Shinichiro Watanabe offers comments on each episode of Samurai Champloo.
An interview with Cowboy Bebop’s director/character designer/composer team. Contains a couple nuggets of information (Yoko Kanno was composing ost pieces a year before production started, Ein was modeled after Yoko Kanno, the “new genre unto itself” eyecatch quote was inserted into the show without Watanabe’s permission).
Along with an understanding of the broader context of the subject, the most vital ingredient to good anime coverage is a reliable source. So when US journalists actually interview people on the production side in Japan, it’s generally worth noting unless the interview consists entirely of fluff. This is the latest of what will hopefully be a couple more posts archiving articles from Newtype USA’s [inside] series of articles written by Amos Wong. This article on studio 4C includes President Eiko Tanaka talking about global markets and the technical aspect of continuous takes, Koji Morimoto talking about his work on the Animatrix and the producer who got him involved in the project, and Shinichiro Watanabe talking his issues with tight schedules.
Note: Pictures are scans of the article made on my crappy scanner, which cover the article text but not the entire page. They’re also in greyscale, because I’m interested in archiving interview text and color scans make the process more of a headache than it needs to be. Apologies for that. Scans after the jump, along with comments on the contents of the article.
When we made a countdown podcast hyping the upcoming season, we offhandedly decided not to note that our three top series were coming out on the same day, joining an excellent pair of sports series in what has classically been the first or second most stacked day of the week. Straight dope, the past 24 hours had the potential to be pretty great. The keyword there is always “potential”; rarely does the entire slate of shows with upside pan out, and even those with very favorable preseason outlooks can disappoint. However, this time, things went on a bit different bent than usual. Seitokai Yakuindomo Confirmed Using Steroids got straight-up obnoxious with Suzu’s head. Robot Girls Z was twice as long as we previously thought. And Ian Sinclair was, in fact, Space Dandy. Which is now a 2-cour project. Since Arpeggio’s v1 sales numbers neatly edged out 10k, I’ve got an unbreakable three-way tie for favorite news of the weekend. Let’s break it down.
You knew it was coming. Shinichiro Watanabe’s return is Number One on the Unstoppable Hype Machine as it comes to a (surprising) stop for the season.
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.
Dangan Ronpa is so damn campy. But I love campy. So I love it. In all seriousness, there was a choice to be made when this anime was adapted. The staff could take the source material and turn it into a serious work about a bunch of teenagers forced to kill each other in a sadistic game they’ve been trapped inside of. Not that that genre is at all saturated. Or they could just make an anime that celebrates the already zany source material and went wild with the game-adaptation portion. There were plenty of points this episode where I found myself thinking “oh yeah, this is a game adaptation”, but there were exactly zero where I found myself minding.
Instrumental anime openings are fairly rare. So I decided to take a look at the ones I knew. As usual when I examine a list of more than ten things, a few points jumped out at me. So I thought I’d share.
Short version: Instrumental openings often succeed. Because they try harder. They have to; they’re taking a risk, going against a current that carries lots of proverbial fish. And also because the people who tend to take that risk generally tend to be talented people. But they’re not a guaranteed winner for a show by any means.
So a while ago I wrote about veteran Sound Director Katsuyoshi Kobayashi’s wizardly handling of Space Brothers’ audio. At the time, I had to look up his name on ann, but I didn’t check his specific creator page. The other day, I went back and finally did. It turns out this isn’t the only anime-of-the-decade candidate* he’s worked on with a director named Watanabe. In celebration of this individual who’s handled a number of sublime auditory anime experiences and yet has to date zero comments or favorites on his myanimelist page, I’m going to spend this column by talking about the musically crafted battle sequence to trump (almost) all others, the last 6 minutes of Cowboy Bebop.
(This post contains obvious ending spoilers for a 15-year-old show that you either have watched or will find yourself watching the moment you inform someone who has that you haven’t. So there.) Continue reading