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Old 2013-04-08, 16:47   Link #461
Dawnstorm
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Well, what I got out of the discussion so far:

Aku no Hana's visual style:

- Focus on unique frames, rather than highly-detailled frames (thanks go to FredFriendly for actually checking the facts)

- non-fluid movments (which I didn't notice, but I never do, so that means nothing)

- lack of facial detail and shading.

So here's what detractors might think: They might think that it's better to focus on making a single frame as detailed as possible than to maximise unique frames. They may think that non-fluid movements and lack of detail detract from the visual experience while adding nothing in return.

My own shakey hypothesis earlier in the thread was an attempt to explain what lack of detail might actually bring to the table; that it's not a total loss. I'm not going to repeat that theory, as it's... well, shakey. But I do think that the flaws aren't only flaws; they also bring something to the table that you'd lose if you were to fix the problems. I'm an animation dummy, so all I have is my intuition. (Cyth seems to be in the same boat as I, on this.)

Me, I'm not a fan of rotoscoping as a major animation technique (but it's entirely possible that I've watched rotoscoped sequences without noticing). If I were forced to choose between Aku no Hana and A Scanner Darkly (linked earlier), I'd choose Aku no Hana in a heartbeat. A Scanner Darkly rubs me the wrong way in a way that Aku no Hana doesn't, and my hunch is that the "flaws" play a huge part in that. But it's no more than a hunch.

Here's an example: In the final scene, I focussed on the way the main-character blinked while looking at the bag. I did that because there was little else to focus on. But that was enough to convey the main character's feelings to me. I'm not well-versed in the visual language, but in literary terms I'd describe it as minimalism which works as a sort of metonymy. I think my take's compatible with Cyth's, but I come at it from a figurative-technique angle rather than from perception psychology. Both approaches aren't perfect. Maybe someone with a background in animation knows what we're talking about. Maybe not. It's hard to express a hunch. But, you know, just because something is hard to express we're not clutching at straws. My main contention with objectivity in art is this: one size doesn't fit all, and if you outline a basic procedure for rotoscoping and then fix Aku no Hana according to those you might get rid of what I thought was interesting in the approach. I'm more interested in criticism that refines the approach than in criticism that rejects it. Rejection is pretty one-note.

Of course, there's the possibility that I'm reacting to "suggestive shadows on the wall". Time will tell. Still, there's got to be a reason why I prefer the visuals of Aku no Hana to the visuals of A Scanner Darkly.
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Old 2013-04-08, 17:01   Link #462
Rosalena
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Originally Posted by JKL View Post
You didn't like it fair enough. How is it cheap though? The song is cheap? It is cheap visually?

Cheap as in they didn't bother to get an actual song for the ending. Of course, it could be said that this was a deliberate decision. It certainly is different from anything else out there. I'll give it credit for being unique. However, if one considers the opening and how many corners they cut there, it stands to reason that they might be doing the same thing with the ending.

Hence the reason why I used the word cheap.
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Old 2013-04-08, 17:28   Link #463
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rosalena View Post
Cheap as in they didn't bother to get an actual song for the ending.
How is the ED not a song?
It's a remix of this song.
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Old 2013-04-08, 17:55   Link #464
FredFriendly
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dawnstorm View Post
Well, what I got out of the discussion so far:
A nice synopsis that makes perfect sense to me. Along with you and a few others, there is some intelligent discussion about the content of the episode.

Quote:
- Focus on unique frames, rather than highly-detailled frames (thanks go to FredFriendly for actually checking the facts)
Perhaps adding some weight to the detractor's arguments, those 120 unique frames were also very highly detailed in the background, it was just the fellow himself who lacked detail and fluid motion. Of course the background was a static image which was presumably just panned left, right and out to give the effect of motion, overlayed by his bobbing head. The background itself has very fluid motion. If you watch the sequence and focus on the background, ignoring the bobbing head, you will see that it is, indeed, very fluid (ie smooth). Incredibly so. This is the same sort of technique used in the motion picture and television industry. Heck, it goes way, way back to the dawn of motion pictures. Watch any Three Stooges short involving a long stagecoach chase and you'll notice the revolving background behind the stationary, but bouncy, stagecoach.

This is different, however, from some of the best animated sequences that I referred to earlier. Whereas the above sequence lacks detailed animation (or animation at all, so let's say fluid motion of the main object in the frames), the scene during the first episode of Hyouka, for instance, where what's-his-name stares into Chitanda's eyes and gets enveloped in flowers is incredibly animated in great detail, frame-by-frame.

