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Magic Knight Rayearth: 1 Hikaru

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Hikaru Casts Fire Arrow: 1
Source: TV
Layers: 1
Sketches: 1
Cel Number: A1
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Key Cel
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Added 8/23/2005
Updated 8/6/2018
Episode 37 - Revive, Hikaru's Sword! In her dream world, Hikaru finally regains the inner strength to fight Nova and casts Fire Arrow.

We first see her face as the fire magic wells up inside her; then the “camera” zooms in to an intense close-up. During the zoom in, her left eye (the side from which she cast her magic) closes for a moment, then it opens, her eyeball fills the screen, and the camera rapidly pans back out as she raises her left arm over her shoulder and casts the spell.

A series of special effects sketches detail how a spark of fire twists around her body from one hand to the other, out of which the magical fireball erupts and hurtles toward the viewer.

The set contains a full set of key images, but is incomplete, probably because the original owner kept some for himself or sold them separately with the gengas. The set, for instance, lacks the first key in either white or yellow rough, and for keys 6-9 I have only the white roughs. Nevertheless, the series generates a lot of voltage, and so I’ve shared generous selections from it. (To see it all, go to “Private Area” and enter “seemorestuff.”)

The image above was probably added by the dealer to complete the set. It is labeled “A1 shuusei,” which I think means it is the correction sketch that originally went with the A1 genga. It’s different in many ways from the others, and since it is a partial, lacking the outline of Hikaru’s hair and shoulders, it can’t be a rough like the others in the set. Nevertheless, the attention to the eyes and facial expression allow it to stand by itself.

And perhaps this lack was just an instance of cel kismet, because, as luck would have it, a couple of years later I was able to obtain ... move on to the next item!

Or, if you’re an animation art fussbudget, descend below into . . .

Caution! Fussy Notes

This series of sketches is one of the most dramatic I’ve seen, even from Studio CLAMP, whose sketches are always spectacular. It did not include the gengas or dougas, but, from what I can tell, it combines at least three states of planning by the animation supervisors:

1. “White roughs”: A set of bold, dynamic sketches done on white sketch paper. Some have been numbered (maybe after the fact); most have not. They were not done on stock layout paper and don’t have the episode/cut numbers on them, so they must represent a first level of revision past the layout stage and toward the genga stage. Yet they are often knockout images, intense and dynamic, showing the hand of an experienced animator.

2. “Yellow Roughs”: A set of more elaborate sketches done on thin yellow paper. All of these give circled numbers (1, 2, 3 …) at the bottom of the sketch. These work up the images in the white sketches in more detail and add highlights and shadows.

All of these show signs of extensive use: they show more rumples and creases than usual, and some are stained on the edge or the back with ink or paint (water-based, not cel paint). These are closer in detail to the final production images and given their rough treatment, I can say confidently that these are the roughs executed by the lead animation director, which the gengaman used to work up the keyframes.

3. A number of specialized or partial sketches done on thin yellow or green paper. These are given genga-style numbers (A1, B1, C1, etc.) indicating that they were done later than the others and so they must be post-genga shuusei sketches. The sketching style is similar to that of the “yellow roughs,” so I infer that the artist was the same.

But who are the artists? Two artists took credit for animation direction of Episode 37. One was Madoka Hirayama (平山円), one of the most prolific animation directors of the second series. The second was Shinobu Nishioka [西岡 忍], his first credit for episode animation direction. (He later took on this task by himself for two later episodes, plus for the first episode of the Rayearth OAV.)

But, as you’ll see in the long note to “Another A1 cel,” there’s a problem here. The A1 cel that went under the camera bore an indication that it belonged to Cut 178, a number that makes sense as the scene falls into the episode some time after the eyecatch (which generally falls around Cut 130-150). That cel (which is verifiably the one that went under the camera to make this scene) shows significant design changes from the sketch image. So does my A7 cel, corresponding to the A2 keyframe. And on one page the sketch set is numbered “42,” the same number that my rejected “Another A1 cel” bears.

So it looks as if the artists of this very impressive sketch set were not the animation directors of Ep. 37, though the redesign reflected in the A1 and A7 cels that were used probably was the work of Hirayama and/of Nishioka. Instead, I now believe this set of drawings to be the planning sketches for a set of bank cels that were designed for multiple use in the series. My cel of Selece casting Water Dragon is probably another such, for it is numbered “42” in a handwriting that is similar to that on my rejected A1 “Fire Arrow” cel. (In all of these cases the magic attack falls after the eyecatch, so “42” cannot be a cut number but probably identifies the number of the bank.)

More research is needed, but I’d guess these were worked out at the start of the series by one or more of the chief animation directors. Likely one of the artists is character designer Atsuko Ishida, whose intense roughs can be seen in my MKR Episode 49 gallery. Another guess is Megumi Kadonosono, who also worked on MKR 2 and was character designer for the Rayearth OAV. The long hair strands that appear in these designs (and were edited out of the cels that were used) are a common motif in Vampire Princess Miyu, for which this artist was also character designer and chief animation director.

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Gallery Created: 8/3/2002
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