Do You Need Great Animation In Your Anime?

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It might seem odd to question whether anime should be well animated but with Evangelion coming out on Netflix it has reopened a lot of the discussion around its status as a great anime. While there are plenty of complaints and comments about the story and characters (there are also plenty of people praising the exact same elements) one of the regular points raised as a means of reducing Evangelion’s status is the animation itself, or rather, the lack of animation in a lot of scenes.

Certainly there were a lot of interesting choices in the direction of Evangelion and a lot of these can be identified as a means of saving money or time. Ultimately, while some of the fighting sequences might be very well animated by and large you would have to agree that the animation in Evangelion isn’t exactly the benchmark for good quality. Not with so many almost entirely still shots or panning sequences over still images as well as reused animations.

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But for me that doesn’t actually take anything away from Evangelion as a classic work. For me it has always been the story and ideas with Evangelion that have appealed and I actually like a lot of those weird lingering elevator sequences that nicely contrast the characters and show their current relationship with barely any words or movements at all. While it isn’t a style I’d like all anime to take on, for the weird and wonderful work that is Evangelion it kind of fits.

Then again, when I think about myself as an anime fan, while I’ll notice particularly good animation or direction and I’ll comment on particularly poor efforts of the same, generally speaking the animation isn’t what I’m looking for in an anime. And that just sounds wrong, but for me the appeal of anime are the stories being told and the characters we’re introduced to. If it manages to look really pretty while doing it that can certainly elevate something that is fairly average to being more enjoyable but it won’t compensate if the story isn’t interesting in the first place.

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I’m probably going to get some criticism for this but I didn’t manage to finish Violet Evergarden. In fact, I didn’t make it beyond the third episode. I didn’t get to the end of the third episode. Episode one did nothing for me but because so many rave reviews had come out I gave myself a break and then tried it again, this time with a friend. We watched the first episode, shrugged and pushed into the second. Mid-way through the third we just kind of turned to each other and said, ‘want to watch something else?’.

Great animation just wasn’t enough.

Violet Evergarden has great animation - beautiful to look at, but is that enough?

Now Violet Evergarden is a good anime. By a lot of people’s standards it is a great anime. Even though I didn’t like it very much I will absolutely confirm that the animation is truly fluid and beautiful and the direction is lovely. But none of that made me want to keep watching it when I felt no reason to care about the main character two and a half-episodes in.



Similarly I did watch and enjoyed both Kenja no Mago and Midnight Occult Civil Servants when they aired. Neither of these are particularly well animated. Actually you could argue that both are pretty rough looking with a lot of off-model character shots and way too many scenes with characters standing or sitting very still with practically no animation at all. Throw in the fact that Midnight Occult Civil Servants is also pretty dark and dull to look at and we are not talking about two anime that could be praised for their efforts in visuals, direction or animation.

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I don’t know what this was supposed to be but it is ugly. It was worse animated.

Now in an ideal world we could have it all. We could have stories we enjoy, with characters we care about, while the visuals and animation blow us away with their polish and shine. Unfortunately we don’t live in that world and considering the speed at which anime episodes are made it seems unlikely we’ll ever really live in a world where every show aims for excellence.

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That doesn’t necessarily mean we won’t enjoy what we get in the meantime.

I know for some viewers an anime not having good animation is a deal breaker. I recently read a review where someone dropped a show after multiple issues with the shot composition and perspectives. And there’s no problem with someone doing that. Because we’re all watching anime to be entertained and if poor animation makes something painful for you to watch then you aren’t going to be very entertained.

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Then again, I have a high tolerance for poor visuals given my background in B grade horror movies. So many terrible monster costumes and over the last decade or so we’ve moved to terrible green-screen or terrible CG. Ultimately how bad it looks mostly just adds to the laugh factor in these kinds of stories. So coming from that background, an anime where the characters seem like they are walking impossibly slowly, where their head swivels in a way that isn’t possible, or even an anime that just kind of pans over still images during large chunks of its fight sequences isn’t going to put me off.

Admittedly, it probably won’t be making a list of my very favourite anime any time soon but I’ll still probably watch it an enjoy it.

