Animator Spotlight: Takahito Sakazume [坂詰嵩仁]

Twitter: https://twitter.com/to__kage // Sakugabooru: https://sakugabooru.com/post?tags=takahito_sakazume

-Born on January of 1988, Takahito Sakazume is one of the youngest known animators on the industry, being only twenty-nine years old.

-Like a lot of animators on recent years, he is member of the famous webgen movement, a group of animators that got started on a non-conventional way on  anime, they started posting gifs on internet and they after some time got scout by industry people, on the case of Sakazume, he already knew Tatsuya Yoshihara since their were students, being him is senior during that time, and also Yoshihara was the first one to enter on the anime industry, calling Sakazume to participate on his directorial debut, Muromi-San, when Sakazume was only 25 years old, being one of the major players on the Tatsunoko Pro series, where he did KA 4 eps plus the OVA.

-I already mentioned Yoshihara, but the 27-year-old animators Shun Enokido and Ryu Nakayama are also fundamental on Sakazume’s development since they work together often as an animator unit, that i like to call TakaRyuShun, like if it was a megazord or something, maybe i should add Yoshihara and made it TakaRyuTatsuShun.

-After working on Muromi-San, he stayed on Tatsunoko Pro, being called to work on Ryoochimo’s directorial debut Yozakura Quartet, where he worked with the TakaRyuShun team on eps 6, 9 and 13, the second one directed by Tatsuya Yoshihara, completing the TakaRyuTatsuShun formation.

-He made his design debut on Tatsuya Yoshihara’s third TV series Monter Musume no Iru Nichijou, where he did Prop Design and participated as Key Animator on an impressive 8 episodios of the series! On this series he also did In-Between Animation for his own scene on the third episode, making it still his most impressive feat on TV anime, showing at the heights of his powers on that series.

-He gained mainstream following since the Fate/Grand Order commercials surged, animated by him and Shun Enokido, an impressive display of flashy and speedy webgen animation spectacle, that impressed even the most skeptical animation purist and the most ignorant of casual anime viewers, being known since then thanks to his Fate/ work, where he is working on right now as Action Director on the new series of the franchise, Fate/Apocrypha, series that already on the first episode animated a impressive 4-minute scene at the very beginning of the episode on team with Shun Enokido.

-His style consist of stilted animation clearly inspired by Tatsuya Yoshihara, fast paced movements and clean smears, with realistic fabric animation and impact frames reminiscent of Yutaka Nakamura’s modern style, making it a impressive combination of his inspirations.

-Tatsuya Yoshihara is directing Black Clover at Pierrot, hoping that he shows up there since i’m probably the biggest Pierrot follower on earth, and i will really happy of him being there to deliver some impressive action cuts on such a mediocre shounen series.

 

 

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Script: Respecting the late Kazunori Mizuno

This was the original script for Canipa’s Respecting the late Kazunori Mizuno video, written on April 2017.

The 19th of March of 2017, on the studio Pierrot, a famous japanese animation studio known by their Shounen shows, a director of the studio was taking a nap, after working without rest during days, probably on their new series Boruto: The Next Generations, a series that was going to be the debut of young animator Hiroyuki Yamashita as Series Director, that director was a big friend of his, even doing the storyboard on the eleventh opening of the previous series, Naruto: Shippuuden, on which Yamashita did animation supervisor’s work, said director never got up and died on the studio, he was going to celebrate thirty years as Episode Director on 2018, and was going to see one of his youngsters do his debut as Series Director on the small screen with his biggest friend, Noriyuki Abe, supervising him.

 

His name was Kazunori Mizuno.

 

A few days after it, Kazuyoshi “Yagi” Yaginuma and Ken’ichi Fujisawa, two greatly talented animators that were working on the studio at the time, announced his death on Twitter, after no official announcement of the studio was made, the causes of the death are still a mystery, but everything points out that the case was a heart failure for overwork and chronic sleep deprivation, apparently he was having trouble to work properly for the amount of work that he did, and used that excuse to take a nap, where the sad event happened.

 

But let’s shed some light about who is this director and why should we care about it, shall we?

 

Kazunori Mizuno entered on the industry really young, as a Production Assistant on studio Pierrot, with only twenty-two years, he was lucky enough to receive a steady and fast promotion thanks to his incredible work ethics and talent to justify it, even being so young, he had ambition and he had the talent to be promoted to Episode Director with only one year as Production Assistant, and even more was his joy when he was permited to do his first storyboard outside of Pierrot on the Tatsunoko I.G OVA series Yagami-kun’s Family Affairs, where he worked along some of industry best animators like Yoshinori Kanada and Kazuchika Kise, and on the next years, he continued working on small OVA and TV projects with talented people, more particularly, he was a big friend of veteran animator Yoshiyuki Kishi, and he worked on everything that he was on.

 

A few years passed on, and then, the opportunity of his life came, Noriyuki Abe approached him on Pierrot to work on his new series, Yu Yu Hakusho, the anime adaptation of one of the hottest manga of that time, penned by Yoshihiro Togashi, its anime adaptation was hyped and Noriyuki Abe reunited a team of young, talented directors and animators to make it work, every one of them was trying to surpass each other constantly, a real race to see who does the best episode, and of the storyboaders, Kazunori Mizuno and Akiyuki Shinbo presented the strongest game, with a unique approach to photography and a ceratain beauty coming from their storyboards, even the action ones were superb with their clever use of angles and exciting as few photography.

