Saturday, November 26, 2016

THE ASTROBOY ESSAYS (2007, Frederik L. Schodt)

Frederik L. Schodt. The Astro Boy Essays: Osamu Tezuka, Mighty Atom, and the Manga/Anime Revolution. Berkeley California, Stone Bridge Press, 2007

PDF / English / 248 pages / 1933330546 / 978-1933330549 

The genius of Japan’s Manga No Kami-sama “God of Comics,” Osamu Tezuka (1928–89), is examined through a collection of essays on his masterpiece: Tetsuwan Atomu, Mighty Atom, or Astro Boy, a comic series and animation featuring an android who yearns to be more human, and fights for human peace. The most influential japanese pop character ever (and Japan's first animated TV series)  If you are a fan of anime, manga, or both, you will want to read this book.

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Friday, November 25, 2016

ANIME CLASSICS ZETTAI! (2007, Camp / Davis)

/ PDF / English / 408 pages / 1933330228 / 978-1933330228

Brian Camp and Julie Davis. Anime Classics Zettai! 100 Must See Japanese Animation Masterpieces. Berkeley California, Stone Bridge Press, 2007

A concerted effort by two long time anime critics to identify the best works produced by japanese animators; narrowing down the 100 essential titles of all time. To name just a few: Panda and the Magic Serpent, Space Battleship Yamato, Akira, Castle in the Sky, Kiki’s Delivery Service, Neo Tokyo, Blue Submarine No. 6, My Neighbour Totoro, Cowboy Bebop, Ghost in the Shell, Pom Poko, Ninja Scroll, Steamboy, Tokyo Godfathers, Howl’s Moving Castle... and many more.

Each entrance receives at least two pages of treatment, with a plot summary, a visual style description (design of the characters and the world setting), music soundtrack analysis, notes on the production of the animation, highlights of the film, and little about the precedents, influence and legacy.

ART IN ANIME (2011, Dani Cavallaro)

Dani Cavallaro. Art in Anime. London, Macfarland, 2011.

/ PDF / English / 242 pages / 0786465611 / 978-0786465613

The book comprises four chapters. The first chapter, “Cultural Perspectives,” examines anime’s thematic and technical engagement with the concept of art, promoting a comprehensive and multibranching approach to this concept as a fundamental definer of both the treatment of art in anime and of the conception of art embedded in Japanese culture at large. The discussion encompasses an assessment of four key aspects of Japanese culture and art: their hybrid identity, their anti-mimetic proclivities, their underpinnings in Eastern philosophies, and their material expression in the guise of specific objects and symbols. 
The second chapter, “The Search for a Language,” focuses on the ways in which diverse individuals strive to externalize their talent, creativity and expressivity by recourse to particular artistic discourses. 
With the third chapter, “Mythopoeia,” the analysis turns to the significance of the creative practices dramatized and embodied by anime as means of ideating novel mythologies which articulate simultaneously both contemporary encodings of emerging (and even controversial) cultural meanings, and revivals of time-honored narratives and underlying belief systems. Mythologies, in this perspective, stand out at once as conservative repositories of tradition and as experimental sites of interrogation and resistance. The fourth chapter, “Performance and Visuality,” concentrates on the dialectical interplay of these two concepts. It proceeds from the premise that Japanese culture is intensely visual and that all levels of its social and economic structure, accordingly, are saturated with images. The ascendancy of visuality is confirmed by the privileged place accorded by Japanese art to a wide range of both ancient and new-fangled patterns, emblems, symbols and stylized figures. (Dani Cavallaro)

Thursday, November 24, 2016


Dani Cavallaro. The Anime Art of Hayao Miyazaki. London, Macfarland, 2006.

