I’m sure some of you have noticed the new site revamp that’s been rolled out yesterday. I’m celebrating my 1-year anniversary of having this blog and without further ado I present a challenge!
One of my favorite bloggers since having a wordpress account has been Genki Jason. As my site covers only animated works his covers a vast amount of observations on live action films. I highly suggest my readers go on over to his website– there’s some fascinating films I’ve discovered from his posts!
So upon reading his challenge that he had received a while back with Lynn’s questions I had an idea. Create a list of 10 questions on the topic of japanese animation and vice-versa. On top of that Genki Jason picks one series of the first episode I review– which will be [C] The Money of Soul and Possibility and Control. I’ve picked one for him as well which you can find here. Here’s the list he sent me and my answers to them!
1. Which anime made you a fan?
AKIRA [feature film]
I grew up on so many different series– but if I had to pick a feature film it would have been Akira. I’ve always been a huge fan of science fiction stories and that one blew the world of japanese animation wide open for me. It’s creative, deeply rooted with psychological themes around a governing city about youth reaching out to be heard and accepted. The main character Kaneda is a struggling 16-year old in a bustling city of crime– a symbol of defiance towards authority which offers some incredibly hand-drawn rebellious actions by him! It’s his relationship with Tetsuo that create this amazing contrast– a defiant yet trusting teenager with a heart of steel is betrayed by a telekinetic Tetsuo that once admired his friends but was unable to catch up to them!
2. What is your favorite anime (movie or TV series)?
Without a doubt its Cowboy Bebop that had been the most influential in regards of television anime series and without it I might not have discovered some amazing shows around it! Noein– a series about time travelers. TRIGUN– a sci-fi western series that takes heavily from the golden days of cowboy films.
However, Cowboy Bebop is one of few series I can sit down and re-watch regularly. A series that is very episodic while at the same time accenting a heavy plot about an organization eliminating members wanting to escape from it. Spike Spiegel is one my favorite characters because of how well he interacts with the various space pirates, police and his rag-tag crew throughout each episode! Space Dandy is akin to this in so many ways!
4. Which animation studio is your favorite?
What fascinates me so much about animation studios is how closely connected their employees are. Mushi Production founded by the godfather of anime, Osamu Tezuka after leaving Toei Animation Studios in the early 60’s was a sort of mentor to Dezaki. Osamu Dezaki director of Ashita no Joe and Rose of Versailles started out as an animator and episode director for Tezuka’s newly formed studio.
Around 1972, Dezaki alongside Galaxy Express 999, Metropolis director Rintaro, Ninja Scroll creator Yoshiaki Kawajiri and MAPPA’s founder Masao Maruyama they formed MADHOUSE. The studio that housed the biggest names of the industry from the 70’s well into the 2000’s and today! One of my favorite directors, Satoshi Kon worked alongside these group of animators!
As much as I love what Kyoto Animation is doing with their series and Production I.G. did in handling the nature of Ghost in the Shell series and Psycho-Pass, my favorite has got to be Madhouse. They’re incredibly varied with so many talented artists all across the board! Hell, one of my Top series was Tatami Galaxy and I love how cultural styled it was by designing two episodes focused on the Protagonists’ tatami room– the use of bright colors with the fireworks throughout this series was unparalleled and just astoundingly beautiful! Such a lively series about college life!
Setting aside Akira as my anime that made me a fan, one that I grew up with was Vampire Hunter D Boodlust. When was the last time we had a haunting slow-paced vampire story that never set foot into a story with a bright set of tones? Madhouse handled the designs on this really nicely. A true romance series with a gritty style to it!
3. Who is your favorite director?
I’ve got two to put down on this list. This was a very tough question for me as there has been so many powerfully moving series and films over the years that so many directors established at getting across to the viewer so well!
Starting out as a storyboard writer and episode director at Sunrise Shinichiro Watanabe got his directorial break with Macross Plus. This was where he met Yoko Kanno and how this would culminate into a friendship that would establish some of the greatest anime series in the industry!
Watanabe controls a strong influence in me because of how deeply involved he is with his works’ music scores. It’s almost as if the music is telling the story rather than its characters– I saw that a lot with Sakamichi no Apollon and even last year’s Zankyou no Terror. His music producing skills are unparalleled– he’s really got a style all his own making a scene so defining! What makes me say this is how inspiring he was in Sayo Yamamoto’s directorial debut of Michiko e Hatchin– talk about a riveting soundtrack that matched up so strongly against the Brazilian backdrop about thugs, police and a woman escaping prison to help a young girl find her father. He’s directing the sounds that come from every scene and I could almost see him giving his own take at how he would direct to Yamamoto.
