44 CommentsEditorials / By Scamp /

Why Sakuga MADs rub me the wrong way

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We all know AMVs. Spliced together scenes from anime to the backing track of the creator’s favourite song. Everyone has their stories of how a certain AMV got them interested in a certain anime (although I’m struggling to think of a personal example). However some AMVs cobble together clips from various different anime. Sometimes it’s just because it looks cool, but other times they have a specific goal in mind. There’s a trend, originating from the Japanese side of fandom, of taking clips from a single animators work and cobbling them together to show off their animation style.

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This Sakuga MAD (since I feel like being weeaboo for a change) has clipped together the work of Hiroyuki Imaishi, the famous director who did Gurren Lagann. The guy has a rather unique animation style that is much more cartoonish than what you’re more used to seeing in anime. It’s interesting to see, from an animation standpoint, how he brings his style to other anime that normally aren’t quite as cartoonish, such as Full Metal Alchemist. There’s plenty of these sakuga MADs out there (cheers to J159 for this link). I recognised a grand total of 3 of the names on that list, and they were all people who had taken more prominent roles as directors as well as just animators, namely Yuasa, Koike and the aforementioned Imaishi.

So this is all very interesting and stuff, but the title of this post implied I wasn’t particularly a fan of these. More specifically, sakuga nerds rub me the wrong way. There’s a tendency to focus on the fluidity of the animation or the dynamic nature of the camera angles, not the directing or how this animation adds to the story. Yes I take interest in animation myself and frequently comment on how it’s used in an anime, but that’s because I’m watching a visual medium. Your visuals should tell the story as much, if not more, than any of the talking should do. All the dramatic camera angles and exaggerated facial expressions are used to tell part of the story. But sakuga nerds seem to frequently ignore this part and just focus on the quality of the animation in of itself.

Sakuga MADs are a perfect example of this. The clips are divorced from their original meaning. We have no context for what is supposed to be going on here. Actually I take that back, we do have context: the animator whose name is credited for having provided us with that clip. The story is not about the cartoon in question, but the animator himself. Not only have we removed the context of the anime itself, we’ve changed it to meaning solely about the animation. Even the anime themselves blend into one single animation style, because that’s the entire intent. Highlight how this animator uses similar techniques on each anime they work on. It’s animation for animation’s sake.

“But Scamp” I pretend to hear you say. “What’s wrong with that? Can’t someone enjoy animation as something different to the story?” I guess that yes, there is nothing wrong with that. If you get your kicks from enjoying quality animation, then good for you. It rubs me personally the wrong way, because I want every part of an anime, and any storytelling medium, to ultimately contribute to the story itself. I’ve said it many times before, from cuteness to tits ‘n ass, everything should contribute to the story. But then why should I demand that everyone hold the same views? I shouldn’t, basically. But if you follow that line of reasoning, then you run the risk of never critically assessing anything you review, when everyone has different ideas of how the quality should be judged. There are people whose enjoyment is based entirely upon how many lines Hanazawa Kana gets. You have to set out a stall of what constitutes quality, and I’ve set out mine. If you like watching anime simply for good animation, then that’s your prerogative.

There is a specific example I can think of where sakuga nerds really piss me off though. Sometimes for long running shounen series, most notably with Naruto, they bring on board a team of animators for a specific key episode. Generally this means much better animated fight sequences and the Naruto fanbase are incredibly pleased by the results. Sometimes though they bring on board slightly more experimental animators and the results don’t really sit well with the Naruto fanbase. Not having the knowledge of what’s going on here, they try to explain the problems by maybe this episode got a very small budget, or maybe the animators were simply lazy. Sakuga nerds will occasionally show up for these episodes alone to marvel at their favourite animators work. And then they have the balls to mock the Naruto fanbase for criticising the episode when they haven’t a fucking clue what the context for this episode was? How the animation style for this episode might have totally gone against the mood the previous several hundred episodes had been building up? They have the arrogance to declare they know better as to when an episode of Naruto is of superior quality? That pisses me off.

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42 Comments

  1. gw_kimmy
    Posted November 28, 2011 at 8:37 pm | Permalink

    god i love the running man amv. and nostromo in general. magic pad and auriga were the bomb. that is all.

  2. Posted November 28, 2011 at 9:07 pm | Permalink

    Because they are/were Naruto fans.

    The boom in western sakuga nerds is down to Naruto. Specifically the episodes animated by Norio Matsumoto before the filler hell fell upon the series.

    It’s not the Naruto fanbase that hates the so called sakuga episodes, it’s elements within it, and elements within it are shouting back at them.

    I don’t frequent places were Naruto fans do this arguing, but I do frequent them where One Piece fans do. And it happens week in week out. From the regular viewers of One Piece, not the mythical elitist sakuga otaku dropping in from their ivory towers taking a break from well animated but unfunny out of context clips of KyoAni shows, to bemoan the common shonen fan on the street.

    A huge swathe of sakuga nerds in western fandom were born from Naruto, One Piece and other long running shows. I’m going to say it’s due to the wildly different animation styles you get from having to run multiple production crews, week in week out, for years, and a dedicated fanbase that can ignore the bad weeks.

    On a 13 week show, you might get one terrible episode, four episodes in, and give up. For example, ALL GONZO SHOWS. But if you pick up a Shonen Jump based show, you are in for the long haul regardless.

    And so you’ll start to recognise shifts in animation style and work out which ones you like and don’t like. And as the story could be followed in the manga anyway (or by the expansive story slowing recaps), you might just skip some episodes you don’t like. This goes from both sides of the “sakuga” episode fence – after all the fans who like the more “on model” episodes are sakuga fans in their own way, they might not just identify themselves as such.

    The real enemy of the sakuga fan, is the fan who takes a single cel, often a smear or inbetween, and declares a show or episode bad.

    • Scamp
      Posted November 29, 2011 at 11:31 am | Permalink

      Can’t really comment because I’m hardly an expert in the area of shifting styles in long running series, but I did find the line about how on-model fans are just as much sakuga fans interesting

  3. Posted November 28, 2011 at 9:09 pm | Permalink

    You put forward a sensible argument per se. However I think it’s worth pointing out that you’re actually only mentioning one side of this issue.

    Ultimately animation is still just animation. Any aspect of it is fair game for criticism, may it be narrative context or cinematography or whatever. It’s perfectly okay to play the game where one contextualized camp criticizes another camp for missing out on that context, even if it’s ultimately hypocritical. But I think you’re not even at this level.

    Because you are not considering both sides’ point of view. Basically you have some loud, vocal fandom (eg., Naruto fans, Gurren Lagann episode 4 type situations) decrying something that sakuga fans actually like and enjoy, and would go out of their comfort zone and watch those things, to engage with “naruto fans” (which is not exactly known as well-meaning and enlightened group of people) to explain and defend the animation on those basis.

    I mean putting myself in their shoes, it’s perfectly understandable why they would have the balls to criticize Naruto fans, for example. It’s a “you hate my favorite band because XYZ” situation, where “you” is a large, vocal group. Because it’s that group which is “in the wrong” in the first place. Not that I completely agree with your exact characterization in the first place and I probably would care less about what Naruto fans has to say coming from a narrative perspective, but surely this is not something that just happens for no reason. It’s pretty clearly a case where it takes two to tango, and when you leave out the other side of the equation it makes your argument a lot less credible.

    • Scamp
      Posted November 29, 2011 at 11:37 am | Permalink

      Fair enough, but there is a sense of superiority that sakuga fans have when they see the ‘true’ story, ignoring the legitimate criticisms of Narutard #1245 that the animation style for the episode looked weird and unlike what they were expecting.

      Also, not really related, but of course I only covered a small part of the argument. You made a similar criticism of my fanservice post that I was only looking at one part of the overall picture in isolation. That’s because both that post and this one are only meant to highlight that specific area. That’s a problem I feel your posts have. You try to cover so many viewpoints in a limited space which leaves your posts garbled and incomprehensible

  4. Posted November 28, 2011 at 9:33 pm | Permalink

    Yeah, Naruto fans are arguing the animation’s context… riiiight.

    A lot of fans out there simply can’t spot fluid animation, and simply equate ‘experimental’ with ‘poorly drawn’, which is flat out incorrect. And when someone calls something he doesn’t understand ‘shitty’, people who know better are either going to ignore him or confront him, and I doubt they’ll warm up too kindly to his slander born out of ignorance.

    • Scamp
      Posted November 29, 2011 at 2:36 pm | Permalink

      Congrats for being the predictable moron by using the explanation that Naruto fans are morons -_-

      The fact that they didn’t like it is unquestionable. They think it looks “shitty” because it didn’t correspond to what they were expecting it would look like. The only way they have been programmed to think like that is because of the anime itself. In that sense, it’s the anime’s fault for making them think like that in the first place and then placing animation that didn’t mesh with what they had bred the audience to expect.

      They may not understand why it looks the way it does, but they do understand their own feelings in that it didn’t look well within the context of Naruto

      • Posted November 29, 2011 at 4:42 pm | Permalink

        Not all Naruto fans; just the ones that are complaining as I describe them as complaining (note that 1- plenty of Naruto fans liked all of these animation shifts, 2- I AM A NARUTO FAN).

        In the typical rant, you will find ‘shitty’, ‘poor’, ‘lazy’, ‘money': there is no defense of this. It is incorrect. It is incorrect AND insulting. And when someone is incorrect and insulting about it, you call that person what, Scamp? You call them a… MORON!

        “They do understand their own feelings”: wrong. They feel simply that they don’t like it; they have no *understanding* of why they feel that way. You never hear them say “I don’t like it because it’s different”, which is what you attribute to them, which is still questionable (give them an alternate (to the main) animation style that they find enjoyable and let’s see if they bitch about it being ‘poor’, etc).

        Ultimately, you’re trying to make someone else’s point for them. Stick to your own point (that it is YOU who favors consistency) and you’d be fine.

      • Scamp
        Posted November 29, 2011 at 7:37 pm | Permalink

        Umm, they do understand why they feel that way. Because the animation doesn’t look right to them. Hence why they call it shitty and poor

        Also I disagree with the idea that we shouldn’t try to argue what other people are thinking. Yes we might get it wrong, but without that there would be no critical thinking about…well, people in general.

  5. Posted November 28, 2011 at 9:33 pm | Permalink

    Ah, this makes a bit more sense than your tweet a couple of weeks ago (as one would expect — tweets are also lacking in context, by and large).

    I don’t know sakuga nerds, and maybe I approach that sakuga stuff from an odd angle, but I view the attention that sakuga is getting now to be a good thing. Animation is an art. As you say, it’s a story-telling art, but it is an art. Art is an assemblage of techniques, and the sakuga MADs focus on individual artists and their techniques. By becoming familiar with the techniques, by contrasting the different approaches of different artists, you can achieve a deeper appreciation of the art. The same goes for cuts, camera angles, framing, perspective, distortion, and color choice (all of which fall into the sakuga bin, I guess).

    By looking at the elements in isolation, I think you get a better appreciation for how those elements are assembled, and how they contribute (or not) to the over-all story. This maybe doesn’t apply to your Naruto-invading sakuga nerds, but who cares about them?

    Another example (not anime, but manga, as it happens): in these essays a Japanese critic looks at film editing techniques, or patterns, and finds analogies in the world of manga: (part one), part two. I thought this was cool, and reading it has deepened the way I see storytelling in manga and comics. You’ll note that it’s about visual techniqe, but the focus is on how those techniques are used to tell the story.

    Finally, it’s animation. Animation frees the creators to use these techniques, or else why not make live-action?

    • Posted November 28, 2011 at 9:35 pm | Permalink

      Damn. Sorry about the botched HTML. The second link at least takes you to part two, which has a link to part one.

      ::Admin Edit:: Fixed your HTML for you

    • Scamp
      Posted November 29, 2011 at 2:41 pm | Permalink

      I’d agree with all that. Pretty standard line by film buffs in that understand the production behing the works leads to greater appreciation of the works themselves when used correctly. In that sense, I guess I can see why highlighting these animation quirks in isolation is a good thing.

