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Inuyasha: Episodes 1-99

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Kōga battling a Panther Tribe warrior: 1 (layout)
Source: TV
Layers: 1
Sketches: 1
Cel Number: 1
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Added 7/14/2009
Updated 2/7/2016
Episode: 77 (The Panther Tribe and the Two Swords of Fang), cut 27. Kagome has been captured by a bunch of yokai baddies (The Panther Tribe) devoted to resurrecting a powerful cat demon, and an unlikely alliance is battling them to get her back. Here Kōga is using his agility and speed to combat Shuran, a massive and electrically enhanced Panther clan warrior. The huge brute comes at the smaller opponent doggedly, throwing three crushing blows with massive fists, but Kōga dodges each one, though by increasingly tighter margins.

This episode likewise combines an interesting and unlikely team of artists. The episode director was Satoshi Toba, a series regular, but the animation direction fell to Ayako Kurata, his one and only Inuyasha assignment. Kurata’s previous experience included drawing genga and douga for Rurouni Kenshin and the Sailor Moon R Movie, and this assignment was a break-out opportunity. In his interesting Inuyasha Director Guide, Dylan Acres comments, “As with most of the talented directors who only worked on a single episode, Kurata is able to expertly mimic the artistic style of character designer Yoshihito Hishinuma. Kurata turns in a very well done episode which features lots of well animated fights.”

Clearly others found the debut an auspicious one: afterwards Kurata got several assignments as chief animation director for action-oriented series, including the RPG-derived Star Ocean EX (2001), then Area 88 (2004), and Black Blood Brothers (2006).

The storyboard artist (who is usually responsible for layouts as well) likewise brought an interesting background to the episode. Masami Hata was an experienced artist who began with work on the Osamu Tezuka series Unico and Princess Knight, then contributed in several ways to the long-running Hello Kitty franchise. He is best remembered, however, for storyboarding and directing the movie Little Nemo in Slumberland (1989), which in its dubbed form became the first Japanese anime movie to achieve wide release in North America.

This sketch set came with ten layouts and sixteen roughs (eleven keys and five planned in-betweeners), along with two sheets of pink paper containing only comments (from episode director Toba to animation director Kurata?). The layout above, which I take to be Masami Hata’s work, is a well executed piece of animation art, full of energy and detail, a strong start to this cut. But . . . [move on to the next item].

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