/ PDF / English / 212 pages / 0786423692 / 978-0786423699

"Works of art are created by those who are prepared to go to the limit" (Hayao Miyazaki)

A look at the life and work of one of the greatest animators of all time, the japanese master film-maker Hayao Miyazaki. This book opens with an introduction to Miyazaki’s work describing his visual repertoire, themes and cinematographical style. The first two chapters situate the films in relation to two complementary contexts: manga and anime, and the principal features of traditional and digital animation.
Miyazaki’s early experiences in the realms of comic books and animation, as well as his roles in pre–Ghibli productions, are thereafter examined. The rest of the text focuses on the Ghibli era, assessing the company’s development and discussing in depth Miyazaki’s output between Nausica√§ of the Valley of the Wind (1984) and Howl’s Moving Castle (2004). Each film is appraised with reference to its themes, narrative structure, topical relevance and place within the broad context of Miyazaki’s corpus. Close attention is also devoted to specific animation techniques and cinematographical operations, through detailed analyses of the film texts themselves and parallel assessments of the storyboards, concept art and model sheets executed for the various productions by Miyazaki and his team. Data regarding production schedules and achievements at the box office are also supplied where appropriate. 
Various chapters, chronologically situated throughout the text, explore other productions emanating from Studio Ghibli, or otherwise involving Ghibli staff but realized for other studios, to which Miyazaki has directly or indirectly contributed, e.g., in the capacities of concept and storyboard designer or producer.  These chapters are integral parts of the book’s content and structure as reflections on Studio Ghibli’s eminently collaborative nature. 
The Filmography supplies additional information about Ghibli’s engagement in the production of tie-ins, the fandom phenomenon and filmographical details. (Dani Cavallaro)

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Friday, November 18, 2016

THE HISTORY OF ANIMATION (1994, Charles Solomon)

Charles Solomon. Enchanted Drawings: The History of Animation. Random House, New York, 1994.

/ PDF / English / 356 pages / 0517118599 / 978-0517118597

The definitive History of American Animation. The biggest, the greatest... is like the bible of animation books. For experts and newcomers alike, though I don't know how would you call yourself an expert without having read this. A little dated maybe... this a 1989 book after all (the 1994 revised edition... not the colour illustration edition). But very useful covering all the staples in 20th century animation, dividing it into periods:

An introduction on the 1600s till 19th century precursors and experiments (like magic lantern shows and similar)

- Silent Era (1914-1928): The New York/Los Angeles pioneers and their creations: Winsor McCay's Gertie the Dinosaur, Nemo and Lusitania. Raoul Barr√©: creator of the Peg System (punched papers). The John Randolph Bray Studio (background/cel innovation). Paul Terry (the animation assembly line) Max and Dave Fleischer (the rotoscope) and the popularity of the Out of the Inkwell series. Otto Messmer the creator of Felix the cat. The beginning of a new era: Steamboat Willie

- The Disney Era (1928-1941)
The introduction of sound and colour... In these years the Disney Brothers Studio absolutely dominate the scene taking the crown from the Fleischers. Walt Disney's vision prevailed over all personal styles... but somehow Walt managed to make each artist  deliver his own very best, a signature animation. Forming an extraordinary team of key animators: Ollie Johnston, Fred Moore, Hamilton Luske, Art Babbitt, Bill Tytla, Ward Kymball, Marc Davis. The making of the greatest animation movie of all time: Snow White. Following: Pinocchio, Bambi, Fantasia!

- The Studio Cartoon (1929-1941)
Examining the rise of the seven minutes studio cartoon. Disney's most serious rival: The Fleischer Studio. With Ko-ko the clown, Betty Boop (I gotta say: boop-boop-ba-doop), Bimbo and Popeye the sailor, Gulliver's Travels, Mr. Bug Goes to Town and Superman. And the artists: Shamus Cullhane, Ted Sears, Grim Natwick, Al Eugster. 
The Ub Iwerks Studio. Walter Lantz and the Universal animation studio (with their greatest creations: Oswald -sort of- Andy Panda and Woody Woodpecker) and the artists: LaVerne Harding, Cal Howard, Jack Carr, and Tex Avery. 
The Van Beurens, Paul Terry Terrytoons, and the Charles Mintz studio, with their artists: Pete Burness, Joe Barbera, Sid Marcus, Bill Nolan, Manny Gould, Art Babbitt, Frank Moser, Dick Huemer, Art Davis. More, more, moreeee.. And Leon Schlesinger's Looney tunes and the Warner Animation Studio.
There's an in-depth analysis of many cartoon animation movies (a rarity in this kind of history books) it doesn't dig as deep as it should in the Disney animated features... but that's fine, cause instead we got great info on the ones made by the Fleischers!!! (and others)

