Archive for the Anime 101 Category

Lesson 03: Dub and Subtitles

Posted in Anime 101 on December 11, 2011 by esmay013

Part 01: Japanese Recording

Japanese Commentary of Black Blood Brothers Episode 1 with the original author of  the light novel series Black Blood Brothers, Kouhei Azano.

Question: How did you envision [Cassa] when you were writing?

Cassa from Black Blood Brothers

Kouhei Azano: …when I’m writing, I have a lot of thoughts going on, too, but the image of a voice can never hold a candle to actually hearing it.  So, it’s almost got the power to instantly replace that image.  Well, rather than replacing it, it just really feels perfect…so I really had no particular person’s voice in mind.  But that’s also why it was even more of a treat to look forward to.  I was coming from a blank place with absolutely no preconceptions, and I could wonder about what kind of person they would cast.

I mean, even like this scene [Cassa fighting Jiro in Hong Kong].  I definitely wrote it myself, but I’m like, was it actually this awesome?…I think, “It’s got great atmosphere. Oh, but I guess I did actually write it…”

Part 02: Subtitles

Subtitles, or “Sub,” in anime refers to when the show is subtitled in a language that isn’t Japanese with the original Japanese audio.  Subtitles are not only for animes but for all foreign films.  After several movie classes at my high school and my JC, I realized mainstream America fears subtitles (and old films).

Part 03: Lost in Translation

If you have found an anime or manga on the internet, it may be difficult to find it once it has been officially released in the US due to the translation of the title.

An example that I came across was Saiunkoku Monogatari ( “Story/Tale of the Land of Colored Clouds”).  When I was in the Philippines, I came across it in English as The Colored Palace.  When it was released in the US, it was The Story of Saiunkoku.

Saiunkoku Monogatari

Part 04: English Dub

Many anime viewers will argue against watching English dubs, but obviously I am not one of them.  I have been watching anime before I knew how to read, so I have grown used to dubbed voices, but it mostly depends on the voices that I like best.

I recently went back and watched the first episode of Sailor Moon.  I completely forgot how her mouth didn’t move at times during her most important speech.  In many animes, lines are completely changed from their original Japanese.  Most of the time, it is because the lip movement is different, but in Appleseed Ex Machina, the creators didn’t think Americans could accept a guy interested in a pink robotic armor:

English Dub:

Briareos: “If it wasn’t Pink, I would be riding in it.”

Deunan: ” Not to be mean but pink was never your color.”

Subtitled Dialogue:

Briareos: “How does it look?”

Deunan: “It’s a prototype, but I should be fine.”

Appleseed Ex Machina

Choosing voice actors is very important.  In the 80s, a series of three separate animes were combined to create ROBOTECH.  When the first series, The Super Dimension Fortress Macross, was released in its original form, Mari Iijima,the woman who played Lyn Minmay in the original Japanese dubbed the English version also.  The songs were completely changed–“My Boyfriend is a Pilot” in Macross became “My Time to be a Star” in Robotech.

Series that are long may not necessarily have all parts distributed by the same company.  Saiyuki was originally released by ADV Films but the sequels Saiyuki Reloaded and Saiyuki Reloaded Gunlock were released by Geneon.  The voices were changed; I quit watching the show, because I liked the original English and could not get used to the new voices nor the Japanese.


Lesson 02: CG Anime

Posted in Anime 101 with tags , , on November 18, 2011 by esmay013

I remember when saying “3D” meant computer generated animation.  Now 3D means it’s supposed to pop out at you.  Anyway since Benson keeps posting videos games with awesome CGI, I dug out my old presentation that I did for a movie class and added to it.

CG Anime Films:

Part 01: What is CGI?

Cloud's design in Final Fantasy VII Advent Chi...


Computer Generated Imagery (CGI) is found in most movies now a days, from The Lord of the Rings’ Gollum and Avatar’s alien world and creatures to Pixar’s films and Disney’s Tangled.  But if you haven’t noticed, the list of anime films is rather short (there are more not listed, but they are either shorts or don’t use much CGI).

For many creators, CGI was supposed to be the new frontier of anime, but it was not popular enough.  3D anime was not acknowledged by many anime fans who stuck by the original 2D animation style, which was hand-produced.

CGI is actually used in many animes for backgrounds, machines, etc, even if the show isn’t entirely CGI.  Also an entirely CGI film might use a technique called cel-shaded animation (aka toon shader) for a non-realistic, cartoonish look, usually on the characters.