Working on seasons two through four of the original Sailor Moon anime series after Junichi Sato he left Toei Studios after creative differences. He went on to establish company Be-Papas, the creators of Revolutionary Girl Utena, alongside shojo manga artist Chiho Saito, FLCL script writer Yoji Enokido, producer Okuro Yuuichiro and Chief Animation Director for To Aru Majutsu no Index‘s Hasegawa Shinya. They went on later to develop Mawaru Penguindrum. As for Ikuhara he drew the storyboards the opening sequences to Nodame Cantabile and coincidentally enough the yuri series Aoi Hana.
I’ve mentioned this before in my Yuri Kuma Arashi posts, but I will say it again here. His series are not for everyone– they contain a heavy use of symbolism that surrounds current themes of today, double-entendres, the yuri genre and of course his importance of repeating a scene for an effect of establishing specific character’s potential development.
This director rocks– he created my second favorite series of all time, Revolutionary Girl Utena and I really like how he uses softly subdued metaphors to get his story progressing further. He’s risky when he tackles the yuri subject by getting the sound editors to create pure effects against risqué animations underlining heavily sexualized themes. However, its in his varied characters and his overuse of flashback scenes that evoke such an overwhelming fantastical experience! Original stories combined with Japanese customs, a touch of pop culture and modern day themes!
5. What is your favorite sequence in an anime?
Princess Mononoke [feature film]
I’m a huge fan of the Studio Chibli films. For my anime screenings every week, a once-a-month feature length film is shown and the last two I’ve done have been The Wind Rises and Tales of Princess Kaguya. Both are fantastic films and beautifully animated. However, Princess Mononoke stands out for me as a strong favorite particularly the scene towards the beginning where a demon advances towards the village and Ashitaka rides on his elk to save everyone from it.
Everything is drawn in such detail and for a 1997 film it looks gorgeous even to today’s standards. As the angles are swiftly rushing down the hill the film’s musical score brushes in tempo with an engaging horn melody playing as the backdrop! Such an incredible scene that introduces us to the forest world, the main character Ashitaka and his start to a journey to lift his curse from a demon.
6. What anime has the best use of sound design and soundtrack?
Aku no Hana [Flowers of Evil]
Generally, animation is done prior to voice recording and sound effects including a series’ soundtrack. As far as I’ve seen there are only two styles outside of the norm that can add realism to Japanese animation in a monumental way. Voice recording prior to animation– Kou Matsuo has a habit for his directorial projects to achieve this. The only series in his works that I know of so far that he’s done this for have been Natsuyuki Rendezvous, Kure-nai, and Red Garden including it’s OVA Dead Girls. The other being, rotoscoping. Live actors are generated into a computer to capture their movements and facial expressions to establish a rare style of storytelling. Vision of Escaflowne, Serial Experiments Lain or even Mushishi would have made this list if it weren’t for Aku no Hana.
This is one of the most frightening psychological series I’ve ever seen for three reasons. One being that the animation is a rotoscoping technique similar to the U.S. film A Scanner Darkly, two– Sawa Nakamura’s erratic and abusive behavior stealing this series spotlight, and three– sound effects. Sound Director of Mushishi Kazuya Tanaka establishes every scene to near perfection with its eerie atmosphere! The heavy breathing from Kasuga, the chattering of other students during the classroom scenes were so vibrant!
The most amazing scene out of this is Episode 7 where Nakamura and Kasuga destroy the classroom. I got chills down my spine from this– hauntingly beautiful are two destructive teenagers wanting to vent out their frustrations onto the world and with the unique animation style and amazing collection of drum beats, chairs are being tossed around and covering the walls with ink in slow motion ends up very breathtaking.
7. Who is your favorite anime character?
Hmmm… I really had to think about this. What makes a character gradually develop over the course of an anime series or feature film that can captivate an audience without being boring. I’ve decided to separate this as favorite hero and favorite villain.
Favorite Protagonist: Brandon Heat
Anime Series: GUNGRAVE
Ah Gungrave. This series rocks and its because it is so well-written that we’ve got a huge cast of amazing characters! Yasuhiro Nightow the creator of Trigun and the upcoming anime adaptation of Blood Blockade Battlefront!
Brandon Heat. A small-time criminal that works alongside best friend Harry McDowell and three other friends. After these three friends of theirs are murdered both Brandon and Harry join syndicate group Millennion. Over the course of this series’ first half we get to see Harry climb the social ladder in the group while Brandon remains loyal at the very bottom being an assassin. These two balanced each other so well in this series and its the love interest Maria Asagi that allows for Brandon’s development to jump through the roof! He’s always been a quiet young man and after becoming a Sweeper, killing so many people his relationship with Maria shatters. I love the amount of foreshadow in this series– he rejects her only out of love to protect her because while he’s a human he sees himself as a monster. The second half eludes to his monstrous ways both figuratively and literally really well! Really enjoyed the ending to this one!
Favorite Antagonist: Johan Liebert
Anime Series: MONSTER
This is where a series can utilize well over 1 or even 2-cour seasons so well. We see that greatly with its fantastic view on its main villain Johan and the various ways he goes about sending people to the deepest parts of their hearts.
