Wednesday, 1 December 2010

I just finished watching Kaiba. It was sad and difficult and confusing, but I very much liked it. It's too complicated to do any justice with a brief crappy post like this, so all I'll say is that it definitely fits the bill of "anime you should watch if you like interesting things". Or if you like animation, or are just burnt out on stupid pandering crap.

It was nice to watch in the midst of Panty & Stocking, since it's pretty much the perfect antithesis. P&S is loud, abrasive, schlocky raw entertainment and it knows it, with angular characters even going to the extremes of inverted-curves design. Kaiba is subtle, low-key, DEEP as fuck, with characters that look all soft and pudgy.

I realise now that I didn't take any screenshots and I can't be bothered to get any right now to post. Fuck it, it's from 2008 anyway, you can find plenty about if you look. I'll probably rewatch it at some point and take millions of screenshots, though.

I suddenly realise that Neiro's waggly hair probably looks really strange up there. I can't even tell anymore. I knew I shouldn't ahve tried to to an animated doodle starting at midnight when I've got work tomorrow. La dee da.

I am beset upon to watch Venture Brothers instead of this animu bullshit. I shall get on that when I am not stupidly busy.

Thursday, 4 November 2010


I've been a bit bored lately. Did some work on a pitch for the lovely fellows at Treat and we won it so as of next week or so I will be a busy bee on some christmas ads. Other than that I have been doing alot of not much.

A nice timewaster I have found, which follows on from my former (and still to a small extent current) timekiller of doing Mario Paint Composer covers, is Notessimo, which is sort of like a more advanced, Flash based version. It has loads more instruments, lets you set volume and panning for individual notes, and has layers. I've been working on-and-off on a cover of "The Extreme", the final boss theme from Final Fantasy VIII. I don't remember that one being a particularly good game, but it's an incredibly awesome piece of music, and the equivalents from VI and VII have already been done (they're even on the Featured page!), so I thought, "Why not?" This is where I'm at right now.

Link in case the flash embed fails.

My attention span is rather short so while I will hopefully finish this (I'm fairly pleased with how it's going so I'd definitely like to), I don't know if I'll do many more in future. It's so much more complicated and time-consuming than Mario Paint! That said, I did also start Sandopolis Zone Act 2 from Sonic 3 & Knuckles concurrently (I alternated between the two before I got into a good groove with The Extreme), so here's the current progress on that, which I'm also rather pleased with.


I also went the London MCM Expo on Sunday. When I was invited by my lovely, almost saintly friend Emily I was thinking "Jesus has it really already been a year?" Then she told me it's every six months. Thank goodness! Anyway, as promised I went dressed as Tetsuo, but I tragically COMPLETELY FORGOT TO TAKE ANY PHOTOS, so you will have to take my word for it (and Emily's and Joe's if they comment on here, since they both bore witness). I decided not to do the whole "red cape white vest" thing we see him do in the movie, because: A. It's goofy; B. It's been done alot. So I kind of amalgamated a couple of different looks from various parts of the manga (he changes appearance about 5 times), and wore a utility vest over nothing, which he wears in volume 6, but also kept the robotic arm that he has earlier on. You'll know roughly what I mean if you've watched the movie, but in the manga it's more organic, so I achieved it by painting it all over my right arm, and customising one of those skeleton gloves to look mechanical. It worked surprisingly well, even if the paint got somewhat rubbed off on the way in (because it was FREEZING COLD so I had to wear a jumper over it *sadface*). For the full look, I should also have gone barefoot and bleached my hair, but I learned too late that bleaching one's hair does not happen in an afternoon.

I know it's lame to do a whole paragraph talking about stuff like that with no visual guide but that's how I roll.