 

After Yu Yu Hakusho, he directed a small, unknown AIC OVA called Kishin Corps that didn’t really take off, and returned to Pierrot on 1995 after not being present on the last cour of Yu Yu Hakusho, to work on the next Noriyuki Abe’s series Ninku, that was the debut as Character Designer of a really young and promising animator called Tetsuya Nishio, that was making waves on the industry thanks to his unique approach on character acting, that we can see even today. Kazunori Mizuno’s episodes were the most talent grabbing of the whole Ninku series, where his striking boards presented a perfect opportunity for people like the then young Yutaka Nakamura show off his talents, Kazunori Mizuno’s talent to do convincing action scenes was again probed, and he delivered, with the help of such talented animators that were always at disposition to help him out.

 

Some years after, on the new millenium, after passing a lot of time working at Madhouse on series like Trigun, Cardcaptor Sakura and Hajime no Ippo, where, he, by the way, did his first opening on the latter and after that while, he reunited with his old pal Akiyuki Shinbo on The Soultaker, being on charge of the very penultimate episode of the series, to show how much he was trusted by a legend like Shinbo to do striking work on his series.

 

Before diving into his Bleach years, let’s talk about his first full series directorial debut, Zoid Genesis, the sequel to the classic Zoids series, that at time was highly anticipated by some sakuga fans because the fact that talented animator Kyuta Sakai was on charge of the character designs, but even with the amount of talented people working on it, it didn’t worked too well, messy production was the major cause of it, a lot of outsourcing and scheduling problems ended up on a pretty regular series with only a few highlights far in-between on Seiya Numata’s episodes, most exactly, the episode twenty eight, directed by Numata’s himself, giving Mizuno one of the first chances to that young, promising animator, as Abe did with him, to direct a full episode.

 

While working on Bleach, he worked various time with his old pal Shinbo on Hidamari Sketch, Nanoha and the Monogatari series, developing a interesting style on his layouts and color design, with flat shadows and more profundity than before on the drawings, that reflected on his work, specially on his Bleach OPs, were all the tricks that he learned for Noriyuki Abe and Akiyuki Shinbo were put on practice on the openings six, nine, ten and twelve, all of them with a incredibly interesting and unique take on color design and photography, that make his work stand out when compared to the other directors, and created striking visuals only with the power of good color design and complex layouts.

 

His general work on Bleach is something to look at to: Twenty eight episodes, Four openings and Three movies during seven years, standing a lot compared with his contemporaries on the studio for his unique takes on photography and color design, creating beautiful images, and his action storyboards, that were some of the bests to look at, with over the top, well choreographed action that capture your eyes, and that are some really good examples of the Rule of the Cool, enhanced by Masashi Kudo’s excellent designs too.

 

After Bleach was finished, he moved to Naruto, where he did his debut on the episode 294, part of the Chikara saga, a special arc directed by Toshiyuki Tsuru that showed off the strengths of the production’s best staff, and after doing his episode on that, he continued on the series as the to-go director for important action episodes, taking part on the most strikingly directed episodes of the series, as Storyboarder or as Episode Director, his work presented dynamic camera, a unique color design and excellent layouts to elevate his episodes to another level, as well as his openings and endings, such as the 24th ending, one of what, I consider, is one of the best endings ever made.

 

The last aired episode of him was the episode 499, the penultimate episode of the series, a goofy light-hearted episode to end the storyline before the final episode that finished off the cycle, giving pass to a new generation.

 

This is another sad case of the crude reality of the industry, people are overworked and paid with the minimum, this, the case of Yuka Sugizaki last year [that was sadly ignored by a lot of the community, even when she was only twenty and so years old] and the production assistant of A-1 Pictures five years ago are not simple cases of “Animators” dying, but are cautionary tales about the possible future of the industry, or what will happen if the offer continue being more than the demand and the fans [and the staff themselves] doesn’t insist on better quality, better schedules and better work circumstances.

 

Studios like ufotable, Kyoto Animation, GoHands or White Fox are making waves to the change: Paying animators, production assistants & directors stable, monthly wages, doing only one or two anime for year, to keep the offer low, and not overwork themselves, and keeping their staff in-house happy and controlled, even of the driest of the situations by trying to aim for better schedules, may or not like their work, they are indeed making advances to make a better industry.

 

We should care about these cases because if we care about it, we are opening the industry to a brighter future, these are not simple cases of “Animators” killing themselves for their art because they are Japanese and you know, Japanese work a lot because they want, or at least, that what stereotypes says, the crude reality is that they are on a industry were you have to work to get a good pay, even if is at cost of your life, and that needs to change, is not going to change immediately tomorrow but we have to strive for change so talented creators like him or Yuka Sugizaki wouldn’t pass for the same destiny a few years from now.

