Recent Viewings- Inu Yasha the Final Act Part 1

During last weeks blizzard I was also able to get through the recent release of the final ¬†act part 1 of Inu Yasha. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Inu Yasha, it started as a manga series by Rumiko Takahashi. It was so popular that an anime series was created as well. However, the production of the anime series eventually caught up to the manga and production ceased. Without an ending to the story, they couldn’t complete the series.

The manga eventually ended and production started up again to finish off the series. After several years we now have the first part of the ending to the epic series (it spans over 7 seasons). I recall buying season 7 when I was in college, so it has been a good 4 year gap in production at least, but, that is exactly what I want to write about.

Last week I wrote about the increased production value in a series called Initial D over the span of the four seasons that have been out so far and at the start of the CGI movement in Japan.

I won’t spoil anything in Inu Yasha so have no fear, I strictly want to discuss some of the interesting things I found in the production gap. First off, you will notice the brighter coloration of the characters. This is because the previous season of Inu Yasha were done with traditional cel style animation. If you seen some of my Japan pictures you can see that I actually picked up a few cels when I was in Japan. The reason for this brightness in the color is because the new season is digitally painted, and digitally painting and compositing allow you to reach colors that traditional cel animation and paints couldn’t. If you want to see a true range of effects you can reach with digital painting I would recommend RedLine.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2t26m_Q6ENo&w=560&h=315]

To give you an idea of what the first season’s coloring looked like, here is the opening to the first season.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hzsPUtioKsM&w=420&h=315]

Here is a trailer for the Final Act part 1. As you can see the colors appear brighter than the previous opening. Also note the glows on some of the shots, lens flares and particle effect as well. There are even clips of 3D objects in the trailer that are used through out the series as well that weren’t in the first several seasons.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=otUkNm6Vd9A&w=560&h=315]

Inu Yasha also used more special effects for different dimensions, transitions between dimensions and even some character attacks. These added effects add an extra level of production quality. The effects look crisp and well polished. Some of the effects when done in previous seasons were simply background paintings, but by using CGI for these they can add very nice secondary effects.

If you want to really see how much CGI has evolved in not only Inu Yasha but anime in general, Adult Swim on cartoon network is actually showing the first season on Inu Yasha again and it is also showing Samurai 7 which was a transitional title between cel and digital. These two shows will give you an idea of what to look for before you watch Inu Yasha the Final Act part 1.To my knowledge the same voice actors dubbed this season too so there isn’t any new voices taking over for familiar faces.

I have continued to notice that backgrounds and special effects continue to dominate the use of CGI and not many characters are animated using CGI, they still remain hand drawn. I am very interested to see if this trend continues.

I have only been able to watch the season one time through so far, I usually try to enjoy the story the first time around and then in other viewings I really start to dissect things. I am sure this won’t be the last I mention this season and I look forward to seeing the second part of the final act next year.

Next week will bring another production update. Stay tuned, exciting things coming.

Recent Viewings- Initial D

In the world of creating content, you can not constantly create, there must be a time where you unwind and take new content in. It is within this time, that more ideas, inspiration and more start to plant the seeds in one’s mind. Having said that, I want to start sharing some of the things I watch and some of the ideas and inspiration that I get from them and how they may shape the future of the Cosmic Rage project.

A few months ago, at the SGMS conference, I gave a presentation on the history and some of the techniques of CGI in Japanese animation. In the late 1990’s there were a few titles that were experimenting with CGI. One of the series I discussed was a show called Blue Sub Number 6. One of the series I wanted to talk about but had to cut out due to time, was a show called Initial D.

A friend of my suggested Initial D a while back and I was pretty late in getting to watch it. This past weekend, with the blizzard I had a chance to watch Season 2 (Stage 2) and also a couple of bonus episodes and the movie that is considered Stage 3.

Initial D is a story about a high schooler who works at a car shop and also delivers tofu, but starts to become a street racer. The story follows the typical power creep storyline, where the main character overcomes villains who consistently become stronger and harder to beat.

The true gem about Initial D is truly the innovative artwork that went into the series. Initial D used 3D CGI for all of the car racing scenes while maintaining the cel style artwork for the character scenes. In the first stage, A scene was generally done either in 3D CGI or cel art, there wasn’t really any compositing or the merging of cel art with 3D CGI. In the second stage there was more compositing of 2D and 3D artwork.

When I was learning about the production of Initial D, I learned that after stage 1 did so well, they had a larger budget for the second stage. Also take into account of the growth of technology and software, and stage 2 has a more polished look. The artwork for the Stage 3 movie builds on the stage 2 series.

So you can see the difference, here is a trailer for Stage 1 from FUNimation

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tHvaT3GzJRo&w=420&h=315]

Here is a trailer for stage 2, as you can see, there are a few shots where you can clearly see car renderings in 3D composited with the 2D characters.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-F3WCRKYYgI&w=420&h=315]

Finally, here is a trailer for the 3rd stage film.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JktTBNxOwiA&w=420&h=315]

You can see from the first to the third stage, there is a progression in the art. If you have the chance to watch a few episodes I would highly suggest it just from a production stand point.

After all of this, you may be asking how this pertains to the Cosmic Rage project. Well, Cosmic Rage is going to feature 2D characters, and I am experimenting with using 3D environments. I want to combine my experiences with drawing, animation, design and motion graphics to create something new.

That is what series such as Blue Sub Number 6 and Initial D did when computer animation started to surface in Japan.