The Pokémon: Twilight Wings English Release Should Credit the Staffby Kim Morrissy,
The web mini-series Pokémon: Twilight Wings directed by Shingo Yamashita at Studio Colorido is an incredible piece of work. Every episode so far tells a heartfelt and beautifully animated story about people and their bonds with Pokémon. The soft, gentle directing style and the nuanced character animation brings out a feeling of humanity in the Pokémon world that you don't often get to see in the more cartoon-y TV anime. I even cried at the episode about Hop and his Wooloo.
International fans are very lucky to be able to experience the release of this anime at the same time as Japan. English and Korean dubs are released on the same day or within a week of the Japanese release. I appreciate this setup and I love the English voice acting, but I do have one problem with the English release.
It doesn't credit the staff.
It's especially glaring because both the Japanese and Korean versions have a list of credits at the end of each episode. The Korean version even has English romanizations of all the names. But when you watch the English version, it just shows Mizutamari Higashi's beautiful concept art, which is used as the backdrop for the credits at the end of each episode, yet without the actual credits. The video descriptions contain no information either, not even the English voice cast.
Here's how the credits look in Japanese.
In fact, the English voice actors had to announce their own roles on social media. Voice actress Laura Post revealed on Twitter that she directed the English dub at a studio called Deluxe, which also handled the Little Witch Academia dub. As of this article's writing, the tweet specifying Deluxe's involvement only has two retweets, one of them from me, so this information isn't exactly visible.
Fans later compiled the voice actor credits into their own staff list, but it really shouldn't have been this difficult. (Apparently, Leon's actor is still unknown.) After all, the Japanese cast is listed right there on Pokémon's official website, and the voice cast announcements were part of the promotion leading up to the release.
Twilight Wings isn't the only Pokémon anime to have this problem. The 2016 web series Pokémon Generations has a similar issue - in fact, it's even worse. The Japanese version lists the main roles in the video descriptions, like the episode director, storyboarder, and animation director, but the secondary roles, like key animation, in-betweening, coloring, compositing, and others are not listed. The English version doesn't have any credits at all.
English-speaking anime fans should be no stranger to missing out on the credits, especially when it comes to simulcasts. Even home video releases can be inconsistent about crediting. I understand the reasons behind this (Answerman wrote a column about this a few years ago), but Twilight Wings doesn't have excuses on the Japanese publisher's side, given that the Korean version manages to list the names behind the anime in romanized English. It's also worth noting that the English version of the TV anime has been pretty good with translating the credits ever since The Pokémon Company International took over the international distribution from 4Kids Entertainment in 2009.
Albeit, there are some omissions of secondary roles due to the shorter ED sequences, plus the credits don't correspond to each episode but rather to each season.
Why is crediting the staff important? Well, it should go without saying that artists should be acknowledged for their work. On a purely pragmatic level, it helps the artists build a reputation and positive industry connections, which furthers their career. Let's look at Twilight Wings director Shingo Yamashita in particular. For years, he's been saying that he's working on an original animated project. However, securing the funding for an original project is difficult, and you need a lot of industry clout to get a project greenlit on name recognition alone. In Japan, he's been steadily building a reputation as a top-class digital animator and director with lavishly animated shorts like the League of Legends ad he directed at P.A. Works. Twilight Wings marks a huge step in his career, so perhaps he's one step closer now to getting that dream project of his funded.
These days, foreign investors are increasingly playing a big role in anime production, so an international reputation will help Yamashita as well. That's where the importance of the English credits come in. Until now, Yamashita's reputation among English-speaking anime fans has mainly centered on the polarizing Naruto vs Pain fight from Naruto Shippūden episode 167, the one which is "infamously" off-model due to Yamashita's relative inexperience at the time and the unconventional style of the animation. When Crunchyroll interviewed Yamashita, they introduced him as the Naruto vs Pain animator and asked him specifically about that episode rather than any of his other, more recent projects.
Regardless of whether you love or hate that episode, you can probably agree that Twilight Wings doesn't look like that. For a broader look at Yamashita's animation style, you can check out the video embedded below (thanks Purple Geth for compiling this):
It's not just Yamashita who benefits from the association with Twilight Wings. The project is a huge step forward for Studio Colorido as a whole. In 2018, this crew of digital animators produced Penguin Highway, their first feature-length film project, but the studio is still less than 10 years old, and there's plenty of room to grow. The positive buzz around Studio Colorido may help increase the popularity of digital animation in an industry that still mainly draws on paper.
There are also the individual animators and other participants in the project who got to show off their skills, like the Austrian animator Bahi JD and Hitomi Kariya, who recently won the animator's award at the Tokyo Anime Awards 2019. Those two names were in the credits of episode 4, and they handled the most impressive set pieces in the episode. Wake Up, Girls! character designer Sunao Chikaoka was the animation director on the episode, displaying his attention to detail with animation on a project of more manageable scope.
Unless the distributors decide to change their policy regarding staff credits, all I can do for now is highlight those names and do my part to put them in the fans' consciousness somehow. I hope that this article was able to enrich your appreciation of the people behind the anime, if only a little.
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