Tuesday, September 22, 2009

What Are The 2 Most Prominent Features Of Anime characters?


So of course, if you want to make a modern adaptation of them, you have to tone them way down. This is the theory of all remakes: take out everything that made the original popular in the first place.





I saw the trailer for this the other day before the Meatballs movie and man...like, I'm not a big Anime fan to begin with, but I would go see an Astro Boy movie if it was like the Tezuka cartoons.


Instead, of course they have taken the original Anime cartoon and turned it totally into a Cal Arts character. He acts, moves and makes expressions like every other character in a modern animated American feature. I bet there's even fake pathos and all the last stuff you'd ever want to see in an Astro Boy movie.

64 comments:

C said...

Someone send them the Powerpuff Girls. They're not realistic enough!

Sam said...

You should see it, I'm sure it'll have a valuable life lesson for you to learn.(probably something about the true meaning of friendship....)

It seems the design treatment for cg characters involves evening everything out and making it perfectly symmetrical. On Astro they've made the eyes smaller and moved them up relative to the nose. On Horton they did the opposite, his eyes were made bigger and moved down closer to the nose. In both cases robbing the designs of all the original character. Its as if there's some magic 3d template that they have to conform to.
Original Horton

CG Horton

Forbidden Hippo said...

I do not know that character very well but it's plain that he lost a lot of charm once his eyelashes were removed.

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brad said...

I guess his eyelashes didn't cut it in today's market.

Rick Roberts said...

Stuff like this makes me happy that Lupin III never made it big here.

Niki said...

I've only seen screen caps but I was nonetheless disappointed. I liked Astro Boy he was like that weird kid you wanted to be friends with but he's always where you aren't.

DmL said...

So what were the prominent features? Hair and eyes?

AvgasStew said...

I was thinking more big robots or a straw/samurai hat

TJ said...

Well shit Johnny, I go to Cal Arts and I would never draw Astro Boy like that!!!

Claire said...

They do seem to have found a way to keep his "cheated" hair. That's kind of neat.

Hollywood almost always misses the point when it tries to copy anime. They take the superflat characters but miss the super-elaborate backgrounds and expressionist compositions that make it work. Mood and emotion in anime is conveyed just as much through environment and cinematography as through the character's expressions (which are generally stock). But when you have bland characters on top of bland backgrounds, you have nothing.

Actually, on those points, this new movie looks all right—bland characters but pretty nice-looking environments.

Ben Fried said...

The thing that made Astro boy good was that he really looked like a boy. Not super skinny or tiny... little kids are pudgy and round. Astro Boy has that. Big eyes add to his charm.

Downsizing the eyes, slimming him down, and taking away all the whimsical whacky robots and monsters looks like the formula for the movie.

Astro boy's basically just Pinocchio in a wild futuristic japan. I can dig it if it's done right.

Mega man is just astro boy in a... well, he's just astro boy.

lastangelman said...

I still get intestinal cramps over Paul Reiser's CGI version of Popeye The Sailor. A funny guy, but I'm still going to have to slap his face very hard publicly for ruining Popeye.

Mike Joffe said...

Funny thing about the eyelashes, Tezuka added them because he was obsessed with the gender-bending Japanese theater traditions. In his mind, Astro was a girl robot who happened to have been built as a boy robot. Tezuka was a lovable nut.

I absolutely hate how un-Tezuka the evil robot in the last shot looks. I love Tezuka's imaginative and streamlined robot designs and seeing the chunky, generic big-chin evil robot just sucks. I don't always agree with John on CGI, but the dumbing down of classic characters to make them "palatable" is something I definitely hate with a passion. I also hate how the average online cartoon "fan" will still defend it because apparently the "normals" would just be CONFUSED by the original Astro design.

mr paal said...

Aaaaaaah that makes me SICK!

Oliver_A said...

"What Are The 2 Most Prominent Features Of Anime characters?"

...of course big eyes and a tiny nose. The CGI Astroboy has smaller eyes and a bigger nose. The smooth shading with millions of colours does the rest in making this characters much less recognizeable than the hand painted version.

Although I know you dislike Animes (and I can partly understand why) they have become (and that's the sad part of it) more sophisticated than western animation in the late 80's, 90's and 00's. Even if it is a children's film, but I take, for example, Miyazaki's Ponyo over EVERY single animated western CGI crap you feature here.

Films like 'My Neighbor Totoro', 'Princess Monoke' and 'Spirited Away' are way more worth discussing than some stupid Meatballs film.

