The Anime Industry is a lot more interconnected than one might guess at first blush. This manifests itself both in meaningful ways and in silly ones. This series of posts, where I link Yugioh 5Ds to every other anime Kevin Bacon-style, is most definitely the latter. This time, I’m shackling the three most notable currently airing anime to the laughable albatross.
Aside from perhaps the hair episode of Yami Shibai, the 5-minute preview for Go Nagai’s Robot Girls Z was the most impressive, repeatable five minutes of animation I watched last month. If you haven’t seen it yet, it’s over here. Short version: it’s a 5-minute comedy which, but for the more modern cutesy character designs, could totally have been written by Go Nagai. Its style of humor, featuring excessive violence and heroes doing more damage than the monsters they fight, is what he’s always been all about.
Being that I was excited about the project (this was only the 0th episode), I flew over to ann to check the profiles of the freaks involved. As it turns out, the director, Hiroshi Ikehata, has only ever handled one TV series before (Ring ni Kakero), which isn’t a very good sample size to judge a director on. But he has held the position of episode director numerous times, on all manner of series (from A-Channel to Yuyushiki).
There are no less than 8 new directors making their debut in this Summer 2013 season with similar information about their early careers available.* One of them is Hiroko Utsumi, the director of Free! Others run the quality gamut, from C3-Bu’s Masayoshi Kawajiri to Neptunia’s Masahiro Mukai. And, lest I forget, Shishiou Igarashi made a smashing debut with The Unlimited this winter. It’s definitely possible for first-timers to post veteran-esque performances, but far from guaranteed.
This observation led me to a question; what, if anything, can we glean from a first-time director’s experience in the bullpen? If it that experience is important, what part of it is? Is it better to have worked as an understudy to a great creator on a memorable show, or to build up tons of experience grinding out lots of support roles? To attempt to answer these questions, I pulled up resumes for the 11 directors who first got their hands on a serial anime project in 2012 and combed them over to see if anything in particular was a good indicator of their respective performances. This article outlines a number of the potential performance I examined, some better than others.
Redline is the best anime movie I have ever seen. By which I mean it is the best anime I’ve ever seen and the best movie I’ve ever seen. While this summer season is certainly one for the books, it’s not delivering anything quite like that movie (and it wouldn’t be fair to ask it to). But because the movie’s now available free on youtube,* and because this is definitely the most fun season to be a part of since subs of the movie became available roughly 2 years ago, I decided to pay tribute by summarizing how everyone’s doing at (roughly) the halfway hash in the words of Sweet JP and co.
[Warning: Spoilers, if that kind of thing bothers you.]
Not that it matters, since the novel Free was based on was in the Kyoto Animation Award contest, but I think they were the perfect studio for this show. Of course, it’s a given that the high-energy swimming scenes would look good.* But the motion-heavy body language is boosting the comedy along with the action. something really pronounced in the one scene where Gou and Amakata revealed they wouldn’t be sleeping outside. Hiroko Utsumi really milked those one-syllable words for all they were worth.
Training-based interlude that it was, this episode did come across as extremely well-researched. It found ways outline some of the key concepts and terminology behind different swimming exercises and strokes. It also happened to include different ways people can learn how to swim. For example, I never encountered the “turtle float” method when I was learning to swim. It was a neat new angle on an old bit of knowledge.
It’s pretty standard for school life anime about high school clubs to devote at least one episode into persistently recruiting a new member, so this more generic premise made the episode a good point of comparison with other shows in the genre. It’s a testament to the man writing it that the garden-variety setup elevated the show and set an appreciably high baseline.
Based on what I’ve seen of reactions to Free on the internet, it seems like a large quantity of people are ruling it out with one glance at the promo material rather than 20 minutes of episode time. It’s becoming increasingly obvious how much of a shame that is, because this show is complete in ways it didn’t even have to be to be an enjoyable ride.
When P.A. works gets ambitious and does cool crap like this show, it’d be a disservice to the material to just have one reviewer. We’re breaking down the not-at-all-token arsty show of the new season, Uchoten Kazoku, buddy cop style!
Much has been made of the fact that the buzz-heavy Free represented Kyoto Animation/KyoAni in a departure from their typical character styles. Personally, I couldn’t give two bits about what other people had been hyping this show for. I was honestly just into it for the dynamic photography showcased in the trailer. And what do you know? It didn’t disappoint.