 

Boruto: The Next Generations #1: Thoughts

Boruto: The Next Generations


Episode #1:

Storyboard/Episode direction: Hiroyuki Yamashita
Animation directionMasayuki Kouda
Assistant animation director: Koji Yabuno

Key AnimationMasayuki Kouda, Yuko Matsui, Koji Yabuno, Ken’ichi Fujisawa,  Youko Suzuki, Ayako Sato, Tatsuya Koyanagi, Chengxi Huang, Ichiro Uno, Masayuki Sato, Megumi Tomita, Eri Taguchi, Haruka Iida, Hiroyuki Itai, Tomoaki Mimiura, Nanako Hyuga, Miho Matsuura, Ranko Nakabayashi, Rena Kawasaki, Ayako Kanemaru, Sue Ikezu, Koichi Takai, Kanchi Suzuki


Opening #1:

Storyboard/Episode directionNoriyuki Abe
Animation directionTetsuya Nishio

Key AnimationHiroto Tanaka, Yuko Matsui, Ayako Sato, Ichiro Uno, Noriko Otake, Fumiyo Kimura, Chengxi Huang, Tatsuya Koyanagi, Youko Suzuki, Daisuke Tsumagari, Megumi Tomita, Haruki Nakagawa, Masaaki Funae, Ken’ichi Fujisawa, Yukie Yamamoto, Tetsuya Nishio


-First thing first: That opening scene was really good, beside the obvious spoiler from the manga, the animation was incredibly well made, work of the young chinese animator Chengxi Huang, the animation on that scene is weighty and make it feel like it’s something relevant, you can feel every step and movement, and the scene gets stuck on your head, to make sure that you can clearly remember that scene forty episodes later

-That is also kind of a gimmick to the Naruto Shippuuden series, that started on a incredibly well animated that wasn’t featured on the series itself until around the episode forty-two!

-The rest of episode was on majority, a presentation one, giving to spectator a overview of the main characters and also a idea about the major themes on this anime, this time, while the first series was about friendship and exclusion, this time is about family and passing the torch, and they execute it pretty fine on this episode, marking the similarities of Boruto, the child of the Hokage and the kid, the child of the president of a major corporation, both trying to demonstrate that they can get to the level of their parents.

-They also talk about the passage of time, always zooming out how Konoha changed with the years, and apparently parkour and trains being the most popular forms of transportation now [xD], and since we’re talking about it, really good use of parkour to give the character a dynamic movement while showing off Konoha’s new look.

-The animation was sillier than usual, with a lot of little gags and gimmicks, like Shino losing the color of the shame when Boruto comes and crash a fucking train on his father’s face, or using hamburgers as a lethal weapon versus bullies.

-The layouts and backgrounds also look more polished than usual, as expected from the new series director that seems to be pivoting all the elements of this anime to a better point that its predecessor: Hiroyuki Yamashita.

-Including the designs, by Tetsuya Nishio, looking way better than the original ones, while keeping the Kishimoto’s style, Nishio’s looks a lot more stylized and realistic, giving the characters a more mature look while keeping they simple and recognizable.

-The three majors names on the KA list are definitely Chengxi Huang, Ken’ichi Fujisawa and Kanchi Suzuki.

-Chengxi Huang is a young chinese animator that has been making waves on the industry recently, he started out as a simple outsourced animator, but with the time, he growed imitating Hiroyuki Yamashita’s style and he developed as one of the better animators of the last year of the Naruto Shippuden’s series. Recently he did eleven cuts for A-1 Pictures super-production’s Sword Art Online: Ordinal Scale, and he is shaping up as one of the best and youngest big animators.

-Kanchi Suzuki is another young star, part of this newer movement of webgen animation along with the likes of Ripa, Ryu Nakayama, Itsuki Tsuchigami, China, etcetera, Suzuki didn’t stand out as big as them, but he captivated Masaaki Yuasa’s attention, who enlisted him on Sciene SARU, where he did Garo’s second opening and Shin-Chan’s movie 23. He worked extensively on Osomatsu-San, being one of the main animators along with Ken’ichi Fujisawa and Eiji Abiko, so it’s kind of a no brainer that he appeared here, along with the fact that he worked on The Last: Naruto The Movie, where Hiroyuki Yamashita was storyboarder, sakkan and key animator.

-Ken’ichi Fujisawa is a already established webgen star, starting out around 2008 on Studio Guts, where he remained unknown until he became freelance and starting pumping out incredible work all over the industry, from Tatami Galaxy to Precure, and from Precure to Naruto, where he worked on various of the best episodes of the series, including animated a 1/4 of the episode #375, one of the most impressive episodes of the series, a incredible episode that don’t belong to TV Anime at all, directed by Hiroyuki Yamashita, and animated only by four animators: Ken’ichi Fujisawa, Naoki Kobayashi, Emi Kouno and Tatsuya Koyanagi, that ended up being a sakuga fan’s wet dream. With that, and the fact that he was one the main animators of Osomatsu-San, where he did his debut director on the episode #18, another particular episode that doesn’t belong to Anime to begin with, with a army of webgen’s best talents delivering their sharper and goofiest works, it is pretty obvious his appearance here.


-The opening screams: “Noriyuki Abe!” since its very beginning, it reminds me a lot of his Bleach’s openings and obviously, Tsuritama’s poppy opening that he directed.

-As these ones, this one delivered a look on the urban, modern life of Konoha, with a pop art-inspired artistic sensibilities and some awesome’s integrated credits, that are not really that integrated, but they fit well with the images, thing that reminds me of his Bleach’s opening fifteen.

