by John Holbo on June 3, 2015

Complaining about conservatives is well and good, but I’m a conservative about anything true and good, so I love animation – so long as it is hand-drawn, the way God and Walt and the Nine Old Men intended!

I have actually made myself (mildly) depressed (for a few minutes) thinking that Tangled might be the end of the big studio production hand-drawn line, in its hybrid CGI-way. You can’t fight progress.

So it’s nice to know I was wrong. Maybe. This looks fantastic. Such a wonderful Chuck Jones-y-ness, a Maurice-Nobleity, with an Eyvind-Earliness, especially in the morning light.


Not to mention the Carl Stallingness of the music.

The design for the little girl slays me.




John Holbo 06.03.15 at 9:24 am

Before anyone informs me that there is a lot of great hand-drawn animation out there – like 2013’s Academy Nominated “Princess Kaguya” and “Song of the Sea” – yes, I know. But I’d like to see more of it. The exciting thing about “Klaus” isn’t just the niceness of it – it’s nice! – but the fact that apparently they’ve figured out how to do this sort of thing more cheaply. The thing about “Tangled”, which always amazes people to learn, is not how great it was – it was great! – but how expensive. From Wikipedia: “Tangled spent six years in production at a cost that has been estimated at $260 million, which, if accurate, would make it the most expensive animated film ever made and the fifth most-expensive film of all time.” If you could find a cheaper way to combine CG with hand-drawn, that would be nice.

Just had to get that off my chest.


Belle Waring 06.03.15 at 2:23 pm


Oh, wait, I see you’ve addressed that issue. Carry on. I like this, but I like the look of upcoming Ghibli Studios When Marnie Was There a lot more. Also because it looks like it’s a lesbian coming-of-age ghost story romance. I guess the problem is they don’t plan to do any more along the same lines. And yet, why not, when Japan can afford to make a ton of anime in a similar style? They drive the underpaid animators cruelly, but nonetheless people compete for the work. Surely some of the people who animated Tokyo Ghoul could make a movie? What’s stopping them? Does anyone know?


bob mcmanus 06.03.15 at 2:33 pm

Tokyo Ghoul could make a movie? What’s stopping them? Does anyone know?

Don’t know about the specific artists/directors but Studio Pierrot is just wheelbarrowing the bucks in with Bleach and Naruto, including movies of same. Ten Naruto movies in eleven years. Baby Steps is another successful series


Belle Waring 06.03.15 at 2:55 pm

I am a die-hard Naruto fan who waits eagerly for every new volume. But the Naruto movies are kind of lame.


bob mcmanus 06.03.15 at 3:01 pm

I don’t follow the business side much, but the impression I get from the forums is that Pierrot did TG as something like contract labor, to help sell a hit manga (or maybe please a mangaka at behest of a publisher), and didn’t have their heart in it. 26 episodes for a manga that needed 52. Akatsuki no yona got a 26 first season, and will get another, and is a much more coherent well-paced adaptation.

Usually movies will be generated by good dvd sales, but can’t find TG’s numbers. I’m guessing TG is just a little urban and dark for the wide appeal that sells dvds and finances movies.

Naruto, Bleach, TG not my kind of thing.

And it matters who owns what points or percentages of a property.


Rich Puchalsky 06.03.15 at 3:08 pm

Naruto is the only children’s show that I know of that that idolizes the quest for a revolutionary leader who will overthrow the world order, complete with a Great Power critique (paraphrased “You know how wealthy people in your village hire people for those cute missions where they track down cats? That money goes to fuel proxy wars in the small countries on the border”) and in which both the good guys and all of the different bad guys basically have competing plans for pacifism because they all agree that war is horrible.


