According to Eiichi Yamamoto, the years 1970-1971 represented Mushi Pro’s “second golden age” . There seems to be some truth to this statement: the number of new productions was at its highest, and the quality of some of these is undeniable - Ashita no Joe, in particular, stands as one of the studio’s greatest achievements. However, just as had been the case during the “first” golden age - the time of Jungle Taitei - artistic excellence developed in a context of frustration, hostility and hardships.
Tag: Osamu Dezaki
The History of Mushi Pro – 3 – The beginning of the end (1967-1969)
With the huge debt left by its former acting director and the end of Mushi’s partnership with NBC Enterprises, the studio found itself in an increasingly difficult financial situation from the second half of 1967 onwards. Things would only get worse from there, and every attempt to resolve them ended in failure as Mushi failed to produce any success. By 1969, the signs were clear: the studio's downward spiral could not be stopped.
The History of Mushi Pro – 01 – The Road to TV Anime (1960-1965)
Osamu Tezuka, the God of Manga, is also the father of modern anime - not only did he coin the word, his Tetsuwan Atom was the first animated TV serial in Japan, and pioneered the “limited animation” techniques still associated with anime. Or so the story goes. In actuality, things are far more nuanced: the goal of this first article is to show that, and narrate the events that led to the completion of Atom in all their complexity. I hope to achieve that in mostly two ways: avoiding teleology - that is, the idea that Tezuka’s goal was to make TV, “limited” animation from the start - and shifting the focus away from Tezuka as an individual.
The Story of Perrine
Like its 1977 predecessor Rascal the Raccoon, 1978’s The Story of Perrine is among the least-known World Masterpiece Theater entries in the English-speaking sphere. Such does not seem to be the case in Japan, where a recent popularity poll placed it second, ahead of such popular entries as Anne of Green Gables or A Dog of Flanders. The easiest explanation for this is probably that, as we will see, Perrine is among the most melodramatic in the WMT’s 70s lineup. But, just like Rascal and Flanders, it is a very uneven production - although it may be the best non-Takahata work in the series in some aspects.
The History of Tatsunoko – Conclusion: Tatsunoko diasporas
suo Yoshida’s death from liver cancer on September 5, 1977, is generally understood as a turning point in the history of studio Tatsunoko. Although his sickness was known among the studio’s top brass, few, if any, were aware of its seriousness, and nobody expected that their leader would be gone so soon. Because of Yoshida’s stature within the company - that of a kind, paternalistic and appreciated boss, but also the face and name of Tatsunoko - this was no doubt a traumatic event for many. Aside from the mark Yoshida left as a person, however, there remains a question: did his death really change anything for the studio as a whole?
Toei and early TV anime – Part 2: the rise of gekiga anime (1966-1968)
Many of Tôei’s promising artists, who had for the most part worked on Fujimaru, were determined to follow up on the possibilities the TV show had opened. This meant making a decisive move towards “adult” animation, that is complex storylines, visual experimentations, and a kind of animation that would go beyond the simplistic, round and friendly shapes of the characters of so-called “TV manga”. Just like young manga artists in the 60s had rejected Osamu Tezuka’s "story manga" style to create their own graphic novels called gekiga, artists in Tôei would slowly start making the move towards what would later be called gekiga anime.
Artist spotlight: Hiroyuki Imaishi
Hiroyuki Imaishi is no doubt the most important artist to rise out of the Kanada school in the last 25 years: the renewal he contributed to trigger with the Neo-Kanada style completely renovated what Kanada-inspired animation would look like in the 21st century. As one of the major figures of studio Gainax and then studio Trigger, he has also managed to create an environment with a peculiar and recognizable aesthetic, that could hopefully foster new generations of Kanada school artists. Finally, Imaishi is also a famous director, one of the major artistic figures of the last two decades. Having already partly covered Imaishi’s work as an animator, it is precisely this last aspect that I’d like to study here: what Imaishi directed.
The rise of realism
However dominant it became in the 80s, the Kanada style was never the only aesthetic of anime. Besides the heavily stylized motion of the Kanada school and the round, cute characters that characterized the lolicon boom at the start of the decade, another very different kind of animation was starting to find its footing: realism.
The history of TMS – Part 6 : Lupin the Third
In the 70’s, TMS and its subcontractors managed to create two aesthetics of their own, one centered around the A Pro comedies and the other the Madhouse dramas. Despite how innovative and influential these might have been, TMS was missing the tidal change known as the “SF boom” that started in 1974, with Space Battleship Yamato and risked, because of that, to fail to attract anime’s new audience, young men in highschool or older that would form the first generation of otaku. But the studio profoundly influenced early otaku culture with a series so enduring it’s still alive today : that was Lupin III.
The history of TMS – Part 5 : Becoming Tokyo Movie Shinsha
The second half of the 1970’s was no doubt a transitional period for Tokyo Movie. As a whole, the anime industry had set up a stable structure that would only be modified in the middle of the 80’s by the otaku boom and the new OVA format. But for Tokyo Movie and its subcontractors, this was a time of big change, marked by the separation between A Pro and Tokyo Movie in 1976. The consequences were unexpected : A Pro’s staff scattered and its most talented members would do the groundwork of Studio Ghibli. But before that, Tokyo Movie profited the most from this outpouring of talent.