We’re back! Somehow, it is almost halfway through August! Time marches onward, and we’re here as usual to raise a middle finger in Time’s wizened and terrifying face via another index of recent attention to older anime.
As usual, remarks from Feez are in blue and those from Thaliarchus are in red.
Here’s a neat write-up for Kyouryuu Tankentai Born Free (1976)! This show’s a good example of something which might not be most fans’ cup of tea, but which nevertheless has some curiosity value. It follows a team of animal relocation experts who work to transport and preserve dinosaurs(!) who have re-emerged in modern times(!). So sort of like a gentler Getter Robo, then. Part of its interest lies in its construction: it uses stop-motion for dinosaurs, machines and vehicles, but hand-drawn 2D animation for its human characters. This is comparable to a show using 3DCG, which like stop-motion is a different and more predictable craft under the overall umbrella of ‘animation’, for monsters, vehicles and environments. It’s one layer of separation greater than a distinction maintained within the same craft, as when the the mushi in Mushishi are consistently animated on the ones. This is a very interesting clash of visual styles that I didn’t know existed in anime (or at least, hadn’t seen an actual example of). It feels like something you’d see in an old Western production.
Sakugablog has put out a history of the arrival of ‘digital 2D animation’ in mainstream anime, with particular reference to Birdy the Mighty: Decode and Noein. (That is, as I understand it, strictly speaking any animation which is hand-drawn as a set of digital images using a digital surface, a tablet, rather than being hand-drawn on paper and then scanned to create digital images. More broadly, however, as the post explains, the distinction often maps onto differences in training and career path, since digital 2D animators have tended to have non-traditional, web-driven routes into the commercial anime industry.) It’s an interesting story of craft differences but also continuities, and it ends with what was once perceived as just one school of animation flowering into a range of approaches which happen to be using the same drawing method.
At Zimmerit, Sean has a piece on one eddy in the marketing of robot model kits in the early 80s, in this case kits based on the robots from Dorvack (1983). This is an interesting window on the substrate of commercial activity which enabled the existence of a lot of the sf adventure anime of the time, and on the kinds of ephemeral artwork involved. Being distant in time (and, in my case at least, space too!) it’s easy to forget about things like this when all we have that’s readily accessible are the anime titles themselves, sans their surrounding inventory of kits, pamphlets, posters &c (I almost used the word ‘epitext’ in this paragraph, but then I remembered that I’m not at work right now). There’s a prominent gunpla and model kit shop here that often stocks older kits from the eighties and nineties. Next time I’m there I’ll have to keep my eye out on Dorvack kits!
R042 has been watching Gankutsuou and offers a thoughtful discussion of the show’s lateral, tricksy view of several of the genres it might be sorted into by viewers (space opera, the Gothic). This is also the best anime blog post title I’ve seen all week.
Humble Ace’s blog-through of the original SDF Macross has reached episodes 25–27, while at Beneath the Tangles Charles’s anniversary trip (that seems like the right noun) through Lain progresses to episodes 2 and 3.
We’re still living through the immediate ripples created by death of Isao Takahata. brianwuzhere has put out a gently moving reflection on Only Yesterday. Meanwhile ANN has a major eight-part feature series on Takahata’s career and works. You can find it here and while the whole thing’s worth a read, I’d particularly like to highlight the pieces on less well-explored topics: Mike Toole on Takahata’s early career, Andrew Osmond on Chie the Brat and Gauche the Cellist, and Dawn H. on My Neighbours the Yamadas.
Dynamite in the Brain concludes its ‘MANV Feud’, travelling through all of Manga Video’s UK VHS releases and running right up to 2001. I’d forgotten how late VHS persisted, but of course tapes and players were common well into the 2000s! I had no TV at home and my head stuck in books well into the middle of the decade…
Taiiku Podcast has an episode discussing a modern anime which falls outside our purview here, and the 1980 Ashita no Joe film, which is very much relevant to our indexing work!
What we’ve been up to
Feez — I’m really enjoying Daimos. I was expecting it to be slightly more engaging than Voltes, but it’s much more dynamic and dramatic than I was prepared for. It does an excellent job setting up the romantic drama between Kazuya and Erika, and the many side-characters are actually relevant and contribute to the plot. I’m excited to see where it goes! I would describe it as a Romeo & Juliet-inspired super robot show.
Other than that, I’ve been playing way too many video games for my own good while also balancing a dutifully busy work life…
Thaliarchus — I’ve been settling into my new digs, where the internet is surprisingly good—not the normal rented accommodation experience!
I’ve very nearly finished watching Daitarn 3 (see thread!) which has continued to be messy, intermittently irritating, and delightfully funny. At the time of writing I only have the final episode left, and I’m interested to see how it ends: it has stayed almost entirely light-hearted up to this point. In order to have something on my docket which doesn’t require thought or comment, I’ve also been watching Phantom: Requiem for the Phantom. Despite being an anime fan for a few years now, I’ve so far escaped (if that’s the right word) the various Bee Train shows about shooting people, so this has been educational.