I also got to play Kirby's Epic Yarn, Donkey Kong Country Returns, and the Wii version of Goldeneye. Of the first, I thought it was adorable and definitely fun with two people, though hopefully it continues to offer new things so the original novelty factor doesn't wear off (also I think it's kinda dark how you kill enemies by just... unravelling them, and I find this rather appropriate). Of the second, I thought it was a bit gimmicky and didn't seem to have much real substance (also I've never been all too keen on the idea of having to waggle to do a basic thing like roll). Of the third, I remained totally unsure of the point. Goldeneye was fun on the N64 because if you had an N64 you weren't playing the probably superior FPS's on the PC, and also because it was the first game of the sort where you could really expect to have four people playing it together in the same room. Repeating it now just seems redundant (also, inverted y-axis master race was here, all you non-inverted peasants should go back to trading hats or something).

I kind of wish I'd brought more than just a tenner, because then maybe I would have bought some of the neat things I saw there. It's all well and good going home and doing a £50 manga binge on Amazon, but you can't get stuff like doujinshi on Amazon. I saw an Aria one (don't know if it was hentai or not, lolzzz), I should've bought it and maybe checked out more from that stall. I also tried to get Emily to buy a K-On futanari doujinshi for a friend of hers who had requested porn. IT WOULD'VE BEEN WORTH £14. I also saw a stall run by Yamino, the artist of Sister Claire, one of the only webcomics out of all the ones I read that I would not feel embarassed for other people to see. I actually feel really terrible for saying hi and then not buying anything. I'M SORRY YAMINO. If you're at the next one I promise I'll give you some money (if you update more, he says, well aware of the inherent hypocrisy).

The whole "at least one creative thing per blog post" thing seems to have merely caused me to post even less rather than draw more. However, I plan to stick by it, and I'm not counting those Notesimmo works above, so here are two drawings I did today.

If you don't get it, be thankful, it is literally the lamest and most forced meme ever. I currently have "doubles" and "check em" filtered and will keep things that way for the forseeable future and I still can't seem to completely avoid it.

Yes, more of that same creature from Alien Nine. Though it's more than just a dumb practice doodle this time (this is a lie, I literally thought this up on the toilet). Those drills take fucking ages to draw, I've no idea how Hitoshi Tomizawa ever did a weekly manga with those things everywhere. Must've had lots of assistants (or just worked literally all day every day, as I hear most manga artists do). It's also really hard to keep a good composition going with those things involved. I am pleased with how appealing Kumi looks, though.

Oh yeah, I'm still watching Panty and Stocking. It is by far the most difficult to place thing I've watched it ages. On the one hand I feel it's actually got uglier since the first episode, and the awesome animation and visual moments haven't really been coming consistently or at all (I even got into a massive argument with some people on /a/ about it, as I'm prone to do, which also led to a nervous little moment when someone recognised me through a filename and linked this blog on there, and I was worried this little corner of the internet where I can talk shit with impunity would be compromised). On the other hand, the humour and characters are sporadically improving and there's been some actual genuinely funny moments. Overall, as my friend Joe said, it's interesting, and that's one of the best things you can say about most anime these days. I'm not going to end up rating it as highly as a masterpiece like, say, FLCL (oh, I can hear the trolls already), or even just a really overall great series like Gurren Lagann, but I'll definitely remember it more than I will Mitsudomoe or whatever other flavour-of-the-month nonsense I've watched lately.

P.S. I'm in the Stocking camp. I know everybody's in the Stocking camp. I don't care.
This moment from episode 4 is probably the hardest I've laughed at an anime in literally years.

Oh yeah, I also watched Forrest Gump recently, which is a good film, as well as the first few episodes of Seinfeld, which is also, as it turns out, quite good.

Saturday, 2 October 2010

Sorry I never replied to that link you sent on Facebook, Joe!

Sooner than I thought it would be, the first episode of Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt aired. As I'd kind of feared, judging from the progression of the promotional artwork that was released since the first piece we saw a while ago, it's taken on a much more angular, abrasive, cluttered look than I'd first hoped. Lots of it is just REALLY fucking ugly. Like, a modern ugly western cartoon style that's been copied by a japanese artist with the typical "detail-everywhere-lines-everywhere-composition-doesn't-matter-just-fill-it-all-in-with-shit" mentality that's one of the main things I dislike about anime and manga visually.