[Robotech] The Shadow Chronicles uses a combination of computer-generated imaging (CGI) and traditional cell-shading. Mecha, warships, and large-scale environments are rendered by computer. To keep consistency with the feel of the main Robotech series, however, Harmony Gold intentionally made use of cell shading to create faces and features. (Wikia’s Robotech The Shadow Chronicle).

Most shows use CGI to a lesser degree  to keep the 2D appearance.  In “An Inside Look at the Original Beauty and the Beast,” an article by Joe Tracy, the Publisher of Digital Media FX Magazine, CGI Artistic Supervisor for Beauty and the Beast Jim Hillin said:

“The main purpose of CGI is to build and animate things with the computer that will aid and enhance what is going on with the hand-drawn art…Our biggest challenge is to incorporate the two things and make it seem as if they belong together. If we get too real or the perspectives are too perfect then it doesn’t fit in with the rest of the film.”

Cel-shading (Applseed)

Part 02: CGI Firsts

In Disney’s Beauty and the Beast (1991), “[t]he ballroom sequence feature[d] the first computer-generated color background to be both animated and fully dimensional” and “[t]he movie’s climactic song, ‘Be Our Guest,’ also made use of computers [with] [d]ancing plates, forks, goblets, bubbles, and the chandelier…created with computers” (An Inside Look at the Original Beauty and the Beast).

ReBoot (1994) was the first CG TV series.

Pixar’s Toy Story (1995) was the first ever full-length CG film.

Ming-Na's character was designed to be as real...

Photo-Realistic (FF Spirits Within)

Square‘s Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within (2001) was “[t]he first computer-generated animated motion picture with photo-realistic characters.”

Part 03: Motion Capture

To create smooth(ish) motion, motion actors and stuntmen rehearse and film the scenes for motion capture.  The captured shots are then downloaded onto computers.

In “Behind The Scenes on Final Fantasy Spirits Within” (2001) from the site Animation World Network, the article’s author, John Edgar Park, gives a lot of detail on how they made the movie including The Gray Project which the Square Pictures created prior to the creation of the film “to prove to themselves that [an entirely CGI feature-length film] was possible.”

Several of the films’ commentators referred to Autodesk Maya, which creates 3D animation, pre-visualizes the film, and performs the finalization:

Motion Capture (Resident Evil: Degeneration)

Pre-Visualization (Resident Evil: Degeneration)

Finalization (Resident Evil: Degeneration)

Appleseed Ex Machina

Appleseed: Ex Machina

Part 04: Audience

Many of these films were made for American audiences. Hong Kong director John Woo, the producer of Appleseed Ex Machina,  made the movie more like a Hollywood action film than its prequel, which he did not work on.

Final Fantasy Spirits Within and Resident Evil Degeneration were originally recorded in English.  (Resident Evil and FF VII used the English and Japanese voice actors who worked on the video games.)

Part 05: Stories

Several of the 3d animes are based on video games, which makes sense.  Whenever I see the story clips for video games, I have to ask: “Why don’t they collect it into a movie?”  Then they would have movie-goers also interested.  I used to play Tekken at the arcades, so I was happy to learn about the new Tekken movie; I just found out about it right now.

The movies’ storylines are very similar.  Most of them are futuristic, in a world heavily destroyed by humans with one real sanctuary for the survivors.  Cyborgs and robots co-exist with humans, and the villains are usually trying to kill all of humanity with technology or diseases.

For more computer-animated movies from Japan and other countries, check out Wikipedia’s List of computer-animated films.

Lesson 01: What is Anime?

Posted in Anime 101 with tags on November 4, 2011 by esmay013

This is the first “lesson” of a series that I will be calling “Anime 101.” Hopefully even those who have enjoyed anime for many years will be able to learn something new.

So let’s begin!

Azumanga Daioh

Part 01: Language

During the last year of middle school, I started taking French at my future high school.  In class, I found out watching cartoons in French was “regarder les dessin animé.”  Anime is a French word?!  I thought it was Japanese!

From Wikipedia’s Anime page:

Japanese write the English term “animation” in katakana as アニメーション (animēshon, pronounced [animeːɕoɴ]), and the term アニメ (anime, pronounced [anime] ( listen) in Japanese) emerged in the 1970s as an abbreviation. Others claim that the word derives from the French phrase dessin animé. Japanese-speakers use both the original and abbreviated forms interchangeably, but the shorter form occurs more commonly.

