Wednesday, 4 March 2009

Animation Project: Katsuhiro Otomo

Some selected works and my thoughts:

Akira Manga

Most people know of Akira as the animation, but before that Otomo spent 8 years doing the Manga that would later become the animation. Obviously Manga is not animation but it's a phenomenal piece of work. Its a 2000+ page epic featuring some of the best illustrations you will ever see in any comic book\graphic novel. There's a whole second arc to the story which the Anime cuts out. It has it flaws (dialogue is kind of stilted) but the story is one of the best ever written in any genre and in any medium. Its expensive to buy the whole set but its worth it!(£80+) Amazingly for such an important piece of literature its gone out of print, so copies are pretty limited right now, but the whole collection should still be up on Amazon, cheapskates can also read it the entire thing here but reading from a computer screen is rubbish)


I'd say that Otomo did very good job of fitting the Manga into a 2 Hour film a lot of stuff is cut but the meat of the story is still intact thankfully. The quality of animation is amazing, especially when you consider the fact that very little (if any) cg was used. I think its the attention to detail that really makes it, every little thing seems so precise and the characters aren't just static images when not in scene, they feel very human. The story is kind of obtuse and hard to follow which is one flaw I guess, and I know some people don't like ending (don't understand more like :P). The soundtrack is great, very strange but it fits the mood and atmosphere nicely. There is actually a Hollywood live-action adaptation being produced by Leo DiCaprio (without any major involvement from Otomo), I have to ask the question, why?, followed by, no thanks. Please do not watch it when it comes out.

Massive collection of high-def stills from the film


More of an anime remake of Fritz Lang's Metroplis rather than an adaptation of Osuma Tezuka's Manga (which is still worth a read). Usually I wouldn't be up for this sort of thing but I think Metropolis is very good. The quality of the animation is spectacular (As you would expect from Katushiro Otomo invloved film) it mixes CG and traditonal techniques very nicely. The whole film has a very european style to it, more specifically a lot of the stlye comes from Herge (The Adventures of Tintin) and other French/Belgian contemporaries. One of the of the best aspects is the Jazz soundtrack that accompanies the film, it fits in very nicely and feels very unique. (It also has one of the best English dubs.)


A fairly decent collection of three stories with some nice production values. Otomo was involved in a lot of the story side of things but he only directed the last story. 'Magnetic Rose' has some nice animation but the story is ghastly, it tries so hard to be metaphysical and symbolic that it just falls flat on its face, I suppose the contrast between the sci-fi look of the astronauts and the classical setting is quite interesting but its soooooo pretentious. 'Stink Bomb' is fairly amusing and enjoyable but it feels out of place with the rest of the films, still it has a nice premise. 'Cannon Fodder' is the Otomo directed film, it's slow and fairly boring but has a nice European mixed with Japanese style going for it, it also feels very seamless. You can watch all the films on youtube as far as I know.


Amazing animation quality production values can't hide a duff story and duff characters, in fact it probably enhances the flaws. Steam Boy is a looker but not much else, still worth a watch though for the pretty animation and is a good example of the diversity of style and settings within Japanese animation but its no Akira or Metropolis.