The only reason I can think of you avoid those films is that they are not cartoony. It's a shame, because I think they have redeeming qualities. The background paintings for example are truly great. The stories do not insult the intelligence of the audience.

Pretentiousness done much better than Disney. ;)

Btw, if you talk about Astro Boy, you gotta feature Speed Racer. For me, a hilariously funny and totally insane show.

Jonathan Harris said...

Wow, not a post I expected to see from you, John.
Astro Boy's not something I've really looked into yet, but the trailers for this still disturbed me. Was this character in Tezuka's original manga? Did he ever draw facial expressions like this? And let's not forget the all-star Hollywood cast with voices nobody in the world could recognise.

I wonder how this would've turned out if Genndy Tartakovsky had stayed on it.

baronash said...

Ive been looking into Tezuka's work for about half a decade and I dont think that a pixarized Tezuka is gonna work out for me cause they just took out his(Bambi eye) eyelashes which were kinda part of him.

anyway heres another tezuka work which has the "real astro" in it..sorta .

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vAutDVr1AX4
PS: I forgot how to make links clickable.

Andrew Mortlock said...

insane cuteness and huge eyes

Gad said...

some thing went wrong with the world of American animation... defiantly wrong.
but again American cinema was never really diverse... since the days of Popeye and Olive Oil there was no really extreme in the world of animation, well i maybe exaggerating a little...

JohnK said...

"Well shit Johnny, I go to Cal Arts and I would never draw Astro Boy like that!!!"

These stills again, don't show what the character looks like when he's "acting". You can see it in the trailer. He makes all the Pixar expressions once he starts moving.

I guess the folks who pick the stills look for the most symmetrical neutral poses. I wonder what the theory is behind that?

Joey Lee said...

Whoah, Nic Cage does a voice in this?! I'm so there! Who gives a shit?!

You do have to admit that Pixar picks some great voices for their characters.

David Gale said...

Jeepers that first pic is hideous! Looks like something out of The Polar Express.

Zorrilla said...

I'm very scared of watching this movie. They seem to have turned Astroboy into a stock american superhero.

John, have you read the Black Jack manga by Tezuka? I'm sure you'd be surprised, it has a strong influence of old movies. You might like it.

HemlockMan said...

I loved the ASTRO BOY cartoons when I was a kid. I would not see this CGI movie if they paid me big bucks.

Franky said...

I'm a huge Tezuka fan.
I have no plans to see this CG rape of his characters. I expect that they'll dumb down his story as well.

As Ben already wrote - it's an update/tribute to Pinocchio and with that comes lots of tragedy which I don't expect to be in this film. Tezuka knew how to take his uber-cute designs and tell an intensely serious story interspersed with crazy sight gags and non-sequitur jokes.

John said...

I'm not a big fan of Astroboy, but at least he was cute - This new look just makes me want to punch him.

rob mac said...

All of Tezukas early lead male characters remind me of the looney tunes Buddy design.

TJ said...

"These stills again, don't show what the character looks like when he's "acting". You can see it in the trailer. He makes all the Pixar expressions once he starts moving.

I guess the folks who pick the stills look for the most symmetrical neutral poses. I wonder what the theory is behind that?"

I would guess the theory is simply the executive-driven imposition to water down anything original. I understand that a lot of animation today is highly influenced by Pixar, but I can tell you that at Cal Arts, none of our instructors have ever told us to do anything the Pixar or Disney way. In fact, quite the opposite, they are constantly trying to encourage us to be original and find new grounds in animation, especially Corny Cole. Whether we all do that or not is another story. Admittedly, there are many Pixar and Disney fans among the students, but there are also many classic WB, Fleischer, Anime, Tezuka, etc. fans here. And I can assure you, John, that you also have many fans at Cal Arts.

Ted said...

"What Are The 2 Most Prominent Features Of Anime characters?"

Rape tentacles and cats. which makes the Haunted World of El Superbeasto featuring the work of Jim Smith, Chris Reccardi and Carbunkle Cartoons, out now on DVD and Blu-Ray, and The Mighty Bee! cocreated by Erik Wiese of I Miss You Booboo Runs Wild fame and premiering its second seaosn this week every day at 5:30 EST on Nickelodeon, more anime than Imagi's Astroboy...

introvert said...

It's almost as if all those fancy impressive animation effects were invented for the intended purpose of keeping the public more tolerant and accepting of crappy looking characters without any real personality.

I wouldn't want to jump to conclusions, but it would explain why it takes so much money to be in the business of never coming up with new ideas.

