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Chicks On Anime - Animators Turned Directors




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Fallen Wings



Joined: 27 Nov 2007
Posts: 135
Location: Australia

PostPosted: Wed Nov 12, 2008 4:46 am Reply with quote
Wow! I never ... ever thought there was this much into an anime. This is really open my mind and I thank you for doing so. Learning all of this just makes me want to go out and find out much as I can.

Once again I will never ever view anime under the same narrow light. Thanks!
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Leedar



Joined: 04 Nov 2008
Posts: 8

PostPosted: Wed Nov 12, 2008 5:08 am Reply with quote
I feel obligated to call Ben out on his assertation that Mamoru Oshii can't draw. I remember reading somewhere he did at least try animation early on, and it is a matter of record that he has done storyboards for several productions.
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enoah ballard



Joined: 15 Mar 2008
Posts: 22

PostPosted: Wed Nov 12, 2008 5:34 am Reply with quote
I was under the impression that most anime directors start off as animators.
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Anime World Order



Joined: 05 May 2006
Posts: 349
Location: Florida

PostPosted: Wed Nov 12, 2008 8:46 am Reply with quote
I enjoyed this latest installment for two reasons. First, I'm glad to see more relatively high-profile discussion on Mind Game. Back when I reviewed it (man, it's been nearly two years...thanks again to Mr. Ettinger for basically being "the man" on the subject), I lamented the fact that hardly anyone I knew was willing to watch it--which is still true today, despite my recommendations I don't personally know even a single person who's seen it besides myself--and that no US anime publisher was willing to license and release it despite the fact that the English subtitles on the R2 disc are already perfectly readable.

But the main reason I like this piece is the nature of the discussion itself: fans talking about creative talents behind an anime that's more than just "these were the voice actors." It always baffles us at AWO how it is that people think nothing of talking about the writers, directors, and the like for live-action movies or TV shows yet most anime fan interest is limited largely to voice actors and musicians. At least, that's if anime conventions are a proper metric. I certainly didn't mind effectively being able to have a 60-90 minute interview with Masao Maruyama at this most recent Otakon (to be edited and posted someday), but at the same time it was somewhat depressing to know that pretty much nobody else at the place even cared.

Education is the solution. Keep talking about this stuff and eventually some people will say "hmm, that IS interesting!" and start looking up this information for themselves at which point they'll discover new titles to check out (and avoid!) based on the staff pedigree. Luckily, thanks to the ANN encyclopedia, the process now takes seconds instead of years.
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SalarymanJoe



Joined: 03 Feb 2005
Posts: 467
Location: Atlanta, GA, USA

PostPosted: Wed Nov 12, 2008 9:51 am Reply with quote
These past two columns have been eye opening. It really tackled a perspective of anime fans are genuinely interested in, the actual animation, but something that really is, even for me, admittedly, a topic I honestly don't have a lot of knowledge on. I feel bad because I knew someone like Miyazaki Hayao used to be a key animator and Itano Ichiro did specifically the missile scenes in Macross and the scene with Stormbringer in DAICON IV.

However, I have to say, considering I'd rate the animation as a part of the final product, I'm not really as interested as Benjamin is about looking up specific scenes to discern their style. I just don't get to that level.

Benjamin Ettinger wrote:
[..] individuals being behind what makes a movie good, rather than necessarily the studio, is very true, [...]


I'm guilty of this as well; I'll look at studio names and compare them to past productions if something looks interesting. Even though these studios are composed of individuals and their works can vary in both style and quality, we also get that same variance in individuals as well. I guess it's all a matter of perception though.

In response to the larger question - do key animators make better directors? - I'd have to say that the question is on very shaky ground. It reminds me a lot of the constant arguments I hear in the IT and security industries on whether or not management needs to be actually technical. The most common discussion is primarily about software developers/programmers. The actual fact of the matter is that managing programmers and being a programmer are different jobs and require different skill sets and abilities. Being able to translate from one to the other (either technical demands of one team to the business or describing business needs to techs) is most definitely beneficial but I've known good IT managers that had no idea that memory is RAM.

