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Archive for the ‘Spring Season’ Category

Lupin III – The Woman Called Fujiko Mine #1 staff:
Script: Mari Okada
Storyboard: Sayo Yamamoto
Episode Director: Toru Takahashi
Animation Director: Takeshi Koike

Occult Academy #11 – Lupin III: The Woman Called Fujiko Mine #1

 

Lupin III: Fujiko #1 – Occult Academy #11 – High School of the Dead #6

 
 

Lupin III – The Woman Called Fujiko Mine #1 staff:
Script: Mari Okada
Storyboard: Sayo Yamamoto
Episode Director: Toru Takahashi (Utena Ass. Director => Details)
Animation Director: Takeshi Koike

Lupin III: Fujiko – Utena – Penguindrum

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All four episodes of ‘K-ON!!’ that have aired so far were truly impressive in terms of production quality and very enjoyable as well. Somehow I feel that Kyoto Animation has changed a bit since their last series (Haruhi 2009), maybe it’s the experience of working on a theatrical movie. There has always been this absence of technical limitations in their approach – like how they don’t shy away from animating really complex shots that (nearly) nobody else would dare to attempt in TV anime – which is somewhat more noticeable in ‘K-ON!!’. I guess it’s indeed the spirit of their first movie project that carries over. Judging by the staff’s comments, KyoAni put even more effort than usual into ‘The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya’, so considering that they worked on it directly before ‘K-ON!!’ I’m not really surprised that their directors and animators still seem to stick to a more detail-oriented and movie-like approach.

 

As great as the first three episodes were, I still found episode 4 to be the most satisfying up to now. Katsuhiko Muramoto‘s script moved along in a nice pace and added some nice touches to the characters (particularly to Mio). The staging was really great as well since no one less than Ichirou Miyoshi aka Yoshiji Kigami was in charge of episode direction and storyboarding. As expected of such a great veteran animator with 30 years of experience, Kigami visualized the script with his usual care for details and fine sense for framing. There’s always something going on on the screen plus dense and nuanced movement everywhere, so quite in the tradition of Shin-Ei Douga (Shin-chan, Doraemon, etc.) where Kigami began his career. It’s not just one character that moves at one time (like in most other anime series), but several characters move at the same time which makes for this warm and lively mood. What I’ve always appreciated about KyoAni‘s work is that they keep the typical anime/manga exaggerations at a bearable minimum and concentrate instead on more or less realistic low-key acting. Investing so much effort into the acting makes even ‘K-ON!’s unrealistic characters seem more believable and adds a lot to their personality as well.

 

 

Anyway, Kigami and animation director Futoshi Nishiya filled this episode with wonderful animation that is quite effective in expressing the characters’ comical interplay. Really loved how Mio laughed and such, I felt that they paid extra attention to her drawings in this episode. The countless nuances both in the acting and staging probably originate in Kigami‘s detailed storyboarding. Just have a look at the maniacal preciseness of his storyboard of ‘Kanon 2006’ #17, these drawings have almost the quality and exactness of key frames.

 

 

The key animator list was quite short this time with only seven people credited. Chise Kamoi was there, I’m pretty sure that she animated the scene in the girls’ room near the end when they go to bed and Ritsu scares Mio with the flashlight. Those wobbly lines and red cheeks leave little doubt (the picture at the top of this post was drawn by her, btw). Kigami drew some key animation himself, though I’m not sure which parts he did since the whole episode feels pretty much like him. If I had to bet, I would say that he animated the pillow fight. For some more information on Kigami, check out this post.

 

 

Besides its impressive animation quality, it’s also the background art of episode 4 that caught my attention. They sure drew some beautiful artwork based on Kyoto locations. The backgrounds were created both in-house (Naoki Hosokawa) and external (Anime Workshop Basara). I assume that Hosokawa was in charge of the more recognizable Kyoto locations (like the temples) as they really stood out. And it shouldn’t be too difficult for Kyoto Animation‘s in-house staff to go location hunting in Kyoto…

 

Script: Katsuhiko Muramoto
Episode Director / Storyboard: Ichirou Miyoshi aka Yoshiji Kigami
Animation Director: Futoshi Nishiya
Key Animation: Yoshiaki Urata, Teruyoshi Shidou, Fumie Okano, Kunihiro Hane, Chise Kamoi, Ichirou Miyoshi, Futoshi Nishiya

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Spring Season 2010 is quickly approaching so it’s time for my preliminary overview. As usual, I leave out all sequels and anime that aren’t worth mentioning in my book:

 
High Expectations
 

♦ Yojo-han Shinwa Taikei

Masaaki Yuasa (Kaiba, Kemonozume, Mind Game) finally gets another chance to show his talent, though this time it’s not an original project but based on a novel. The animation is produced by Madhouse and the character designer is once again Nobutake Ito who created absolutely lovely character models for “Youjou-han”, I’m sure they look just as great in motion. The script supervisor is a new face (at least in the anime industry), namely Makoto Ueda who has only written live-action films so far (such as the time-travel movie “Summer Time Machine Blues”). Overall, “Yojo-han Shinwa Taikei” seems to be the most promising series this season, I can’t wait to see Yuasa‘s imaginative directing again as well as the work of the countless talented artists he tends to work with. And since it airs in Fuji’s noitaminA slot it will hopefully get the recognition it deserves.

