Posted on 12 August 2012 with categories: OVA Impressions, Young Animator Training Project

Nearly everyone here is probably familiar with the workoholic trope: a father works a lot, neglecting his child, and some drama is created from that. If it’s told from the perspective of the father, the main theme is guilt, if it’s told from the perspective of the child, the main theme is loneliness. Dudu the floatee is entirely dedicated to this trope, but it actually manages to be different from the norm.

What really surprised me was how much heart this short has. I mean, this was told from the perspective of the child, and it does go on with the theme of loneliness for a while…. and then her floatee comes alive, takes her into a strange world full of floatees who kidnap her father and this turns into a quest for her to save her father. Instead of the usual conclusion in which the father realizes his errors, both of them actually come to an understanding with each other: the girl understands that her father is both afraid of water and that he sometimes needs to be at work, and the father realizes that he can’t keep using his fear of water as an excuse to ignore his family life. This two-sided development is what especially impressed me here, and it turned this into a very heart-warming little episode.

Anyway, this is the entry to the Young Animator Training Project by the Answer Studio. They’re a small studio that I really like, because they don’t release often, but when they do they always go for the really imaginative anime like Flag, Otona Joshi no Anime Time and Votoms’ Pailsen Files. Dudu the floatee gives me a lot of confidence to their junior division, because it was again really well animated. This episode also was directed by the director of Otona Joshi no Anime Time by the way, and it shows: it again has this really down to earth relationship between a parent and a young child.

So, to summarize the second iteration of the Young Animator Training Project: skip Buta, but definitely check out the rest, because these are some very well done animated shorts for every age: they’re aimed at children but have enough depth for adults to enjoy. Buta was probably the only one who didn’t get this and instead is just a bit of fun for children.

Posted on 29 July 2012 with categories: OVA Impressions, Young Animator Training Project

Shiranpuri is a short with its very own artistic vision: it’s got very distinctive character-designs, rather than going with the same thing over and over again. This is the entry for the Young Animator Training Project by Shirogumi. You know, the people who are currently animating Moyashimon, and they also did Antique Bakery. These are people who definitely go for interesting and unusual premises, but Shiranpuri is very different from their usual stuff.

Here, we get a story about bullying, and more particular: about being a witness to bullying without doing anything about it. And it really was quite good. On one hand it was indeed a bit preachy, but on the other it was very realistic in how the bullied kid ended up transferring schools, in the hopes of building up a completely new life. There was some really good character-development in just 20 minutes for the three central characters, and the use of adults as bystanders was well-balanced.

What’s interesting is that this shows that Shirogumi is nowhere near dead: they’re still producing things, but at their own pace, but this short shows that they’ve acquired a couple of very good animators. There were a few scenes in which the movement was really dynamic and even the backgrounds (albeit simplistic) moved seamlessly, and they were able to draw the models right from many different angles.

Posted on 16 June 2012 with categories: OVA Impressions, Young Animator Training Project

I apologize for the lateness of this entry. But especially after seeing another batch of the Young Animator Training Project being announced for 2013, I do want to keep up with this project, because the initiators really seem to want to make this a long-term project. And unlike Buta, Wasurenagumo is really good.

In fact, after Ojii-San no Lamp it has the best storyline, it has the best animation, and it has the best characters of all the projects so far. the animation in particular is really impressive, especially considering how this comes from young animators. These people really were able to show off their skills in this episode, because the fluidity really is amazing. And not just at a few money shots, but there really are a lot of scenes that have that.

This really shows that Production IG has recruited many talented animators and inbetweeners. Now what would be really great is if they were going to make series with interesting concepts again, instead of Kuroko no Basuke, Shining Hearts and Guilty Crown. Now don’t get me wrong, my main issue is that this is Production IG we’re talking about. They are the people who once boasted some of the most original series out there, and were the people behind gems as RD, Ghost Hound, Chevalier, Seirei no Moribito, Patlabor, Otogizoshi and Ghost in the Shell. There is a big difference here, but at the very least they are still experimenting with their one-shots and movies, not to mention the balls they had with Blood-C.

