What is it that makes Japanese animation unique? What is it that makes it stand out from other traditions of animation, such as animation as it is or was practiced and made in the United States, Western or Easter Europe, other great countries or regions with a long and rich animation history? Many answers have been offered to this complex question, but for me, one of the most appealing is the one arguing that commercial Japanese animation, or anime, has a specific “production model”. By that, I meant that anime is made, sold and distributed according to specific methods that differ from how animation is made, sold and distributed in other parts of the world. However, when one investigates anime history more deeply, this answer quickly seems overly simplistic: indeed, there is no singular “anime production model” which has existed since the 1950s and has stayed the same until today. Some elements have remained the same, but there are just as many variations. There is not one, but many production models which have coexisted through time.
As people who follow me on Twitter might know, I had the opportunity to attend the 2021 Annecy festival - the most important festival dedicated to animation in the world. I had initially planned to release a few articles on the movies and works I’ve seen, but finally decided against it: the pieces I had started to make were simple (and, in my view, rather uninteresting) reviews, and their content didn’t really fit what I wanted for this blog. However, there is one movie that I feel the need to talk about, because watching it made me think a lot and realize many things on animation as a whole, my position towards it, why I like certain things and dislike others. That movie is The Crossing (La Traversée), a European film by Florence Miailhe which won the Jury Mention. What makes it stand out is not so much its beautiful and rather well-led plot, but its technique: it is entirely made by paint-on-glass.
assumption of this series, and the reason why it has tried to trace how Kanada’s influence spread and changed over the years. However, I have said little in depth about what Kanada and his students brought to the medium of animation—in other words, why was Kanada important, beyond simply earning so many fans and followers? This is what I’d like to try and uncover here.
Animétudes celebrates its first anniversary! It has been a relatively short time, but the blog has grown a lot and I’m very thankful for that. So, first of all, I thank all my readers and those who have followed me during this adventure. I have done a bit of reflection over the past and future of the blog here. This time, to celebrate, I’d like to come back over my own relationship with animation and sakuga by highlighting some of my favorite animated sequences.
Animation has an affinity with shape-shifting, to the point that even saying this is cliché. Since one of the first theoretical texts on animation, Serguei Eisenstein’s Notes on Walt Disney, the ability for objects to change forms at will has always been considered essential to the medium. That’s what Eisenstein called “plasmaticness”: the fact that animated objects and characters aren’t made of real matter, but rather of a sort of “plasma” that’s perpetually open to alteration. This is why animation has always been understood through the lenses of fairy tales, fantasies and phantasmagories.
Writing about animation isn’t easy. In my experience, the two pitfalls you’re bound to run into at some point are evaluation and description. Evaluation means that you have to justify that what you’re writing about is worth writing about: in other words, that it’s good or interesting in some way. But these are of course … Continue reading Motion/Movement
In my previous essay dedicated to Thomas Lamarre’s concept of animetism I argued that when studying animation, we shouldn’t just take into consideration space (how objects are distributed and move across the frame), but also time, which I believe is key to understanding the essence of movement. Indeed, movement is not just motion through space, … Continue reading Animation and subjectivity : towards a theory of framerate modulation
Memes are everywhere. That’s their most striking feature, really : wherever you go on the Internet, you’re bound to find something that more or less resembles it, from an image macro, to a twisted boomer comic or a completely surreal image that you do not fully understand nor wish to. Memes have become somewhat of … Continue reading Postmodern Media : Memes and Database Consumption
Thomas Lamarre’s The Anime Machine is undoubtedly one of the most important books dedicated to animation, and especially to anime. It manages to be at the same time a historical overview of anime and its techniques, a thorough analysis of some of its most prominent artists, and a compelling theory of animation and media in … Continue reading On animetism : or, the importance of sakuga to theory
Anime as relations of production What have we learned from our general overview ? That anime is difficult to define, obviously ; more precisely, that it is a shape-shifting phenomenon that changes depending on where you look at it from. This means that a definitive and all-inclusive definition is probably impossible. However, one can always … Continue reading Defining anime – Part 3