Attack on Titan - Season 3 - Episode 2 - Levi

Over to you though: Do you need great animation in your anime?


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Karandi James


30 Day Anime Challenge: Day 7

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Here we are at Day 7 and we are looking at my favourite animation studio. Given I’ve done two top 5 lists on specific studios it is probably pretty clear who I’m going to pick. Definitely Studio Bones. If you missed my top 5 fun series from Bones you should definitely check out that post.

But why do I like them so much?

Mostly I’m fairly indifferent to the studio that produced something (or at least I used to be), however I noticed that there are certain studios that come up over and over again when I look at some of my favourite titles. Bones just happens to have produced a large number of my absolute favourite anime ever. As a direct result, if someone tells me Bones is involved in something, I’ll at least give it a look. That isn’t a guarantee I’ll like it. There are definitely titles from Bones that have fallen kind of flat for me.

But with titles like Darker Than Black, Soul Eater, Wolf’s Rain, Snow White with the Red Hair, My Hero Academia, Ouran High School Host Club, Noragami, and so many others, Bones was an easy choice for this question.

Which studio would you have chosen?


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Karandi James.

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Bloodivores Series Review

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Overview:

Mi Liu and a group of Bloodivores (probably vampires but after episode 1 it becomes entirely unnecessary to care as this plays no significant role in the show) break into a bank to steal something. Things go awry and they are taken in by the police and charged with the murder of the hostages (though they claim they didn’t do it – the murder not the robbery).  Then the prison transport is attacked and instead of jail they end up somewhere else where we will spend the rest of the series watching them run from one unlikely and unexplained situation to the next. I reviewed this week to week if you wanted to check out my thoughts.

Review:

Wow, it has been awhile since I’ve been quite that sarcastic in an overview. The issue is this show is not well written, or well animated, nor does it have compelling characters, interesting themes or a stunning resolution. What we have here is a concept that probably sounded great in planning and then was executed like a group of children were fighting over the keyboard as they came up with increasingly silly ideas to stuff into a show that was trying so hard to be cool and maybe even edge and failed to even rise above inoffensive nothingness.

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I’m going to start with the animation because I so rarely criticize this aspect of a show. I’m fairly happy to watch still images as long as there’s a good story and compelling voice acting so I’m not overly critical of this. But Bloodivores is not just average, it is bad. Just watch the initial car chase where they are pumping the music at you as they sit in the car and desperately try to make you believe these characters are cool and hip while the only reason you know the car is speeding at all is because they show you the speedometer. Yep. No sense of haste otherwise. This is almost as bad as if a character had just leaned over and said ‘you’re going fast’. You don’t feel any sense of tension or movement and visually it isn’t there. This is a common feature in all of the fight sequences where things look like they are moving very slowly (and no it isn’t a slow-mo effect it is just badly done). Plus character eyes and expressions regularly look wrong, arms move independently of shoulders, and characters move in highly unnatural ways. It is jarring and off-putting and does not help the others mediocre story being told.

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The cast of characters are incredibly dull. We learn all but nothing about them and they have no distinguishing personality traits. Seriously I can kind of only tell them apart because they had different hair colours and each one kind of had a signature outfit for most of the show. Most of these characters don’t do anything. Mi Liu is the most proactive of the bunch and after careful reflection I’ve decided he’s probably one of the most moronic main characters I’ve come across in recent history. He blithely makes assumptions and passes these off as facts or at least theories and his plans are so full of holes you don’t get surprised when things fall apart, you wonder why it took so long. None of the other characters contribute much of anything other than occasional noise, fight or rescue sequences, or give someone for Mi Liu to babble at and they are all pretty forgettable.

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I’m not even going to bother with plot. There is a story but we are still completely in the dark about anything at seasons end and to be honest it isn’t compelling enough to make me want to know what happens. Personally, I hope the monsters eat them all.

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Last point before I end this vaguely ranty review. If you name a show Bloodivores, and make a big deal in episode 1 about how Bloodivores came to be, maybe the characters being Bloodivores should occasionally come up as a significant plot point rather than as an excuse to give them super powers.

Recommendation – avoid. It isn’t as broken as something like Big Order or Taboo Tattoo but it is definitely a time suck most people don’t need.