So, that's where the question reaches shaky ground: there will invariably be some key animators who try their hand at directing and they'll simply suck at it because they don't have the skill set (practical or academic) of what it takes to be a director. Some people are naturally gifted, some people can work at it and some will just never get it.

Where the question reaches very shaky ground, I believe, is that it's much harder to discern what constitutes poor performance from a director, than say, that same manager of programmers. With a poor programming manager, there are concrete metrics such as budgeting and project deliveries. Film, or any other commercial art, I suppose, may receive critical praise and a financial flop or receive praise and financial success or even, in rare cases, probably be critically panned and still make enough cash to make ends meet. I guess there are too many subjective variables to determine success, unless there is something else I'm missing.
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Maidenoftheredhand



Joined: 21 Jun 2007
Posts: 1746

PostPosted: Wed Nov 12, 2008 10:32 am Reply with quote
SalarymanJoe wrote:

Benjamin Ettinger wrote:
[..] individuals being behind what makes a movie good, rather than necessarily the studio, is very true, [...]


I'm guilty of this as well; I'll look at studio names and compare them to past productions if something looks interesting. Even though these studios are composed of individuals and their works can vary in both style and quality, we also get that same variance in individuals as well. I guess it's all a matter of perception though.


Well I think the Studio deserves some credit for producing unique titles. After all the money has to come from somewhere.

Take Madhouse for example they do produce a lot of generic titles which probably bring in the money but then they also produce gems like Dennou Coil and Kaiba. Despite the talented animator turned director I am sure the average fan in Japan doesn't really pay attention to the staff either. These aren't mainstream titles so we are lucky they get produced in the first place. It's one thing to have talent but someone has to give that talent the chance.

As for myself I am no expert when it comes to animators but if I see other people (on blogs and so forth) who know more then me talking about a famous animator directing a series then I take notice which is how I discovered Dennou Coil and Kaiba.

Style and animation wise both these titles were great. Dennou Coil ended up being my favorite series of last year. Kaiba was also very good although I feel maybe Masaaki Yuasa faltered a little in the final episode.
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errantrogue



Joined: 24 Sep 2008
Posts: 45

PostPosted: Wed Nov 12, 2008 1:29 pm Reply with quote
kudos on the article... very interesting. much more so than the fandom digs. keep it up!
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Cloe
Moderator


Joined: 18 Feb 2004
Posts: 2727
Location: Los Angeles, CA

PostPosted: Wed Nov 12, 2008 2:12 pm Reply with quote
Thanks so much for your feedback, all! Now take the next step and go buy Mind Game. ;p
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fuuma_monou



Joined: 26 Dec 2005
Posts: 952
Location: Quezon City, Philippines

PostPosted: Wed Nov 12, 2008 11:26 pm Reply with quote
I'm an accidental Akiyuki Shinbo fan. Must've seen Metal Fighter Miku or Devil Hunter Yohko 6 first. Then the Yamamoto Yohko TV series and OVAs. Currently re-viewing Pani Poni Dash and occasionally seeing Negima?!, which is a lot better than the original TV series, but still not good enough to make me watch regularly. Still have to catch up on a lot of his work. I'm a big enough fan that I'd pay for the Japanese box set of the Yamamoto Yohko OVAs and TV series, when I have the money.
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reanimator



Joined: 25 Nov 2007
Posts: 845

PostPosted: Thu Nov 13, 2008 2:55 am Reply with quote
Salrymanjoe brought up good question about can animators become good director. It depends. Some of them are bad and some of them good. Some animators & designers are get to direct one or two anime title in his lifetime. For example, I found out that Haruhiko Mikimoto actually directed Salamander OVA other than doing character design. After that he never directed any more show.

