Sakuga Week in Review #8: Dec. 02, 2019 – Dec. 08, 2019

Psycho Pass 3 #07
Key Animation: Kou Yoshinari

You are probably a great deal richer if you bet money on “Kou Yoshinari shows up to Psycho Pass Season 3 to animate not one, but two outstanding scenes in his usual jaw-dropping style.” Even despite long-time friend Tokuyuki Matsutake serving as one of a half-dozen sub-character designers on this season of Psycho Pass, few could have predicted it would potentially lead to him getting the older Yoshinari brother along for the ride. His appearance here is unexpected, but no doubt welcomed especially since he brought with him that inspired artistic approach which has been mystifying fans and creators alike for decades.

For those who may be unaware, Kou Yoshinari frequently paints over his genga; primarily using digital shading, coloring, as well as specific composite instructions carried out either by himself or the Director of Photography to give a three-dimensional feel to two-dimensional work. Clearly it works too since a lot of people remarked that they thought the explosion was live-action at first glance! In addition to that, he’s one of the few animators found mainly animating on 1s. This means every frame of movement is a unique drawing, instead of the much more economical 2s or 3s where every other, or every third frame respectively in a set of 24 frames per second are unique. It all comes together to make for arguably the most interesting creative talent in Japanese animation and his appearances will be a treat for as long as they continue.

Boruto: #135
Key Animation: Hiroyuki Yamashita

The prayers of Naruto fans were finally answered this past week, as after many months of uncomfortable radio silence the ace of the franchise Hiroyuki Yamashita made an appearance, albeit small, yet enough to reassure the masses that he’s still here! And for as short as his contribution was, it’s in no way lacking when it comes to his usual dramatic posing and snappy timing.

Particularly amazing is the way in which he took Boruto from a standing position to full sprint in just a handful of drawings, making the most of each one to establish those powerful first strides.

I have seen the last cut compared to Tatsuro Kawano’s presumed scene on the fan-favorite sixteenth Naruto opening a few times and while the idea is more or less the same, it’s interesting to see the way in which their respective approaches differ. Kawano draws much looser key frames comparatively. His main focus is on the hands and fabric to give a consistently weighted sense of struggle, while Yamashita instead aims for the same result but through limited poses and placing much more focus on Boruto’s mouth and floppy hair.

Sword Art Online: Alicization – War of Underworld #09
Key Animation: ???

I’d rather not make a habit of writing about shows I’m not watching, though, perhaps I should change that considering SAO:A has been defying the odds and turning out a healthy number of pretty scenes despite the not-so healthy schedule. The latest is perhaps the best yet, however we unfortunately do not have a known artist for it, or even a credit list to guess off of since the animator appears to have decided to go without credit!

Whoever it was did a terrific job maintaining the muscle mass of the goblin cute boy character (apparently it isn’t a goblin?) while at the same time not sacrificing even an ounce of elasticity in the kinetically charged punches and kicks. The fact that the structure remains so rigidly on model in spite of the movement leads me to believe it was an older animator tasked with this scene, since a younger, perhaps web-based one would be more likely to forfeit the bulky design in the pursuit of movement. Moreover, a lot of the shading, light flares, and even debris shapes carry a retro, almost mecha-specialist feel to them?

Perhaps Director of Photography Kentaro Waki had a hand in those Kanada-esque flourishes considering he is also a very capable effects animator! In any event, the end result is spectacular, to the point where it makes me want to catch up to the show just to properly admire what this staff has managed to accomplish.

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