Sakuga Week in Review #4: Nov. 4, 2019 – Nov. 10, 2019

Hataage! Kemono Michi #06
Key Animation: Ryuuki Hashimoto?

Vanjiilost: The thing I adore about Hashimoto’s work on the show so far is that it always feels like he’s firing on all cylinders, even if the moment doesn’t call for it. It’s funny to me seeing what’s supposed to be a more low-key, comedic scene being delivered with the same amount of intensity of two dudes hellbent on beating the shit outta each other. The drawings thirty seconds in are my favorite for those very reasons. The solidity in the drawings.. The way the dirt tapers off into countless little shapes… And those wavy smears.. it all comes together to make a ridiculous scene genuinely fun to watch.

Babylon #05
Key Animation: Runa Nojima

Mysto: The fall season has had a number of interesting productions so far, however one that’s not very talked about, is the modest effort by studio REVOROOT with their first full fledged solo production: Babylon.

The episodes thus far, had lovely sequences by rising star, Kouki Fujimoto, as well as some very solid scenes by the pesky artist unknown.

But for this episode I’d like to focus on a promising REVOROOT up and comer: Runa Nojima.

The scene they were tasked with was portraying a flashback of the young days of alluring antagonist, Ai Magase. The energetic walk cycle and attention to fabric movement, as well as the final “camera smirk” tell a lot about Magase and her devious personality through animation alone.

Seeing as Nojima has quite a talent for character animation, with their supposed impressive Key Animation debut on episode 5 of FLCL Alternative, they are definitely an animator to keep an eye on!

Black Clover #108
Key Animation: Tatsuya Yoshihara

Geth: Stepping in on a turning point in the Black Clover saga we once again find who else but Tatsuya Yoshihara, animating the dazzling power boost our main heroine Noelle receives by nature of the henshin. Much like he did for Langris’ wrath in episode 80, or Mereleona’s triumph in episode 91, this is a series director with the skill and willingness to insert himself wherever and whenever needed. It hardly needs to be said at this point but his involvement is a huge advantage for the franchise. The scene itself has all the usual Yoshihara trappings, featuring both digitally hand-drawn effects as well as computer generated ones in the last two cuts. One aspect of his involvement on this series which I feel is often under looked is the clean up job being handled by the 2nd KA and animation directors. Obviously, important cuts from the series director are going to be highly prioritized, however it seems regardless of how rough the layouts Yoshihara turns in are, the many hands fleshing out the rest of the drawings are doing a good job preserving the original key animation!

One Piece #909
Key Animation: Akiko Sugizono

Blou: One Piece Wano was intensively hyped for weeks as a turning point for the franchise. And it sure is, at least production wise! Long time-viewers feel like the series is stronger than ever, featuring animation highlights almost every episode.

On the one hand, you have the regulars consistently delivering decent animation, with Yong-Ce Tu and Katsumi Ishizuka being the clear aces. The former animated pretty much more than half an episode worth of content so far (being credited on 9 episodes out of 18) and it’s consistently solid.
Tu has a real understanding of what makes animation appealing and that’s why his scenes always stand out, even if it can be a tad bit limited. Meanwhile the latter appears a bit less frequently but each new participation is a treat, to the point I would say it wouldn’t feel out of place in a sakuga episode.

On the other hand, you also have some surprise outsiders showing up, the most notable one being Takashi Kojima. But among all the amazing action sequences, Akiko Sugizono, outsider but for now part of the team according to her twitter bio, is also impressing fans albeit on a different register. Sugizono is a name that immediately stood out to me, she started as an inbetweener at A-1 Pictures and most of her resume is animes from the studio. As messy as the it is, A-1 Pictures is home to countless talented animators focusing on character acting so it’s no surprise Sugizono is also another expert. Not only that, she’s also a trusted animation director, at A-1 Pictures obviously but also on great projects like Flip Flappers and Akagami no Shirayukihime.
She’s injecting life into mundane scenes thanks to articulated gestures and incredibly expressive faces.
Wano is full of surprises and you can rest assured that more of them are coming as we’re heading to the first big fight of the arc soon!

Sugizono’s beautiful art for Sword Art Online and Qualidea Code.

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