To aru Kagaku no Railgun #9
I wasn’t particularly impressed by “To aru Kagaku no Railgun” so far (apart from episode 1), even if Tatsuyuki Nagai‘s supervision makes it more bearable than most of the other currently airing “bishoujo” series. He tends to work with many freelance artists so now and then you come across suprises if you follow his works closely, Railgun #9 is such a case. This episode was directed and storyboarded by Shigeyasu Yamauchi (director of Casshern Sins and many Toei shows) who created a very rich and atmospheric episode out of the weak and sometimes ridiculous scenario, though overall it wasn’t anything too outstanding, but rather solidly crafted. There are some nice moments throughout the episode and also an exciting action scene, and Yamauchi obviously paid much attention to details. The conception of the environment is more pronounced than in the other episodes as the storyboard feels actually thought-out and does really well in giving the anime’s world a concrete feel, something pretty rare in this kind of anime. The various drama parts and the corresponding inner monologues feel not so much out of place and boring like the ones in the previous episodes because Yamauchi knows how to stage them in an interesting way, pay attention to the nice compositions and metaphorical imagery like the light/shadow contrast:
The animation is admittedly not significantly better than in the other episodes, yet a more dynamic and expressive style is noticeable and some faces are somewhat reminiscent of Casshern Sins.
Kiddy Girl-and #5
The animation production of this episode was handled by White Fox (Tears to Tiara), so it’s no surprise that Naoto Hosoda is involved as well since he changed his register from AIC to aforementioned studio some time ago. Hosoda directed, storyboarded, supervised the animators and did the key animation for many cuts himself, that’s why his personal style is visible all over the episode. He’s one of the few “moe” exclusive directors/animators who have come up with their own style, and his approach totally reflects his skills as animator. The episodes he directs are full of unexpected movement and playful ideas as well as animation which feels flowing and completely rounded. He moves the characters a lot and gives them lively mimic and gestures which make their acting so much more convincing, Kiddy Girl-and #5 is no exception from this.
The final action scene is definitely the highlight due to Hosoda‘s great animation and storyboard work, it’s really amazing how he manages to surprise the viewer through unforeseeable motion, shot progression and use of perspective. I like how he makes use of the whole screen and creates a feeling of depth by moving the characters closer to the camera or distancing them from it. The storyboarding makes the whole scene much more intense as the characters move simultaneously over the screen so that you can literally feel the hecticness of the situation. It’s certainly one of the better episodes I’ve seen lately thanks to the fun moments and exciting action, and in contrast to Railgun I find the scenario and overall tone more appealing due to the lacking seriousness (at least that’s my impression based on #1 and #5). I don’t know if it’s a coincidence but the concept of episode 5 reminded me of Tears to Tiara #14 (also Hosoda‘s work) which was also about the exploration of an abandoned place, including an equally stunning final action scene. Maybe I’ll check out some more episodes of Kiddy Girl-and, the staff lists of #6 and #7 look also somewhat promising. Anyway, here’s the nice action scene of episode 5: