Kyoto Animation, some praise

This upcoming season we have a new show from Kyoto Animation: Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai! Check out the preview video below:

Paying close attention to the characters, something becomes clear. At any moment watching this trailer did you think “she’s cute”? If so then KyoAni is up to their old tricks again. What do I mean? Moe, that’s what. But it’s more than just that. The key to their successes also involves quality animation that make these characters moe. Click past the break to read more.

A Little Background

Summarizing the Wikipedia article, KyoAni was founded in 1981 but didn’t start producing shows on its own accord until 2007. That’s pretty young compared to other studios. If you rank this studio with others based on the number of shows made per year, they would be on the low end. Studios that perform like this don’t usually last long or only exist for a brief time to do a main project and then die out after. So how did this studio survive? Most likely, it was due to big successes in the projects they’ve done. Two shows come into mind, “The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya” and “K-On!” Both shows, having two seasons and a movie on their repertoire, generated lots of revenue for the studio. Both shows are also good examples of character designs needed to appeal to moe fans. But look closer; some animation techniques employed improve the overall look of the show, making it more than just a character specific cuteness showcase.

Animated Perfection

What sets apart KyoAni as a notable studio form others is the quality of the animation itself. Every scene is brimming in detail, from the character lines to the backgrounds. Focusing on the characters from a show like Clannad or Lucky Star, the design of the eyes seems “larger than usual.” Sure it’s true for all other anime but KyoAni uses this effect to better convey emotions. In recent productions, KyoAni is stepping away from heavy usage of iconography or converting characters to super deformed versions to show emotion. Instead, they bend the eyes and brows to closely resemble a human expression. This effect is usually used to imply serious scenes. But since KyoAni has mastered this art, every character in a scene (serious or not) looks beautiful in any emotion they’re having.

With success comes improvement in the minor things. Specific details like backgrounds and props are given a priority on their productions now. All settings look like they’ve been photographed or are inspired by one. There is no longer that feeling of “this building couldn’t exist on real life” because the walls are fully textured, the floors have a shine to them and doors are not drawn with a circle for a knob. Hyouka is a great example of this. But one thing that KyoAni has truly excelled on is its use of CG. Our eyes can easily tell if something comes from a 3D rendering program, enough so to take the magic out of a scene. But KyoAni has tried to blend in such usage in as few moments as possible. Though not perfect, they do come close, just look at the transition to 2D in this Nichijou scene:

I still don’t know when when it changed to 2D.

Despite having a short list of shows in their catalog, Kyoto Animation is determined to make an impression on their fans that they’re the go to choice for quality animation and storytelling. They are so proud that (with the income they’ve earned) they bought airtime for commercials showcasing the studio. From a loyal fan of many of their shows, I wish Kyoto Animation luck on their future productions and in keeping the moe alive.


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