-The tune wasn’t quite catchy, i already forgotten everything about how it sounds, not a fan of KANA-BOON’s tunes, they are kind of good, but they aren’t catchy enough to actually be remembered for someone that isn’t a die-hard fan.

-The KA list was pretty regular, that surprised me, since a usual Naruto opening is full of big names, even the ones that didn’t really moved still featured people like Norio Matsumoto and Naoki Kobayashi, i guess that they are busy with Shingeki no Bahamut Second Season [That i’m going to cover up soon…] The biggest names were the already mentioned Chengxi Huang and Ken’ichi Fujisawa, along with the character designer’s Tetsuya Nishio, that is obviously expected, since well, he is the character designer and the animation director, after all, really this opening didn’t needed that much of big names, surely the second opening will feature more of them.


-To finish, Ichiro Uno and Koji Yabuno have been promoted to Sub-Character Designers, congratulations to them!

-And on a sadder note, Kazunori Mizuno sadly died the 19 of March, apparently the cause was overworking, he was taking a nap on the studio and never got up, being only fifty two years old, he is going to be always remembered as one of Pierrot’s best directors, and we would see some posthumous credits on this series, since he was a big friend of both directors and they obviously were working on this the time of his death, my condolences to his friends and family, is a great lost to the anime industry, such talented people killed off by the incredibly bad conditions of this industry is a shame, and a sign that we need to change this, give better working conditions and better schedules, for the mere surviving of this wonderful medium, they need to try to change it, of cases like that will keep occurring again and again.

I finish this with a Kazunori Mizuno’s work, that i consider to be one of the best openings ever made:

Boku no Hero Academia Second Season #1: Thoughts.

Boku no Hero Academia Second Season:


Episode #1

Storyboard: Kenji Nagasaki

 Episode directionSetsumu Dogawa
Animation Direction: Takahiro Komori, Tsunenori Saito

Key AnimationYoshiyuki Kodaira, Kazumi Inadome, Takuya Saito, Kenta Ikeda, Minami Sakura, Ayaka Kawai, Noriko Morishima, Yuko Danki, Miyuko Matsumoto, Nobuhiko Kawakami, Yuka Shibata, Takuma Nakamura, Tomomi Noda, Miho Kato

Junichi Hayama, Takahiro Komori, Tsunenori Saito

-This episode was clearly a introduction one, setting the stage for the future and classic, shounen manga tournament arc, while giving a quick recap to the things that happened the last season, while talking about the character’s motivations to be heroes and the possibilities that the tournament can give to them.

-Personally, i think that the recap of the beginning of the episode was kind of excessive, like, we really need 6 minutes of recap after having a entire episode of recap footage one week ago, that was necessary?, and even after the recap, they keep talking about Shigaraki’s personality and action, that didn’t really needed, since, we can guess by ourselves, but since this is a series clearly aimed to teenagers…

-The major point on this episode, however, was the tournament, a opportunity to all the students to be distinguished by heroes of all around Japan, and enter on agencies as sidekicks, giving them a extra of motivation to do it.

-Ochako’s motivation were wonderfully explained thanks to Kenji Nagasaki’s simple, yet pretty effective storyboard, that while maintained a clear simplicity, still has a lot of room for funny details and down to earth drama every now and then, like on this episode, that was full of fun character interaction while having some issues about the evolution of the villains on a more simple form and Ochako’s motivations to be a hero.

-The animation was, on overall, pretty decent, with a lot of funny moments every now and then, while maintained it always on-model by the BONES pillars Takahiro Komori and Tsunenori Saito, as well as the good list of overall decent-to-good BONES longtime associates, such as Kazumi Inadome and Yoshiyuki Kodaira.

-The major surprise on the KA list is Junichi Hayama, that definitely is on here because  Yoshihiko Umakoshi’s involvement on Tiger Mask W, series on which Junichi Hayama is the series action animation director, where Umakoshi did the first ending on the series, a pretty simple rendition of the old school’s style of the first series, and for so, Junichi Hayama appeared on this first ep, credited along with the animation supervisors on a separated KA credit.

-Another [good] surprise was Yuka Shibata presence on the KA list, seems like she still hasn’t planned his future after leaving ufotable, and for now, she keeps pumping out freelance work for BONES, Khara and Trigger, all of them places where she have ex-GAINAX friends working on.

Opening #1

Storyboard/Episode directionYasuyuki Kai
Animation Direction: Yoshihiko Umakoshi

Key AnimationTsunenori Saito, Takahiro Komori, Kazumi Inadome, Takashi Mitani, Yuko Danki, Mino Matsumoto, Takuya Yoshihara, Minami Sakura, Yuka Shibata, Masaya Sekizaki

Washio, Osamu Murata, Aiko Oura, Takafumi Hino, Itsuki Tsuchigami, Anna Yamaguchi, Hironori Tanaka, Hideki Takahashi

Yasuyuki Kai, Koichi [Yuki] Hayashi

-This opening marks Yasuyuki Kai’s first major contribution to a non-Haikyuu project since 2013, he has spent the last four years being Haikyuu’s main Action Animation Director, correcting the drawings of the matches and doing lots and lots of stock footage, as well as doing his directorial on the second opening of the second season, which is full of well crafted and detailed animation all the way through.

