Now that I have finished watching this rather generic series, I want to point out the only episode that is a real achievement in my eyes: GoHands’ #10.
Overall, Seiken no Blacksmith suffers from the typical problems of most light novel adaptions as it neglects proper storytelling in favor of ridiculous otaku-centric plot devices, it’s simply hard to take anime with little girls in major roles seriously. The story and the behaviour of most female characters are consequently coined by otaku taste, but it admittedly had some fun bits here and there and I didn’t expect much story-wise anyway – yet I’m still disappointed to see a series of that kind from manglobe. With Michiko to Hatchin they introduced so many great characters – also one of the most mature little girls I’ve seen in anime – but that was from a different director and writer and above all – an original project.
Anyway, Episode 10 has noticeably more dynamic animation and interesting posing as well as solid layouts and some nice bits of background animation, all in all comparable to Princess Lover #1. Unsurprisingly, the three key animators of PL #1 – Shingo Suzuki, Hiroshi Okubo and Kouichi Kikuta – were also involved in Blacksmith #10 (among some other GoHands animators). Okubo and Kikuta handled most of the exciting action sequence of the second half which convinces through the power and impressiveness of Okubo‘s parts (great camera motion and background animation) and Kikuta‘s fancy drawings and framing. Latter has a very obvious style which reflects his past as gif animator – his drawings may be rather rough (reminscent of other gif animators like Shingo Yamashita) but his morphing of the designs into interesting shapes and offbeat proportions make the actual movement turn out very satifying. Kikuta‘s approach to timing and layouting is similarly interesting, he tends to move the characters quite a lot within the given frame and often moves the backgrounds/camera to achieve a more dynamic effect (even if there’s sometimes a bit too loose connection of animation and the BG art), apparently Kikuta attracted some attention with his interesting layout style since he was entrusted with creating the layouts for Princess Lover! #2 and #8. In 2007, he created a short for the online contents site GyaO! [youtube] which provides some information about his style (and also regarding his liking of yuri…). Below some cuts which were animated by him (from Princess Lover! and Seiken no Blacksmith):
Staff list of Seiken no Blacksmith #10:
Screenplay: Masashi Suzuki
Storyboard: Masamitsu Hidaka
Episode Director: Yuuichi Sugio
Animation Director: Jun Nakai
Key Animation: Shingo Suzuki, Hiroshi Okubo, Kazuaki Imoto, Makoto Furuta, Kouichi Kikuta, Hidemi Kanazama, Yuki Terano, Takayuki Uchida, Yuuichi Sugio, Ai Ishimori