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Archive for the ‘Anime’ Category

Teenage Anime Ninja Turtles

Friday, September 12th, 2008

No, it’s not a fanspoof. “Mutant Turtles: Chôjin Densetsu Hen” (“Superman Legend”) was a 1996 Japanese OVA (straight-to-video) TMNT spinoff with a grand total of two episodes, riding the Evangelion gravy train straight into history.

The Little Prince and the Eight-Headed Dragon

Wednesday, April 16th, 2008

This appears to be two trailers — one short and one long — for a Toei Company animated feature from 1963 called Wanpaku Ouji no Orochi Taiji (literally “The Naughty Prince Slays the Giant Serpent”) — released in English as The Little Prince and the Eight-Headed Dragon.

The movie is available undubbed in eleven pieces on YouTube, and though the story is legible even to the non-Japanese speaker, I believe I’ll need to find and procure this film legitimately for myself, if possible.

The animation and design are astonishing, particularly for Japan in 1963. Simple, clean lines lend economy of form to appealing and believable characters; the motion, though simple, is subtle and nuanced. The absolute believability of masses during rotations and deformities is as sure and solid as rotoscoped shapes. The color design and backgrounds are generally gorgeous, and the layouts and staging are all very clear and forthright.

The director of animation, Yasuji Mori, was also an illustrator of children’s books; three years later he was working as an animator on another Toei feature, Gulliver’s Travels Beyond the Moon. The film didn’t have a satisfactory ending, but a 25-year-old inbetweener named Hayao Miyazaki suggested a better one, which was used. This brought Miyazaki notice within Toei, and started him on the path to directing.

Miyazaki’s work clearly exhibits much of the directorial philosophy of these early Toei pictures, including a clear-eyed and ingenuous sentimentality and the inclusion of actual peril for contrast.

Kings of Power 4 Billion %

Thursday, April 10th, 2008

It’s Blow-Your-Mind Thursday! How did I just find out about this guy? “Kings of Power 4 Billion %” is Paul Robertson’s amazing ultra-violent sprite-tastic seizure-riffic heavy-metal cosmic anime-pocalypse opus, shown below in two parts:

Aarg! It cuts off! Amateurs! What kind of Internet is this, anyway? You can see the last few seconds starting at 5:12 of this lower-quality version, or you could download the entire high-quality 321MB version from BitTorrent.

(via Transbuddha.)

Monster Samurai

Monday, April 7th, 2008

“Monster Samurai,” a short CG piece directed by Moto Sakakibara, founder of Sprite Animation.

Sakakibara was co-director of the awful Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within. “Monster Samurai” is no Citizen Cane, but the designs are cute, and I like the swoosh effects.

Tsukino no Ban

Wednesday, February 20th, 2008

“Tsukino no Ban” (“In the Evening of a Moonlit Night”) directed by Kazuyoshi Yaginuma, erstwhile animator for Studio 4°C on films including Akira. This short is part 4 of Studio 4°C’s 2001 OVA “Digital Juice.”

High quality at Stage 6.

It’s a curious artifact — the short is steeped in a typical anime combination of childlike innocence and an oddly naïve eroticism, complete with creepy Lolita angle.

The fact that it’s played so straight — with sensitive attention paid to movement and a nostalgic design worthy of Miyazaki — just makes it more unnerving, as it appears that we’re intended to take it all at face value. Far be it from me to moralize, but I get nervous around depictions of the fetishisation of the disenfranchised.

There’s some subtle 3D in there too, which probably explains this short’s inclusion in a collection called “Digital Juice.”

The music is the Velvet Underground’s “Sunday Morning.”

Totoro Sightings

Monday, January 21st, 2008
Totoro at the bus stop
Waiting for the cat bus

Look, it’s a Totoro, complete with umbrella, at an appropriately rural bus stop in Nagasaki Prefecture.

43-year-old Yoshiyuki Yamamichi said he crafted the statue out of scrap wood, boat cushioning, and polystyrene “to improve the image of the area.”

(via Anime News Network.)