From me, this is neither criticism nor praise of the method used in this series. As Joe Friday used to say, "Just the facts, mam."
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Old 2013-04-08, 18:05   Link #465
jeroz
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Great post by Dawnstorm. This is the kind of things I want to see in this thread than the usual nonsense we've got mostly so far.
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Old 2013-04-08, 18:37   Link #466
Dawnstorm
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FredFriendly View Post
Perhaps adding some weight to the detractor's arguments, those 120 unique frames were also very highly detailed in the background, it was just the fellow himself who lacked detail and fluid motion. Of course the background was a static image which was presumably just panned left, right and out to give the effect of motion, overlayed by his bobbing head. The background itself has very fluid motion. If you watch the sequence and focus on the background, ignoring the bobbing head, you will see that it is, indeed, very fluid (ie smooth). Incredibly so. This is the same sort of technique used in the motion picture and television industry. Heck, it goes way, way back to the dawn of motion pictures. Watch any Three Stooges short involving a long stagecoach chase and you'll notice the revolving background behind the stationary, but bouncy, stagecoach.

This is different, however, from some of the best animated sequences that I referred to earlier. Whereas the above sequence lacks detailed animation (or animation at all, so let's say fluid motion of the main object in the frames), the scene during the first episode of Hyouka, for instance, where what's-his-name stares into Chitanda's eyes and gets enveloped in flowers is incredibly animated in great detail, frame-by-frame.

From me, this is neither criticism nor praise of the method used in this series. As Joe Friday used to say, "Just the facts, mam."
Thanks. I enjoy reading posts like this one, even though I have to read them a couple of times, since I don't immediately "get" it.

So if I get this right, it's like this: They have a highly detailled background, but they just have to do one (or 1+X) picutre(s), because they can copy shifting parts of it. On the other hand, the objects (such as the people) that are actually themselves moving, have individual pictures for each frame. Together that gives a fluid movement for background, but a not-so-fluid movement for people. (Which makes me wonder about how they treat shadows, since they're sort of the interaction between object and background. Can't check right now.) Hyouka, on the other hand, also uses individual pictures for the background, or uses a more "composite" background with more animated objects.

So a detractor might say that what Aku no Hana gets wrong is the balance of all the animated objects? It's not that the so much that the people move in a jerky manner, and more that they move jerkily in comparison with the surroundings, which feels odd.

Did I miss or misinterpret anything? Talking about animation is frighteningly hard for me.
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Old 2013-04-08, 19:20   Link #467
jeroz
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To me personally this show has similar if not worse visual problem as one older PA series , in that the background is too good compare with what you should be focusing on. It results in distracting attention away from what should've be the focal point.

It does make me wonder, if the background is also done in the simple fill-in with no shadows and no grainy effects, would it have such a massive jarring effect? If the art style is consistent across all aspects, maybe it wouldn't look as distracting.
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Old 2013-04-08, 20:17   Link #468
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Well the hipsters who do ANN's preview guide are so pretentious that they're giving the show universal acclaim -- three 5-star reviews and one 4-star.
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Old 2013-04-08, 20:17   Link #469
FredFriendly
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dawnstorm View Post
Thanks. I enjoy reading posts like this one, even though I have to read them a couple of times, since I don't immediately "get" it.

So if I get this right, it's like this: They have a highly detailled background, but they just have to do one (or 1+X) picutre(s), because they can copy shifting parts of it. On the other hand, the objects (such as the people) that are actually themselves moving, have individual pictures for each frame. Together that gives a fluid movement for background, but a not-so-fluid movement for people. (Which makes me wonder about how they treat shadows, since they're sort of the interaction between object and background. Can't check right now.) Hyouka, on the other hand, also uses individual pictures for the background, or uses a more "composite" background with more animated objects.

So a detractor might say that what Aku no Hana gets wrong is the balance of all the animated objects? It's not that the so much that the people move in a jerky manner, and more that they move jerkily in comparison with the surroundings, which feels odd.

Did I miss or misinterpret anything? Talking about animation is frighteningly hard for me.
You've got the basic idea. They paint a picture (physically or electronically, makes no difference) for the background, in this instance the view of a street that the guy walks down. For each frame of the animation they would move the background image ever so slightly, for slower motion, such as walking, or move it more aggressively for faster motion. On top of this for each frame they would overlay whatever image that is supposed to be "animated." The old-fashioned method was done with sheets of crystal clear acetate on which the animators would actually draw (and the lackeys would paint in). These would be placed over the background image and the whole thing would be photographed. Frame by Frame.

The images in the following spoiler are the first nine frames of the animation, which lasts only 3/8 of a second in real time. Although it may be hard to tell, the background is "moving" ever so slightly in each of the nine frames (it's easier to tell in a video editor). This gives the background very fluid, slow motion as Blobbo is walking along.

