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Anime Industry Overview

 

So here’s the result of what I’ve been working on for quite a while now, with a long break inbetween, though. A recent tweet by washi gave me the decisive nudge to finish what I had begun. I’ve always been very interested in this meta aspect of anime and animation in general, since art is a cumulative process and you can always see the legacy of the past in every animation you watch. And with a meta perspective on the industry, many things suddenly begin to make sense. Very little in this sphere happens by chance, you just have to look a bit closer to find the connection. It was a lot of work to research all the relations especially between the older studios in anime’s early days, but it certainly was worth the effort since I had several ‘aha experiences’ while delving into this subject matter.

 

The above chart shows the origins of most anime studios, but keep in mind that I didn’t bother to distinguish between investments in subsidiaries (like I.G=>XEBEC) and producers/directors/etc. going independent (like Satelight=>GoHands). There might be some mistakes as I haven’t carefully looked over it a second time, so tell me if you notice anything. I’m aware that some minor studios aren’t on this chart, and I included some important production companies (such as Aniplex and ADK) which aren’t anime studios, but they play a crucial role in understanding the structure of this industry. If you have any questions, feel free to comment below.

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One of the most promising young anime directors that has come on the scene during the last decade is Takayuki Hirao [平尾隆之], who first came into my awareness with his work as episode director on certain Madhouse shows. As the picture on top of this entry (Animage 11/2008) indicates, he can be considered as part of the influential generation of directors in their 30s. That Animage article/discussion also featured two other talents of the same generation, namely Tetsuro Araki and Ryousuke Nakamura, and that not by accident. All three started their careers at Madhouse with Hirao and Araki even working on the same projects (such as ‘Jubei-chan’ and ‘Card Captor Sakura’ movie) as production assistants, so it’s not surprising that they became good friends in private life as well.
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So after neglecting this blog for two months due to being incredibly busy, I guess it’s already time for a next season preview again, even though I’m a bit late this time. Anyway, below you can find my expectations and preliminary thoughts on the upcoming series. As usual, stuff I’m not interested in and sequels are excluded.
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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:

 

 

The new anime fall season is nearly upon us so I guess it’s time for my preview. As usual, it’s not about just mentioning each and every upcoming series, but about those I’ve some expectations for. Therefore, I’ll ignore most of those unwatchable cookie-cutter anime that make up a significant part of each season’s line-up. Sequels are excluded as well.
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K-ON! Key Animation Books

 

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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