Mei and the Kittenbus

And in reading Wikipedia’s Totoro article I discover that there is a 14-minute sequel called “Mei and the Kittenbus” which is only shown periodically at the Ghibli Museum.

Superbook and Flying House

Thursday, May 31st, 2007

We didn’t have a tv when I was a kid. I distinctly recall specific illicit, tantalizing, and unplanned morsels caught here and there: an incomprehensible early-morning Scooby Doo with the sound off at my grandparents’ house; Transformers on the counter at a gas station in Arizona, seen while passing through on a family vacation; Star Trek on a screen in the lounge area of a ferry; Mork & Mindy on a black and white set in the tiny electronics section of the grocery (I even remember the line, delivered as Mork contacts his boss Orson: “Come in, your jelly-belly-ness…”).

But occasionally there were supervised viewings at the neighbors’ house of two particular shows: The Flying House and Superbook. In retrospect, the shows were indeed as odd as they seemed at the time. Both were collaborations between a pair of odd bedfellows: the Tatsunoko Production Co., best known in the US for Speed Racer (1967) and Robotech (1985), and CBN, best known for The 700 Club.

Flying house intro, circa 1982:

The detail you don’t get from the song (an eerie amalgam of a dozen sitcom themes from the period) is that they’ve landed in the New Testament.

(more…)

North Korea activate!

Thursday, May 24th, 2007

Speaking of Korea, this is apparently from the Northern half:

The wolves are the Americans. Rawk!

Remember when Kim Jong Il kidnapped the South Korean film director? Good times.

Aachi & Ssipak

Monday, May 21st, 2007

South Korea’s waking up…

Aachi & Ssipak (2006), the style is punk Moebius. It’s a Flash series from the dot-com days that apparently found a patron and got biggified.

The film’s site is at aanss.com – by all accounts it’s not a very good movie, but the animation itself is a fantastic caricature of action-movie tropes.

Korea’s been showing signs of independent life since Mari Iyagi (My Beautiful Girl Mari) in 2002; til then I’d only known it as a place where Japan farmed out their inbetweens. This article at fpsmagazine has some backstory about the emergence of Korea as a force in animation — apparently it’s the result of deliberate governmental tampering with the economy, starting in 1995 after animation was found to be the country’s top cultural export. So far the results are interesting and experimental. South Korea activate!

Tekkon Kinkreet

Thursday, April 19th, 2007

As a rule, I bounce off manga. Most of it reads like a Lichtenstein parody. Black and White, aka Tekkon Kinkreet by Taiyo Matsumoto, nonetheless rocked my tiny world back in the day, with its unabashed depiction of childhood as a never-ending monster movie, with the kids as humans and the grownups as monsters, and to cope the kids develop super-powers.

Previously, that same world had been rocked by this music video for Ken Ishii, directed by Koji Morimoto (animation director on Akira). So when this teaser for an animated version of Black and White was released in 1999, directed by that same Morimoto-San, I was very very excited:

It was made in Softimage by a team of 12 people, using the same Toon Shader used in Miyazaki’s Princess Mononoke.

Alas, they shopped it in the States instead of somewhere where they liked anime, and it wasn’t funded, and instead we got Treasure Planet. The guy who made Toon Shader, a SoCal kid named Michael Arias, went on to produce The Animatrix (2003), for which Morimoto-San directed the “Beyond” segment, which further blew my tiny mind.

Finally, eight years after the first try, the animated feature is back for real, with a website, a trailer, music by Plaid, and everything. It’s tentatively scheduled for a July release in the States according to IMDB.

It’s still Morimoto’s studio, Studio 4°C, but this time it’s directed by Arias, who apparently all but led a crusade to get the thing made. Also, they’ve ditched the 3D cel-shader look for that old-time 2D religion. There’s a juicy making-of article in Japanese design magazine PingMag.

Arias was interviewed about the whole sordid process just before the movie was released in Japan last December in this article in the Japan Times. Salient quote: “We’re not going to pay you anything, but you can do whatever you want.”

Rock on, Michael Arias, get down with your white self.