A master manipulator that never really lifted a finger in this series. Struck with a tragic past where a doctor ultimately save his life he starts his journey down a path towards becoming a monster filled with hatred. This guy on the outside may seem calm, compassionate and endearing but underneath it all he’s deceitful and his affection towards children is cruel.
Using others for his own personal gain to carry out what he wants as the end result: the suffering and death of humanity. I think the one aspect of Monster that helped fuel this character’s development is how these towns were based on famous places throughout Europe. The Ruhenheim massacre was a great example of this.
8. Who is your favorite character designer?
Samurai Champloo, Zankyou no Terror, Ashita no Nadja, Sarai-ya Goyō. In terms of facial expressions he’s one of the most consistent animators at keeping a really strong style throughout a single series! He’s good at adapting from manga designs too! Sarai-ya‘s original creator Natsume Ono had a very aged beauty to its designs and Nakazawa was able to get these drawn really well in anime form! Animating the music video to Linkin Park’s “Breaking The Habit” and he’s had some amazing designs in video games as well– Tales of Legendia and Devil Kings!
Starting out as an animator and illustrator for the Fatal Fury TV films, he received acclaim for his work on El-Hazard and has served as key animators for series ranging from the late 80’s well into the 90’s up to today!
Something to look out for is his 10-minute animated short Kigeki— about a young girl attempting to repel English invaders from Ireland. It’s lightly linked to bishounen series and has a slight Tim Burton atmosphere to it. The inspiration of this animated feature directed and animated by Nakazwa is somewhat pulled from Schubert’s piece “Erlkönig”.
Check it out below!
9. Which genre do you like the most?
Josei. Mature storytelling with a romance aspect to it. Most of the time these animated works feature designs that are more adult in concept and have themes shining around them– tragedy and realistic relationships centered on deeply rooted characters that often times carry emotional weight. It has a certain charm to them and is targeted at a more adult audience. This genre can still have elements of action and comedy.
Paradise Kiss, Usagi Drop, Honey and Clover, NANA, Princess Jellyfish, Michiko e Hatchin, Nodame Cantabile and one of my favorite academic sports series Chihayafuru follows this genre!
10. If you had the chance to remake an anime, which one would you choose?
Although the series was fantastic it did deviate from the manga quite a bit. I would even cover every bit of material from Trigun Maximum. Run it as a 2-cour series and run on a late-night programming block considering how gruesome this series gets towards its second half of the manga. As for the staff here it would be as follows:
Director: Morio Asaka
I feel that he would be the best fit for this role because he’s so versatile in everything he’s directed before– he’s done action– Gunslinger Girls and Claymore. He’s done comedy– Chobits and who can’t forget his talent for the anime adaptation for NANA. He would be able to provide a strong perspective into a desolate wasteland of cyberpunk and cowboys so well.
Animation Studio: MAPPA
This studio can have a pretty high budget and I think if we started this out as a kickstarter project it would get funded greatly! MAPPA can give some strongly animated fight sequences– including Vash dodging bullets all the time.
Character Designer: Kazuto Nakazawa
Hands down he’d be able to adapt some very realistic expressions from Nightow’s manga incredibly well! Also if he was backed by MAPPA I feel that the upcoming animation studio of the past few years could animate so very solid scenes– especially the Vash and Legato fight! What would help here with this designer and MAPPA would be the amount of closeup shots of these characters.
Composer: Nakagawa Koutarou featuring movements by Yoko Kanno
Here’s a preview of one of his pieces from GunXSword to get an idea here.
This guy did wonders for GunXSword‘s soundtrack and I can really see him use a similar style of guitar strumming to pull this off with such a dynamic! Yoko Kanno would provide some key scenes in this series dramatic moments. Koutarou’s compositions still have a comical feel to them and this would work for the hilarity aspect of this series to come across with Vash’s character!
Art Director: Hidetoshi Kaneko with background art by Atlier BUKA
Not much to say here. This is one of the best background designing studios in the industry. Kaneko would return for this adaptation as he did a great job keeping the style of the manga so close to the original anime. Those buildings from Trigun with a large amount of quality to detail and MAPPA would handle the fluid destruction of towns so well with this!
Script: Sayo Yamamoto
She knows how to direct now but where she really shines is her ability to piece together a continuously engaging narrative. Keeping in mind this is another adaptation, I think she would do the best job at conveying the characters especially Meryl and Mille. Giving a contrast between WolfWood and Vash that’s extremely comical and buddy-buddy like.
VOICE CAST: original cast from TRIGUN
As for the cast they would return they were absolutely perfect in Trigun!
I hope you all enjoyed my challenge post! Look forward to the second half sometime soon where I will be covering the anime series’ first episode of [C] The Money of Should and Possibility Control! Also if anyone wants to partake in a challenge let me know and I’ll be glad to accept it!