RooniMan said...

Poor Astro Boy. He never stood a chance.

Also:

More Studies

Chris Rank said...

"I guess the folks who pick the stills look for the most symmetrical neutral poses. I wonder what the theory is behind that?"

They do it with movie promo photography too.

It boggles the mind. I've often thought the same thing: "Can they pick a more boring frame to "advertise" the movie with?

Trevor Thompson said...

Yuck.

PaulW said...

I have always been a big fan of CG animation, but I have to agree that the output since Toy Story 1 is not the best.

It's my opinion that CG is still relatively in its infancy and is very much like a teenager who is yet to decide what to do when "they grow up".

I wish they would make up their mind where CG animation fits and then put all their creative efforts into doing funny, original and entertaining movies, instead of maximizing box office gross profits....

Oh well, probably gonna be waiting a while for that to happen.

Sven Hoek said...

just when i thought it couldnt get worse, they put Nick Cage in it. Good thing I didnt eat lunch because I hate throwing up. But I do have the dry heaves.

Rodrigo said...

Yeah, this movie looks like caca.

I.D.R.C. said...

They ran a bunch of Astroboys around New Year's on cartoon network. I liked 'em as a kid but didn't really remember them. I was pleased by how cartoony they were. A lot easier to watch than most of their programming.

In any case the biggest difference between the original and this version is that Tezuka was trying to make children happy. I have no idea what the new one is trying to do. I can't even figure out why do it? It's not like any 10 year olds were waiting for it, and there must be other ideas you don't have to ruin.

afdumin said...

Oliver A said...
"What Are The 2 Most Prominent Features Of Anime characters?"

"...of course big eyes and a tiny nose."

Um, no. Actually I think that the answer would be the eyes and the mouth. Like most cartoon drawings these features are where most of the expressions come from.

John A said...

I 'll bet there won't be any of the Fleischer-style sight gags that were in the origial B&W series.

Chris said...

I bought all the Astro Boy comic paperback reprints from Dark Horse and recently the entire original black and white Tezuka cartoon series DVD collections. There's no beating the great cartoony goodness of the characters and expressions. Plus lots of robot vs. robot action!

But if those images don't disturb you enough, John, how about THIS!

EalaDubh said...

I watched the trailer on TV and thought they really had a handle on the concept, right up to when the machine guns popped out of his ass.

THEY PUT MACHINE GUNS IN ASTRO BOY'S ASS.

I'm borrowing John's BLOW UP EVERYTHING button.

Roberto González said...

I don't want to be accused of making excuses for mediocrity, so I'll just say it could be worse. But yeah, this does looks MEDIOCRE, both in the visuals and the story, though by mediocre I mean safe, generic and bland, but not offensive or terribly bad.

I'm not a fan of manga/anime either but I recently started reading Akira Toriyama's DragonBall and the manga is a lot funnier and has much better drawings than the animated series, which I usually found pretty boring. I'm sure Tezuka's Astroboy will be much enjoyable in the comics/manga than any adaptation, and I'm planning to read them in the future.

Oliver_A said...

>>>Um, no. Actually I think that the answer would be the eyes and the mouth. Like most cartoon drawings these features are where most of the expressions come from.<<<

When I watched my first animes as a small child, I always used to joke with my mother about the huge eyes and the tiny noses.

Just Look at the original drawings of Astro Boy and the CGI character. In the original, he has very big eyes and a tiny nose. In the CGI version, his eyes became smaller and the nose bigger, toning down his specific characteristics.

Heck, in many animes, even the mouth is microscopic small compared to the eyes. Kind of contradicts your argumentation about the expressiveness of anime characters.

danielzelter said...

So, John, any comment on http://shamanking.wikia.com/wiki/Ponchi_and_Conchi ?

Ted said...

"It's not like any 10 year olds were waiting for it, and there must be other ideas you don't have to ruin."

Just because Americans may not be waiting for it doesn't mean there aren't 10 year olds waiting for a Tetsuwan Atom movie. Imagi is not an American company (tho it does have an LA office). It has been remade in animation several times over the years, and had two video games made for it 5 years ago. I don't believe any of these things have been made by US companies (barring the localization teams). The new movie is just the latest in a long line of respewing the franchise, a strategy successful enough that they keep doing it.

And Imagi didn't stick the guns in his ass, that was already established:
http://www.astroboy-online.com/powers.php

thomas said...