Ideally, all directors should have good sense to pick out good story source materials and translate them into best visual form. Of course that doesn't always happen, and we end of watching both bad shows and good shows.

Anyway, all directors are either coming from various visual art field or trained to become visual artist from their first employer. Some of them can draw well and some of them don't.

Let's take a look at few examples:

Daichi Akitarou (dir. Child's Toy)
Artistic Background: Photography

Satoshi Kon
AB: Comic book illustration

Kenji Kamiyama (dir. Ghost in the Shell: Stand alone complex)
AB: Background painting

Hayao Miyazaki
AB: animation, but graduated with political science degree
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petran79



Joined: 10 Jun 2006
Posts: 109

PostPosted: Thu Nov 13, 2008 4:20 am Reply with quote
Actually the current trend to put more importance on a director rather than the other production staff and the actors goes way back to theatre directors in the early 20th century such as Edward Gordon Craig and Max Reinhardt.

Particularly Craig regarded actors rather as marionettes or rather uber-marionettes because only a marionette can express better true art by putting aside feelings and emotions. The actor should step aside and in his/her place an uber-marionette should appear, metaphorically speaking.

While the appreciation for Reinhardt was the one that lead indirectly to the habit for the perfomance to be given to the director rather than the actors or the scenarist
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rg4619



Joined: 30 Jun 2007
Posts: 163

PostPosted: Thu Nov 13, 2008 6:31 am Reply with quote
Quote:
Anyway, all directors are either coming from various visual art field or trained to become visual artist from their first employer. Some of them can draw well and some of them don't.


AFAIK, a few directors have also started in Production Management rather than the creative side of the business. In that role, major tasks include schedule/budget management and coordination of materials (i.e. from one studio/department to another).

Kenichi Kasai (Honey and Clover, Major, Nodame Cantabile - he worked as a Production Manager for a decade before becoming a director) might be an example of this kind of director. Artistically, he's pretty hands-off, maybe contributing only one or two storyboards per series. However, he's noted for impeccable series organization, as well as a knack for making the most of limited budget.
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reanimator



Joined: 25 Nov 2007
Posts: 845

PostPosted: Fri Nov 14, 2008 1:53 am Reply with quote
rg4619 wrote:
Quote:
Anyway, all directors are either coming from various visual art field or trained to become visual artist from their first employer. Some of them can draw well and some of them don't.


AFAIK, a few directors have also started in Production Management rather than the creative side of the business. In that role, major tasks include schedule/budget management and coordination of materials (i.e. from one studio/department to another).

Kenichi Kasai (Honey and Clover, Major, Nodame Cantabile - he worked as a Production Manager for a decade before becoming a director) might be an example of this kind of director. Artistically, he's pretty hands-off, maybe contributing only one or two storyboards per series. However, he's noted for impeccable series organization, as well as a knack for making the most of limited budget.


You're right about that. I forgot to mention production management. Kenji Nakamura of Mononoke fame would be another example. Although not all directors are highly trained visual artists, they have ultimate responsibility of making right decision for visuals. Again, some of them are good, and some of them are bad, and most of them are average.

For directors like Kenichi Kasai, he needs professionals who can understand and translate his directions clearly. On the other hand, Satoshi Kon draws super-detailed storyboard which clearly establishes his desired visuals.
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ANN_Bamboo
ANN Managing Editor


Joined: 05 Jan 2002
Posts: 3761
Location: The OC

PostPosted: Mon Nov 17, 2008 9:34 pm Reply with quote
I wanted to let everyone know that the article has been updated with some new links to some of the videos, including a musical sequence that Yuasa did for Chibi Maru-chan.
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enurtsol



Joined: 01 May 2007
Posts: 10214

PostPosted: Tue Nov 18, 2008 10:06 pm Reply with quote
Since some people here may have done EX mag before, it's apropos to point out gaijin-turned-animator-turned-director Jan Scott Frazier's story.
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