-This opening wasn’t as visually creative as Hakuyu Go’s opening for the first season, but it is still a pretty impressive opening for an animation standpoint, specially on its second half, personally, i don’t quite like the song as much as the first season’s one, so, maybe on it resides the problem.

-The special detail on the legs and the routine exercises of the students was pretty nice, with all of them preparing for the tournament where it can decide their destiny, it was a good touch.

-The KA list is again full of BONES regulars and a lot of youngsters that i’m not really familiar with them, being the major stars four names: Hideki Takahashi, Itsuki Tsuchigami, Hironori Tanaka, and Yuki Hayashi.

-For those who didn’t knew him, Hideki Takahashi was one of the major players under the breath-taking Haikyuu’s volleyball matches, giving to the series a lot of great scenes, as well as being one of the main animators of the series along with the already mentioned Yasuyuki Kai, Takahiro Chiba, Shinji Suetomi and Bo Ya Liang, with this scene animated by him of the S2 #24 being one of the best scenes of realistic animation that i have seen on years, and while being considerably old, Hideki Takahashi is just being giving exposure now, which is a shame, since he is really good.

-Itsuki Tsuchigami, also known as miso, was one of the main animators of the first season, and seems like he is coming back for this second season, his work on the S1 was consistently great, so i’m more wonderful work on this season!

-Hironori Tanaka and Yuki Hayashi really i don’t have the need to present, since everyone pretty knows them since years for now, they are two of the most prolific animators on the TV industry, and both being raised on Toei grounds, with the second one still belonging to Toei even while working with everyone else while still sitting on Toei and receiving his paycheck on the mail, really good strategy if you ask me, using a pen name, however, “Koichi” Hayashi, that don’t really convince to nobody but Toei, so, i’m happy for him being able to diversify his work because of that.

Ending #1

Storyboard/Episode directionNaomi Nakayama
Animation Direction: Yoshihiko Umakoshi

Key AnimationHitomi Odashima

-The ending was nothing really destacable, pretty nice, the drawings were very beautiful and the direction was pretty regular, is just a random ending to fill space at the last minute and half of the minute, i’m not really going to remember it on a while.

-The major surprise was the director, that was supposedly busy doing work on the Orange Movie, but since she is one of Umakoshi’s friends, she appeared on this, hopefully she can stuck here, because she is a awesome director.

-The unique animator was Hitomi Odashima, a animator that i have absolute unfamiliarity with, apparently is a very young BONES-based animator that was given this opportunity casually, since she is very acquainted with Studio C, the BONES sub-studio that is producing this season of BokuHero, while the S1 was produced by Studio A, that is too busy with Kekkai Sensen S2.

Philosophy and Ghost in the Shell – Ghosts.

On the Ghost in The Shell universe, a Ghost [ゴースト] is the conciousness of the individual, and the only thing that differentiates a human from an android, regardless of how much mechanical material you have on your body, as long as you have a ghost, you still maintain humanity and individuality.

Said concept was clearly borrowed from “The Ghost In The Machine”, by Arthur Kloester, being said term coined by Gillbert Ryle to describe the dualism of mind-body relation, Shirow, Ryle and Kloester, all of them share the thought  that a person’s mind is not a independent entity, just habiting temporarily the body of a person, here, Kloester argues that the human brain has evolved, how it has retained and built over more primitive brain structures, and these primitive layers sometimes overcome the logic, creating emotions like anger, hate, fear, etc.

On the case of Shirow, he describes the “Ghost” like something broader, taking on account the whole body, like, for example, if a organ was removed, then the “Ghost” of the organ is vanished until it is replaced by a mechanical substitute and the existence of that organ is reproduced, being the brain only a part of that neural network, a part of the “Ghost”.

The “Ghost” also borrows elements from the Theseus Paradox, one experiment that raises the thought whether if all the components of a object are replaced, that object is still the same object, that is represented on Kusanagi, that reproduces the neural stimulus of all her organs to maintain her ghost even if she transfers on another body, and the Ghost-dubbing, where the body copy with the same ghost is inferior than the original, being the most successful case on the series the Marcelo Garti one, where they can reproduce his ghost on different bodies unlimited times, being almost identical, but not being the same at the end of the day, proving with that, the Theseus Paradox.

It also borrows from Hegel’s concept of the Geist, being the Geist the spirit/mind of a individual, that is divided into Subjective [Inner Self], Objective [Interpersonal] and Absolute [Someone that knows itself and its goals], being on Shirow’s work, these three phases of the Geist combinated a “Ghost”.

These three elements are the major philosophical concepts behind the concept of the “Ghost” and pretty much explains the complete scence of the concept, that without being too convoluted, is basically representing the humanity of a individual, using these concepts as a base.

