Key Animation: Yuuto Kaneko, Tomohiro Shinoda, Moe Usami, Yusuke Soen, Nobutaka Masuda, Yoshihiro Maeda, Yuutaro Suzuki, Kei Shimada, Hiromi Masuda, Naoki Miyajima, Kosuke Kato, Yuki Igarashi, Shosuke Ishibashi, Fumiaki Kouta, Washio, Hiroshi Yamashita, Keita Nagasaka, Shiori Kudo, Yuki Sato, Naoto Abe, Tomohiro Takayama, Toshiyuki Sato, Yutaka Nakamura
BONES Animation Department – Haruna Hashimoto, Yuka Hirata
The long awaited return of Yoshimichi Kameda to the role of animation director finally happened. My expections were through the roof and yet this episode managed to surpass them. As far as I’m concerned, Kameda affirmed his position at the very top of the industry, and he has already become a household name that will be remembered as someone who had a big impact on anime as a whole. Just watching the endless amount of praise on twitter flowing from within the industry tells me I’m not alone in thinking that. I’m glad he declined the role of chief animation director because the payoff with this episode was much bigger. He was allowed to thoroughly work on it, so it all simply screamed KAMEDA in your face – the rough and sketchy linework, the snappy movement, those stylized poses. It all looks dirty, yet very polished. His flavor is all over it despite many styles coexisting within the episode; many idiosyncratic animators helped out, so the fact that he managed to impose some cohesion speaks volumes of Kameda’s prowess as an animation director – as well as key animator, of course.
To nobody’s surprise, Yuzuru Tachikawa storyboarded the episode assisted by episode 3’s director Katsuya Shigehara. I’ve praised Tachikawa’s skills almost every week so I’m going to move on a bit and talk about the episode director instead. Because believe it or not, this was his debut! Yuji Oya joined BONES in 2012 as a production assistant. He had been working on the production side ever since, contributing to Eureka Seven AO, Space Dandy and Snow White with the Red Hair. That has been a trend at BONES in recent years – production assistants tend to move onto directing after couple years of experience. A rather recent example would be Daigo Yamagishi. The studio however doesn’t employ people exclusively as episode directors (enshutsu), so they either continue doing their production job as well or go freelance – which would likely lead to them irregularly coming back as freelance episode directors. Yuji Oya has kept his job as the production setting guy on Mob Psycho, but I assume his employment will end once the show is finished. BONES veteran Yoshiyuki Takei was credited for assistance, likely guiding the newbie. Takei has been working at BONES since the very foundation of the studio. He used to be an enshutsu himself (the chief one on Wolf’s Rain even!), but later he decided to focus on photography instead. He’s employed at BONES’ Photography Department (ボンズ撮影部) and is particularly known for doing composite for Norimitsu Suzuki’s ending animations, using the cute pseudonym Chappi.
I was asked to talk about BONES’ Animation Department (ボンズ作画部), since they were credited under key animation this week. As the name implies, Animation Dept. is the in-house crew of animators employed by the studio. BONES mainly uses this department to train young inbetweeners, which they regularly hire every year. When they’re ready, they undergo a key animation exam – supposedly led by Toshihiro Kawamoto, but that’s unconfirmed so take it with a grain of salt – and if they pass… they get fired. Yes, quite literally. It means that their training has ended and now it’s time to move on, making room for new animation trainees. Most of the graduates continue to work for the studio as freelancers, so this system is ultimately quite effective. However, every rule has an exception. There are a few mainstay tweeners and key animators. I don’t know why or how they picked them, but the two that appeared in the credits belong to this group. And before people ask whether Yutaka Nakamura is a member of the Animation Dept. – no, he’s not, but he’s still employed full time at the studio. Some kind of special priviledge I suppose. 😉
I’ve praised Kameda to high heaven in the first paragraph, but paraphrasing his words, the episode was a spectacle thanks to the fantastic work of animators involed! Yuuto Kaneko – who already worked on episode 3 (Dimple’s transformation) – presumably animated the scene where Koyama activated his psychic power, then punched and kicked Mob up into the air. The shapes of various effects in the scene felt distinctly Yoh Yoshinari-ish, which would make a lot of sense coming from his student. The stunning series of punches that followed it was likely animated by Tomohiro Shinoda, a Production I.G school animator influenced and taught by Tetsuya Nishio. The use of squash and stretch technique made each punch and kick feel powerful, and the timing of the movement was a joy for the eyes. Legendary BONES action animation veteran Yutaka Nakamura animated the action climax, which featured many of his trademarks including impact frames and the so called “Yutapon cubes“. His usage of the transition from background art to background animation left me speechless. I wish I could go on with the rundown of animator identification, but those are all I feel very confident about. Kameda promised to detail it on twitter as usual, so expect this post to be updated in the near future when he does.
Next episode will supposedly continue with the powerful showcase of animation so please look forward to it!
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