Sakuga Week in Review #10: Jan. 6, 2020 – Jan. 12, 2020

Keep Your Hands Off Eizouken #02
Key Animation: Masamichi Ishiyama, Artist Unknown

Chair: No other show this season has captured the imagination of sakuga nerds quite like Eizouken, and it’s easy to see why when the series is so intertwined with the excitement and spirit of creation. With so many phenomenal animators having already arrived, there are far too many great scenes to pick from! However, I simply had to at least do a brief write-up on some of my favourite cuts of late, that of course, being the imaginative warehouse scene in this week’s Eizouken!

The flying machine starts up, and the airborne rotating donut acts exactly how you’d expect it would… by sending Midori whirling! As a result, we get some absolutely delicious smears, complete with multiples, and some very blobby shapes… my favorite! This captivating bit of lovely looseness is brought to us by Masamichi Ishiyama, who is no stranger to such exaggerated elasticity, feeling very reminiscent of their work on Little Witch Academia TV! That said, the rest of the scene, which is currently uncredited, certainly deserves a mention as well! It pretty accurately shows what having a miniature helicopter inside a flimsy sheet metal warehouse would do, with the entire structure shaking from the force generated by the propellers!

I’m certainly curious to know who did the rest of the scene!

HAIKYU!! TO THE TOP OP
Key Animation: Takashi Mukouda

Geth: It’s difficult to put into words just how excited I am for Haikyuu!! to occupy a small section of my life every week for the next several months. Too often lately have I found myself enamored by a high profile production, only to find that the show moves in every literal regard but not the most important figurative one. Seeing as how Haikyuu!! has already captured my heart and then some, there’s no need to worry about the latter. It instead becomes a question of whether this production can measure up to the high bar previous seasons have set, or perhaps instead set a new bar of its own along a different, yet equally valued register. I ultimately arrived at the conclusion that it could, and you can read more about that here, but to do so it will need to fully harness the animation potential of the new designs.

Fortunately for Haikyuu!!, Takashi Mukouda seems poised to be a regular participant on Season 4, and has made a massively successful career out of bending designs of all sorts to his will!

While Hinata’s face was largely obscured in the first cut of the OP, the exaggerated hands are unmistakably Mukouda’s doing. He often allows the emotional basis of the scene to dictate his approach, and here he’s channeled the physical struggle of standing through frail-looking wrists, paired with particularly wide hands. Few animators possess the confidence to even attempt distorting reality in this purposeful way, never-mind the technical prowess needed to find constant success every time.

Assuming all goes as expected, there should be many future opportunities on this series for Takashi Mukouda to show off his divergent style, and subsequently for myself to sing the praises of one of the best around.

In/Spectre #01
Key Animation: Artist Unknown

Chair: In/Spectre is already shaping up to be a prized series for many this season, which shouldn’t come as a surprise considering the source material comes courtesy of fan favourite Blast of Tempest mangaka, Kyou Shirodaira! Fortunately, the adaption should be in fairly capable hands, under the direction of industry veteran, and renowned character designer Keiji Gotoh! While I wouldn’t say to expect a show filled with sakuga, the premier did exceed my expectations, with a surprisingly modest production effort with some fairly nice cuts!

By far the most impressive of these was also the episode’s most grotesque scene! After Kuro has his arm bitten off, we see it regenerate in a fantastic display of morphing animation! Fleshy tendrils emerge and begin to rapidly take shape, with bone, muscle and eventually skin following suit, knitting itself back into shape! Its the animation highlight of the episode, and while the KA credits are fairly sparse, I’m not quite familiar enough with many of the names to confidently take a guess at who the architect of this incredibly macabre scene could be.

Haikyuu!! Land vs. Air OVA#01
Key Animation: Sachiko Fukuda (?)

Geth: There are few things more empowering in life than excessively forceful spikes in Haikyuu!!. If you think I’m joking then you either have not watched the series or lead a much more exciting life than myself, feasibly both… Anyhow, the latest installment in this vicious cycle of violence toward spherically-shaped objects comes to us from the Land vs. Air OVAs and features Bokuto, one of the more beloved characters of the series.

While previous seasons relied heavily on stylish ink to emphasize raw power, I appreciate that the first major spike of season 4 takes a new and refreshing approach. The symbolically relevant words: WAY OF THE ACE are swiped clear of the screen by the back of Bokuto’s hand as the camera wraps around the net in time to be faced with an overwhelmingly cathartic release of power. A canvas of sweat and smoke are left behind in the wake and whomever was responsible for animating this scene certainly prioritized this attractive mess of an aftermath. Speaking of authorship, Sachiko Fukuda appears to be the most logical guess, though series with as much talent as Haikyuu!! employs are notoriously tricky to presume on. If it does happen to be her work then we should be looking forward to a lot more considering she’s likely a regular on this new season!

My Hero Academia #76
Key Animation: Sakiko Uda (?)

Chair: HeroAca 76 would mark a high-point for its current arc, with many of the show’s star animators showing up to deliver an absolute spectacle of an episode! While a certain superstar animator (whom I believe Geth might be writing a little something about), may have stolen the show, there was no shortage of impressive scenes to talk about!

A standout for me was a scene presumably done by fan favourite Sakiko Uda, with Deku squaring off against the monstrous Overhaul! Given Uda’s history as a mechanical specialist, it comes as no surprise that she’d handle something just as difficult to animate as the robot’s she’s so accustomed to! Uda does a great job of selling Overhauls size, and by effect makes Deku’s attack feel that much more impactful! Furthermore, I particularly love the thicker line-work on some of the close-ups!

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