 

Animator Spotlight – Eiji Abiko

Eiji Abiko [安彦 英二]【あびこ えいじ】

-Starting out on AIC, and then moving to Studio Junio, Abiko did his debut on the industry with the episode 27 of the anime Virtua Fighter, produced by Tokyo Movie Shinsha and aired between 1995 and 1996.
-However, he didn’t started to stand out as a animator until the early 2000s, he was a very versatile mechanical and action animator on that time, but he feels actually more in love with character animation.
-His style of character animation is incredibly subtle and realistic, the characters moves on a realistic, soft and believable way, his drawings aren’t Jin-Roh realistic either, his drawings are soft and warm.
-He has gained more attention during the last years thanks to being one of the major players behind the animation of the two mega-hits Osomatsu-San and Yuri on ICE!!
-It was said that on Osomatsu-San, there was a “Matsu Room”, where him, Kanta Suzuki, and Naoyuki Asano, played around making a lot of noise to make interesting ideas for the anime, kind of a school club, and they remember it fondly, since the studio give them freedom to do everything that they wanted.
-After being a major player on Michiko to Hatchin and being the animation supervisor of her Animator’s Expo short Endless Night, Sayo Yamamoto called him out to do the perfomances on Yuri on ICE!!
-His perfomances are pretty much the best of Yuri on ICE!!, the characters move with beauty and grace, on a realistic, yet soft and sensible way, giving it a incredibly realistic and unique feeling to the, they feel alive, even if it’s only during the perfomances, since the rest of the series is animated on a very perfunctory manner, the perfomances are something unique to look at, since you comprehend, with the animation, why the characters feels the perfomances as something beautiful, and make you feel in love with the sport.
-He also was a major player on the Mushishi anime, where he was one of the main animation supervisors, giving a it a soft, realistic aura to the animation of the characters, creating some of the most breathtaking moments of the series, such as the end of the episode #2 of Mushishi Zoku Shou, with a masterful use of background and character animation, on a very unique and perfect piece of animation, on a otherwise limited, yet, well animated, series.
-Making his first gigs as storyboarder very recently, he presents a really great understanding of framing and movement on animation, with great moments where you can really feel that he understands these -sometimes- marginated aspects of animation.
-He’s really connected with anime director Sayo Yamamoto, director Hiroshi Nagahama, animator Naoyuki Asano and anime studio Manglobe, giving the best of him where he is working with them.

The Animation of Hunter x Hunter 1999 – Part Two: DEEN/Nippon Animation Supervisors

Masaaki Kannan [河南 正昭]

His style was pretty much the basic of the series: Regular, rect lines, big, round eyes, big and rect eyebrows and pointy hair, with a little, pointy nose to finish his sample of the characters, the animation of his episodes were mostly functional, not a lot flashy, most concentrated on maintaing solid drawings than on good animation, with basic layouts and very basic, and honestly, soul-less movements and expressions, keeping it on a very safe place.

He also maintained a very solid, although, not stellar, team of DEEN’s animators, studio where he belonged, and still belongs until today, that was brought by Kazuhiro Furuhashi because his participation on Rurouni Kenshin a few years before, ending up on this anime, where he did some important episodes, such as the very first one, he abandoned the production after Zoldyck Family Arc and didn’t appeared once on the Genei Ryodan arc, nor on the OVAs.

Also, he has sometimes some quality animation by members of Studio Mu and Studio Takuranke, that once a while did Key Animation on his episodes, such as Eiji Komatsu.

Key Animators:
Hiromi Oikawa [及川ひろみ]
Emi Sakamoto [ さかもとえみ]
Yoshitaka Sato [佐藤良隆]
Takao Takegami [竹上貴雄]
Toshio Deguchi [出口としお]
Fumino Fujii [藤井文乃]
Masahiro Furihata [降旗昌弘]
Shogo Morishita [森下昇吾]
Kazuhiko Abe [阿部和彦]
Chikara Sakurai [桜井親良]
Sumiko Matsumoto [松本澄子]
Masaru Hyodo [兵渡勝]

Not Regular Key Animators:
Shinobu Tagashira [田頭しのぶ]
Mayumi Oda [小田真弓]
Eiji Komatsu [小松英司]
Akihide Saito [斎藤明英]
Ryo Komori [小森良]
Takuji Abe [あべたくじ]
Mamoru Abiko [安彦守]
Tomoaki Kado [門智昭]
Hitoshi Suzuki [鈴木仁史]
Koji Hirama [平馬浩司]

Episodes that he appeared: #1, #5, #9, #13, #19, #24, #30, #36

Tateru Namikaze [波風 立流]

His style is principally round faces and eyes, pointy noses, big and round eyebrows, the drawings on his episodes are a lot more similar than the ones that you can found on Pokemon that the ones of the series itself, making it a anomaly into the series, a episode that look straight out of Pokemón on the third episode of Hunter x Hunter, the animation on the episode was pretty average, nothing stand out for looking either really good or really bad, except a standout scene that i still don’t know who animated it at the half of the ep, just as average as you can be on this series, also, his staff was pretty much the same as Masaaki Kannan, but with more members of Studio Mu into it.

Episodes that he appeared: #3

Takayuki Hirao

kara_no_kyoukai_5

-He, at first, wanted very hardly to be a mangaka, but with the time, he decided to instead, try a career on anime industry, entering on the Osaka Design Vocational School, after spending two years here, he was employed by Tokyo Studio Madhouse.