The pronunciation of anime in Japanese, [anime], differs significantly from the Standard English/ˈænɪmeɪ/, which has different vowels and stress. (In Japanese each mora carries equal stress.) As with a few other Japanese words such as sakéPokémon, and Kobo Abé, English-language texts sometimes spell anime as animé (as in French), with an acute accentover the final e, to cue the reader to pronounce the letter, not to leave it silent as English orthography might suggest.

I do think that there is a possibility that the Japanese anime came from the French animé, since that is some coincidence.   It is possible, since the Japanese use a lot of French words.   For example, L’arc-en- Ciel, French for “rainbow,” is a Japanese band (1991-), and in Maria Watches Over Us (Maria-sama), which has an anime and manga based on the light novel series, the soeur (French “sister”) system is used in referring to the school’s tradition of an older student guiding a younger student.


So what is anime really?

Part 02: Word usage

An example of the wide range of drawing styles...

Image via Wikipedia

In Japan, anime refers to cartoons, whether or not it was made in the country.  Outside of Japan, anime refers to all Japanese cartoons.  My dad has a hard time understanding what anime is.  He used to think it was the shortened form of “animation,” because he couldn’t distinguish between a Japanese cartoon and an American cartoon.  This is due to the fact that cartoons are sent overseas for in-betweeners to fill in the scenes, and many old American cartoons were sent to Japan (though recently there are a lot more Korean names in cartoon credits), so to him, American shows were considered animes (though they really are not).

Outside of a country, the comics and cartoons that particular country creates are referred to by the translated words “comic” and “cartoon” from the language that country uses.

Country                      Comics            Example               Cartoons

Japan                           Manga             Death Note           Anime

China                            Manhua          1/2 Prince             Manhua Anime

South Korea                 Manhwa           Goong                         ?

Part 03: Related Material

Anime refers to the cartoons, while manga refers to Japanese comic books.  The two go hand in hand; if you like one, it is most likely you like the other.  Usually that is because there is an anime show made for many manga series, or vice versa.  Sometimes they are based off of Japanese novels.  Sometimes they get  live-action films or TV dramas (not necessarily dramatic, TV dramas are just TV shows), including Ouran based on Ouran High School Host Club.  Audio shows are also released as well as concerts and live performances, such as Sailor Moon‘s live musical SeraMyu.

Part 04: Anime Influenced

Anime-influenced animation can be found in many countries, including the US and France.  La nouvelle manga are French comics influenced by manga (la bande dessinée is comic in French).  French anime-influenced animation includes Marathon Media Group‘s Totally SpiesTeam Galaxy, and Martin Mystery, and MoonScope‘s Code Lyoko.

American cartoons influenced by anime are apparently known as Americanime (who exactly is using this word?  I don’t know anyone).  Comics influenced by manga are known as Originally English-language manga (OEL manga); Bizenghast was the first one I saw become successful, though I have never read it.  “Purists” (whoever they are?) don’t consider American-made anything as part of the anime genre.  Hollywood likes to attempt (usually doesn’t get out of the development stage) making live-action versions of animes, manga, or even live-action Japanese movies that are already based on animes/manga.  One that was actually made was obviously Dragonball Evolution, but I had heard a rumor about Sailor Moon being made into a movie when I was in middle school, and Cowboy Bebop and Death Note recently (American Death Note?! AH!).

Besides the US, China and Korea borrow the stories of manga and anime for their live-action TV series known as “dramas.”  Boys over Flowers (Hana Yori Dango) has been repeatedly turned into dramas in Japan,  Taiwan, and South Korea.

Recently South Korea has made a name for its self in the market probably due to the popularity of anime/manga plus the growing popularity of anything Korean, including K-Pop.  Though I don’t know of any cartoons from Korea, the comics are called manhwa.  Though once lumped into the category of manga without much distinction, it now has a large enough following to allow it to be a subcategory in “Manga” (which is used by some as a simplified way to refer to Asian comics as a whole since manga was the first to become popular.  At least that it the only way I can explain it.) along side of “Japanese Manga” and “Chinese Manhua.”  They also turn their manhwas into live-action TV series: the Korean drama Princess Hours is based on the manhwa Goong.

I hope you enjoyed my lesson.  Class dismissed!