      That said, I don’t think that’s how certain sakuga nerds see it. But eh, as I said, nothing really wrong with that, even if it does rub me the wrong way

      • Posted November 29, 2011 at 5:08 pm | Permalink

        The “film buffs” perspective was one I’d considered mentioning, but dropped, as my reply was already long enough. I think it works that way in all the visual arts, and probably works in the arts in general — knowing and recognizing the techniques used deepens the appreciation of the work.

        As I said, I don’t know any of those sakuga nerds, though I guess I appreciate their product from time to time (the sakuga MADs that appear occasionally).

  6. Posted November 28, 2011 at 11:18 pm | Permalink

    So it sounds like your issue isn’t with Sakuga videos, or the reason people like them, or even the people who like them, but a very specific subset of its fans who decide to shit on other people’s tastes for not liking what they like?

    • Scamp
      Posted November 29, 2011 at 2:44 pm | Permalink

      My issue is with the reason people like sakuga videos, but it’s more minor annoyance than anything else. The kind of general minor annoyance that comes with people liking stuff you don’t (as much as we try to say ‘pinions and tastes, there’s always that minor annoyance with people having opposite tastes to your own). The final part is simply highlighting a case where that approach leads to dickish moves

      • Posted November 29, 2011 at 4:00 pm | Permalink

        If you truly believe that everyone finds annoyance in people having opposing tastes, what a dark and cynical world you must live in. I mean, I’m a very cynical person, but even I believe and find that people are capable of not just tolerating but accepting and encouraging opposing opinions.

        Also, if your annoyance with Sakuga is the same as with anything you don’t like that others like, then all you’re saying is, basically, “I don’t like Sakuga,” isn’t it?

      • Scamp
        Posted November 29, 2011 at 7:43 pm | Permalink

        Are you truly disengaged enough that you don’t respond to other people’s opinions? I’m not sure about the legitimacy of this, but I heard that experiments proved that there is a physical reaction sustained by someone when they read somone else mirroring their own opinions. . If that’s true, then obviously the reverse would be true too. Of course I’m able to tolerate and encourage opposing opinions, because I see the greater long-term effects these bring over the original gut reaction. But I’d be lying if I pretended that I didn’t have that gut negative reaction towards them.

        And no, it’s not that I don’t like animation. I don’t like animation for the sake of animation

      • Posted November 30, 2011 at 3:42 am | Permalink

        Sure, there’s gut reaction. And I’ll absolutely believe that there’s a physical component to it, not just mental. But that doesn’t last more than a few seconds. It’s proceeded by thoughtful reaction, which is more reasoned. Just seemed like your post didn’t go any further than the gut reaction before negating it with a reasoned reaction and going into an anecdote about a very specific and small subset of the people you were talking about.

      • Posted September 28, 2012 at 9:02 pm | Permalink

        Sorry to revive a dead post, but just wanted to mention that there are actually studies that show people, for the most part, can’t get past that initial gut reaction.
        When an atheist hears the person he is speaking to is a Christian, and vice-versa, they generally shut down mentally and don’t hear another word the other person says. This is a generalization of course, there are thoughtful people out there who can get past this, but it’s not the norm.

  7. Animu
    Posted November 29, 2011 at 12:36 am | Permalink

    You’re talking about Naruto 166, Naruto fans hate the episode because it actually has a unique and interesting style. Sakuga fans celebrate said style as it is actually different unlike the 100 odd episodes beforehand. If Naruto fans want the same thing over and over, that’s fine. But they, with no knowledge or context for the world of animation belittle the unique sensibilities of wonderful animators all the same as someone who would belittle the context of the animation in Naruto. They call it laughable as if the animators responsible weren’t capable of animating some of the best episodes that they themselves loved, it’s pure willful ignorance.

    It’s basically the uninformed trying to argue with the informed on a pure emotional level. I don’t expect that a common anime fan would care about the animation part, simply because the running gag that anime has bad animation has become so ingrained that it’s pathetic but you actually can’t have a conversation about something in which one side knows fuck all about what’s actually going on there. It just doesn’t work.