I think one of the keys to lack of appeal in CG designed characters, is the design of the eyes. They seem to purposefully mimic moveable plastic doll eyes and sockets. They always have a machined looking rim around the eyes.

Maybe the do it in anticipation of marketing doll versions of the characters they create....

Eyes are the window to the soul; if the eyes are smaller then that would mean....

Meenx said...

Wow. What is it with reinventing every beloved character design into a shiny piece of shit?

Kaiser Fate said...

As soon as I saw the classic pictures of Astroboy, I thought "uh oh. What's John gonna say about this one."
A quick scroll down later and thar she blows, an absolute icon ruined.

Good stuff! Don't you just love remakes?

Herman G said...

Yeah, design to busy for cg sometimes. Hi John, Here is cg toon you might like. see what you think http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZYXLi_wM9l0&feature=channel_page

wierd animation too..

Kenjomite said...

I definitely concur with your utter disgust of this piece of re-packaged drivel for the CG-starved masses.
When I heard the Astro Boy movie was in full CG, I nearly threw a tantrum! What it is, is that some producer (I can care less what this person's name is) figured, "Hey! Let's American-ize an Anime ICON, like we did with Dragonball and Speed Racer!"

Why couldn't they at least do this in 2D/hand-drawn imagery???

I always figured that Tezuka wanted to make Astro deceptively dangerous, hence his eyelashes, his coy, innocent poses and very simplistic anatomy; all the while being able to best an opponent much larger and menacing-looking than he is.
In this new iteration however, the character lost a lot of soul in favor for the "sleeker-much more-cool-main-character child-hero stock character design"...complete with hair follicles! Ugh.

Niki said...

I came back to find out what the two features were to see if I was right and saw the add on of the voice killers. I actually hate Nicholas Cage. I also wanted to know your opinion on Cowboys, do you have any favorite ones?

wwhhaatt?? said...

Funny, Tezuka was heavily influenced by Disney. Tezuka, in turn laid out character design principles for manga and anime that are still the standard some 60-plus years later!

That a movie is being made of Tezuka's most famous character in this cheap CG way is beyond insulting. It ignores everything about the master's craft and love of the hand-drawn image. Many themes in his manga stories are about humans and their shaky relationships with technology. How ironic that such a sterile, generic version of Astro is being animated in such a way by unimaginative humans using computers.

Slightly off topic, I highly recommend Takashi Nagasaki's PLUTO which is based on an Astro Boy story. Beautiful drawings and a suspenseful read!

Mike Joffe said...

aw man are you kidding me EalaDubh? Astro Boy has ALWAYS had machine guns in his ass. Its been part of his design from his very first appearance. Machine guns in your ass is one of the 2 most prominent features of anime characters. Them keeping that is probably the only thing the movie will do right.

EalaDubh said...

Oh give over people, stop trying to justify the gag. You know as well as I do they purposely pull it off in this fashion in the movie in order to squeeze in the nearest thing they can to an obligatory anatomical or bodily function joke. With a ROBOT. Why should it matter or be a surprise to HIM where the guns are placed?

I'm STILL going to blow up everything.

C. A. M. Thompson said...

I can't tell you how disappointed I was when I saw the trailer for this. This Astroboy movie had been shuffled around to a few different people such as Tim Burton and Genndy Tartokovsky before they found somebody who would do it sufficiently bland enough.

My dream Astro Boy movie would have been a Coraline-ish stop motion one that would remind you of those great Japanese tin robot toys from the 50's. This stuff just looks much better when you're using actual materials.

Rick Roberts said...

Pertaining to the question at hand, I can only think of modern anime stuck inside a shell. The look of Japanese animation in the 1960's and 1970's was alot more versatile.

Shawn Dickinson said...

Oh, wow! Anime and CG unite!...The two things I HATE the most, all in ONE big ugly package!

mike f. said...

An abomination. It's a good thing Tezuka is already dead, 'cause this would've had him committing harakiri with his drawing pencil.

Alvaro said...

It will be like that Speed Racer Movie: Bland, noisy and boring... "Fantastic Mr. Fox" looks much better than that CGI Astroboy drivel.

EalaDubh said...

And it was by Roald Dahl, a creator guaranteed to hate anything they could possibly do with it anyway. Bonus!

Pogo said...

I've seen the trailer for this, too. Boy, way to Americanize a classic character of Japanese animation. Talk about dumbing something down to a nub. I love the 80s AstroBoy series, but I'll go out of my way to ensure I never see this movie in my life.

Harmke said...

omg they raped him!

Sketch said...

So...they basically un-animed him.