Belle Waring 06.03.15 at 3:14 pm

Zoë had the idea to put the book containing vols. one-three of Naruto in my bathroom, because I will read anything that’s in front of my eyes (including books I 1. actively dislike and 2. have read more than three times before), in the hopes of convincing me to buy the girls more Naruto. They were up to like 15 then. Within twelve weeks we had bought every other book, up to 60 or whatever it was then. Violet and (our helper) Malou thought it would never work, but it worked better than Zoë’s wildest dreams. Who knew that a silly manga about ninjas would develop into a fascinating, moving story that keeps you avidly turning pages with constant cliff-hangers, but has never written itself into a corner, ever, and has built up tension and grown more epic just when you think it cannot be more epic?


Placeholder 06.03.15 at 6:45 pm

I see Tomm Moore’s Song of the Sea has been mentioned. I thinks a special case an be made for The Secret of Kells. He said he was inspired to be something like a Ghibli for the British Isles and there is little better inspiration for this than its namesake the Book of Kells. The Anglo-Saxons received Christianity from the Irish and Scottish missions so English people may know the tradition through the Lindesfarne Gospels but the whole Illuminated Gospel tradition represents a time when British culture, Anglo-Saxon and Irish together, celebrated the loving work of devotion they represented. The central metaphor – the Insular Illumination then and the Cartoon Film now is striking. Anglo-Irish friendship has lapsed for long enough so it would be fine to raise the standard of British comic art with it. http://www.awn.com/animationworld/secret-kells-what-remarkable-animated-feature


Anon 06.03.15 at 7:09 pm

Yes, yes, more hand drawn animation!

Kaguya, the Sea, and Kells are wonderful. Klaus looks interesting (though perhaps too Chuck Jonesy for my taste. I prefer UPA, myself.)

I’m disappointed that nothing new has appeared for years from Sylvain Chomet (The Illusionist, The Triplets of Belleville).


Placeholder 06.03.15 at 8:16 pm

To be honest, I was a little anxious to intrude on a budding discussion of Naruto with a kind of heavy theme so I didn’t say this. But to address John Holbo

JohnHolbo: “Before anyone informs me that there is a lot of great hand-drawn animation out there – like 2013’s Academy Nominated “Princess Kaguya” and “Song of the Sea” – yes, I know. But I’d like to see more of it.”

Speaking of Princess Kaguya, the Nara period, when Buddhism came to Japan is quite well popularized. So it might at least educate the British about a time, between the Romans and the Normans, which is never studied or politically observed, but a pivotal time when Christianity was introduced to Britain.

Just as the Swedish, I have read, celebrate Christmas with an annual broadcast of a cartoon of the famous pacifist allegory Ferdinand the Bull, I actually actually have the moderately grandiose ambition of making the Secret of Kells something to celebrate St. Patrick’s Days at home with.

If there’s one thing people don’t know St. Patrick it’s that I’ve seen it read that, when discussing the abolitionist tradition in Christianity, he really was a rare voice speaking out against it that early in the Church – as he was a victim himself. So he was possibly English in origin. He came to Ireland when he was abducted by slave traders, and came to God when he miraculously escaped their clutches, and came back to Ireland to spread the word of God.

I always felt Hayao Miyazaki is a lot more poltical than people know, and that’s what I suggest for the politically-conscious animation lover.


Both Sides Do It 06.04.15 at 4:23 pm

See also: the trailer for The Little Prince, which uses computers to mimic hand-drawn animation styles. It’s pretty, but . . . investing that kind of time / money in *actual* hand-drawn animation would result in something completely kick-ass and awe-inspiring.

But, computers! So.

I always felt Hayao Miyazaki is a lot more political than people know

. . . is it possible to see a Miyazaki film and not think it’s intensely political?


TMD 06.04.15 at 5:18 pm

. . . is it possible to see a Miyazaki film and not think it’s intensely political?



Z 06.04.15 at 6:06 pm

Totoro is an artistic depiction of the re-imagining of the Japanese anthropological subconscious, and in particular of the idea of lineal duty, elicited by the catastrophic ending of the Second World War and most especially of the nuclear bomb. I think it qualifies as intensely political.