In any case, about Wasurenagumo (that is a very annoying title to keep typing over and over), this episode definitely stood out in its characters. It helped that they were really well animated and brought to life, but also the writing and acting was very good. At the same time though, it was strangely creepy and disturbing in the end. Make that very disturbing.

The thing with Wasurenagumo is that at heart, it is a horror story. It just doesn’t show that until right at the end, with a completely baffling plot twist. Just… wow.

By the way, next year’s Young Animator Training Project should definitely be fun, because I am really curious to see what the junior division of the four studios that signed up looks like and what they can do. First there is the obvious Gonzo: how did they survive? Who did they recruit? Then there is Studio Trigger’s first official project (Studio Trigger is the studio founded by Hiroyuki Imaishi, and I’m really curious to see who he managed to attract). Then there is Madhouse; with so many of their best people going freelance, it’s definitely going to be interesting who will replace them. And then there is Studio Pierrot, a studio that had some of the top animators out there… ten years ago. Are their new people simply there for Naruto and Bleach, or will their new division be a breath of fresh air after how deeply that company has fallen lately.
OVA Episode Rating: 8.25/10

Posted on 9 April 2012 with categories: OVA Impressions, Young Animator Training Project

This year we too get an installment of the Young Animator Training Project. Again, four studios have been granted a decent budget with the assignment to create a TV-special. Buta is Telecom Animation Film’s entry. They were the ones who last year delivered the best short for the Young Animator Training Project with Ojiisan no Lap. Buta is clearly inferior, and mostly suited for children, however. Kids will be kept busy for these 20 minutes, though.

This episode is a traditional ronin story, only really childish. The characters here are all animals, and aside from the titular pig, every single character is an idiot, the same type as the standard generic Saturday morning cartoon. The story also isn’t anything noteworthy either, and the only drama revolves around “stealing is bad”.

But what about the animation, the thing that this entire project was about? Well, the simple character designs allows for easier animation, and the characters indeed move around a bit. In that way it’s a good way to get rookies to actually animate things. The art looks pretty good and crisp as well, but there are some shortcuts taken compared to the fighting episode of last year’s Young Animator Training Project (Kizuna Ichigeki). I wouldn’t recommend this episode overall: none of its areas are the worst, but it also doesn’t stand out in any way compared to the other YATP-series.
OVA Episode Rating: 7.5/10

Posted on 4 April 2011 with categories: OVA Impressions, Young Animator Training Project



Tansuwarashi is Production IG’s entry in the Young Animator Training Project, and it it absolutely adorable. It’s the only one of the for that I can really see work as an actual series: Ojii-san no Lamp was perfect with just 20 minutes, while Kizuna Ichigeki and Bannou Yasai Ninninman would have gotten really annoying if they were any longer.

A slice of life series about an office lady who finds a group of spirits in her closet though, I’d love to watch that. All of the characters just have this natural charm to them, even though there are many characters who are all pretty one sided. This OVA shined at making an entire happy family from them. And besides: when was the last time where we got to see an anime that featured an actual female lead who was neither a teenager nor a student? Those characters are even rarer than male adult main characters.

As for the animation, it wasn’t as impressive as the others, and instead it was very down to earth. The in between animation did get quite good at times, though.

Overall, the Young Animator Training Project was at its best when it combined its childish charms with adult issues. Especially Ojii-san no Lamp and Tansuwarashi were good at this. Meanwhile, the animation was particularly impressive in Kizuna Ichigeki: we can expect some great things from them in the future, as soon as they manage to get themselves some good sponsors and scriptwriters. It’s definitely been an interesting experiment.
OVA Episode Rating: 8/10

Posted on 25 March 2011 with categories: OVA Impressions, Young Animator Training Project



Bannou Yasai Ninninman shows off the junior department of PA Works. After watching this third installment of the Young Animator Training Project, I find it interesting to see that all installments have their own target audiences. Ojii-san no Lamp was meant for an older audience, while Kizuna Ichigeki was food for animation fans. Bannou Yasai Ninninman is targeted towards children.

