(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.
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.