The 2nd Dimension

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Reading Journal: Notenki Memoirs

Book Info

Overall= B+


Let's just get this out of the way now: regardless of the impression the cover might give you, this book is not a behind-the-scenes account of the making of Evangelion. Evengelion doesn't even come into play until near the end of the book where it acts as a sort of climax to the story -- the point at which the animation studio has finally reached its (arguable) pinnacle of fame and success. But there is a lot that happens prior to Eva, and it's all well worth reading.

This book is the story of the birth and development of Gainax -- the animation studio behind classics like Gunbuster, His and Her Circumstances, and of course Evangelion. But this is by no means an objective history. It's told from the point of view of Yasuhiro Takeda, who played a major role in founding the company, but whose name many anime fans -- especially those in the US -- probably don't readily recognize. He basically had a management role more than a anime creation role. He helped produce and run the famous Daicon III and Daicon IV conventions, as well as gather up all the major players that would eventually form the Gainax animation studio.

He admittedly tells the history from his own point of view, with all of the qirks, biases, and potential inacuracies that may come with it.

The thing that may frustrate fans the most about this book is that it covers more than just the animation studio itself. The author was also in charge of running an anime merchandise store as well as a series of conventions. Plus there are some personal stories about when the author had bouts of apathy or depression. And although it helps give a bigger picture of exactly what was going on, at times I just wished he would say (if he knew) what was going on over at the studio.

But among all of that subjectivity there really are some great stories and intriguing info. Plus, there's mention of plenty of big names that many fan will recognize. It's cool to see how so many famous directors got their start there, and how some big-name studios were actually offshoots of Gainax.

At the end of the book there's an interview with Hiroyuki Yamaga, Takami Akai, and Hideaki Anno where they talk about Takeda and how he fit into the group. It really helps round things out by giving you an outside perspective of the author.

All in all, it was a good, enjoyable, well written, insightful book. And it's got enough history and behind-the-scenes anecdotes to keep most any anime fan interested. Even the more personal moments, while frustrating, did not leave me without empathy for the author. Overall, I'd definitely recommend this for those interested in knowing more about Gainax and how it got its start.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Daicon 3 & 4 videos

A while ago I read the Notenki Memoirs which is a book about the founding of Studio Gainax (the creators of Evangelion). One of things it mentions is how back in 1981 and 1983 the Gainax group hosted a couple of anime conventions called Daicon 3 and Daicon 4. It also said that they created orignal anime videos for the openings of those conventions, and how impressed everyone was with them.

Well, I just recently found somewhere you are able to download the videos (or, if you prefer, the YouTube versions are here and here). They are great! Keep an eye out and see how many characters you recognize.

On another note, if you ever saw the 5th episode of FLCL you might remember Haruko flying in to a fight wearing a bunny outfit and shouting "Daicon 5!" You'll see where that scene came from if you watch the Daicon 4 video. (You can see the relevant scene in FLCL in this music video, about 45 seconds in.)

Another homage to Daicon 4 apparently can be found in the Gonzo-produced Densha Otoko opening animation. A comparison of the the two can be found on YouTube.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Watanabe Detroit interview audio online

From Anime News Network

The CBC's Pedro Mendes conducted a 13-minute interview with Shinichiro Watanabe while the Samurai Champloo director was in Detroit. Audio of the full interview, which discusses how hip hop culture intersects with Samurai
, is available here.

Interview with Evangelion producer

From AnimeNation:

The Mainichi Daily News has published a series of revealing English language articles about the Neon Genesis Evangelion anime, concluding with a revealing interview with Evangelion producer Toshimichi Otsuki.

Evangelion Special: From phenomenon to legacy

Evangelion Special: Genesis of a major manga

Evangelion Special: For producer Otsuki, success not always a bed of roses

Trailers of the Week

Twelve Kingdoms novels coming to US

From AnimeNation:

Newsarama has reported that TOKYOPOP's "Pop Fiction" line of novels will include Otsu Ichi's Calling You, Hiroshi Ishizaki's Chain Mail, both to be released in January 2007, and Fuyumi Ono's Twelve Kingdoms series of novels. The first English translated Twelve Kingdoms novel will be released next March.