 

♦ Sarai-ya Goyou

The other noitaminA series of this season looks also extremely promising with veteran director Tomomi Mochizuki helming the project, Kazuto Nakazawa designing the characters and Studio Manglobe as animation producer. Furthermore, it’s based on a manga by Natsume Ono who is known for adult works like “Ristorante Paradiso” and “Not Simple”. While I think that it won’t have the same kind of creativity and exciting vision of Yuasa‘s new series, I still expect an interesting plot supported by moody direction and good animation.

 
 
Medium Expectations
 

♦ Senkou no Night Raid

In contrast to the first anime of the “Anime no Chikara” project (So-ra-no-wo-to), it seems like “Senkou no Night Raid” will do justice to the project’s concept of creating interesting and – above all – original anime. However, maybe A-1 Pictures deliberately chose a fan-pandering show like “So-ra-no-wo-to” for the beginning to compensate for possible losses of more risky endeavors? Who knows. In any case, this one seems like a show that has lots of potential, especially the novel setting (China in the 1930s) is something I’ve never seen before in anime. And also something I’ve never expected to see in anime since Japan’s role in East Asia during the pre-World War II period is a pretty delicate matter. I’m not too familiar with Jun Matsumoto work and don’t know what to expect on the directing side of things, but the nice character designs by Keigo Sasaki are definitely in its favor. And A-1 Pictures usually delivers solid quality so I guess it won’t fall flat production-wise.

 

♦ Angel Beats!

The premise doesn’t sound too exciting, I grant, but the involved people make me hope that “Angel Beats!” will be something worthwhile after all. Jun Maeda – who is undoubtedly a capable writer – is both the original creator and script supervisor, so I believe that the final outcome will be much better than the story description makes it sound. As far as the animation studio is concerned, I expect the same level of high quality as with P.A. Works‘ former anime. Or even better, since they obviously put even more effort into it. The character designs by Katsuzo Hirata are decent and move pretty well as evidenced by the trailer. Speaking of the PV, I really dig the music so I look forward to hearing more of it. Seiji Kishi helms the project, not the best choice but at least he has lots of experience with comedy.

 

♦ Rainbow – Nisha Rokubō no Shichinin

The story description sounds completely different from all the other stuff this season, which is of course a big plus. It seems to feature a fairly realistic and depressing setting with focus on the characters. I certainly can see some potential, the questions is if the staff is capable of making the best of it. I can’t say much about the director’s (Hiroshi Koujina) previous works, but I hope he knows how to handle this kind of material. And I guess Madhouse doesn’t put too much effort into this anime (as with most manga adaptions), meaning that the animation quality will probably be nothing to speak of.

 
 
Low Expectations
 

♦ B Gata H Kei

I wasn’t particularly interested in this show until I heard that the team of Yusuke Yamamoto and Satoru Nishizono (Welcome to the NHK!) were going to be involved. Therefore, the result could be much better than one would expect due to the weird premise.

 

♦ Arakawa Under the Bridge

Finally, I get to see Yukihiro Miyamoto as series director again, and even on a series that isn’t “Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei”. He’s one of Shaft‘s best directors (right after Shinbou and Oonuma) and sure has some good sense for appealing staging, hence I hope to see him back in the episode director’s chair as well. In the case of “Maria Holic” it was the material that didn’t hold up very well, so let’s see what he and Shinbou can get out of a (seemingly) more interesting manga.

 

♦ HEROMAN

Well, it’s Bones animating a story by Stan Lee, so one could expect a nice change for once. However, truth be told, it doesn’t look too creative and seems to needlessly use all possible stereotypes, that’s why my expectations aren’t too high even if the production will apparently have the usual Bones quality.

 

♦ Kaichō wa Maid-sama!

Directed by Hiroaki Sakurai and produced by J.C. Staff. I don’t expect too much even though Sakurai is admittedly an experienced director.

 

♦ Working!

The first episode was nothing out of this world yet good enough to watch some more of it.

 

♦ Mayoi Neko Overrun!

I’m not too enthusiastic about this one, but since the director will reportedly change every episode, I suppose that there could be some decent work here and there. At least if AIC hired some talented directors for this project.

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