But lots of it is also REALLY FUCKING AWESOME. Because it's being made by people who, despite some weird notions of what constitutes """""good design"""" (note the quadruple quotation marks on that), are probably some of the best animators around at the moment, and the project is driven by their sheer love for what they do, and not the desire to churn out just another bland, loveless, pandering product like 95% of what the anime industry produces these days.

Idealogically it is basically FLCL 2.0. And how anybody can say this as a negative really baffles me (but then again many anime fans seem to genuinely just not like animation).

To hell with write ups and detailed analysis, random screenshot time.

I like the use of text, the colours in most of it, the random art style changes, and the many ridiculously cool camera moves, both hand-drawn AND CGI! I can't possibly capture those in still images but they are really stunning. Dynamic camera moves in action scenes are one thing Japanese animators are often really good at (along with moving lots of little bits independantly but also together), but there's massive full-on swooping scenery moves as well! The fact that they used CG intelligently and near seamlessly along with it was a pleasant surprise.

It's also funny to see just how much of a westaboo Yoh Yoshinari really is. As it turns out, the show uses the two-part format common to 90s and onward western cartoons, and it even has appropriately-styled title-cards, including the front-lined artist credits that John K. brought back to the format with Ren & Stimpy.

It's like I'm really watching Cartoon Network!

By the way, I (obviously) haven't been updating much lately. The reason for this is that I started feeling like I was turning into something I really don't want to be seen as: a critic. Not that I don't want to write about things, but I've basically hit a lifetime low of actually producing work. I've had lots of employment recently, but to be honest pretty much none of it will be going in my showreel, or even getting shown to anyone ever. And in between, I've just been feeling very depressed and demotivated. Basically I've been writing all high-and-mighty and feeling like I've got no right to since I've not exactly been producing stellar work that proves I know what I'm talking about in the meantime. And, honestly, I don't: as far as I'm concerned I'm still a student, despite having been practicing professionally for over two years now. However, I don't want to stop writing this blog, however underqualified I might be to do so, because, at this point, denying myself something I genuinely enjoy is probably the worst thing I can do.

Thus, from now on, I plan to impose a new rule on myself: with each entry I will include something visual to go with the writing, that I have produced. A sketch, a doodle, a design, an animation loop, ANYTHING. Literally no matter how shit it is. Even if I have to open MS Paint and scrawl a penis  in 2 minutes before hitting the "Publish Post" button. I think my biggest limiting factor right now is that I am too scared of my drawings being shit, so I need to get away from that.

This entry falls under this ruling too, so here's some unspectacular sketches of one of the really weird alien design's from Hitoshi Tomizawa's wonderful Alien Nine manga (also an anime by J.C. Staff, though sadly it doesn't cover enough of the story to include this creature).

Oh, and since it's related, here's a shit MS Paint doodle for a "draw a scene from an anime for others to guess" thread on /a/.

It's pretty accurate.

Oh, also, I saw Scott Pilgrim vs. the World and Toy Story 3 recently. Both were good, better than I was expecting. Scott Pilgrim was just too much raw fun for me to maintain whatever reservations I had about it beforehand, and I would totally have gone to see it again. Toy Story 3 was the first Pixar movie since The Incredibles that I didn't think had something really, critically wrong with it. Might talk about it more later. Also Up is STILL SHIT.

Sunday, 15 August 2010

I'm realising that I rarely bother to go to the cinema these days unless it's the Imax.

I saw Inception at the Imax last night. It was unbelievably intense and extremely enjoyable. What made is really good, for me, was that it didn't spend all its time trying to make the viewer question whether what they were seeing was real or not (as was done well by, say, Satoshi Kon's Perfect Blue, and badly by the Matrix trilogy starting with the end of Reloaded ), but focused largely on making it a believable problem for the principle characters. I felt it was an actual character-driven sci-fi action movie.

Worth seeing in the Imax, though I actually kind of wish I'd been even further forward for MOAR IMMERSHUN. The sound-design actually benefitted alot from this, too, it'd be totally wasted if you just watched it at home on your telly (unless you have an AMAZING sound system, or at least very good headphones).

