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In a previous video, I talked about when anime went digital and how that completely changed
the medium.
In this video, I want to look at the new generation of animators in Japan and the revolutionary
tools they're using to change the medium once again.
I'm going to look at how studios went from just getting to grips with digital animation
in the early 2000s to studios funding projects based on the skills of a fresh generation
of animators.
A good place to start would be at the beginning of the 00s with an individual who is now one
of the biggest names in the medium, but was at this time only a little known name working
for a video game company.
Makoto Shinkai found himself without a job in 2002 and took up the mammoth task of single-handedly
creating his own anime using commercial software like Photoshop and After Effects.
After 7 months of production, Voices of a Distant Star was released and set a new bar
for what could be done in the industry.
It gathered so much media attention that a professional dub was funded and the movie
was given an official release.
Shinkai had completely changed the perception of what was required to enter the anime industry
and inspired a whole generation of independent animators.
Voices of a Distant Star was just as good, if not better than a lot of TV anime coming
out at the time and it sent ripples throughout the industry.
In his book: Anime: A history, Jonathan Clements likens Shinkai's impact to Gainax's Daicon
4 animation in the early 80s.
This is a good comparison as they both broke industry standards and revolutionised certain
techniques at the foot of new eras in the medium.
And they both succeeded not because of financial funding or studio size but i revolutionary
sense of passion for anime.
This of course is infinitely more significant as it led to a very fruitful career for Shinkai,
he went on to create a handful of fully realised projects, including the recent, ever successful
Your Name.
And that is what's important.
Before, animators would have to either go to some form of animation school or go through
a studio's training programme before they even given in-between work, slogging away
for years to step-by-step make it to the position they wanted.
Shinkai was one of the early cases of people revising this process.
Ryousuke Sawa, an animator, who came from a similar video game background to Shinkai
was another very important figure in this movement.
Ryo-timo as he's commonly known was one of the first in a generation of Web-gen animators.
These are animators who have entered the industry after the advent of the internet and who have
used the internet to break into the industry.
Osamu Kobayashi first scouted Ryo-timo for the series Beck in 2004.
Without any experience in the industry, he was thrown into a Key Animator role.
This was an unprecedented move and a huge risk for Kobayashi.
Although Ryo-timo's portfolio was strong, there was no guarantee he could perform outside
his specific style, or adapt to the anime working environment.
Thankfully, he performed magnificently and was kept on for the rest of the series.
This is, similar to Shinkai, a landmark change in the industry.
Ryo-timo had paved the way for the new generation of animators, and he would be the first of
many of his kind.
Hiring these kinds of animators is risky but if successful, produce some of the most interesting
animation cuts.
Unique creators like this are able to perform highly in unconventional techniques and whole
styles have been birthed from these rouge animators.
From now on a whole new sector of the market is born, let's look at how it evolved.
With new animators came new animation tools.
We discussed in the last video that anime had turned into a digital medium, but even
with all the aid of computers, the majority of the industry still use pencil and paper
for the fundamentals of their craft.
But the wave of web-gen animators have brought their own tools.
The most popular being Flash, an off-the-shelf animation program.
Now there are some misconceptions when talking about Flash animation in anime.
It's a very popular technique in the current industry but the software isn't actually
used to animate anything.
Animators use flash today much like how Animators on Akira used the Quick Action Recorder back
in 1988.
They draw out each frame in flash and preview the movement of each scene to make sure it
all flows correctly, but will then export them out and composite the animation in the
traditional way.
Much like in Akira, this is a time-saving technique that just slightly bends the traditional
animation process.
Although some creators have taken this innovation to the next level.
Masaaki Yuasa and his studio Science SARU have used flash as an actual animation tool.
Using the automatic in-between animation to create funky and unique movement that couldn't
be achieved with pencil and paper.
Yuasa used it on his series Ping Pong and SARU's recent movie Lu over the Wall that
showcased some of the most interesting and elegant animated sequences i've ever seen.
This is really smart and efficient, a perfect example of the web-gen attitude.
But lets look into how web-gen animators went from industry rarities to a well accepted
career path.
