode of a TV serie like you did recently for Space Dandy and Pin-Pong are always interesting and usefull.
Anyway, happy birthday to the blog. 10 years is a good number to start with.
Great stuff man - although there are the long gaps I am always amazed by how much intricate detail and knowledge is put into each of your posts.
Keep up the good work.
After stumbling upon your blog last year, I’ve been glad that you have persevered with your blogging. Your analyses and posts have taught me so much about Japanese animation, and your forum is *the* place for animation enthusiasts.
I thank you for opening this site and keeping it running. It means a whole lot to a bunch of folks.
Congrats on keeping it up for so long Ben. I did enjoy the more scattershot posts that covered more than one subject, but the more organized format doesn’t hurt anyone either.
Congratulations; keep digging deep and keep them posts coming. Cheers!
I’m very curious about this part: “Reading books like The Animator’s Survival Kit by Richard Williams and The Illusion of Life by Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston, I’m always amazed how they can verbalize the absolute minimum of necessary information about animation in the clearest fashion.”
Have these books been translated into Japanese? It’s rare to see Japanese animation follow all of the Disney principles or most of the tips Williams offers and I’d be surprised if I learned they were recommended to Japanese animators as they are American ones.
On the other hand if the books haven’t been translated, Inoue’s comment indicates he’s fluent in English, which makes me eager to see him communicate with foreign fans…
Muffin nails it in his re-wording. It’s not about someone setting out with that goal in mind per se as much as being something woven into the fabric of anime (esp TV) from the beginning.
Thanks for the wishes, Muffin. I clean forgot that was this year.
“If the secret to anime’s success is in the blank faces of its static anime characters, which prompt viewers to read the appropriate emotion and hence experience the character’s world vicariously…”
I kind of stopped a bit at this comment as well. And in fact it’s hardly a novel or unusual sentiment in regard to japanese cartooning. I think it’s sort of true(in a sense) but also often simplified a bit too much. And I wouldn’t necessarily think Takahata’s style totally contradicts this approach either.
Perhaps another way to put it is that “anime designs"(in the broadest possible definition) are less “literal"(if that’s the right way to put it…) than most other popular schools of design. And is a kind of philosophy that has been integrated into the fabric of japanese cartoon design and narrative sensibilities.
Oh, and unless I’m mistaken, a belated happy 10th anniversary for the blog, Ben.
“If the secret to anime’s success is in the blank faces of its static anime characters, which prompt viewers to read the appropriate emotion and hence experience the character’s world vicariously…”
I’d read that Hello Kitty was designed with a blank expression so people could read whatever emotions they wanted into her, but I hadn’t seen that said about anime in general before. Is this a common school of thought? Are any artists known to practice this deliberately?
Glad it was helpful after all these years. No, unfortunately I do not have a full list of Tama Pro’s work, otherwise I would gladly share it. Kino Pro is a studio I’m not familiar with. You’ve piqued my curiosity.
Thanks, Aaron! Glad you enjoyed the post. It definitely was an awful lot of work. I even emailed Masakazu Higuchi to see if I could get more dirt on MIM, but he wasn’t very forthcoming.
Yes, Osamu Kobayashi’s style at this period is really amazing, so as a huge fan of his work on shows like Dokonjo Gaeru, his work on these shows (and on MNMB) was a great find for me. Hope you find something to enjoy in the other episodes.
They both seems like pretty neat shows, and of course it’s always great to see another in-depth series analysis article from you! We all really appreciate the amount of viewing, research and writing that goes into these posts. The episodes you highlighted are quite interesting, and all seem to display an impressive variety of tones and styles.
Thanks for posting links where we can watch them, as well!!
So far I’ve only watched the Hiroshima episode by Osamu Kobayashi. His cartoony stylization of the human form is fantastic. It looks so simple at first glance, especially due to the clean, often minimalistic clean-up, but the proportions are very cleverly distorted, and he uses a lot of dynamic posing and strong timing.
You have the complete list of all the collaborations of Tama Pro?
Especially 60s, 70s and 80s?
Because I have tried to enter the official website but apparently no longer exists.
If you do, you could post it or send me it? I would like to know the collaborations in these decades.
Thank you for this article Ben!
I was looking for information about the early freelance studios (as Kino Pro and Tama Pro) especially those founded by people from Mushi Pro.
and I came across this!
Interesting, thank you!
I’ve mentioned him numerous times in the blog, especially in my post on Jackie the Bearcub episode 1. If I can ever find enough info he’s a figure I’d like to profile properly as one of the greats of yesteryear. I didn’t realize he was a good effects animator too, quite impressive.
Karate Baka Ichidai sounds cool. I’d like to check it out as one of Kusube’s last major front-line projects.
where not write this.
I was looking info for an animator, which only knew his name (Toshio Okada) and found this page:
Look at this
Search with google (I can not paste the URL of the page)
is in a blog from fc2
After seeing this page I remembered that a few weeks ago, had called my attention a water animation on Mako-Chan series.
