Sakuga Animation

Sometimes, while I watch anime, I lose all hope in Japanese animation due to how appalling the animation is. That's not to say that all the animation is bad but sometimes the quality of animation would just plummet thus making me depress to see where things are going. Such as today when I was watching Blood Lad (by VIZ media). It's no longer just inconsistent art bypassing quality check but actual bad animation along with lazy animation and non-animation. Animators are highly underpaid and undervalued in Japan and so what happens a lot for TV animation is in order to meet deadlines while filling the time quota certain tricks are used. Instead of having actual animation a lot of shots only consist of an image with some camera movement. There tends to be a lot of close ups or portrait shots so an entire character would not have to be animated; such often examples are closeup shots with dialogue and the main animation is the mouth moving between 2 to 4 different poses (which is really not enough) with no secondary action and very little any other movement, or taking a step to only show the feet. This is more than often clearly an animation cheat and not at all a decision with the camera movements as it does nothing to accentuate and often detracts from whatever is actually happening. Another examples that often emerges is while walking or running, the characters' limbs would actually be animated on a cycle and the background is animated to move backward for a sense of movement, or only half of a character is shown and the animation is merely the image bobbing up and down to simulate a sort of movement. In contrast to a lot of animation that I see people working on here at school where the arms are gesturing while a character is talking, in anime I often see a character hold a single pose while talking and only move to hold another pose in between sentences. Another trick that is used, to decrease the amount of animation, 2 or 3 frames inbetween are skipped which breaks the fluidity of the animation. All this makes me cry but I still watch anime because I often like the stories. Anime covers a much broader spectrum of genres than what I tend to get with American TV Animation. Instead of what seems to be centering more on either comedy and or action, with anime I have more serious stories with things like romantic comedies and slice of life type to genres that can be a lot darker with psychologicals and thrillers. There are also some amazing little bits of animation that surfaces that are beautiful and it makes me cry why more effort could not be put into the rest of the animation. They don't all have to be at the same level, those can be the money shots, but having something close but higher than what seems to be going around now would be nice. I recently just learned that this type of animation is termed "sakuga animation".

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PGN78VTeX_k&w=560&h=315] Sakuga (作画) literally translates to "drawing" and is the other end of the spectrum of typical animation seen in Japanese TV animation. This is where all the money is put into and becomes extremely expressive and fluid. While typically seen in action/shounen series and reserved for long awaited battles, I have seen some beautiful usage of sakuga in dramas to highlight emotional moments. I'm typically the type of person who skips the opening and ending song of each episode when watching anime as I can since I'm not watching it on TV. Apparently though, this is also a point where a lot sakuga animation shows up. I assume to draw the audience in to watch the show.

These particular shots are beautiful and is what animation is about. There is finally the principles of animation being followed. Beautiful follow through and overlapping action. Strong lines of action along with fluid arcs. Precise timing. The drawing is solid throughout all the poses.