Tag Archives: animation

“I’m ok with just being ok.” Monsters University and Pixar’s Talent Manifesto

Pixar’s poetry lies in the mixing of pain with sweetness. What I love about some of their films is that there’s a true sense of heartache that fuels them underneath the mirth.  Across fourteen feature films there have been several narratives they’ve explored, occasionally more than once; love and loss, parenthood, religion, self-improvement. The theme that strikes me as the most inherently interesting—and the most unusually brave considering its status as children’s fare—is the ongoing musing of talent vs. mediocrity.

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Filed under Editorials, Monsters University

Aku no Hana is Good.*

I like Aku no Hana. I think it’s good*.

That asterisk is what you’ve come here to read about, isn’t it?

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Filed under Editorials, Reviews, The Flowers of Evil

The Ani(ca)me(ra) and Lensing a Critical Lens

It’s more than likely that, in the recent past, you’ve seen a film. It’s equally likely that you’ve watched an episode of anime. It likely wouldn’t surprise you if I were to state that both have much in common. This, we assume, is a given; both are distinctly visual media. After all, in spite of their numerous differences (voice-acting, acting, audience), what strikes us first and foremost is that the objects of fascination in both are images. We don’t read, we don’t listen, and we don’t even partake in; we saw, we’ve seen, we’ll see[1].

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Filed under Editorials, Modern Visual Culture

Hanko-e Philosophy in Animation: Shining Hearts and the Uncanny Valley

Character designs by Tony Taka for Shining Hearts (2010, Sega).

“My eyes have been trained to examine faces and not their trimmings.”
– Sherlock Holmes, The Hound of the Baskervilles

I’ve discussed it before, but let us once again touch upon the topic of hanko-e. Literally meaning “stamp picture,” hanko-e is a style of character design in which all of the (usually female) faces have the same design, often to the point where characters remain distinguishable only by their hairstyles and other peripheral features. This is such a common practice for visual novels (especially eroge) that fans have even wryly designated a “Big Four” of hanko-e designers: Naru Nanao, Aoi Nishimata, Bekkankou, and Kazue Yamamoto. And of course, there are many more such artists, including Tony Taka, a prolific eroge character designer who has also worked on more mainstream works, such as Shining Hearts, as seen above.

So what happens when you apply this hanko-e philosophy to animation?

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Filed under Editorials, Modern Visual Culture, Shining Hearts: Shiawase no Pan

Shinryaku! Ika Musume ep 5, Pixar, & the Efficiency of Animation

The third part of this episode was very affecting. I think I know why. It seems like the folks in Japan are starting to pay attention to Pixar’s storytelling methods:

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Filed under Editorials, Shinryaku! Ika Musume