The last month has been a hectic whirlwind. Packing for the move has been in full force, it never ceases to amaze me at how much “stuff” I have until it comes time to move. Everything fits into the apartment but when it comes time to putting it in boxes, boy it feels like an endless endeavor. I love packing up my movies and seeing all of the great ones that I need to have on when I get back into work shortly. Castle in the Sky anyone? I also plan on legitimately starting a “to watch” pile for the films and series that have made their way onto my shelves and haven’t gotten viewed yet, it feels like a crime. Ghost in the Shell Innocence? *Facepalm
I got my revisions made to my e-book and have them submitted to my editor for one final pass before publishing. This should be good to go into the store soon. Most of the edits have been making sure pages didn’t have a pixel bleed that was distracting and I also need to tweak a few pieces of art, which will be things I tackle tonight. Mostly subbing in new renders for ones I didn’t get to before as I was working on the episode and shelved the e-book for a bit.
Things will calm down this week a little bit more. I finished up one of my freelance projects and things are moving pretty well on the packing front. That will wrap up before I head on vacation to unplug for a bit. More stuff coming soon!
The other week I mentioned that I have been studying up on some of my favorite directors in anime. Currently, Satoshi Kon has been my subject. However, before I started with Satoshi Kon, Mamoru Oshii was my subject matter. It all started with Amazon suggesting the title “The Stray Dog of Anime: Mamoru Oshii” by Brian Ruh.
I haven’t seen all of Oshii’s work yet, but I have seen some of his works; Ghost in the Shell, Avalon and Blood the Last Vampire. The book made me realize I need to push more of his work to the top of my viewing list, such as his work on the Patlabor films and also Jin Roh.
So with reading about Oshii’s work and seeing a couple of his films, what can I say that I learned or was inspired by thus far. Without talking about this, there really was no point in studying or learning about each.
Prior to starting my study on Oshii’s work, I didn’t know much about him or his work outside of Ghost in the Shell. Oshii’s work have many themes in them, but all can be boiled down to technology, politics and war. This point was probably the biggest surprise to me to a certain extent but also an inspiration. For the sole fact that I always felt that most directors continually work on various projects with a wider range of themes. So reading about his work and seeing that he was continually using these themes but telling different stories with different character archetypes was intriguing.
Without seeing some of the films it is hard to distinguish which films (if any) deviate farthest from the generalization of the themes Oshii uses. So I will need to see more to see if I agree with the broad statement above.
I have been a fan of films and series that have a feeling of a social commentary in them. One of such titles is Gantz (the anime). Oshii’s work has elements of social commentaries but at the same time, stories such as Ghost in the Shell, (in my opinion) seem to take the social commentary and push it and ask a question of “is this the direction we want to go?” or showing possibilities of continuing down a certain path whether it is political or technological.
I will be sure to post up more things in the future about Oshii as my study of his work goes further with the viewings of more of his films and more to come soon featuring Satoshi Kon’s work.
As many of us know, Toonami is back on Cartoon Network and airing many of our favorite shows, such as Ghost in the Shell, Cowboy Bebop and InuYasha. But Toonami has also been airing new titles and also some titles that have slipped through my personal viewing list. Which brings up todays review of Samurai 7.
Samurai 7 was released in 2004 by Gonzo, which was one of the earlier adopters and experimenters of CGI in anime. Funimation currently holds the rights to what is known as the most expensive anime, costing around $300,000 an episode to produce and is based on the Akira Kurosawa film, the Seven Samurai but with a sic fi twist.
I haven’t seen Kurosawa’s film so the anime has been my first introduction to the storyline, and also leaves me blank in drawing comparisons between the two titles. Admittedly, I am not a huge samurai fan, the title has been suggested by several friends so I went on a week by week episodic journey via Toonami. Maybe it was the week by week viewing method, but at certain points the story felt a little slow and there were weeks that the story felt a little rushed, which gave the overall story a bit of an inconsistently paced impression.
There are a few strings of episodes that feel very well put together, there is mostly a little lag at the start, middle and the end feels a bit rushed. Overall, the story contained an interesting premise and I wonder if the uneven pacing is due to my viewing habits or if they are places that were drawn out when compared to the original film.
