I love learning about the hands which create anime. I know a lot of names of directors, seiyuu, character designers, etc., but there are some staff positions that are harder to nail down. For instance, it’s usually hard to determine the significance of individual writers, storyboarders, or animators working on a show, especially when their catalog covers a wide spectrum of genre or quality. Sometimes, the only real way to get a handle on who does what is to find out as many specifics of their work as possible and watch them all.
Tonight, my co-blogger(*cough*) Thoughtcannon came to me with a clip that he’d cut from Dragon Crisis episode 6. It’s a brief fight scene with animation he found familiar, and he wondered if I might know the animator.
I, too, thought it looked familiar. Specifically, it reminded me of the kind of fights that I’ve seen in J.C.Staff shows, namely Toradora, Ookami-san to Shichinin Nakama-tachi, and Yumekui Merry (the sword fight). Dragon Crisis has been reminding me a lot of J.C. Staff—I’d thought it was their doing until I looked it up after the first episode and was quite surprised that it was DEEN. So my first instinct was to figure out who amongst the key animators of Dragon Crisis had also worked on J.C. Staff anime.
Thankfully, ANN has really specific credits for the series, and lists Tomioka Hiroshi, Kutsuna Kenichi, and Matsutake Tokuyuki as key animators on this particular episode. I would’ve had a pretty hard time figuring out which of them was responsible for this sequence with just their ANN lists, but thankfully, we were able to find youtube videos that showcase each of the animators. (We didn’t find any good vids for Kutsuna Kenichi, but between what we found and his credits, it seems unlikely he was involved.
Firstly, the Matsutake Tokuyuki vid:
Matsutake has done a lot of memorable and awesome fights from some of my favorite shows (I had a lot of “oh snap! That scene!” moments watching this), and there are some similarities with the animation in the Dragon Crisis clip—most notably the very thin outlines on the characters and very complex movements. (These things are true for lots of anime fights, though.) However, the general look of his scenes aren’t close enough that I’d think they were by the same guy. I noticed that his fights tend to show off a lot of the facial expressions of the combatants, which isn’t true for the Dragon Crisis clip.
Now, let’s see Tomioka Hiroshi’s vid:
I was instantly sold that this was the right guy because some of the specific clips that I’d been reminded of from the start are there, such as clips from Toradora and Ookami-san. (And looking at Tomioka’s ANN page, he also worked on Yumekui Merry, which came out after this video was made.) Tomioka’s style is very versatile, which makes it harder to instantly pinpoint his work, but there are key factors from the Dragon Crisis clip that I see several times. One is the tendency for characters to do a lot of twirling around between attacks, most prominent in those J.C. Staff scenes. The other, which is a key difference between him an Matsutake, is the way the “camera” actively follows the motions of combatants. (These things are also true for fights in Baccano, which ANN credits him on, though there aren’t any clips in this video.)
I can’t say for a fact that Tomioka Hiroshi animated this segment in Dragon Crisis, but from this little bit of research, I’m pretty confident that he did. It’s always fun to speculate~