Blobbo's movement, on the other hand, appears to be not as fluid, partly, I think, because, our eyes are being tricked. Other than bobbing up and down, he doesn't really seem to be "moving" from one place to another. The background moves side-to-side, and the objects in the distance are getting farther and farther away (a trick of the "camera"), but Blobbo remains basically the same size, in the same place, throughout the whole sequence, which is 20 seconds long (480 frames). He keeps walking towards us, but never gets any closer.

The jerkiness usually is the result of using the same "animation" for two or more consecutive frames. Whereas the background of this particular sequence is always "in motion" (each frame from one to the next is different) the part that should be animated, Blobbo, does many sequences of repetitive frames, usually about three in a row. Hence the vaguely erratic behaviour. This is pretty normal to the animation process, even for sequences where a character is moving. Time is money, and it cost 1/3 the money to use one frame three times in a row as it does to animate three separate frames. At 24 frames per second, that's 34,560 frames for 24 minute episode.

This is a completely separate issue from the other complaint about the lack of detail in the characters faces, but I'm not going down that street right now.

Spoiler for for lots of frame capture images:


Quote:
Originally Posted by jeroz View Post
It does make me wonder, if the background is also done in the simple fill-in with no shadows and no grainy effects, would it have such a massive jarring effect? If the art style is consistent across all aspects, maybe it wouldn't look as distracting.
Good question. My immediate thought went to the Warner Brothers Looney Tunes that were produced during the 1960s. For a while (or perhaps it was just one director), they seemed to have been of a more simple or "flat" design, some of which seemed even avant garde. The characters were drawn the same as before, so it didn't really detract from the experience.

So, maybe, if the backgrounds were as "flat" or "drab" as these characters, we might not be hearing so many complaints. I tend to doubt it, though, as it seems that many, if not most of the complaints are related to the differences between the artistic style of the source material and the animation style of the episode.
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Old 2013-04-08, 20:18   Link #470
kuromitsu
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Originally Posted by Utsuro no Hako View Post
Well the hipsters who do ANN's preview guide are so pretentious that they're giving the show universal acclaim -- three 5-star reviews and one 4-star.
So apparently if you enjoy this show and think it's very good so far you're a hipster. Good to know!

(Unless you're being sarcastic. My sarcasm-dar doesn't work so late at night...)
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Old 2013-04-08, 20:30   Link #471
Utsuro no Hako
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Originally Posted by kuromitsu View Post
So apparently if you enjoy this show and think it's very good so far you're a hipster. Good to know!

(Unless you're being sarcastic. My sarcasm-dar doesn't work so late at night...)
I would never be sarcastic. I'm sardonic.
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Old 2013-04-08, 20:34   Link #472
Rosalena
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Originally Posted by totoum View Post
How is the ED not a song?
It's a remix of this song.
Even so, I'm afraid that's not what I consider music. Sure, it's experimental and unique, but aside from the instruments nothing in it is appealing to me. Of course, you might say that I have a very narrow/limited definition of what music is and that's fine. You're as welcome to your opinion as I am to mine. I'll retract my statement that it's cheap, and simply say that it doesn't work for me.

In fact, now that I know that the show has deliberately manipulated a piece of existing music to something even more strange than it was to start with I feel compelled to shake my head. First the lackluster OP, then the rotoscoping, and now this ED. It's nice when producers are willing to stake their money and reputation on something that's different, but this show reeks of being different for the sake of being different. I'm not sure that I like that.

In any case, thank you, totoum, for pointing that out to me.
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Last edited by Rosalena; 2013-04-08 at 20:47.
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Old 2013-04-08, 20:40   Link #473
mistress_kisara
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Originally Posted by Utsuro no Hako View Post
Well the hipsters who do ANN's preview guide are so pretentious that they're giving the show universal acclaim -- three 5-star reviews and one 4-star.
I agree, but it's still their opinion and they're not the judge of what is good and bad.
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Old 2013-04-08, 20:46   Link #474
SquirrelLuvsPnut
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Y'know I bashed this show initially, but I don't know, it kind of grows on you. It's so different that it's kind of a stretch to say it's outright awful. I think I'll be sticking around after all.
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Old 2013-04-08, 20:56   Link #475
Kirarakim
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Sarcastic or not I am sure some people are thinking this so, the ANN staff are not hipsters for liking Aku no Hana (nor is anyone in this thread) but I don't think ANN is the authority on anything.