    • The Kenosha Kid
      Posted November 29, 2011 at 12:56 am | Permalink

      The problem as I understand it is that the sakuga fans are as uninformed as the Naruto fans–they might have an eye for creative animation, but if they don’t know anything about Naruto, then they won’t be able to correctly judge whether or not an episode is a success as a Naruto episode.

      I’m not a Naruto fan personally (and not much of a sakuga person either), but I suppose that there are aspects of the show that make it special to its fans, and if episode 166’s creative animation comes at the expense of those aspects that make the show special, then no matter how good the animation is, it is a failure as a Naruto episode.

      Not that I’d mind with that series, but then again I’m an elitist hipster bastard.

    • Scamp
      Posted November 29, 2011 at 2:50 pm | Permalink

      Aren’t you also arguing on an emotional level? You enjoyed the episode because of the animation. You can explain why you enjoyed it because of your knowledge of animation, but the fact remained that you still enjoyed it on an emotional level.

      Yes, the subsequent explanation of a Naruto fan’s criticism is uninformed, but the enjoyment of the episode is based off two seperate approaches to enjoyment

  8. Anonymous
    Posted November 29, 2011 at 12:49 am | Permalink

    I’ll pitch in that I believe LVLLN has interpreted what you’ve set out to say better than the words you’ve chosen to use conveying the idea.

    That aside, as a fan of Western animation I must add that sometimes the animation is far greater a pull than the storytelling. Some of the most famous cartoons recommended in the circles of animation enthusiasts are pretty much agreed upon to be terrible. The Thief and the Cobbler was critically panned. There are few people that would defend it as a film, but for a fan of american animation it’s worth watching just for the techniques. From Fantastic Planet to Twice Upon a Time to Ralph Bakshi’s films, there’s practically an entire genre of animation that would be ignorable if not for the animation itself.

    I would even extend this comment to films. Anyone that watches Eraserhead and claims it makes sense is an idiot or a liar. However, it’s still a cult classic because of the way the film was directed, shot and edited.

    To pull words from your mouth, I could cite any post in which you mention Makoto Shinkai. You don’t enjoy his movies, but even you have to admit that the art and animation (cloud fetish aside) is fucking phenomenal. Sometimes that’s enough to drive a person to watch it. Repeatedly.

    • Animu
      Posted November 29, 2011 at 1:41 am | Permalink

      But how do you determine what would make that episode successful? Naruto fans, hell anime fans in general call the animation in said episode a “bad joke” and are convinced that something in the process of that episode went wrong, most people say “I guess they ran out of money” or some other ignorant comment. What would have been better, if it followed the manga 1:1? If it were any actual lazily structured Naruto episode? I can live with them thinking it fails as a Naruto episode just fine, but it goes well beyond that. People are convinced that it is a failure as a anime episode in general, with no reasonable argument in sight. It’s not like that episode is loved by the Sakuga community by large in the first place, it’s pretty divisive there too where some think it is far too loose and takes way to many liberties with character art. But Naruto fans aren’t arguing this in a sensible, informed way, so I can’t be fucked to care if Scamp feels bad that we aren’t taking their feelings into consideration or some-such nonsense.

    • Scamp
      Posted November 29, 2011 at 2:56 pm | Permalink

      @Anonymous

      That idea of enjoying for the pretty pictures or directing is exactly what I’m highlighting in the first part of the post. I don’t like that because I don’t care. Pretty Makoto Shinkai pictures are relevant because they could be used to enhance the story, but are quite noticably not doing that. Hence they are (in my eyes) worthless. But again, that’s all different approaches to how you enjoy your entertainment

      @Animu

      Basically what I said to you already, but I’d like to add that shounen fans get used to expecting a certain type of animation in the show itself. If you randomly decided to animated Naruto in One Piece style, people would call it out on not looking like Naruto. They call it a failure of animation because it looked so radically out of place to what they were expecting

      • Posted November 29, 2011 at 8:52 pm | Permalink

        If they’d been watching Naruto up to episode 167 of Shippuden, then they should be expecting it. At this point it’s not a surprise that big fights get showy animation on the show. In the same way it’s not a surprise that you’re going to get a Naoki Tate episode roughly once a month on One Piece. You either like or you don’t, next episode it will most likely be someone else, with their own stylistic foibles, regardless.

