0 Items | £0.00

VIEW BASKET

Oblivion Island CGI Anime

Tuesday 26th March 2013


Storyboarder Naoyoshi Shiotani on Oblivion Island

Oblivion IslandLook at a still from Production I.G’s new movie Oblivion Island, and the first thing to strike you – even before ‘It’s an anime!’ – is that it’s computer animation. Of course, it’s hardly the first CGI anime film to hit Britain. While they’re still pretty thin on the ground, we’ve had specimens such as 2001 Nights, two Appleseed films, Vexille, Final Fantasy Advent Children and that naughty Malice@Doll. Anime’s biggest pop-star is computer generated much of the time. Five minutes to curtain, Miss Hatsune!

But when a big anime studio like Production I.G. makes a CGI movie, it’s easy for Westerners to wonder if it’s a sign of a sea-change in Japan, of the kind Hollywood animation had twenty years ago. Five years after Toy Story, non-computer cartoon movies in America were floundering. Ten years after, they were almost extinct. Could CGI eat anime in the same way? Manga UK’s Andrew Osmond put the question to Oblivion Island’s lead animator and storyboarder, Naoyoshi Shiotani.

Shiotani“A friend of mine visited Pixar,” Shiotani says, “He explained that in Japan we still draw with pencil and paper, and the Pixar people were quite surprised to hear that. I feel that somehow that handcrafted animation fits with the Japanese character. Designing characters with black outlines is something in the cultural visual tradition of Japan, in a way inherited by anime.” The continued success of (largely) traditionally drawn films, including five of the top ten Japanese films last year seems to bear him out. Notably, the film which made Shiotani want to become an animator is a classic of analog anime: Studio Gainax’s The Wings of Honneamise.

“At the same time,” Shiotani adds, “I feel the limits of what can be done with traditional 2D animation. When I made Oblivion Island, I tried to transfer the 2D know-how into 3D. There were things I thought were successfully transferred, and other things that made me think about how this system works… In the end, people want to relate to the characters. It’s not about how they move, it’s about the design and story. The audience itself is not really aware of how these things are made. The techniques are on the production side – if you have good characters and a good story, then it will work.

“At the same time,” concludes Shiotani, “I feel there are fewer skilled 2D animators. I’m not sure whether that’s because we produce more material these days, so we need more animators and don’t find them. Or whether the number of animators is really decreasing because people are keener on working with tablets than with pencils.”

Oblivion IslandTo make Oblivion Island, Production I.G. – an anime powerhouse, with a track-record in ambitious CGI effects going back twenty years – had to pool its talents with several other outfits. The collaborators included Toei Animation, Sunrise and Polygon Pictures. (You can read more about Polygon Pictures, and its ill-fated bid to make the first Japanese CGI feature – with penguins! – here.

“For Japanese productions, we cannot work with multi-million dollar budgets,” Shiotani told the Dubai International Film Festival. “We have to work on limited budgets, compared to the US. So what we bring into the movie is our creativity and our way of making computer animation with limited resources, but bringing our personality into it at the same time. We use a lot of 2D animation in Japan, so we try to develop 3D animation that was blended with our 2D visuals. We did not have motion capture, but the animators have this skill of calculating movements and that’s how we worked.”

The Oblivion Island making-of on the DVD points out that the hair of the lead character, a girl called Haruka, is deliberately kept simple; it’s effectively an outline of the kind you’d find in hand-drawn anime. This is the other end of the scale from the blue monster Sulley in Pixar’s Monsters Inc, whose rippling pelt took years to simulate. Look out for the parts of Oblivion Island that seem to be hybrids of 2D and 3D; perhaps the most obvious is a short early sequence, when Haruka follows a strange creature through woods near a shrine at twilight. The CGI Haruka is set against backgrounds which may be simple paintings, though it’s pretty impossible to tell where the 2D ends and the CG begins.

Oblivion IslandIt may look strange if you’re used to Pixar or Dreamworks; but then Japan is one of the few countries where those studios don’t dominate movie animation. Far from showing that anime is moving closer to computer-dominated Hollywood animation, Oblivion Island shows that anime’s underlying principles and aesthetics – shaped, as always in animation, by economic and practical necessity – are still very different. And Shiotani, like Pixar’s John Lasseter and a host of Hollywood artists, says that CGI is only a tool anyway. “What's really important in this job is to have a clear image of what you want to do, and have your staff understand it. This is true regardless of the animation technique, 2D or 3D.”