They run an informative website about anime but their opinions are just well their opinions. And heck the person I agree with the most often (Bamboo) hasn't even weighed in yet.
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Old 2013-04-08, 21:30   Link #476
sa547
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Originally Posted by Dormeur View Post
Aku No Hana episode 1 reminds me of my youth vividly and sympathized with the protagonist.
Some parts of what they presented are what I have ever experienced in my youth :

- Daily routine is boring.
- Most of girls in the class are not pretty and do not have good figure.
- Boys seem to be fool and conversations among them are empty.
- Sexual interest and desire are issues for them.
- A few boys want to be a sophisticated and/or special person or pretend to be so. They go to polite / foreign literature, foreign music, philosophy, avantgarde art and so on even if the guys can't understand them. ( This is what the word " Chunibyo " originally indicates.)
- Such kind of boys tend to be warped and feel an oppression / stress in their life.
- In the heart, students dislike teachers ( and adults ) who are repressive and hypocritical. And a few students rebel against them.

As for " Why in anime, not a live action " issue, I guess :

- As the director said, a taste of Aku No Hana is suitable for a live action drama. However Aku No Hana handles sexual, antisocial and obnoxious behavioir by minors. Japanese majority is comparatively tolerant about such a subject if it is shown in novels, manga, R-15 / R-18 live movies, and late-night anime but intolerant if in live action dramas on TV. So the publisher expects that the regulation will not allow them to broadcast it on TV if it is a live action drama.
- TV anime adaptation gets more people's interest than live action drama adaptation if the latter is not brought to prime time ( or if the latter doesn't get large film distribution ). Making a live action drama on prime time requires a big budget and investment by a major TV station.
- Many anime depend on visually impressive characters ( e.g. moe ) to show and promote themselves. It seems that the director attach weight to a scenario and atmosphere.

In my opinion, if the anime adaptation of Aku No Hana were in traditional style, it wouldn't get people's attention as much as it actually does, and it would be in obscurity like many late-night anime.

By the way, according to the latest interview with the author about the source material, a model of Nakamura's personality is his wife, while her face is modeled on Miu Nakamura ( Image search is NSFW ).
http://news.nicovideo.jp/watch/nw574735
Thanks for the 411, and you knocked out some misconceptions. Watching it right now... Hey, this is what I'm looking for, something that'll not piss off "normal" people passing by my computer.

If anyone could just look past the animation, and instead focus on the story and its relevance, then TBH it should be worth watching.

---------
Spoiler for Initial observations:
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Old 2013-04-08, 21:33   Link #477
creb
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ANN Previews, even by the only contributor I respect (Bamboo), are often wildly off the mark, showing it's hard to judge an anime based of one, or even three, episodes. I've seen Bamboo crucify shows in her preview impressions, only to later praise them to high heaven (rightfully so! ), once the series is done. It's also why, despite wanting to fall asleep during episode 1, I'm willing to give it a few more episodes (especially since I've been told it's dark as ****).

TL;DR: Don't take previews so seriously.

I mean, the only reason I care what someone else thinks is because they have an opinion I tend to value; not because I care about the opinion itself, but because I care about what it says about the person.

Generally speaking, however, the mass social consensus on whether something is good/bad/neutral has no effect on whether I'm going to enjoy something.
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Old 2013-04-08, 22:24   Link #478
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sa547 View Post
---------
Spoiler for Initial observations:
I noticed that too. In a way, the animation forces you to notice this, by repeating signature scenes on the way to school, all of which are decrepit: the alley, the several dilapidated signs.

I was wondering if this dilapidation reflects post-war conditions in Japan. Does anyone recall any cues that let us know when the action is supposed to be taking place?
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Old 2013-04-08, 22:50   Link #479
sa547
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Originally Posted by hyperborealis View Post
I noticed that too. In a way, the animation forces you to notice this, by repeating signature scenes on the way to school, all of which are decripit: the alley, the several dilapidated signs.

I was wondering if this dilapidation reflects post-war conditions in Japan. Does anyone recall any cues that let us know when the action is supposed to be taking place?
It takes place in a town called Kiryu, in Gunma prefecture. Here's a few links:
Google Maps
Blog entry with photographs

To repeat what I told to a friend on FB,
Quote:
The rotoscoping style somehow amplified Nakamura's disturbing aura; if she were to be made in the "traditional" anime character design, that aura would've been nullified.
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Old 2013-04-08, 23:43   Link #480
hyperborealis
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Thsnks. The blog post's comparisons of actual stills to scenes from the anime were striking.

The anime is evidently set in contemporary times. But there is a certain ahistoricity to the images: with the exception of the satellite dish, nothing in the scenes would have been out of place 30 or 40 years ago. This lack of newly made or high-tech artifacts contributes to the overall feeling of poverty and age conveyed by these scenes.
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