Posted on 6 June 2008 with categories: Kurenai


As this episode was mostly boring, I’m going to hijack most of this post for something completely different that caught my attention. I stumbled upon this post, referring to this piece of art, that rants against the lack of shading in the anime of the 21st century.

Ironically, it’s done by the same guy who posted those documentaries on fansubs. This means that there indeed is a lot of one-sided bias against today’s anime. The guy’s very selective about his examples: most of the images from the eighties are from OVAs, while the recent images are all from TV-series. Of course these have a bigger budget. There are enough anime from the eighties with cheap animation as well (Gundam, anyone?). The guy obviously is a narcissistic elitist, but I admit that he does have a point.

The fact remains that the shading in recent anime is usually minimal. I never really paid attention to it, but very rarely do I see a second shade-colour, let alone a third. I’m not going to deny that Hyper Future Vision looked absolutely gorgeous, with its distinctive art style, and it’s such a shame that today, so little anime try to experiment with shading a bit.

Of course, not every series needs shading. Porfy and Kaiba hardly have any shading at all, and yet they’re among the most visually pleasing series to currently air. But the fact does remain that creators could play so much with different kinds of shading, and you hardly see anything of it.

Nowadays, the trend seems to be incredibly detailed background art if you want to show off your budget. It would be interesting to see series break away from this trend, in order to focus more on different kinds of shading. There are of course exceptions here and there, but I do agree that things could be more varied, though I think I’m going to pay more attention to this in the future.

But indeed, there are enough exceptions and Otaking seems too stuck up to notice this. If he happens to read this entry through some strange reason, then I advice him to check out Shion no Ou. Obviously, the show had a small budget, but it’s the perfect example of a show that really tries to play with its own art style, and the best shots are absolutely gorgeous, with intricate shading, creative poses. It’s the perfect example of a visual feast that tries to think outside the box.

Anyway, a bit more about this episode of Kurenai: I guess my expectations worked against me for this time. For this series, I expected an action-packed finale, just like the first episode suggested. What we get is a Shinkurou who needs an entire episode to figure out that he wants to save Murasaki, wasting precious time for this series. This is especially aggravating since a similar series, Crystal Blaze, is about to finish with a huge finale that keeps building up speed, while Kurenai seems to slow down more and more as it goes on.

16 Responses

  1. Denizen says:

    Otaking is too selective and his presentations are always unbalanced. It would be easy to understand him if it wasn’t so easy to contradict him with the simplest of evidence.

  2. nahrub says:

    otaking’s argument is stupid. time changes, so does the animation style n ppl’s taste alike. i personally dislike the over-shaded-80s-style. he’s just an old man who cant let go of the past. n comparing ovas/movies with 100ep anime is just plain stupid.

  3. Archer says:

    indeed there are many people who don’t like the way anime series are made today but there are just as many who don’t like the old anime,we talk about two different generations so of course u cannot have the same style and the way the anime is produced won’t remain always the same and over the time it will chance in good or in bad,everyone will have different opinions

    overall i can’t say i like old anime more than the new one just as i cannot say the quality of the new series is a lot better and i like that ones more,i love anime in general and i think each anime period has its good things and bad things and the current anime generation has given us a lot of gorgeous animation and has a lot of talented artists

  4. Autonomous Monster says:

    In a vain attempt to talk about the episode at hand, I do get this uncomfortable feeling that it’s going to go with the “violence solves nothing” angle and the last episode will be twenty minutes of Murasaki and her father talking out their differences. I wouldn’t care so much, but Kurenai taking Murasaki back to the flat (and Benika letting him ffs) pretty much destroyed my suspension of disbelief and I was hoping for something a bit more towards cynicism side of the scale to balance it out. Shinkurou’s always been a bit naive in his treatment of Murasaki, but I didn’t think he’d go that far. Well. This series is nothing if not good at dialogue.

    As for quality… I will admit that I was never into anime in a big way until a couple of years ago, so I can’t say I noticed. I have to say the shading thing would be lost on me, though; I’m not big on colours. Quality anime to me suggests quality animation. Fluid, convincing and detailed.

