Anime’s shift to digital colouring and photography

Two cels from Armour Hunter Mellowlink (1988). The upper cel just bears eyes and eyebrows; the lower cel carries all the rest.

We know that anime shifted from an analogue production process to a digital one.

I can’t find a very simple, understandable account of the shift, of the sort which one could gently link when a friend refers to anime animators ‘no longer drawing by hand’. Upon questioning, many fans who attend to production info, most of them more knowledgeable than I, don’t seem to know much about the nature and timing of the shift either. So I set out, in foolish ignorance, to write such an account.

I’ve tried to keep what follows clear and brief. I’ve also tried to exclude my views on the relative strengths of different times and techniques. I’m no expert on the topic, and this post is a call for facts, additions and corrections as least as much as it’s as a summation of them. Continue reading “Anime’s shift to digital colouring and photography”

Golgo 13

Many know the 1983 Golgo 13 film—when they know it at all—only for its brief, early and ill-boding experiments in the use of 3DCG animation. This is a shame, for it stands as a bit of a landmark.

Osamu Dezaki had a knack for deliciously jarring direction, but he also spent a lot of his career wringing beauty out of the constrained circumstances of television anime, making a virtue of necessity. This film offers a chance to see him guiding something lavish, no longer making do and mending. Continue reading Golgo 13

Impact frames

I’d like to note this recent interview at artist_unknown with Yuu Yoshiyama. Yoshiyama’s stylish impact frames, effects and (on occasion) starkly-shaded faces have caught even my untaught eye in Star Twinkle Precure and Healin’ Good Precure.

Near the conversation’s end, Yoshiyama expresses a heartening desire to keep working on kids’ anime. Older fans too often disregard anime for children. In the circles where I find myself, I can understand how this happens: many turned to anime in their late childhood or their teens as an alternative to Disney.

However, anime began as children’s animation, barring one or two exceptions such as the Sennin Buraku adaptation. As standout kids’ shows prove, works for children can excel just as much as works for any other audience. So Yoshiyama’s aspiration was good to see.

Just as good to see was their talk of Masami Obari’s work on Dangaioh (1987–9) as an inspiration. Dangaioh‘s a delight, and these days it needs every mention it can get.

I found my thoughts most fired, though, by Yoshiyama’s remarks on impact frames. Now, I’m no sakuga fan, but I do love impact frames, and in a very minor way I collect them. In the English translation at artist_unknown, Yoshiyama describes their view of impact frames thus: Continue reading “Impact frames”

Anime’s history is brief

Sabu and Ichi (1968–9)

Someone who worked on Astro Boy (1963) directed an anime film which came out this year. The whole mass-broadcast history of anime lies within living memory. More, it lies within one person’s active career.

Japan’s oldest living person predates the earliest known Japanese animation. The whole history of anime fits, just, into a lifetime. Continue reading “Anime’s history is brief”

13 Sentinels remembers love

From the 13 Sentinels intro

I finished playing 13 Sentinels last night. I enjoyed it a great deal.

I think the lush 2D story segments will charm and delight almost anyone with their cheerful potboiler spirit, while the frantic real-time-tactics might suit a somewhat narrower range of tastes. The battles’ visual abstraction baffled me at first, but some great sound design lends a bit more reality, and the graphics let the game shove ridiculous numbers of enemies on-screen. In any case, the eye-popping 2D story makes up the game’s bulk.

This post isn’t a review, however: I wanted to jot down a couple of things in 13 Sentinels which seem to me to be not just likely influences but precise allusions.

After this paragraph I will, therefore, drop some big, chunky spoilers for the game. In general I avoid being finicky about spoilers, but 13 Sentinels in particular has the type of mystery-box build which suffers especially when spoiled, so if you plan on playing it in future, I suggest you eject from this post now. For those currently playing it: I’m going to spoil the first two thirds or so of Shu’s story, and a scene from the first half of Iori’s. Continue reading 13 Sentinels remembers love”