Since Samurai 7 was produced in the early 2000’s, the CGI is typical of the time period and consistent with some of the other titles I have reviewed such as Burst Angel. This means the robots are animated stiffly, some objects and special effects are rendered in CGI and also that there is a gap in the overall compositing of the project (the explosions feel as if they are overlaid onto the animation and not blended in) which Burst Angel used a destroyed city with an orange sky to help blend the two.
Having said that, the CGI in the last few episodes is noticeably better than the previous 20+ episodes. Most likely a combination of their more experienced CGI animators and more of the budget allocated to those as well.
Overall, Samurai 7 is a title worth checking out. The unique combination of the samurai lifestyle and enemies using sic fi weapons and robotics is an interesting twist on the time period. The CGi isn’t too distracting from the rest of the art, and the show has a wide variety of interesting characters. There is a samurai that almost anyone can connect with.
You can even check out the episodes on Funimations site here since it recently finished up its run on Toonami. Have you already seen Samurai 7? Let me know what you thought of the show!
Its that time of the week that production updates are to be discussed. The week has been a little bit of a whirlwind. I started the week being able to complete a couple drawings for the final scene. I also spent some time rehearsing and tweaking my presentation at the 2012 Schoolgirls and Mobilesuits (SGMS) conference. Outside of the conference I had some travel time in and also some freelance work to complete. So to be blunt and honest, I didn’t get a whole lot done in terms of production. Having said that, I did have a great time at SGMS, met a lot of very cool people, saw some new anime and finally I met Dai Sato and was able to ask him some questions that I had had and had developed over the conference ( I even got my picture taken with him 🙂 ).
So today’s production post is going to be hijacked with a short recap of the SGMS conference. For those of you that don’t know what SGMS is, it is a conference where presenters are allowed to present topics from animation, culture and manga from Japan.
I tend to try to present ideas and findings from an artistic standpoint. This year I shared my findings of not only the history of CGI in Japanese animation but also the use and techniques. The presentation went well and it meshed well with the other presenters in the panel. The presentation was inspired by my desire to combine 3D with 2D for the Cosmic Rage motion comic. Did you know CGI was shown in Japanese animation back in 1983? Now you know 😉
This year, just to name a few, I went to a panel that talked about pre and post 9-11 terrorism as reflected in the Gundam Franchise, Rock Music as a Cultural motif in Naoki Urasawa’s 20th Century Boys (Which made me want to read the series), Vocaloid music and Hatsune Miku, and also a presentation on the politics of dismemberment in manga or more specifically Blade of the Immortal (another want to read now). Those are just a few of the ones I attended.
We also had anime screenings where we viewed some of the episodes that Dai Sato had written for such as Cowboy Bebop, Lupin the 3rd, Samurai Champloo, Ergo Proxy and Ghost in the Shell S.A.C. Just think, that’s not including titles such as Wolf’s Rain or Eureka Seven. The second night we also viewed a J-drama and an animated feature called Brave Story.
There was also a fashion show on Saturday night as well. I attended my first one last year and it was amazing and made me wonder why my sister never took me to one before that. It really is a great way to see alternative fashion, but more importantly it inspires clothing design for characters and worlds that you may be creating. I have went to several fashion websites and clothing encyclopedias for several of the character’s clothing designs in Cosmic Rage.
The weekend closed with an amazing group panel which people asked questions regarding various aspects of culture, animation and manga. Topics included pitching ideas, cross studio collaboration, of course Japanese animation, kick starter projects, small collaborative projects and so much more.
This was my 3rd consecutive year attending SGMS and every year I continue to meet amazing new people, learn new things, gain more things to add to the “must watch/read list” but most importantly it inspires me to keep working on this project. The thought of quitting it has never crossed my mind. I enjoy working every second on this project and I can’t wait till I am able to complete a couple more things so I have things to take around and further reach audiences and grow the fan base. And who knows, maybe more artists will join in on the project as it grows and develops. Stay Tuned for another Japan Adventure Update later this week!