The evolution of web-gen animators really coincides with specific projects.
Shows or movies were the people in charge actively seeked out unconventional talent
and gave them the creative control needed to push their abilities.
When an animator has to stick too closely to a storyboard or specific style, they can
lose their personal signature and end up fitting in with everyone else.
It takes directors or producers to break the mold and allow them to develop.
One of the early and very important examples of a project like this was the anime adaptation
of Tetsuwan Birdy in 2008.
This is important for two reasons, one is that it gave Ryo-timo a considerable amount
of screentime to showcase his growing skill on a large platform, and it can be seen as
part of a stylistic turning point in anime.
Around this time, the medium was changing quite significantly.
And there's no doubt that the introduction of web-gen animators contributed to this.
His work here still has a long way to come but it's certainly distinct and stands out
as different from the standard animation of the show.
Ryo-timo has this style were he really puts focus on the key frames, almost having each
little moment of action appear in slow motion throughout the scene to highlight the key
poses.
This gives off an enormous sense of style and adds a lot of weight to the action in
the cuts.
He also quite fantastically moves the camera, almost at all times even if it's just subtle
camera wobble.
Ryo-timo's contributions were extremely valuable, and he was offering a skill set
that might not have developed had he gone through the usual education process.
Tetsuwan Birdy is certainly important but the real landmark project was in 2013 with
Yozakura Quartet: Hana no Uta.
This was a new adaptation of the franchise by Tatsunoko Productions, who, after decades
and decades of production were now in the business of bringing to life more unique and
interesting projects.
Looking at this decade in comparison to the studio's other decades shows a real interest
in creating experimental works and hiring unconventional staff.
A move than I think is overlooked by a lot of anime fans when talking about the studio.
More importantly, Ryo-timo was given the incredibly daunting task of taking on the roles of director,
chief animation director and even doing storyboard and character design work.
It became his project.
This was a mammoth task for Ryo-timo having only been in the industry a single decade.
And he didn't plan on cutting any corners.
He brought in a myriad of young, contemporary staff to work on the show and sprinkled them
throughout every episode.
I can only image what the studio looked like during production.
The amount of variety and the sheer size of its staff would normally be frowned upon.
It's a huge case of too many chefs spoil the broth, except the chefs end up creating
a rather tasty broth.
What I liked about the animation of the show was how varied it was.
It wasn't only action scenes or specific cuts, there were moments of impressive animation
in every corner of the show.
I specifically liked the cuts from Ryu Nakayama who specializes in energetic character animation.
He uses perspective brilliantly and has a real skill for animating non-human elements.
Sprinkling unique pieces of animation like Nakayama's throughout the series adds such
a personal touch to the show.
You really get the sense that this production was something different and new.
Although this was just a single tv series, it became an immensely important project,
paving the way for countless similar ventures in the future.
Ryo-timo's work here was so unique and changed the way people approached the anime industry,
the era of web-gen animators was now in full swing.
Recognising the appeal and artistic success of Yozakura Quartet, Space Dandy was released
a year later in 2014.
It shared the same idea of giving a platform to lots of different creators but had a much
more established foundation, with Shinichiro Watanabe came in as the general director.
Space Dandy attracted industry individuals from every stylistic corner, with lifetime
veterans to up and coming talent.
It was almost a celebration of the modern anime industry with every episode offering
something new and impressive.
And that's how it worked.
People were given a basic conceptual foundation to start with but had complete creative control
to take their episodes wherever they wanted.
Everything from the gorgeous expressionist animation of Shinya Ohira & Masaaki Yuasa
to Yutaka Nakamura's mesmerizing character animation to Yoshimichi Kameda's explosive
action animation.
Space Dandy has it all, there's never a dull moment.
And the series distinguished itself from the norm further by premiering its episodes in
America a few hours before they were shown in Japan.
With a full english dub, Space Dandy was one of the first anime shows to really acknowledge
this massive online overseas market.
Which makes it a real landmark for modern digital anime.
It was not only acknowledging that these markets exist but completely embracing them.
It was traditional in many aspects of its production but completely contemporary with
how it presented itself.
