Recently I bought the key animation book of the first Kara no Kyouaki movie to cast a glance at the raw drawings and get some additional information on which animator did which scene, though the book doesn’t provide much (new) information in the latter case. I like to look at the original and unaltered drawings as it gives a good feel for the different approaches and styles of animators. The “taste” and the personality of the individual drawings are usually lost in the process to the finished animation since everything has to look uniform in most cases, that’s why the system with the animation supervisor or “sakuga kantoku” (who corrects the drawings to match the models) was introduced. There are some cases like the notorious action scenes of “Tetsuwan Birdy: Decode 2” where the directors decided to leave the frames as they are and give the animators a free hand in animating, which lead to an interesting – but not well-received – result. I think sometimes that most anime fans seem to favor well-drawn still drawings more than sophisticated movements, though that’s not really surprising as much Japanese TV animation is very limited and basically nothing more than moving manga.
Hereinafter several scanned in excerpts of some interesting parts from an animation viewpoint (sorry, quality isn’t that good):
Let’s start with a very nice shot of Shiki trying to eat Häagen-Dazs one-handed, this scene works pretty well considering that there’s no dialogue and the movie has to communicate solely through the visuals. Such silent parts are important as they give the audience and the movie itself a chance to catch a breath, but it’s hard to achieve the desired result if they aren’t directed and animated in the right way. This scene with well thought-out key animation by Katsuya Kikuchi stands out in its own way without being overly fancy or something.
Here’s a scene which I really like, especially the nice way the action is shown, stricly speaking with a moving camera which follows Shiki as she is running and slashing the ghosts in her way, key animation by Atsushi Itagaki:
Next an impressive series of shots of Shiki sliding in the water after her roof to roof jump, the way the water is depicted is well done with nice digital work to add transparency and light effects. The basic hand-drawn key animation is interesting as it shows how the animator makes water move on the screen. It’s pretty difficult to animate water in a satisfying way, many animators developed their own approach with varying results. Norio Matsumoto is an animator who perfected his own technique of depicting water, especially his work on Naruto #133 is a good demonstration as the two main characters fight on the surface of a lake.