Via Anime Insider: Takahiro Omori (August 2007)

Director Takahiro Omori gives quotes on Baccano.

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Via Anime Insider: Directors’ Favorite Oldies (April 2006)

A bunch of anime directors talk about what their favorite series was growing up. It’s a neat topic that gets some pretty diverse answers.

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Fun With Numbers: Directors With Blockbuster Chops (Part 2: 2 Shows)

Continued from part 1, here are the rest of the directors that managed to notch multiple credits on 10,000 plus per volume hits. 13 guys directed two non-sequel hits, which, adding in the 4 from before, gives a total of 17 people in the history of anime to make this particular list.

As before, note that while anidb and ann are being used, they are potentially incomplete sources. For example, Tsuda Naokatsu only receives Uta Kata production assistance credit on ann. I will generally give direction credit to anyone who is listed as a director on one of the two sites, and directed a plurality of the episodes. Series director vs. plain Director titles for shows that gave the two to different people were tricky to interpret – I opted to give the title to the staffer listed as just director.

An Important Note About The Classification: I only included non-sequel anime when looking for directors. This means nothing with some manifestation of a 2 in the title. Ditto for Gundam or Macross franchise entries after the original. My rationale is that it’s a lot harder to make a prime-time anime from scratch, even with popular source material, than it is to continue living in a house you or someone else built. I count A Certain Scientific Railgun and Mononoke as spinoffs rather than sequels, as the series they spun off of are considerably less well-established franchises.

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First Reactions: Samurai Flamenco Episode 5

There are a couple of primary rules to following modern anime that I’ve discovered since first getting into it in 2007, something I feel I should mention because I violated one of them last week:

1. Never count out a show before it airs. It doesn’t matter if the studio, staff, and source material are all seemingly dog meat, miracles happen more often than you’d think.
2. Dropping anything new after 1 episode is perfectly acceptable. Shows that don’t have a gripping intro in today’s ultra-competitive market are the ones missing a beat. If they don’t care about themselves, neither should I. The inverse is not necessarily true; a good first episode means a lot more than a good third episode, where the staff can afford to throttle down for the sake of a particular story because they know they have their audience.
3. 90% of all game adaptations are bad according to people who played the game. Not so much for manga, where plenty of anime staffers have gotten absurd amounts of praise for storyboards that were basically carbon copies of their award winning source material.
4. Don’t expect people to like or hate the same things you do. Learn to love the party going on around a show or just leave it alone.
5. Doubt Takahiro Omori, Kishi Seiji, Kenji Nakamura, and Taniguchi Goro, under any circumstances, at your own peril. Though they don’t always hit home runs, they can do anything, they’ve proved it, and they just keep grinding like they’re playing Dragon Quest and unmade anime are a bunch of hapless slimes.

Flamenco-5-2

True to form, Omori and writer Hideyuki Kurata didn’t take long to go from the introduction of Flamenco Girl’s clashing colors to weave her and the consequences of her actions into the larger tapestry of circumstances. Now she’s been humanized, the cast in general has matured, and we’re set with at least 3 or 4 new emerging plot and character threads that ought to keep things fresh perhaps even to the halfway point.

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Sell Me in 20 Minutes: Samurai Flamenco and Galilei Donna

Minus Yowamushi Pedal (cheat to win-strong is still way too fresh in my head for me to care about cycling) and Pupa (airs who-knows-when), the last pair of shows to air this season are running in the noitaminA timeslot, the first pair of original series they’ve run in over a year. Shows on noitaminA are still cause for moderate excitement, but the brand’s taken a bit of a dip in recent years, so I approached the day’s fare with cautious optimism.

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First Reactions: Dangan Ronpa Episodes 11 and 12

Sorry for the incredibly late updates. I’ve had a busy time lately that I’d like to claim is all work’s fault, but it really has as much to do with Valkyria Chronicles 2 and the general greatness of Gatchaman Crowds. Which I’ve rewatched episodes of for hours episode 10 specifically, and is definitely the turning point pushing Kenji Nakamura past the ranks of very, very good situational directors into the tier of “watch me nail this magic trick I’ve never done before,” greats.*

Anyway, I’ll be getting back to writing over this weekend, skipping pics and just dishing my thoughts on the shows I was supposed to be covering** until I’m caught up. Also, look forward to some more crunched numbers; I’ve been running some data on anime adaptations of award-winning manga and the frequency of mecha anime pre- and post-3D mech animation techniques that should be ready relatively soon.

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New Directors: What’s In A Resume?

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.

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First Reactions: Dangan Ronpa Episode 3

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.

DanganRonpa-3-1

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Fun With Numbers: Studio Cred vs. Director Cred

This column is motivated by a discussion I had two months ago, about whether ARMS, a studio with Queen’s Blade and Hagure Yuusha no Estetica in its recent past, could really pull a good anime out of the Maoyu franchise, even with the writer/director team behind Spice and Wolf helming said show. It was a long, drawn-out debate, and it got me thinking: what names were really most important (in terms of both quality and sales) in predicting how an anime will do? For anime fans without enough time to watch every first episode in a season, it’s certainly an important question. I’ll be attempting to approach the answer to this question by remove my own biases from the equation as much as I can.

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