However, just as with Spirited away which explores the exact same theme but this time with economic decline replacing military defeat, it is unclear (to me) whether there is a political message beyond the depiction and if so, whether this metamorphosis of the subconscious is supposed to be deplored, making the message reactionary (in the literal sense of wishing to turn back the clock), or celebrated (either as cathartic experience or collective Entwicklung experience), a reading which would not be much more positive as it would seem to entail some form of glorification of suffering.


Doug 06.04.15 at 6:13 pm

Anyone interested in Miyazaki should watch “The Kingdom of Dreams and Madness”, a documentary about the making of The Wind Rises and (technically) Princess Kaguya (if you watch the documentary, you’ll understand why I say “technically”).

Miyazaki is a mad genius. He doesn’t use scripts, only storyboards, and he only stays a little ahead of the animators, so the movie can be halfway done and even HE doesn’t know how it will end. And yet, somehow, it all works out.

He’s also incredibly bitter–but being a progressive in a country ruled by PM Abe, that’s a bit understandable, I suppose.

Oh, and with his hair and beard totally white, he totally looks like some sort of mischievous spirit from one of his own movies.

A grimly fascinating documentary.


Placeholder 06.04.15 at 8:23 pm

Well, Miyazaki has been popularized as a very innocent grandfather figure telling grand tales. Popular tributes to him focus heavily on his fantasy movies, after all, apart from Grave of the Fireflies and The Wind Rises, he usually directs softer features like Totoro. I think people tend to politicize him with the safer, genuinely imaginative (at least in comparison to the his perceived rivals, Disney and mainstream fantasy, product-distinguishing) determined effort to have female leads who pass the Bechdel Test. And yet…Studio Ghibli released Grave of the Fireflies – a dramatization of a memoir of the Tokyo Firebombing – and My Neighbour Totoro on the same day as a double feature! He may seem progressive as an artist but there’s an honest politicization of his work to be had if you scratch the surface. Yes, even for Totoro.

@John Holbo: “Before anyone informs me that there is a lot of great hand-drawn animation out there – like 2013’s Academy Nominated “Princess Kaguya” and “Song of the Sea” – yes, I know. But I’d like to see more of it.”

I feel like this is a question relevant to the CT crowd…can we actually make that happen through politicization? Miyazaki doesn’t need any help but I feel “The Secret of Kells” would really be worth it.


willf 06.04.15 at 8:24 pm

Wow, Klaus looks great.

The exciting thing about “Klaus” isn’t just the niceness of it – it’s nice! – but the fact that apparently they’ve figured out how to do this sort of thing more cheaply.

I think that Song of the Sea did this as well. Most of it is hand drawn but there is some vector-based animation in the film as well.


Collin Street 06.04.15 at 10:51 pm

I always felt Hayao Miyazaki is a lot more poltical than people know

Just a little. At least in the west; in japan his background is I believe pretty well-known.

There’s a rather amusing tidbit in the background of Up on Poppy Hill, which he did the script for: it’s set in 1963 and the lead character is a fairly poor second-year high school student who wants to be a doctor.

[apparently these are changes from the source material, where the setting was the late seventies and the lead girl wanted to be a photographer: also the dispute was apparently over the abolition on school uniforms… hrm. But I haven’t read the source, so…]

Second-year high school in 1963 is fourth-year uni in 1968. And there’s only one medical school that Our Heroine could afford to go to — called out explicitly in dialogue — and that’s Tokyo Uni, and Tokyo Uni medical faculty in 1968 was an interesting place. And our heroine’s actions are pretty clearly presented as praiseworthy thus far.


Doug 06.05.15 at 5:27 pm

Ah yes, the famous Grave of the Fireflies / Totoro double-bill. I was curious to see in what order they were shown; apparently Studio Ghibli didn’t specify, leaving it up to theaters to decide.

I imagine Totoro would be a nice bit of light-hearted relief if watched second, unless of course people just walked out after Grave… On the other hand, Grave… is sad enough on its own, imagine trying to deal with it immediately after seeing Totoro.

Either way, not the smartest double feature ever. (And it didn’t work, the movies were not successful at the time. Which is amazing, considering they are two of the best films ever. Not best animated films, best films period.)

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