And now I remembered about 12 years ago, I (as a student in the animation school) examine and copy an water animation in the Superman series for his quality.
I could not believe when I saw this page, Okada had done all this!
You know him?
I just downloaded the Karate Baka Ichidai series. (Tokyo Movie, 1973).
Keiichiro Kimura is in the credits as animation director of episodes and also key animator.
I look forward to instigate NeoMedia period before 1980! When apparently entered their new employees (Kitakubo, Moriyama, Tamura and Itoh, etc …)
Yep, I’m planning on writing a post about that one too once I have a chance to watch it all.
For those looking for more:
Not sure if it’s a reboot or continuation or re-broadcast, but Furusato Saisei: Nihon no Mukashi Banashi has been a simulcast on Crunchyroll for a while now. Currently there are 128 episodes, with three tales per episode.
I laughed at Dandy stealing from little kids.
I was surprised to see Bahi’s work on an episode like this, it’s not the kind of episode I’d expect him to work on. I wonder if that means he’ll miss the series finale, which I’m sure will have tons of great animation.
Not only I like mecha. I am also a big fan of the classic works of Nippon Animation, Miyazaki, the classic movies of Toei and Osamu Dezaki among much others.
After finish watching Ashita. I’ll start watching Ace wo Nerae or the Ashita 1980 series i never had me to observe in detail the work of the first Annapuru years (only Cobra TV, Cobra movie and Mighty Orbots).
I hope one day you write all this.
Furthermore. About Kimura’s Studio Neomedia. I am very interested in the investigation of the formation of Studio MIN where not only worked Kitakubo and Moriyama, but also Kouji Itoh (after in Graviton studio) and Hideki Tamura (Studio CAM founder and mentor of Kia Asamiya) and others. all ex-members of Neomedia
I wrote a note on my blog with what little I could investigate about Studio MIN. Studio. do not know if you saw it.
but is in spanish sorry.
Back in the days before torrenting, some fifteen years ago or so, I remember coming across the full VHS collection of Ashita no Joe at a Japanese corner store in Seattle, and renting the whole damn thing. I still distinctly remember the strange looks I got from the cashier, too! So yes, I’ve seen it, and I absolutely adored it. Definitely one of the great anime shows of all time, and despite ups and downs in quality, and some fairly repetitive storytelling, it probably still holds up pretty well these days. It’s one of the few shows I’m tempted to re-watch from start to finish to blog about it. Ashita no Joe 2 is also supposed to be pretty good, but I haven’t seen that one. The episode I particularly remember is #14 directed by Masami Hata with solo animation by Dezaki himself. One of the great episodes of all time. Indeed, there is still much to discover from the period of the late 60s/early 70s and much I’d like to write about. It’s probably my favorite period of anime, followed closely by late 80s/early 90s. Anyway, good to hear you’re watching something other than mecha for once. :)
Check Atsushi Kamijo twitter account, he mentionned his participation on this episode ;)
I feel like a fool for missing the throwback to TO-Y now, great observation! A rewatch seems in order.
A few years ago he had heard about the importance of Tiger Mask series in their animation. It is really admirable.
But right now I discovered the Ashita no Joe series.
I’ve already seen 62 chapters. I’m really impressed by the quality of animation. Have you seen?
I really never expected to see something with so quality. In argument, animation and other technical issues as painting, animation and backgrounds.
My admiration is such that at one point might be thinking you were watching a series of 1980 or more.
At times the fluidity of the animation is high for TV. And many times the painting is so detailed that reminds me of the 80s OVAs titles. if not exaggerating.
As I mentioned I have seen until chapter 62 If you have not seen the series I recommend you see the first half of chapter 58 This chapter is the most lively of detail I saw so far. Evidently there was a study of human movement, among other things. Also the painting is amazing.
As you know, in this series had the important role Studio Jaguard, freelance studio formed by animators from mushi (who works with Mushi and TMS) and obviously some future Madhouse animators. At times the animation reminds me of the first Yamato series, which is not unusual as it shares some staff (Tomino, Ishiguro).
It is a perfect example of the immediately time preceding the closing of Mushi Pro and the opening of Office Academy, Sunrise, Madhouse and Nippon Animation.
I was reading a little about what you wrote about Shonen Isamu, is one of the upcoming series I will explore.
Late 60s and early 70s is an exciting era for exploring! :)
Sorrt for my bad english. :)
Thanks for suggesting the idea for this post. I had only seen the show in little bits here and there before, and I had a lot of fun going through it more thoroughly over the last few weeks. Even so, I only managed to pore over a few hundred episodes, while taking in snippets of many others, so there are quite likely many other good episodes I missed. But I think this is a good start.
It’s not everything, but almost. The ones not on DVD are from TV broadcasts so the quality can get pretty bad sometimes, but it’s better than nothing. I’m grateful to the determined samaritan who made his collection available.