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Otaku's Voice - A New Wave of Anime (From the Past)

Otaku's Voice #4.1 - February 17th, 2002

A New Wave of Anime (From the Past)

by Brian "Ranmah" Mah

I recently viewed the four Daft Punk videos. I have one word to describe the videos, incredible. The videos blended great music, hand-drawn character designs, and spectacular computer graphics. The story and character designs were very interesting and I watched the videos again and again. The upbeat music by the French group Daft Punk kept me wanting to watch more. The artist who created these well-crafted and original videos was Leiji Matsumoto. Matsumoto is bringing back two great things in Anime: Story and Music.

At first I didn't know who Leiji Matsumoto was. I found out he created a lot of well known anime series, such as Captain Harlock, Galaxy Express 999, Queen Emeraldas, and his masterpiece Space Battleship Yamato (known as Star Blazers in the US). Space Battleship Yamato was later spoofed by the popular anime series Nadesico. The character Captain Harlock is very popular among fans. His style of character and story creation is quite unique and original compared with most artists today. The female characters in particular are very long and slender, which is very distinctive and easy to recognize as a Matsumoto character. The personalities of the female characters are independent and better defined rather than being passive.

I attended the screening of the theatrical release of "Space Battleship Yamato" during the New York-Tokyo Anime Festival. This is the first time that this film has been released publicly in more than 25 years. I was very impressed with the story and character designs created by Matsumoto-san. The animation looked primitive to today's standards in animation, but the story and character designs outweighed more than the stuff that is turned today. I wanted to meet Matsumoto-san during the festival; unfortunately the attacks on September 11th prevented him and the other guests to attend the festival.

Another master that has gotten better with age is Hayao Miyasaki. He is still going strong creating some of the best animation, such as My Neighbor Totoro, Kiki's Delivery Services, and Monoke Hime (Princess Monoke). His newest creation "Sen-To-Chihiru-No-Kami-Kaku-Shi" (Spirited Away) has already broken box-office sales around Japan.

This is a magical tale of how a family makes a wrong turn in the country and turns out to be something neither the little girl nor the audience ever expected to see. During the New York-Tokyo Anime Festival a "Spirited Away" trailer was supposed to be shown at the Central Park Opening Event, but the attacks postponed the event until a later date and the trailers were screened in an alternate site. The audience's reaction would still be the same regardless of location, which is that of wonder and excitement.

Since Lupin III: Castle of Cagliostro, Miyasaki has continued to wonder and amaze audiences with his magical touch. He is a humble man with an extraordinary ability to weave and create worlds that no one can ever think up. Like Matsumoto-san, Miyasaki's characters are very distinct and easily recognized. The female characters are very life-like and use a lot of facial expressions particularly with the eyes, which is very hard to do in animation. Like Matsmoto, Miyasaki's personalities among the female characters are strong and independent with a touch of vulnerability to make them more memorable.

Matsumoto and Miyasaki continue to break the mold in the Anime Industry. Some of the newer Anime that comes out nowadays seems flat and repetitive. These Industry people should look at the great works and see how to improve the idea without copying it.

These great masters are like a fine wine, they get better with age. Any young artist who want to become an animator should learn from their example. To anyone who is trying hard to make their names in their selected field, I have three words to say: "Don't give up."

Now close the door, I can't hear my dramas!!

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