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Archive for the ‘Animator’ Category

 

I’ve been watching ‘Sasuga no Sarutobi’ (also called ‘The Academy of Ninjas’) up to episode 20 over the last few weeks, an 80s ninja/martial arts comedy that feels a lot like Ranma 1/2 if you ask me. It’s been quite a fun show so far (despite somewhat clichéd story and characters), which stems from the fact that the show really delivers on the animation side of things. It’s not a coincidence that this anime is frequently treated as a classic example of an 80s TV ‘sakuga anime’ after all. Besides the fact that they used an extraordinary number of drawings for each episode (6000-8000 animation frames per episode, so more than twice of a typical TV anime at the time), it’s particularly the animators and directors who used that luxury to do all kinds of interesting things. Studios like Kaname Production (best known for producing ‘Birth’), Anime R and Animaruya worked on the series as subcontractors, and those studios were usually the ones which did the most interesting episodes from an animation perspective. As for individual animators, the two people who renownedly stood out here were Masayuki and Yoshiji Kigami. In Kigami’s case, his animation on ‘Sasuga no Sarutobi’ is probably the work he’s best known for in the anime industry even to this day. When Kigami is mentioned by people within the industry, it’s usually in relation to ‘Sasuga no Sarutobi’, like in this Toshiyuki Inoue x Hiroyuki Imaishi x Yuichiro Oguro discussion. And Hiroyuki Kitakubo seems to associate Kigami primarily with ‘Sasuga no Sarutobi’, too.
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I guess it’s time for some words on Hiroyuki Kitakubo considering how much buzz he created recently. Ever since he opened his twitter account he and his tweets have become a regular topic on 2channel’s sakuga thread as he sure talks about interesting stuff. However, as person he strikes me as a bit arrogant and self-aggrandizing, at least judging by his tweets and messages I’ve exchanged with him. Since he’s following me on twitter and he doesn’t want me to make ‘advertisement’ for this Malaysian ‘shit anime’, I refrained from posting a direct link to here. Yeah, you read correctly, he’s hardly enthusiastic about this TV anime, but it’s somewhat understandable. He’s a director that always tries to gather the best people and who values talented staff above all, and now he has to work on a series for Malaysian kids which is produced in Malaysia, Philippines and China. I mean, he’s a high-profile director who won awards at Animation Kobe and Japan Media Arts Festival and now he has to work on this. As opposed to some news on the web he said he didn’t direct this anime, but had just an adviser role and he would protest at GONZO for this incorrect information. It’s obviously a job he doesn’t want to be associated with and also a job he doesn’t want to do but has to due to his financial situation or whatever, so it’s better to expect nothing of this. Yet what really bugs me is that ‘Satria – The Warriors of the 7 Elements’ is slated for Fall 2012 – that’s almost two years away. I hope this is not the only thing he works on in this period. However, I somehow suspect this could be the case since finding other work might also be pretty tough for him. Ever since he directed ‘BLOOD’, he hasn’t done much other notable work. There has been much speculation about the reasons, for example that he was fired from Production I.G. some time after ‘BLOOD’ (which makes sense since he’s never worked again there ever since). And he seems to have blown it with many other studios as well probably due to his slightly bad character. And there’s also a rumor that he was involved with the drugs scene back in 2006 and thus has now a hard time to find a job, but take this with a big grain of salt.
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Just wanted to post these two image compilations I’ve recently come across on 2ch. Credit goes to the anonymous 2channelers who created them, I just translated the names. Above one shows some of Japan’s most important animators at a glance, the image below a compilation of illustrations and drawings by notable animators. Comes in handy if you want some information on a certain animator’s style. And by the way, while I usually write Japanese names with given name first and surname second, I used the customary Japanese manner (surname first, given name second) in these images so that they match the characters.