  5. TinyRedLeaf says:

    I wonder how those “old guys” would feel about “flat art” anime such as Mononoke and Kaiba? And while shading might have “declined” (in Otaking’s opinion), other interesting styles have emerged. Notice for example the line art used in Toshokan Sensou, which mimics the art style of manga and comics.

    Quite simply, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Not to mention that an audience’s preferences change will over time – it’s called creativity. Ironically, if animators and artists stuck to the shading techniques of the ’80s, as Otaking insists, anime would look very stale today.

    Funny you should hijack a Kurenai blog post for such opinions though. While the animation in Kurenai has been choppy and uneven, the background art, on the other hand, has been stupendously gorgeous. Especially the painted wall screens in the Inner Sanctuary and the Hozuki household.

    When you have such eye candy to hold your attention, who needs gratuitous cell shading? ;)

    Shame that you found this episode boring though. Shinkuro received further development, as did poor Yayoi. It’s also nice to see Shinkuro’s “sisters” give him much needed encouragement. The pieces are falling into place and we’ll soon see how Benika’s masterplan turns out.

  6. omo says:

    I think there are a few other anime that had experimented with shading–Gonzo’s got their kaleidoscopic stuff, and Ufotable is notable for their gradient hair.

    The problem with experiments in shading in animation is that it increases the complexity of actually animating things drastically as shades change with motion.

    In fact, I think Otaking makes the mistake repeatedly. For example, OAVs actually don’t always have big budgets (especially back in the 80s). What makes them shine over TV series is scheduling–OAVs like Giant Robo had all the time in the world to produce, yet Macross Frontier has a brutal, weekly schedule. Time is more of a limitation than money when it comes to TV broadcasting.

    When you want to animate in color, shading will reflect change in lighting. Having 3 shades versus two means your coloring now takes 50% longer. Ever wonder why Kaiba is so pale color-wise? Because it’s “very” animated. With computer inking, we can do tricks like ones in Gankutsuou where you just slap some transparent layer and let loose some CG rendering. CG cell shading is another common form of experiment with shading, because it’s not as labor intensive.

    And truthfully, I don’t entirely blame Otaking as his ignorance regarding the animation process is quite common place among fans.

  7. Denizen says:

    On the subject of the actual episode.

    I do feel that Kurenai has almost run out of steam. It was great at first, but now everything does indeed feel like an extremely contrived device for some drama, and it’s just dissapointing.
    I still have faith for a good ending which can be both a mixture of character interaction and some decent action, but as has been said it could easily go the other way, and really let the show down.

    But considering Baccano built up to an action-packed last episode, didn’t, but still managed to make a good episode and ending – I think I can imagine Brains Base pulling off a good ending.

  8. Autonomous Monster says:

    omo: “With computer inking, we can do tricks like ones in Gankutsuou where you just slap some transparent layer and let loose some CG rendering”

    Was that the effect where the characters’ clothes looked like windows onto a flat texture? I though that was beautiful. :)

  9. RedMaigo says:

    Is Otaking trying to become the hardest working troll in the fandom or what?

    He kind of reminds me of Answerman from ANN. Both of them know their stuff and make very good points. At the same time they also torpedo their own arguments by making sweeping generalizations, providing contradictory evidence to support said arguments and being opinionated to the point of myopia.

    I’m wondering if this guy will ever blog? He could win next years ABA Peoples Choice Best Dorama Awards easily.

    Oh yeah…this post was also about Kurenai wasn’t it?

    I have stopped watching this show as of episode 8 and I am not really sure I want to continue.

    After reading this post I am almost tempted to just delete all of the episodes on my hard drive and move on to something else.

    It was one of the few shows this season that seemed to have some potential. Now it seems like it is going to finish with one big meh of an ending. Kind of like last season’s Spice and Wolf.

    Here’s to hoping I am wrong.

  10. Denizen says:

    I think deleting the whole series is a bit extreme. It’s not as if Kurenai is a major commitment or anything.

  11. RedMaigo says:

    @Denizen

    Yeah, but I got a lot of anime to catch up on and only a lifetime to do it in. Which only gets shorter and shorter day by day.

    To paraphrase someone whose name escapes me at the moment, “Life is too short to watch mediocre anime.”