        Indeed there’s an argument to be made that the looser designs in some Naruto episodes have influenced Kishimoto in turn as he’s simplified designs over the years, becoming more angular and abstract.

        If you look at the Crunchyroll comments you’ll get a much better idea of the wide variety of differing opinions in the Naruto fanbase, than this impression you and other comments here give of it being Naruto fans on one side and sakuga snobs the other.

        http://www.crunchyroll.com/naruto-shippuden/episode-167-planetary-devastation-542498/comments?pg=1

  9. Thrashy
    Posted November 29, 2011 at 1:22 am | Permalink

    I’m going to just leave this here.

    http://xkcd.com/915/

    • gw_kimmy
      Posted November 29, 2011 at 7:10 am | Permalink

      /thread

  10. Animu
    Posted November 29, 2011 at 1:30 am | Permalink

    On the subject, you know I really don’t know many Sakugafans that couldn’t more aptly be called “Staff fans” or people that generally follow staff from the production process in general. From direction, storyboard, to layout, to key animation and so forth. Simply because lots of famous directors were also key animators and vice versa. But also because of anipages and anipages forum in which many, many of the animation processes’ are detailed and a fan of key animation can quickly become a fan of a huge swath of credited roles in the production process even without having to have already been a fan of any particular person.

    I think it’s a misnomer that any particular Sakugafan would only be a Sakugafan, when you have lots of sakugafans following Idolmaster for example which has notable staff directing, storyboarding and such beyond just key animation. But there are countless examples of sakugafans looking forward to episodes directed or storyboarded by particular people, people who follow artists because they love their character animation designs, or people who follow mech animation designers. Hell look at Raito-kun’s blog http://aninomiyako.wordpress.com/2011/11/13/ikuhara-school-directors-utenas-legacy/, his latest entry is all about notable staff breakdown in Utena, loads more varied than just key animators.

    • Scamp
      Posted November 29, 2011 at 3:03 pm | Permalink

      But you’re looking forward to these episodes of Idolm@ster because you want to see this storyboarder in action, not because you care about how his storyboarding effects the ongoing story or themes in Idolm@ster itself. Do you see what I’m getting at?

  11. Posted November 29, 2011 at 2:47 pm | Permalink

    While I am a bit familiar with the who’s who in anime, I find the label “sakugafan” as being unnecessarily elitist and self-important. It probably sounds kind of hypocritical for me to say that, but knowing a bunch of persons who work in your cartoon shows isn’t a good reason to act superior to the rest.

    I mean, really, the appreciation of anime (at least for me) isn’t solely based on how fluid the animation is or whatever, but rather on how all the elements present in a certain production–such as the directing, the story, all that stuff–effectively combine into a very entertaining and engaging whole. In the end, anime is a team game, after all (except in some cases where a super-animator takes on the challenge of producing something himself, but that’s another can of worms entirely).

    Though that is not to say following a specific animator isn’t cool, because, actually, it is. It is very enjoyable and rewarding to see an animator you like do his work, evolve within his craft, and eventually maximize his fullest potential (say, like Miyazaki and the people you mentioned in your post). Not to mention that learning the specifics about the animation production process in Japan is quite educational.

    I just don’t think it’s right to act all snooty about it, just because you do know.

    I understand that this comment may not have anything to do with the point of your post, but I just wanted to get my two cents’ worth about the “sakuga” phenomenon. Mostly thoughts coming from a fan, for what it’s worth.