 

 

Since there’s no illustration by Yutaka Nakamura in above picture, how about this one:

 

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These two K-ON! key animation collections sure are obligatory purchases if you’re interested in KyoAni‘s animation and want to find out how they breath life into the characters. They cover the most interesting cuts from episode 1 to 13 of the first season, with the only downside that they don’t name any animators and don’t display any time sheets. Of course, these books feature no extravagant action cuts but mostly KyoAni‘s low-key ‘everyday life’ character animation which happens to be the studio’s greatest strength. Among all of KyoAni‘s impressive work on TV series over the last six years, ‘K-ON!’ still stands out as the most interesting in terms of animation thanks to Yukiko Horiguchi‘s designs and her talent in directing the animation. With ‘K-ON! she found a nice balance between cartoony ‘Lucky Star’ aesthetics and the more realistically toned Kazumi/Shoko Ikeda designs. The animation style is somewhere between Shin-Ei Doga, Satoru Utsunomiya and the soft movement popularized by Tetsuya Takeuchi, which makes perfect sense, though. She started out working on a Shin-Ei Doga show after all, and she likes ‘Kamichu!’ (on which Takeuchi did quite some work) and like almost everyone else at KyoAni, she has been influenced by Yoshiji Kigami whose style can best be described as a cross between Shin-Ei Doga‘s philosophy and Utsunomiya. Anyway, I’ll write a follow-up post on KyoAni‘s animation directors and limit myself to just highlighting some of the most interesting shots from the book here, beginning with this one from the opening (bottom left shows the corresponding part of the storyboard):

 

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The recent NHK special created quite some buzz about Yoshinori Kanada‘s succession and by which standard his ‘successors’ should be determined, i.e. if it’s sufficient to just copy Kanada‘s style or if they have to be ‘men of revolutionary talent’ themselves and expand Kanada‘s style to a whole new level. Many weren’t satisfied with NHK choosing Seiya Numata as an example of a young animator who inherited Kanada‘s blood, even some professional animators mentioned on twitter that Hiroyuki Imaishi would have been a more appropriate choice. However, while I’m an avid fan of Hiroyuki Imaishi, I can also understand why NHK chose Numata for this feature. He’s a bit younger, hasn’t directed any anime yet (as series/chief director) and thus is still more of an ‘animator’, so he’s closer to the image most people might have of Yoshinori Kanada (who never directed any anime). And of course, Numata is also a very talented animator with an unmistakeable aura on the screen and much presence in TV anime in recent years. Following some words on Seiya Numata and his work for those who want to find more about him.

 

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Studio Ordet‘s long-awaited first project as main animation studio is finally here and it turned out pretty much as I’d expected. It’s a well produced OVA with nothing particularly new regarding content, but an enjoyable watch nevertheless. I was mildly impressed with Shinobu Yoshioka‘s directing skills, he did a pretty good job with setting the overall atmosphere. He depicted the characters rather low-key and not as forced as in your average bishoujo anime, which adds a lot to the believability and mood. I would like to see more bishoujo anime going into this direction, so more human-like characters without any disturbing, unbelievable traits. I can live with overly exaggerated characters in comedy series like ‘K-ON!!’ where they aim for a different kind of atmosphere, but in anime with a more serious tone they usually feel quite misplaced. It should go without saying that especially heartfelt and dramatic moments feel all the more stronger if the characters act in a way that the audience can relate to, and not just in the manner which the character category demands.

 

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Hironori Tanaka


On the occasion of ‘Ōkami-san to Shichinin no Nakama-tachi’ #3, I thought I might as well write a more extensive article on Hironori Tanaka [田中宏紀] (also known as ‘Hiroki’ Tanaka, but that’s the wrong reading), even though I’m aware that he’s one of the most famous and popular animator these days and probably needs no introduction to most sakuga fans. Either way, I’ll begin with some general information about his career/work and later move on to aforementioned episode.

 

Hironori Tanaka started out at Eagle Nest, a small studio doing subcontract work for other studios. As Toei Animation is one of their main clients, Tanaka was primarily involved with Toei‘s anime early on in his career, particularly with the ‘Pretty Cure‘ franchise. Tanaka first attracted attention with his incredibly fast and fancy ‘Pretty Cure’ action scenes, for which he still returns to Toei Animation now and then, most recently he worked on the two ‘Precure All Stars DX’ movies. Takashi Otsuka, the director of both movies, directed two of the best showcases of Tanaka‘s skills in Precure as well, to be exact ‘Yes! Precure 5GoGo!’ #4 and #18. In an interview he praised Tanaka for his skills and said that he had enough confidence in Tanaka to leave the battle scenes up to him. Otsuka wrote only a general instruction on the storyboard (a battle with the camera rotating around the action, so the kind of battle that has become Tanaka‘s trademark in ‘Precure’) and left the details to Tanaka, even though he said that he usually didn’t do this kind of irresponsible thing. The smooth and well-coordinated choreographies definitely prove that Tanaka had freedom in creating those scenes, I guess some of the other directors he worked with at Toei gave him the same kind of freedom.

 

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