  12. Solaris says:

    @Omo: wow this is the first time i read you and understand your point. You spoke cleverly and precisely. Thank you. :) I agree with you in every single aspect.

    Furthermore, people don’t listen to MightyOtaking’s personal rants. He really doesn’t deserve all that attention. He proved himself to be blind and onesided to his own arguments. He just made fun enough of himself with that hilarious youtube megarant on fansubs history. Not only he proves not to know and undestand modern animation, but he also tends to prove his desplicable thesys with wrong examples.

    I’ll reply about Kurenai as soon as i’ll finish watching the 9th episode.
    But I still will warn you this particular eoisode is indeed the calm before the storm. It was clear from the outcome of the former episode.
    A final confrontation was too early and Shinkuro was easily defeated. Now it’s the time of regret, so we have plain solw and boring episode, but next episode will still begin Shinkuro’s awakening, leading to fireworks in the last episode. Many anime follow that route, and they end up awesome! Just wait and see ;)
    Don’t drop the serie now that’s the best part is finally at hand!

  13. Sang says:

    Man, I’ve never heard of this Otaking, and I’ve been watching anime since Astroboy and Elite-Fansubs was using Vandread to advance the model of online fansubs distribution.

    But whatever, he’s obviously an elitist tool too self-indulgent to listen to anyone elses arguments. He’s like those Final Fantasy nutjobs who swear the series should have stayed 2D because it was more charming.

  14. helen says:

    we can have both wonderful backgrounds and detailed characters – the problem, again, is the funding. Lots of anime have beautiful background art – but their characters are extremely flat. Based on technology in the 80s and 90s, the character shading techniques are already impressive.

  15. Kilroy says:

    I see no problem with a story slowing down for character development. I see no problem with a director taking chances in the current ADD generation. I welcome the slow pace to gain more insight on the characters in order to lay foundation for more action later. I thought it was good, not the best but it’s good.

  16. omo says:

    I guess now that I bothered to come back to this post, I’m going to say I loved Kurenai episode 10. Best in the series so far for me.

    And it’s not just money, it’s time and talent. In fact I would argue those two are more important. Kaiba is a good exmaple…

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  • Emma
    (Sunday, Apr 20. 2014 02:57 AM)
    Good answer =)
  • Nyangoro
    (Sunday, Apr 20. 2014 02:50 AM)
    I think that the internet has, to an extent, weakened the influence of critics. Now, everyone with enough spare time can be a critic. In this deluge of people with their own opinions, it’s hard to figure out who’s opinion is, for lack of a better word, better. Rather than look at any one critic, they may look at a conglomeration of critics. Even still, with the wealth of info about any given thing, they may just decide to see it for themselves.
  • Emma
    (Sunday, Apr 20. 2014 02:47 AM)
    I guess I’m curious as to how effected people are by the professionals reviews when they decide to see a film.
  • Jalapeno Bagel
    (Sunday, Apr 20. 2014 02:45 AM)
    well, critics are part of the audience too. they’re just more “knowledgeable” about the field.
  • Jalapeno Bagel
    (Sunday, Apr 20. 2014 02:45 AM)
    yeaahh! Lia ED, been so long (i think).
  • Emma
    (Sunday, Apr 20. 2014 02:43 AM)
    Audience accepting things, yes thats important , but critic approved also carries its equal worth, not just talking comics here on both sides of the world but in general…also interests me…in the end who has most influence , the critic or the audience? How influenced are the audience in comparison by critics to their own judgement non effected by critics?
  • Jalapeno Bagel
    (Sunday, Apr 20. 2014 02:42 AM)
    ah manga disney. will it ever return.
  • Emma
    (Sunday, Apr 20. 2014 02:39 AM)
    Thats a pretty interesting comment vincent and nyan. As Shoujo art was as far as I know the basis eventually for moe/lolicon.
  • Vincent
    (Sunday, Apr 20. 2014 02:35 AM)
    @Nyan so essentially Shoujo is a manga time capsule XD
  • Nyangoro
    (Sunday, Apr 20. 2014 02:33 AM)
    Not to say that there aren’t certain broader trends among demographics, of course. Hell, the funny thing about shounen/shoujo artwork blending is that the shoujo art style came out of a time when manga all looked roughly the same regardless of demographic, lol

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