I also liked that the VFX were kept to a minimum (apparently only about 500 shots, compared to the 620 of Batman Begins and the 1,500+ shots of many VFX-heavy films). The fight scene in the corridor with shifting, and eventually zero, gravity had me going WAT the whole time. The way that the third level was a pure-white snowy wasteland really got across the sheer intensity of the experience, as well.

I have an actual post planned. If you're lucky I'll write it later today (assuming I don't just end up playing Starcraft 2 all evening).

Friday, 13 August 2010

Another old thing, but this one's older, and by someone else.

One of the funniest short films I've seen in ages.


Something I worked on a while ago finally aired so now it can go online.

E4 Slackers Club Battle from Treat on Vimeo.

I did Bath Vapour and Larry Totter and the Facebummer. And the big crowdy scene where everyone runs away from the Gaytuft Farcemarrow Man. And also the fat man and Pee Billy at the end.

There's an Ent Penis hidden in there somewhere (which I didn't draw). See if you can find it.

Saturday, 10 July 2010

I have some things I want to write about but instead here's some filler.

A couple of shorts from the "What a Cartoon Show" that apparently aired between 1995 and 2000 on Cartoon Network and acted as a showcase for fresh shorts and would become a launching platform for many popular series (Dexter's Lab, The Powerpuff Girls, Courage the Cowardly Dog). I just found out about it randomly.

Mina and the Vampire. I'm often unsure how I feel about Craig McCracken's flat character designs but there's lots of great posing and some moments of really nice colour and graphic design in this. And Mina's cute. Apparently there were a few of these but I haven't got round to checking them all out yet.

Tales of Worm Paranoia. Made by, among others, some (former?) members and/or associates of Spumco. inb4 the usual Ren & Stimpy comparisons and >opinions about John K. Too many fart sounds but lots of very funny animation.

I'm sure there's tons more good stuff from this program but it's almost 1am and I'm going to an all day barbecue tomorrow. It starts at 2:00 in the afternoon which is early for me on a weekend so I must be off to bed.

Thursday, 1 July 2010

Terrible terrible damage.

Fuck the football, I'm watching Starcraft.

In other news, I am ambivalent about the Eva Rebuild movies.
Things coming maybe.

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Hiroyuki Imaishi wackiness from Magical Shopping Arcade Abenobashi ep 12

Imaishi (better known these days for directing Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, and to a much lesser extent Dead Leaves) did direction, animation direction, and storyboard for ep 3, and animation direction, storyboard, and layout (or "creative design" depending on your source) for ep 12 (the one I'm posting images from) of this series. I'm betting that all the more exaggerated and cute bits of these two episodes were drawn directly by him, since they're just so distinctive. These episodes are standouts from this series anyway (I just got done watching it, I enjoyed it overall, save for the horrible ending, but these are the only two episodes I really find memorable by themselves), but while watching it I thought this first scene stood out even from the rest of the episode.

And I'm just assuming Imaishi did all the drawings. Maybe I'm wrong, but this strikes me as a very energetic and creative person just smashing out the most expressive poses and expressions they can, and that's the kind of figure Imaishi sounds like from all I've heard of him (and the mark he leaves on his works in general). He's most infamous for frenetic movement and crazy poses (he was also responsible for the wild gunfights in FLCL episode 5), and that's certainly present in these episodes. In particular there are some very fast, chaotic cycles which I actually find quite hard to read (though horrible PAL conversions can't help: I actually rented this series on DVD rather than downloading it, which I do sometimes so I can complain about how shitty anime DVDs are here).

These don't even have any in-betweens, those are the whole sequences! (assuming I didn't miss any frames; given the number of blended frames on the DVD I had to skip past I may have missed some) In fact, that first sequence of frames up there doesn't have any actual in-betweens either, the characters just switch straight between the poses (maybe with some supporting secondary action like a cloud of dust from the closing book). In that case though, I feel it worked, the poses are so strong and so appealing they don't even need in-betweens. Try it yourself! Open them all in different tabs and just switch between them.

