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]

 

 

 

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