Remember how Bugs Bunny always gnawed on carrots? Or how Popeye used Spinach as steroids? These things were all done in order to get kids to actually eat these things. I can only imagine that that was the inspiration for Bannou Yasi Ninninman, in which a little girl gets haunted by a very annoying carrot, paprika and milk spirit because she faints after eating them.

This OVA does a fine job of portraying the lead character as a little girl with her own problems, but where it really drops points is at how badly it wants to shove its message down the viewer’s throats. I mean, to go back to Bugs Bunny: he never outright told kids that they should eat carrots. Instead, what kids saw was this cool and cute animal with an unforgettable catchphrase that really liked carrots. In comparison, Bannou Yasai Ninninman goes: “yeah, you can save your friends lives if you eat your vegetables. It won’t taste nice, but it’ll solve all your problems!”

It also doesn’t really help that the titular Ninninman tries desperately to be funny. You know, that guy who keeps overacting in the hopes of being liked, only to end up as really, really annoying.

Like Kizuna Ichigeki, Bannou Yasai Ninninman only has one thing that makes it worth watching. For Kizuna Ichigeki this was the animation, for this it’s the characterization of the lead character: that is one thing that the creators nailed, and they did put forward a cute and innocent lead character. Oh, and that squid of her mother too, I guess.
OVA Episode Rating: 7,5/10

Posted on 20 March 2011 with categories: OVA Impressions, Young Animator Training Project




Kizuna Ichigeki is… weird. I mean, on one hand it is a martial arts OVA with strange character designs (designed by the guy who also designed the characters of Mind Game, by the way), but on the other hand the context in which it happens is just so bizarre and random that I’m not even sure whether the creators knew what they were doing.

This short shows the debut of Ascension, a completely new animation company. Overall, this short mostly impressed me because of its visuals: those were really good. The big problem here is that they didn’t get themselves a good scriptwriter.

In between the fights are these silly dialogues between the characters that are what I suspect supposed to be funny and charming, but mostly just end up random blabbering. Especially the grandfather is annoying: he’s the kind of guy who keeps making jokes because he thinks he’s funny, while he’s actually really obnoxious. The bad guys also have the flimsiest reasons to actually try to fight the lead character and serve no purpose whatsoever beyond being meat for fanservice. Just about the only thing that the scriptwriter did right was portraying the themes of family: together the cast does form quite a happy and sincere family.

Also, the cat. That freaking cat. That was by far the biggest “what the hell” of this short.

The actual animation however is excellent. The fight scenes in particular are fun and exciting, and a lot of care has gotten into the choreography. The way in which people move around and react to each other, it’s all been done very intricately and the animation really brings the characters to life. I see a good future for Ascension. They just need to find a bunch of good writers.
OVA Episode Rating: 7,5/10

Posted on with categories: OVA Impressions, Young Animator Training Project




The Young Animator Training Program is an initiative to create four standalone OVAs with the purpose of training new animators. Each short would be handled by a different studio, and each would get a certain budget for it. An excellent idea. Ojii-san no Lamp is Telecom Animation Film’s result. You know, the people from Secret of the Cerulean Sand, Uninhabited Planet Survive and Moyashimon.

For this OVA I was expecting this short slice of life story of Japan around 100 years ago, in which we would see a young boy and his grandfather’s lamp. You know, the kind of children’s slice of life that you see more often. As it turns out, I totally wrong about this. Instead, it paints a picture of the life of an oil lamp salesman. Only the first half of this OVA is about his childhood, the meat of this OVA is about him as an adult.

It turned out to be a poignant story, about the use of light in pre-world war Japan and the technological advancements. It’s not something you usually see, and this OVA actually has this great balance between its focus on lamps and the titular grandfather, with a strongly written ending. It may be a bit too dramatic at times, but this is nothing major.

As for the animation, we can expect nice things from the people who animated this in the future: the inbetween animation here is quite good and life-like. It’s perhaps nothing special for a seasoned veteran, but this definitely was a great start for inexperienced animators.
OVA Episode Rating: 8/10

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