I think the legacy and success Space Dandy has left behind will be massively influential
in where the industry goes in the future.
It both pays respect to the medium's classic and looks forward to the future, it's a
milestone in the modern era of anime.
You could say that these last few projects have completely changed the way anime production
works.
We have shows every year now utilizing new and exciting staff and presenting their projects
in innovating ways.
A few years prior, in 2009, a manga artist named One began publishing a web comic named
One Punch Man.
Despite it's home-made aesthetic, the webcomic garnered a massive amount of attention and
in 2012 he was approached by Yusuke Murata with an offer to redraw his webcomic and publish
it in a popular magazine.
After continued popularity an anime was put into production.
And a very special production it would be.
With now legendary animators such as Yoshimichi Kameda and Hidehiko Sawada working on the
show, it quickly captured the community with breathtaking animation cuts.
In a time where the majority of TV anime productions are scarcely animated and corner cutting,
One Punch Man was a surprise to most viewers, something they might have never even seen
before.
And because of this, it pushed a really important message.
The complexity of One Punch Man's production wasn't down to a budget or staff size but
down to the passion of the people who worked on it.
It changed a lot of viewer perceptions about anime production and gave everyone a real
appreciation for the most important variable in a production: passion.
And with the industry's celebration of unique talent with projects like One Punch Man and
Space Dandy has come a celebration from the community as well.
Celebrating the intricacies and stylistic scope of animation has become a popular topic,
with many fans adopting the term Sakuga.
Now Sakuga is a term that just means animation in Japan, but, like terms such as Moe and
Otaku, it's gained additional connotations.
We now refer to Sakuga as a term of endearment for specific cuts of animation.
Almost to say Sakuga refers to good animation rather than just animation in general.
And this has formed a whole corner of the community who enjoy studying and celebrating
the exemplary animation coming out of the medium.
Animators like Kameda and Ryo-timo have gained legendary status among fans and have actually
become an commercial draws for projects themselves, just like directors or voice actors.
On the back of these pivotal careers and projects, we've seen changes in anime studios aswell,
who are essentially the backbone of the industry.
The way studios function hasn't really changed since Tezuka invented the system back in the
early 60s.
Which has led to a lot of controversy in working conditions and rates of pay as the industry
has scaled up, especially in recent years.
But a number of studios have embraced the new culture.
There have been older studios that have evolved into a modern, digital environment like Shaft
and Kyo-Ani.
Who have both changed the system to which they work and employed exciting staff.
Kyo-Ani have been praised constantly over the last few years for their unique working
conditions.And there are also new studios, birthed from ambitious individuals of older
studios like Trigger and MAPPA.
Founded by industry veterans to create new and experimental productions.
And also completely new studios that have become viable because of niche markets and
interest in avant-garde styles because of anime's digital era, such as Science SARU.
Yuasa has been able to start his own studio and really push the abilities of himself and
his team.
They've created two movies this year and have a series coming out for Netflix early
next year.
They're blurring the line between the commercial mainstream and niche obscurity.
I can't image this would of been viable to this consistency in previous decades.
And that brings us to, right now.
We in the midst of a digital revolution in anime were the most exciting productions each
year are obscure staff lists with experimental visions.
No longer are we constrained to the bulk production of long running anime.
The last few years have been jam packed with exciting new productions being made in fascinating
new ways.
And they're more easily accessible than ever with streaming services offering more
and more options to watch anime than ever.
And with big players like Netflix funding exciting projects like Yuasa's Devilman
now, who knows what's round the corner.
But we're still in the very early days of the industry shift, so please leave a comment
on the video with the aspect you're most excited about seeing over the coming years.
Is it seeing more attention given to interesting animators or have more inclusive access to
anime with streaming services.
Let me know in the comments.
And if you did enjoy this video, please make sure you're subscribed and share it around
if you can.
I really appreciate everyone who's watching my content at the moment, i'm working on
a bunch of other really exciting projects at the moment too so keep an eye on the channel.
But for now, why don't you check out another video.
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Anime's Digital Revolution

273 Folder Collection
二百五 published on September 11, 2019
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