-He started out on the studio as a Production Assistant, as early as 1999, with him being only twenty years old, debuted on the Akitaro Daichi’s anime Jubei-Chan as a Production Assistant, and spent approximately four years on that position

-After being trained under  Kou Matsuo, he finally did his debut on TV anime with the episode eight of Hiroshi Hamasaki’s full series directorial debut: Texhnolyze

-With only one year of entering as Episode Director, he was charged with his more important role so far: Being the episode director of Paranoia Agent’s episode one, and process Satoshi Kon’s storyboard, at the end, he did a good job at it, doing assistant episode director duties on other six episodes, including the final episode and one of the best and most ambitious episodes of all time, episode nine.

-After that, he left Madhouse and joined ufotable, being his first series on the studio also his full directorial debut, Futakoi Alternative, with him on charge of the creative process while Hikaru Kondo was on charge on the planning and the technical process of the series, since Hikaru Kondo wasn’t as good as Hirao on the creative.

-His work on Futakoi Alternative presented a lot of his trademarks, including dynamic camerawork and precise control of timing and the passage of time, with slow-motion and speed-ups, tightly controlling the pacing of the scenes, and have a good sense of what you can do on anime controlling the space and the time of the series.

-He’s mainly inspired by three directors: The legendary Satoshi Kon, his friend Tetsuro Araki and Kawajiri’s student Hiroshi Hamasaki, taking clues of the screen organization of the first, the timing and the camerawork of the second and the color choices of the third to create his unique style, separated from them and incredibly recognizable, and you can feel it perfectly on his storyboards:

kara_no_kyoukai_5_storyboard

-On the scene of this storyboard, belonging to the fifth movie of Kara no Kyoukai, that he directed, by the way, ufotable used CG models as reference, like Kyoto Animation did about the same time for K-ON!.

-He was still tied to Madhouse, and he directed four more pieces at Madhouse: Kurozuka #9, were Araki ask to overdo the truck action, and he delivered pretty well, High School of The Dead #8, where Araki asked again to something funny with the breasts and Hirao did the best thing possible: MATRIX TITS, that is still one of my favorite scenes of all time despite its absurd, Shigurui #7, delivering one of the best episodes of said series and Death Note #36, as you can see, all of that episodes are by the series of Tetsuro Araki and Hiroshi Hamasaki, two of his best Madhouse friends.

-After being involved on the Kara no Kyoukai series for ufotable, he was put on charge of a promotional video for the videogame God Eater:

god_eater_pv

-Said promotional video was written, SB’d and directed by Hirao himself, so it’s good to check his style, with his dynamic camerawork and sense of timing, i’m going to adjunt the storyboard for the action scenes:

god_eater_pv_storyboard1

god_eater_pv_storyboard2

-After directing various OVAs at ufotable as Sakura no Ondo, Gyo and Majocco Shimai no Yoyo to Nene, he was put on charge of God Eater, which production was heavily troubled, delays and delays, unfinished episodes, difficult designs, that ended up on a horrible production that ended up its original premiere with only nine of the 13 planned episodes, with a lot of delayed episodes and weeks and weeks without episodes at all, finally the episodes 10, 11, 12 and 13 were premiered over six months later, on that series, Hirao wrote all the episodes, SB’d all the episodes and even was the sound director, being his major project to date, check it out if you want to see a talented director handling more than the production can and said production collapsing pretty fast because this, difficult designs and tight schedule, enjoy!

 

 

Ron’s Watching List

This is just a list to remind myself of the series that i’m going to watch during the next months.

January/February:

-Supernatural: The Animation [Dir. by Shigeyuki Miya & Atsuko Ishizuka]
-Hitsuji no Uta [Dir. by Gisaburo Sugii]
-Alderamin [Dir. by Tetsuo Ichimura]
-Kobato [Dir. by Mitsuyuki Masuhara]
-Tokyo Babylon [Dir. by Koichi Chigira]
-Aquarian Age [Dir. by Yoshimitsu Ohashi]
-Hanayamata [Dir. by Atsuko Ishizuka]
-Trinity Blood [Dir. by Tomohiro Hirata]
-Tokyo Tribe 2 [Dir. by Tatsuo Sato]
-Mars Daybreak [Dir. Kunihiro Mori]
-Yuri on Ice!! [Dir. by Sayo Yamamoto]
-Yu-Sibu [Dir. by Kinji Yoshimoto]
-Noein [Dir. by Kazuki Akane]
-Princess Lover! [Dir. by Hiromitsu Kanazawa]

-Paranoia Agent [Dir. by Satoshi Kon]
-Gankutsuou [Dir. by Mahiro Maeda]

The animation of Hunter x Hunter 1999 – Part One: Core Staff

The Core Staff

The director is Kazuhiro Furuhashi [古橋 一浩], he started out on Studio DEEN on the 80s, and is one of the better directors out there, despíte not having any clear trademark or defined style, Kazuhiro Furuhashi is more a jack of all trades, he can directed everything from comedy [Ranma 1/2] to historical action [Rurouni Kenshin] to military anime [Zipang] and mechas [Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn], with a very realistic and down to earth sensibility, not ultra realistic, but yes more focused on little details, as well as realistic lighting, his series often present detailed, realistic designs, by the likes of Atsuko Nakajima, Yoshihiko Umakoshi, Kumiko Takahashi, etc, that serves perfectly to his realistic, down to earth vision of anime.

