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Asatte no Hōkō 1: Episodes 1-2


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Flashback: Karada-chan prays at the home altar
Source: TV
Layers: 1
Sketches: 3
Cel Number: A1 END
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Added 11/20/2014
Cut 178. A series of flashbacks follow, showing some of the backstory of Hiro and Karada. Among other domestic scenes, we watch Hiro take a moment to pray at the domestic shrine devoted to his deceased parents. Karada joins in at his side.



Featured above is an extraordinarily beautiful and carefully detailed sketch of Karada, with her onii-chan’s arm to her side. Like many of the still moments in this moody series, it is deeply moving, even in the grayscale treatment it was given in this flashback. And look: fingernails! (This is a corner that lesser animation artists often cut.)

It is puzzling, though, in some ways. It lacks the labeling typical of most gengas and was drawn on the back of a blank sheet of layout paper. It also came with no preliminary rough or shuusei sketches, as was customary for other cuts for this series and episode. For more on this puzzle (and its simple but surprising solution), see the note below.

The layout, which is less finished but also shows considerable flair, is added as the first thumbnail and the elegant A1 END douga is the second thumb.


SENSEI CHECK!

This little sketch set consisted of a layout, a more detailed sketch of Karada (plus Hiro’s arm) on the back of a blank sheet of layout paper, and the nearly identical A1 END douga, plus the timing sheet (a very simple one, since there is only one frame used in this cut). Considering the six-stage process we’ve seen in all the previous Ep. 1 cuts (including some with a single A1 END image), this seemed an oddly sparse set. Where was the rough, for instance, and the shuusei rough, which I’d gotten used to finding in these packets of sketches. Was this a genga? And why no correction of this, as customary with the previous sketch sets. Somehow that single detailed sketch was the only step from the layout to the douga in this cut.

But what a lovely puzzle! And there was this long note on the back of the timing sheet.



With the help of my friend and colleague Casey Schoenberger (University of the South), I deciphered it:

The perspective: same level as the character. That’s too low (this point of view), and so, because using the camera angle in the storyboard is going to be tricky, I changed the perspective to one above the character’s head [i.e., looking downward a little]. Is that okay? [In romaji:] Itou

The two circled notations underneath read “Understood. Takashima” [i.e., Daisuke Takashima, director of Ep. 1].

That note makes good sense when you look at the layout, which does show the scene as seen from a point a few inches above Karada’s head, allowing for a less awkward view of the room behind her. And on looking again at the timing sheet, I found that the space under the heading “Animator” was also filled in with “Itou” (also written in romaji rather than the expected kanji).

Now I understood why this sketch pack was so slim. Ikuko Itou had handled this simple but emotionally rich cut by herself, drawing first the layout (to get episode director Takashima’s approval) and then refining the image in a sketch that combined the jobs of the rough and genga. As she was senior animation director for this episode, neither sketch needed approval or correction, and so the latter went directly to the douga artist to be traced as the A1E douga.


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