    • Scamp
      Posted November 29, 2011 at 3:06 pm | Permalink

      Think your comments need to be directed towards some of the other people commenting on this post

  12. cell
    Posted December 1, 2011 at 2:31 pm | Permalink

    It’s not really people that explicitely go out of their way to defend them but a divided Naruto fanbase that usually clashes on such episodes. Today we remember the Sasuke vs. Naruto fight as one of the greatest in the history of the series but when it was aired for the first time the Naruto forums were full of people complaining about the poor animation and whatnot and the same thing repeats itself every time the producers decide to hire known stylistical animators for an important episode. In the end there is a reason the director decides for certain animators for certain things. In a show that has ninjas runnning along vertical walls or water and fighting each other using supernatural powers things need to be flashy and different when the characters display the best of their techniques. In the end after a while goes by such episodes will be remembered by most viewers as outstanding and interesting and the clash repeats itself with the next such episode.

    And Brack is absolutely right, many people who are today “sakuga nerds” as you put it, became interested more in animation because of such unusual Naruto episodes. It certainly applies to me, without some of the earlier Naruto episodes and people throwing around names of animators I would have never become interested in the people behind the picture. And you see today many people in the Naruto forums talking about sakuga and animators in general, something that isn’t all too common in other anime forums.

    Personally I only watch an episode every few weeks nowadays and don’t follow the series that regularly anymore but every time when people start complaining and clashing about an episode and “weird” style/poor animation and known animator names are mentioned, my interest in the series picks up again and I marathon the series until that episode again. And I know many other people who do the same.

    So yeah, not sure where your post is coming from. It seems to me you are trying to build up an anime fan type that doesn’t actually exist, or at least is such a minority that it’s not even worth mentioning it with a one-liner. And disliking such videos that somebody just made for other people to enjoy because of said anime fan archetype you seem to perceive is pretty far-fetched to be honest. The headline would make more sense if it were something like: “Why sakuga nerds rub me wrong.” as that would be much closer to the actual content of the post.

  13. Posted December 2, 2011 at 12:57 am | Permalink

    I used to watch Naruto when I was 13 and back then I thought the Norio Matsumoto fights were great. As someone who grew up on Looney Tunes and Animaniacs I always gravitated towards the ‘ugly off model’ stuff. I truly believe that people who watched that sort of stuff growing up are naturally going to be much more open to odd stand-out episodes, especially if they’re clearly very fluid, show a very good grasp of the laws of physics and generally have more obviously good movement than the average episode. I also think the “I will analyze every single frame of this Norio Matsumoto fight and prove that it’s badly animated” trend is simply a result of every anime fan on the Internet wanting to be a cynical, fanbase-weary critic (people love the “you don’t have to be a cook to know this food tastes like shit” mantra). Everyone is desperate to show that they have ‘standards’.

    Pretty much the first thing I tell Naruto fans when they complain about the weirder episodes is that it’s completely fine to disagree with the staff’s decision to use that style, but that it’s simply inaccurate to claim that those episodes took less effort, skill and money to animate. Occasionally people who didn’t feel very strongly about the episode and just thought it was ‘kind of bad’ will be able to listen to you and change their minds, but those people are few and far between – generally you’ll just get assaulted with a barrage of 4chan memes at best, and a bunch of “let me tell you what animation is REALLY like” ramblings at worst.

    And that in the end is the reason why animation nerds get upset at stuff like this – I’m completely sure most of the people you think are horrible elitists would be totally fine with the criticism if it simply boiled down to “I think the use of this style was a very out of place decision” or “I felt the way this character was drawn here was out-of-character” as opposed to “lol it must have been bring your downs syndrome kids to work day at studio pierrot lol looney tunes MEEP MEEP xD”.

    PS. I like those animator showcase MADs because I can watch pretty stand-out scenes in shows I don’t like. Of course watching an amazingly animated scene in a show you love is superior, of course having the context of a scene will enhance the experience – nobody will seriously deny that.

  14. an Animator
    Posted July 25, 2012 at 8:31 am | Permalink

    Sheesh, I know this topic is old but the OP is looking at things in a pretty in my opinion stupid way. It’s like if I look at a flower an say “Oh, I like this flower but I do not like how the petals fall off. I’m going to write a thread about it.”

  15. Chris
    Posted September 10, 2012 at 1:44 am | Permalink

    So do you also dislike anime soundtracks since they are taken out of context and are being played somewhere other than in the anime itself? There is nothing wrong with appreciating the individual parts that are used to make a whole.

