12 Days of Reminiscence #7 – Sakuga appreciation is anime appreciation

(This is a part of the series of posts, 12 Days of Christmas, done in my own way.)

Probably one of the things I can’t stop thinking about these days is sakuga. And the beginning of the process of getting to know sakuga, and generally more about anime production, is one of the best things that happened this year.

Sword of the Stranger, genga versus final product

It just sort of happened. I noticed that my friend (cladinblue) at Kawaranai Mono kept on mentioning the big names in animation and how particular scenes were memorable for him. That’s when I began realizing that my anime fandom radar isn’t quite sharp like a thought. There was something that I kept missing in my years of appreciating the medium I consume more than any other. How come I didn’t feel the urge to know the process behind creating these wonderful products that we keep talking about, hating on, or getting crazy over? It’s a real mystery even to me.

It was at the start of November that I had taken the first step into this animation appreciation world. It was also around that time that cladinblue recommended me some good sites to go whenever I want to read more about anime and animation. Along the way, I also discovered some more blogs that could complement what I’ve been reading. Since I was on it, I even signed up at sakugabooru, which is a great site to take quick looks at the different cuts done by different animators, and to understand what the sakuga fans have written about this people and why these fans love them. Twitter’s also a great place to follow these passionate fans and even the animators themselves–in addition to some of the Jpop singers, illustrators, and mangaka that I had already been stalking.

However, I’m not yet convinced to say that I am really well versed with the things that revolve around sakuga (or to be fair, 2D/hand-drawn animation) appreciation–the animation techniques and styles, the animators behind some of the notably animated sequences/cuts, the entire process in making anime, sakuga fandom terminologies. I still find the animation styles of different animators indistinguishable, and the so-called signatures of various animation directors look pretty much similar to my eyes, but probably with the exception of the likes of Masaaki Yuasa.

There are notable animator names like Yoh Yoshinari, Norio Matsumoto, and Hironori Tanaka, who I can’t distinguish from each one as of now. But there’s this animator who I can say that piqued my interest mostly because his work was the first one I watched (on Youtube). It’s one of the names that usually appears when it comes to fight scenes. Yutaka Nakamura. His is the first name (among animators) I ever memorized.

The scene above is the final fight in the anime movie, Sword of the Stranger, which I haven’t yet watched. I don’t know (haven’t done enough research) the degree of freedom Nakamura had over this scene or how much work he had done. There was something more special, even more than the fact that I found the animation consistent, when I first watched that scene with the introductory knowledge on sakuga. For sure, I would just forget about it if I didn’t know a thing about sakuga. I wouldn’t even know he used his signature yutapon cubes there, for instance, on the snow from 3:29 to 3:31.

This timing of gem discovery is a bittersweet thing for me. It’s sweet because as I learn new things about anime (specifically on animation), I will start to watch anime in new lenses, figuratively. Everything from now will be viewed at a broader perspective. Needless to say, knowing about sakuga will surely add more reasons to appreciate anime. The timing is a sad thing, giving me questions saying, “Why didn’t you get into this earlier? Why?” I think it would have been better if I knew about this at an earlier stage in my life. This realization hit home so hard, that I also believe that the timing couldn’t have been better.

4 responses to “12 Days of Reminiscence #7 – Sakuga appreciation is anime appreciation

  1. If I recall, there is a documentary on sakuga somewhere… Oh, I think here it is…https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLuPNSyztkHPqV-M4ePSmN_2BLhONu0WLg

    It is somewhat funny, but animation itself is the last thing I look at in anime, but it certainly can add a substantial flavor. Besides the plot and the story, editing is what matters the most to me. The basis of a work is set at the storyboard stage. Some of the best Japanese film directors didn’t use sophisticated special effects, fancy camera angles or movements, achieving great effect through meticulous scene design alone. I’ve written a long post about anime production a while ago https://celestialkitsune.wordpress.com/2009/05/16/making-anime-positions-in-anime-industry/2/ (link to the first page out of five pages in total)

    • I’ve already seen the videos once, but I think I’ve to watch them again as a part of review of what I’ve read about animation. Thanks for the link, anyway. 😀

      Yesterday I read your post on the animation production positions. 🙂 It’s incredible that you know a lot of people behind anime.

      • Thank you for reading the post – it took a while to write it! 🙂

        I am more familiar with the older generation of people in the anime industry, but may not be as up-to-date with the new names. Also, I am not an expert really – I am sure many other people know more about it. Unfortunately, nowadays not many people write about the craft of animation. I am glad that you highlighted one aspect of it in your post 🙂

        • Expert or not, your article was really helpful in broadening my knowledge on anime production. I’ve still got a lot more to read, but I’m excited to discover what I still got to know. Thank you for writing it!

          Yeah, I had to write about it because it’s really an important thing for me this year. :3

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