Creative Talents in Anime, 01/12/2009

At today’s class we welcomed a new colleague, Daniel, who will be with us for the final three sessions. This was the last session for Brian, but he’ll be distance-learning – Helen is sending him the class notes so that he can finish the course with everyone else.

We talked about creative talents in anime and brainstormed a list of the creative roles involved in making anime:

ARTISTS: animators, background artists, character designers, storyboard artists, colour designers


SOUND: Voice artists, composers, sound FX team (Foley and digital), musicians, singers



DISTRIBUTORS and marketing tea,


Then we pooled ideas on which creative people or groups have been outstandingly influential in anime. We worked in two groups. Each group had to come up with a list of three creatives that they considered had been especially influential in anime, and give reasons for their choice.

Adam, Naomi, Rhiannon and Steve chose writer, comic artist and director Osamu Tezuka because, as well as its quality and variety, the sheer volume of his work has enabled him to touch and influence millions of people. Their next choice was composer Yoko Kanno because of her extensive body of work, and her mastery of many musical styles. She has composed scores for many TV series and movies giving her work a wide reach. In terms of style, on the TV series Cowboy Bebop alone she scored each of the 26 episodes in a different style. Their final choice was Toei, because the studio has been a dominant force in the anime industry since its setup in the 1950s, and as responsible for ‘pushing’ Japanese cartoons to the public in the 1950s when the market was dominated by American imports like Hanna-Barbera.

Andrew, Becky, Brian and Daniel also chose Yoko Kanno, for the same reasons, and because they have “never heard an ugly Kanno tune.” They mentioned her work on Vision of Escaflowne as an example of her range and versatility. Their next choice was director and writer Makoto Shinkai, who made his short feature film Voices of a Distant Star as a solo project on his home computer, with help from his girlfriend. He started making anime as a fan and won recognition from the industry. Their final choice was Manga Entertainment, the British (and now international) distributor. The company spread the word about anime in the UK and USA, and by putting the word “manga” into general usage they also encouraged people to explore Japanese comics. They put money into the Japanese industry by co-production, starting with Ghost In The Shell in 1995, as well as by boosting overseas sales.

Helen’s choice of ten creative talents to talk about this evening deliberately excluded Osamu Tezuka, Katsuhiro Otomo and Hayao Miyazaki, because we have already talked about them quite a bit during classes and because their status is a “given” among fans. Her choices were:

Kenzo Masaoka, animator, director, artist

Leiji Matsumoto, writer, artist, director

Noboru Ishiguro, director

Headgear, production/creative group

Yoko Kanno, composer, performer

Kazuo Oga, background artist, director

Taro Maki, producer

Kihachiro Kawamoto, animator, writer, director

Studio 4ºC

Satoshi Kon, director, writer


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