    Animation is not JUST about simply telling the story. It’s about telling the story in a visually pleasing and artistic way. How a scene is animated may not actually affect the story (and often doesn’t), but rather may be done in a certain way simply because that’s how the the creators wanted the viewers to see it. Adding a different style or animator to a single scene may be a way to enhance a scene to make it more exciting, dramatic, or cool-looking, and if the creators want to do this they have every right to (because anime is a form of art, and you can do whatever you want in art.)

    Sakuga videos are merely a way to appreciate the individual artistic work of an animator. Just like the Oscar for best visual effects or best make up. All of the parts of an anime are important because they combine to create something great, and not being able to appreciate each part by itself is just wrong. The story is not the only thing that matters.

    • Chris
      Posted September 10, 2012 at 2:28 am | Permalink

      “How a scene is animated may not actually affect the story”

      besides enhancing it of course

  16. Chris
    Posted September 10, 2012 at 5:38 am | Permalink

    Of course the animation affects the story, what I meant is that certain things like camera angles don’t do anything for the story and it would be the same if these dynamic camera angles weren’t used. They are simply used for artistic purposes.

  17. sickVisionz
    Posted September 24, 2012 at 12:37 am | Permalink

    Meh. I appreciate quality animation. If that makes the blogger rage, so be it. Sakuga videos are supposed to highlight the animator, not be a condensed version of a story arc or something like that. Duh, they are out of context. Nobody pretends that these videos are telling the whole story of a series or providing emotional context. That isn’t their point at all. The point of them is to highlight talented animators and the work they’ve done.

  18. Tim
    Posted March 11, 2013 at 3:01 pm | Permalink

    to clearify things for you dear blogger.
    Sakuga MADS = animation reel

    End of the story.

    An animation reel is a portfolio for the animator to show his animation work.
    In japan, these are called sakuga mad.

    So the reason why it has become a trend that fans make these MADS is very simple.
    Animators are too lazy, they don’t need a showreel, they don’t know how to make it.
    So for the sake of the animator and animation fans take this role for free and provide this animator a shoreel wich is called SAKUGA MAD.

  19. fertel
    Posted March 15, 2013 at 7:07 pm | Permalink

    Let me guess: you’re one of those people who got seriously butthurt over Shippuden #167.

  20. Posted May 23, 2014 at 7:57 pm | Permalink

    I know this article is ancient but it rubbed ME the wrong way so I felt compelled to respond.

    “There’s a tendency to focus on the fluidity of the animation or the dynamic nature of the camera angles, not the directing or how this animation adds to the story.”

    I don’t know where you’re getting this from. One of the three names you mentioned, Hiroyuki Imaishi, is known for how deliberately un-fluid his animation is, and how it contributes to the overall product of shows like Abenobashi or Re Cutie Honey is a common point of discussion in sakuga communities.

    “All the dramatic camera angles and exaggerated facial expressions are used to tell part of the story. But sakuga nerds seem to frequently ignore this part and just focus on the quality of the animation in of itself.”

    Bullshit. Different styles of sakuga animation, like Mitsuo Iso’s full limited, were developed to work within particular modes of visual storytelling, to more effectively communicate the demands of the story. There is no linear “quality” to animation, just different styles, and that’s what sakuga nerds are into: analyzing those styles and seeing how they work.

    “Sakuga nerds will occasionally show up for these episodes alone to marvel at their favourite animators work. And then they have the balls to mock the Naruto fanbase for criticising the episode when they haven’t a fucking clue what the context for this episode was? How the animation style for this episode might have totally gone against the mood the previous several hundred episodes had been building up? They have the arrogance to declare they know better as to when an episode of Naruto is of superior quality?”

    You seem to mad about the times when sakuga nerds will watch an episode of an otherwise bad show and praise particular cuts of animation, I’m assuming here you’re referring to Shingo Yamashita’s work in Naruto Shippuden 167. But I don’t think you have to watch hundreds of episodes of Naruto to know that Hayato Date’s direction of the series is poor. As you said, anime is a visual medium, and animation is the primary way that is expressed. Don’t fault sakuga fans for expecting a higher standard.

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