All this no-inbetween business reminds me of something John K once said about how, whenever he actually animates these days rather than doing layout or suchlike, he doesn't have the patience to draw lots of gradual in-betweens, he just wants to do funny drawings. That's exactly the vibe I get from this scene.

As I said it doesn't always work for me in what I'm assuming to be Imaishi's animation. Sometimes the characters end up looking primitive and over-rushed and often his compositions are cluttered and difficult to read, (don't have any screenshots). But he makes girls look really cute!

 I'm reminded of these pieces of Gurren Lagann artwork that were apparently drawn by the man himself.

Especially the faces. The big eyes.

Converts directly into forehead space when the eyes are closed or narrowed.

As I said, Gurren Lagann is probably what he's best known for these days, but it's actually very restrained compared to this stuff.  Perhaps because he didn't get to do so much animation, layout, or storyboarding for it: apparently he did key animation for eps 1, 8 , 15, 26, and 27, but even those episodes aren't as wild as this. Maybe he refined himself a bit since 2002, or felt such a wacky approach wasn't fitting for the series (the director's cut DVD version of episode 6, directed by Shin Itagaki, animation direction by Yuka Shibata, was more like this, and it was purely comedic rather than adventure centric). GL did still have problems of clutter in the designs and occasionally the overall compositions, though it was generally less flat than this, but not as crazy. Not that I'm complaining, since I love the fuck out of GL, I'm just making observations for the sake of it.

How much influence does a series director even have? Compared to, say, an "episode director"?

Did he do these drawings too? (from later in the same episode)

There's also this great bit of Sasshi (the boy, the girl's called Arumi) doing a crazy whipping motion. It reads very nicely in context compared to the sequences above. Did Imaishi or somebody else draw it? (I'd include more frames but it's largely on ones, so these are the only frames I could get that weren't blended)

Imaishi's two episodes are also the rudest.

The plot of episode 3 centres around Arumi's panties getting stolen by a goblin while she's in the bushes taking a leak (she pisses herself as a result), and subsequent attempts to get them back by having a giant robot battle. She ends up smashing Sasshi in the face with her bare crotch once or twice. Damn! I wish I'd taken screenshots now.

Um, not really sure what I meant to say next. I'm trying to figure out how to efficiently clean mould off a high bathroom ceiling! Not fun.

Oh, I finally rewatched Neon Genesis Evangelion (including End of Evangelion) recently. It's fun! Well, eps 1-14 are fun, I'd forgotten that the tone shifts and the budget slips from ep 16 onwards.

 Unit 01 trollface.

And EoE just doesn't make fucking sense. Mostly concerning the motivations of certain characters. Actually, it's like, "But Not Really: The Movie".

Misato slipped Shinji the tongue so he'll finally pull himself together to go pilot Unit 01!
But Not Really, because once he sees it's covered in Bakelite he's just going to sit there feeling sorry for himself again.
No worries, Asuka's managed to find herself and is going to beat the Mass Production Evas alone.
But Not Really, because she'll just get raped.
However, Shinji's really going to pull himself together now, and go save her!
But Not Really because he'll see Unit 02's mutilated corpse and completely flip his shit.
But Rei's going to defy Gendo and go save him instead!
But Not Really, because she's actually just going to activate Instrumentality anyway.
Oh wait, Kaworu's going to come back and help Shinji out because he's a bro!
But Not Really, because his comforting is actually just another part of totally breaking Shinji's mind so he'll let Instrumentality happen.
Oh no, hang on, Shinji is actually going to reject Instrumentality and resolve to continue to live his life, conflict and all.


(amazingly, this still manages to be better than Abenobashi's ending)

I do still like Eva, though. Anyway, I did this in preparation for finally catching up with the Rebuild movies. They're up to two out of four now. Hopefully they'll be interesting. From the sounds of it (though I've been avoiding spoilers) Anno may be setting up for some unholy, mind-bending troll by the end of it.

Maybe I should lay off the depressing/frustrating/rage-inducing endings for a bit before I watch them, though. I recently fell in love with a little-known manga and OVA called Alien Nine. I shan't review (at least not now), but my experience of it can basically be summed up thus.

Anyway, it's late. Signing off.