- The 40's / 50's cartoon: During this years Disney was eclipsed by the short cartoons of Warner and MGM. Their characters rival Disney's in enduring popularity. Their artist are among the very best of all time. Friz Freleng, Bob Clampett, Chuck Jones, Bob Mckimson, Frank Tashlin, Maurice Noble, Tex Avery, Joe Barbera, Emery Hawkins, Virgil Ross, Ken Harris, Lloyd Vaughn, Abe Levitow. Some of them are given a page or more of analysis  (with quotes from the artists or people who knew them)  

- Disney's Silver Age (1946-1960) Walt lost some interest in animation, focusing on live action movies and the parks. Still some of the best animation the Studio ever produced was made during this period: Cinderella, Alice, Peter Pan, The Lady and the Tramp, the Mickey, Donald and Goofy shorts.

-UPA: United Productions of America profoundly altered the course of animation with their contemporary graphic styles and different kinds of storytelling. Steve Bosustow, Zack Schwartz and Dave Hilberman     

- The Television Era: Rocky and Bullwinkle, Yogi bear, The Flintstones, The Archie Show, Fat Albert, The Smurfs, He-man... Historians are always very harsh with this period. Solomon shows there's a lot to love here.

- The 80's, Don Bluth, a little of Disney's renaissance, and the future of CGI...

(by pelida77)

Wednesday, November 16, 2016


Mark Whitehead. The Pocket Essential Animation, London, Oldcastle Books, 2004.

1 MB / PDF / English / 160 pages / 1903047463 / 978-1903047460

This one is a concise pocket essential (brevity is the soul of wit, after all) An ideal introduction to the medium for newbies. 
A little bit of history: McCay, The Fleischers, Disney, Warner Bros. Classics like Mickey Mouse, Bugs Bunny, Tom and Jerry; newcomers (relatively) like Wallace & Gromit and Woody & Buzz from Toy Story, Shrek, Sponge Bob, The Simpsons, Family Guy, etc.  And animation legends from around the globe: Japanese master film maker Hayao Miyazaki, Czech surrealist artist Jan Svankmajer, Canadian Norman McLaren,  American John Lasseter... and more.

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Tuesday, November 15, 2016

THE ART OF FROZEN (2013, Charles Solomon)

Charles Solomon. The Art of Frozen. San Francisco, Chronicle Books, 2013.

/ JPEG / English / 150 pages / 1452117160 / 978-1452117164

Preface by John Lasseter. With a Foreword by Chris Buck (Director) and Jennifer Lee (Director, Screenplay)

The film originates in 2008 when Chris Buck talked John Lasseter about his interest in making a feature on Andersen's The Snow Queen (1844). But really this project has been a favorite for Disney's Studio since 1938!!! The new management faced the same problem the old studio had back in the day: a very difficult story to adapt because of its episodic nature. The solution they found was to make an entirely new story loosely based on the tale. They've replaced the classic princess/romance format with a story about siblings: two antagonist sisters.

Many artists talking about the process of Storyboarding (Drawings pinned to large sheets of cork board in a sequence that explains an action or scene). The script; the artist first pass, the struggle to put words into images, and then images into words when you're explaining your sequence to the rest of the team. And the key to a good animated scene, ask yourself: can you do it without dialogue?
Nowadays the majority of artist draw on computers; so they get to see the scenes in rough form before any animation is done. The artist made a trip to Norway, in order to get a feeling of the place, decorative arts (patterned) and architecture. You get to know all the little choices made by Michael Giaimo (Art Director). To him all you see must be related; the enviroments are related to the characters, and the characters to their costumes. He favored yellow greens, ochres, and olive colors with Ana to reflect her sunny nature. Elsa, a repressed character, is like a beautiful and harmonious ice crystal. Hans is an elegant chameleon.  
Nice movie, nice book. (by pelida77)