Warnings for this post: there’ll be a lot of youtube embeds, and to get the point of the post, you’ll have to watch most of them. This post features some presumptuousness on my part; I’m going to say things like “this is Oonuma’s doing” or “this is Shinbo’s doing” or “you can see Shinbo’s influence on Oonuma here”—obviously, I can’t prove any of this to be true, as I’ve never met Shinbo nor Oonuma. This information is what I personally believe to be true, but you should formulate your own opinions based on the evidence.
I have a distinct mental image of Oonuma Shin and Shinbo Akiyuki as directors, and of SHAFT as a studio. Each has a definitive and irreversible influence on the others, and tracing whose original ideas are whose could very well be impossible. However, I have a lot of fun imagining all the guys at SHAFT as they come up with ideas to put into each new show. I also have a helpful device that makes this post possible—Baka to Test to Shoukanjuu, the first show that Oonuma directed away from Studio SHAFT. I already know what Shinbo is like away from the studio, so now I feel I have a pretty good sense of what each of the three parties contributes to the work they’re involved in.
Today, I’ll be taking apart a variety of opening and ending videos from series that Oonuma Shin directed. Shinbo’s name will come up a lot because some of these shows were co-directed by the two (Oonuma is the ‘series director’ of Pani Poni Dash, while Shinbo is the director; Oonuma directed both ef series, while Shinbo has been credited as ‘supervisor’ on both (which means to me that he was just sort of there while the shows were being made and threw out some ideas.) The pair also collaborated as directors on two of the Negima?! OVAs, but neither of those has a good OP or ED. BakaTest is Oonuma’s first series with no connection to Shinbo nor SHAFT.)
Some of the points that I make in this post will only be validated later therein. I’m going to talk about these videos semi-chronologically, and some of my statements will seem like bullshit until I get to another example. For that, you’ll just have to bear with me.
The first series I’m going to take on is 2005’s Pani Poni Dash!, which is perhaps the biggest mish-mosh of different peoples’ ideas you’re likely to find in anime. According to interviews (from ADV’s DVD booklet inserts) with Oonuma, Shinbo, series organizer Kanemaki Kenichi, and executive director of animation Ota Kazuhiro, the production of Pani Poni Dash was almost complete chaos, with people just having fun and doing whatever the hell they wanted. To quote Ota, “Whenever there was an episode that we thought was weak, we threw all kinds of parodies into it, so that it’d be more Pani Poni Dash!-like. And that actually taught other staff members to go crazy with parodies! For example, Mr. Oonuma would deliberately leave a blank in a picture or skip a storyboard, hoping that the animation team would come up with some parodies for that space.” Oonuma also talks about how Shinbo was responsible for a lot of the references to older shows, while he brought more of the modern references and lots of video game parodies to the table (most of which would show up even more frequently in BakaTest.)
Suffice it to say, there’s no one person you can point to and say ‘him! He’s the reason this op is like that!’, because the entire studio was an intimate part of the production.
Another important thing to know about Pani Poni Dash is that in 26 episodes, there are 3 opening videos, and no two episodes have the exact same ending video. There are at least four completely unique EDs, while the others feature slight changes, such as showing different characters than the ones before. I’m obviously not going to talk about every single ED, as that would take me all goddamn week, but I’m also not going to cover each unique type of ED, because some of them aren’t particularly stylish.
Pani Poni Dash! op 1 – Kiiroi Vacances
This is the op which shows the most Shinbo influence. The first thing one’s sure to notice are the very bright colors which strike out against one-another throughout the op. Interestingly, both Shinbo and Oonuma use a heavy amount of bright color schemes in their ops and eds to come, but they take different approaches to it. Shinbo is all about bold and solid colors, like most of what’s seen in this video; in fact, use of those colors is one of the thing’s he’s best known for. However, Oonuma adapts the technique into his own, choosing to use lighter, pastel-ish colors in his ops and eds. You’ll see exactly what I mean later on.
This op also features Oonuma’s favorite technique, which Shinbo hadn’t previously been known to use, but would in many works after Pani Poni Dash; the technique in question is the text on the screen, which does a lot of moving around and is at most times warped in some way. Oonuma plays with text a lot, and he likes to synch things up with the music. If you watch the credits, their appearance and movement often fits the music, along with other things like Becky’s face appearing for the “pichi pichi” line.
At 23 seconds is another thing SHAFT is known for—random incorporation of photographs (in this case, a mop, then a vase). This never happened in any of Shinbo’s pre-SHAFT works, nor in BakaTest, so I think it’s something unique to the studio.
At 36 seconds is another Shinbo-riffic technique, wherein part of the character’s body is missing and replaced with a drawing compass. This reminds me of the kind of stuff seen often in Bakemonogatari 4 years later. I get the feeling that this is Shinbo’s doing because of his love for dehumanizing his characters and tearing them apart to see what’s inside (in a very physical sense.)
The last thing of note is around the 1-minute mark, where Becky makes this sort of strange but totally adorable body movement—this is something that always appears in Shinbo and Oonuma’s ops and eds. For more of Shinbo’s weird movement usage, see Dance in the Vampire Bund or Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei, but for Oonuma, just look for it in most of the videos below (particularly from ef.)
Pani Poni Dash! op 2 – roulette roulette
For the most part, this isn’t all that different from the first op. The text still seems very Oonuma, and the bizarre images seem even more Shinbo than before. However, this op gives us something highly Oonuma in its first 10 seconds—Becky is striding along and once again makes a cute but sort of odd motion before pointing at the screen. Note that her color scheme seems significantly lighter than the rest of the video, and that there’s scarce outline on her person—in every ef op and ed, and in parts of the BakaTest op and second ed, the characters are often drawn exactly like this with the light color and minimal outline, and while it’s certainly not unique in the world of anime ops and eds, Oonuma almost always has someone walking or running at some point in his videos. The dances that Mesousa and Becky do in the video may also be his doing, though they don’t fit the style as perfectly.
Pani Poni Dash! op 3 – Shuojo Q
Right off the bat, we have more text set to music, and a pastel, lightly-outlined Becky. One of the strange and notable elements of this video is the numbers located all over the screen randomly counting. This seems to be something that SHAFT in general have fun with, and I believe there are similar things in the Maria Holic op and perhaps one of the Zetsubou ops or eds (it’s been a while, though, so I can’t say for certain.)
At 40 seconds, we get what I could practically call a ‘crowning moment of Shinbo’, as a character is seen naked with boxes moving around her body that expose her skeleton. Once again, Shinbo loves getting inside of characters, and he definitely loves getting them naked (see any Shinbo show, but for best results on the skeleton thing, see the op for Zoku Zetsubou and it’s variants.)
There’s more pastel-colored, dancing Becky throughout the video, and the best part is when all of these colored bars go shooting past her. I’m tempted to ascribe this to Oonuma because of a part from the BakaTest op, but I really think it’s more of a general SHAFT thing. They love their damn colors!
For extra fun, the final episode ed is Kiiroi Vacances with a video of combined parts from all three ops.
Pani Poni Dash ed eps 14-18 – Moonlight Love
I’m going to ignore almost all of the ed variants, since most of them are pretty simple and don’t have any particular Oonuma trademarks (except maybe for the fact that they keep changing.) This series of eds from episodes 14-18 is a big collection of the characters as terot cards (I wonder if they sell these anywhere?) According to the ridiculously extensive ADVidnotes, the personalities of the characters have interesting significance to the cards they represent, but that’s beside the point. The main thing here is how at the beginning of the video, the text matches up to the music pretty carefully.
Now, lets move on to the ef series~
(Continued on page 2)