Attack on Titan Book and the Little Witch Academia Documentary

I meant to post this a while back, but I bought the first Attack on Titan Key Animation book when it got released. It only covers episodes one through three, the initial promotional video, and the ED. There’s a new volume that got released this month that covers episodes four through seven. Seems kinda ludicrous to release them in this way. I can understand dividing up the show in half, but there is no need to only cover three to four episodes per book. The show itself was full of static and rushed shots throughout the entire series. There was good work when it came to the actions scenes– hence why I bought the book– but spreading out the worthwhile material like this is clearly a way for them to squeeze every single cent out of the fans who are interested in collecting this kind of material.

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Naruto Shippuden

From around April through October, the production for Naruto Shippuden takes a hit due to resources being diverted to the annual movie that debuts in the summer. The best example of this is during the Pain arc (summer of 2010), which had high expectations given the source material only to have a fairly mediocre adaptation in the end. The only outliers were episodes 166-167, the latter drawing much controversy thanks to its fairly ambitious and unrestrained approach.

The summer of 2011 was not bad in comparison. Partly because there was a filler arc in place of canon material, but also because of the promotion of Studio Pierrot animator Masayuki Kouda (above) to the regular rotation of animation directors. Kouda joined Studio Pierrot in the early 2000s where he started out as an in-betweener on shows such as Twelve Kingdoms and the original Naruto series. He made his animation director debut in late 2010 on episode 180 of Shippuden where he was paired up ex-Kyoto Animation animator Gorou Sessha (storyboard/episode director).
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Faces to a name: Milos and Redline.

Koike and Ishii with models of the cars seen in Redline.

After seeing the making-of featurette for FMA: Milos, I got the idea of posting pics of the staff involved. I also took some pics of the Redline staff while I was at it. Even if you follow anime staff members, it’s not very often that you get to see them. You can see interviews with staff members in magazines or at a special event for a particular show, but it’s a fact voice actors are much at the forefront when it comes to promoting these shows. They highly demanded by the anime fanbase in general, so, on the other side, it’s only natural that most staff members tend to stay in the background as a result.

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FMA: Milos Sakuga MAD.

It took a lot of work to get it done, but the MAD for FMA: Milos finally got finished! I helped out a bit on it, but Murad and liborek really did the bulk of the work for this one. The video actually had to be done twice, since it originally came up with some bad looking blocking and overall compression issues. But it worked out in the end.

On a side note, yeah, the Redline MAD got taken down on Youtube due to a copyrights claim. Murad tired to appeal it, but it didn’t work out in the end. Can’t really do much about it.

Fullmetal Alchemist: Sacred Star of Milos Key Animation Book.

I received the key animation book for FMA: Sacred Star of Milos a few days ago and I’d thought I’d post a few pics on the blog. The book itself is supervised by animation director Kiyotaka Oshiyama (credited with task in katakana above the rest of the ADs which credited in kanji) and character designer/chief animation director Kenichi Konishi. It has an interview between the two of them, along with a feature on how to read time sheets. The middle of the book also features an interview with Tomohisa Shimoyama, Shintarou Douge, Yoshimcihi Kameda, Gosei Oda, Daisuke Mataga, and Kazuhiko Yabumoto.The book at the end has some editorial notes by Konishi and Oshiyama, surrounded by photos of the staff.

The book is fairly extensive with key animation, key animation corrections, settings, original background art (背景原図), and layout corrections (with the untouched key animation provided to highlight the difference of before and after the layout has been corrected).

It looks like the book is running out of stock in fairly short order, which is no surprise given how good the animation is for this movie. I’d recommend grabbing a copy as soon as you can if you’re interested.

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Fullmetal Alchemist: The Sacred Star of Milos

I just came back from watching Fullmetal Alchemist: The Sacred Star of Milos in the theater and it was enjoyable experience to be able to watch this movie with a crowd. I arrived at the theater 25 minutes late, but I easily caught up to what I was going on since the movie slowed down about 3-4 times to lay down the exposition and backstory they came up with just for this movie. Script-wise, the movie was mostly what you would expect from a yearly shonen movie from franchises like Naruto, One Piece or Bleach. There’s a new character introduced, they focus a lot on that character, but not enough on the characters you’ve actually grown to care about (in this case, Roy Mustang, who’s underrepresented in the film). But, while they lay down the plot a bit thick, the story they bring here does at least tie into the themes that you see in the other FMA works– racial conflicts between nations (Daryl Surat said it was the best anime analogy for the Israel/Palestine conflict ever and that’s appropriate to say) and military intervention with a shady ulterior motive. It doesn’t necessarily build upon any storyline in the movie, but nobody really expected it to. I would highly recommend watching this movie with a group of people. Hopefully they are as receptive and into the movie as the crowd I was with, as they really responded positively to the movie and that made the experience better.

You know what also made this movie better? There’s about 100% less jokes about Ed’s height. So assuming they didn’t have 10 of them in the first 25 minutes, this movie is pretty solid in that regard too.

The biggest draw going into the movie for me was the animation work that was being done. You could instantly tell they went in a different direction from the rest of the series just by looking at the poster. The aforementioned crowd enthusiasm in the theater I went to was a bit surprising to me, as all I saw online was vitriolic hatred towards the style they decided to use for this movie. I imagine there will still be a significant portion of the fanbase who will not like this movie simply because of the animation. However, I have to tip my hat to the people at BONES, Aniplex, and whomever else on the production committe that was bold enough to go forward with a movie that totally overhauled the visuals from what was established in the previous anime productions of FMA.

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Redline Sakuga MAD

A few weeks ago I purchased the Redline Key Animation book on Amazon JP. I had planned to do a detailed breakdown of the shots that were indentified in the book and make a blog post about it, but I decided to team with XMuradX to make another sakuga MAD together. It’s a much better experience to see a MAD with the names in the bottom left than reading a technical breakdown.

The book itself is set up like an art book, using an entire page to show off one or a few key animation frames instead of a usual key animation book which would show off all of the key frames in that particular cut. As a result, you don’t get to see the full sequences that these great animators came up with Takeshi Koike’s direction, but it’s a worthwhile purchase if you enjoyed the film. I posted some pictures on my Twitter account a while back:

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