Oblivion Island is out April 1st on UK DVD and Blu-ray from Manga Entertainment.

Buy it now

MANGA UK GOSSIP

Oblivion Island: Haruka And The Magic Mirror

£11.99
sale_tag
was £19.99
From the director of GANTZ and Studio Production IG (Ghost In The Shell)

An animated romp for the young and the young at heart! Oblivion Island, an internationally acclaimed feature film blends Japanese folklore and storybook charm reminiscent of Alice in Wonderland into an exhilarating tale sure to amaze animation fans of all ages.

Sixteen-year-old Haruka is on a mission to find her mirror, a precious childhood gift from her late mother that has disappeared. On her search, she follows a strange fox-like creature to Oblivion Island, a mystical world overflowing with once-cherished items taken from their neglectful owners. Trouble follows Haruka and her new friend Teo at every turn as they contend with the island?s overbearing ruler, who will stop at nothing to use the mirror for his own sinister plan!

Special Features: Behind the scenes of OBLIVION ISLAND, A Visit to Fushimi Inari Shrine Battleship Island: An Actual Oblivion Island, Greetings at the Premeire, A word from the cast, Original teasers, Original trailers, TV commercials, U.S. trailer

Spoken Languages: English, Japanese, English subtitles.

Special Features Spoken Languages: Japanese, English subtitles

FEATURED RELEASE

RELATED BLOG ARTICLES

Spirited Away versus Oblivion Island

Andrew Osmond weighs the pros and cons
In a great many ways, Studio Ghibli’s Spirited Away and Production I.G’s Oblivion Island tell the same story. A modern Japanese girl grows up listless and alienated, something plainly lacking in her spirit. Chance, or perhaps fate, draws the girl through a portal into a fantastic world, a shadow Japan inhabited by industrious creatures. Here, the girl learns that the waste and neglectfulness of her world has profound effects on the fantasy location. There are lost, damaged souls, which it is her duty to heal. But the world has a fearsome ruler who wants to enslave the girl, stealing her memories, her identity, even her name. Can the plucky heroine save both the world and herself?

RECENT FEATURED POSTS

The news many anime fans have been waiting for has come at last. Attack on Titan Season 2 will start airing in Japan Spring 2017!

Street Fighter: Assassin's Fist

Akira Koieyama (Goken) on the latest entry in the franchise

The Future of Cinema & the Future of Anime

Jasper Sharp on the rise of new cinema gimmicks
Does the future of anime lie on the big screen, and if so, will developments in cinema exhibition technologies redefine its form, content and audiences in the digital age? These are questions many are asking as pundits declare conventional anime’s glory days to be a thing of the past.

Fairy Tail Music: Idoling!!!

Tom Smith on the music to part nine
Even without the tie-in with anime, Idoling!!! had had a strong presence on television. After all, the group were created by a bunch of media moguls from Fuji TV. They figured out that by appealing to two of Japan’s more dedicated entertainment fangroups, idol fans and TV junkies, that they could be on to a winner.

Mysterious Cities of Gold: The Game

Some day we will find...
The game Mysterious Cities of Gold: Secret Paths is rolling out as a digital download across multiple platforms. This month it becomes available on the Nintendo 3DS and Amazon, following launches on the Wii U, iPad, iPhone and Steam.

Tales of Vesperia Cosplay: Yuri Lowell

Paul Jacques finds an Imperial Knight at the Birmingham Comic Con
Melissa Joy dresses as Yuri Lowell, the Imperial Knight from Tales of Vesperia. Justice!

Ghost in the Shell: Innocence

Jasper Sharp on Oshii's Innocence abroad
Mamoru Oshii’s unashamedly esoteric sequel to his earlier global crossover Ghost in the Shell lent the most credibility to claims for anime as ‘Art’ with a capital ‘A’, when it became the first animated film from Japan to be entered in competition at Cannes.
Contact Us   |   Refund Policy   |   Delivery Times   |   Privacy statement   |   Terms & Conditions
Please note your card statement will show billing by MVM. Oblivion Island CGI Anime from the UK's best Anime Blog.