Assisting him here is Toshiyuki Kato [加藤 敏幸] , a Studio Gallop director that he contacted during the production of Rurouni Kenshin, his style also is very discret, realistic and down-to-earth, with some very smart use of transitions, framing and angles, that makes his episodes really enjoyable, and overall, fun.

After the TV series, on the OVA both of them were replaced by Satoshi Saga [嵯峨 敏], that actually started on animation, while Furuhashi and Kato started on the producer seat, in his case, worked on various sakuga OVAs of the 80s after becoming a director, he’s on general, less competent than them, even if he can communicate better with the animators and have more visual symbolism, with some surrealistic scenes here and there, instead of the down-to-earth approach of Kato and Furuhashi, he will later reappear on the franchise as the storyboarder and unit director on the Hunter x Hunter: Last Mission movie, that, even being a lot better than the awful Phantom Rouge, is still one of the most mediocre entries of the franchise, even if it is probably the entry with better animation.

And note: I’m not covering Greed Island OVAs here, these things don’t exist, nobody is going to convince me the contrary.

The Character Design is handled by two people:

Shinobu Tagashira [田頭 しのぶ], starting out as animator on Yumeta Company at the mid 1990s, the OVA was his first job as Character Designer, his designs are pretty realistic, but more “Anime” and closer to Togashi designs that Takayuki Goto’s ones, his designs are also quite similar to Shingeki no Kyojin’s ones 13 years after, and  indeed Kyoji Asano was one of the ADs here, that’s for the first OVA too, on the Greed Islands his designs convert into a ugly mess of all the anime design cliches of the early 2000s, extremely disgusting to the eyes, and then he was kicked off completely for G.I. Final, that ended up with some of the ugliest designs that i ever seen on anime, courtesy of Tetsuro Aoki, god, that these OVAs were awful, someone can just erase them from existence?

And Takayuki Goto [後藤 隆幸], we already know his story, started on Tatsunoko Production and then left it along with Mitsuhisa Ishikawa to found his own studio, Production I.G [Production Ishikawa Goto], he ended up here thanks to Furuhashi’s links with Production I.G, and god, that was a excellent choice, his designs are wonderful, just the most appealing and realistic that Togashi’s designs has ever been, also, he did sakkan work on what is probably one of the best openings of all time:

That features some fantastic work by Akira Matsushima [松島 晃], that is one of the main figures that made this series so great, great animator all over.

The art directors were Nobuto Sakamoto [坂本 信人] and Shigeru Morimoto [森元 茂], of Studio Bic and Atelier Louge, respectively, while Sakamot0’s art is functional and moody, Morimoto’s is at another level, just beautiful, realistic, moody art, that combined with a superior schedule thanks to the OVA quality, is utterly wonderful, some of the best backgrounds that i’ve ever seen on anime.

Like everything, this aspect take a hit on the Greed Island OVAs, with some of the most generic pieces of background art that i’ve ever seen, that are very below functional, is just a awful, dried out version of at, contrary, a wonderful  scenery, that the 2011 version made justice later.

On the photography, like, everything, is handled by two people: Hidetoshi Watanabe [渡辺 英俊] and Seiichi Morishita [森下成一], both of them use the photography here to create a dark, tense and depressing atmosphere, while still maintaing realism and naturalism, with the lighting being as realistic as possible, not like the Greed Island OVAs and the 2011 version, where everything look like there was a light focus above the characters all the time, like a play, or a musical video, in this sense, the ’99 version is fantastic and is one of the better depictions of Togashi’s world ever, that even being a shounen, is a pretty dark world, and both of them get the memo.

And finally, a deconstruction of all the studios present on the series, that i’m going to talk more extensively on the second part:

TV Series:

Nippon Animation/Studio DEEN: Sakkan: Masaaki Kannan [eps 1, 5, 9, 13, 19, 24, 30, 36], Tateru Namikaze [ep 3]
Studo Mu/AIC/Jec. E: Masahide Yangisawa [ep 7], Shinobu Tagashira [eps 11, 17, 22, 28, 34, 40, 42, 46, 50, 54, 58, 62]
Jec. E: Sakkan: Akira Matsushima [eps 11, 15, 20, 26, 32, 38, 44, 48, 52, 56, 60]
Anime R/Synergy SP: Sakkan: Koichi Hatsumi [eps 12, 21, 33, 39, 43, 49], Masahiro Kase [eps 2, 6, 16, 57]
Daizo Productions: Sakkan: Tomoki Mizuno [ep 14]
Production Add/Anime R: Sakkan: Tomoaki Sakiyama [eps 8, 27, 35]
Production I.G/Production Add: Sakkan: Takayuki Goto [eps 23, 29, 41, 45, 61], Kyoji Asano [ep 51], Akiko Nagashima [ep 55]
Artland: Sakkan: Masaki Hyuga [ep 53], Kenichi Imaizumi [eps 4, 10, 18, 25, 31, 37, 47, 59]

OVAs:

Artland: Sakkan: Masaru Koseki [eps 5, 8], Kenichi Imaizumi [ep 2]
Production I.G: Sakkan: Kyoji Asano [eps 1, 4, 7]
Picture Magic: Sakkan: Tadashi Oppata [eps 3, 6]