I can’t recall the last time a season opened (not counting Miss Monochrome yesterday because 4-minute shows that aren’t Teekyu and Puchimas can take a hike) with 3 shows I had pegged as high-odds winners in the first day. I can recall the last time a show I had pegged for high odds disappointed me with a breaking tailspin, so the eye test is obviously important here.
Every so often, the anime industry goes through a metamorphosis and comes out on the other side looking a bit different. In parts one and two of this series, I covered how late-night TV timeslots altered the landscape of how adult-oriented anime was produced and how the switch to digital painting affected both the abundance of shows made and the predominant artstyle. Unless you believe that we’re in the middle of the beginning of another one right now with Net-only full-season shows or 3DCG shows,* the most recent major sea change to beset industry was the introduction of Blu-Rays, which came into the field in late 2006 and were making up the majority of sales for most adult-oriented anime by 2009.
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.