FEATURE: Why It Works: Sculpting Worlds with Studio Pablo


Hello everyone, and welcome to another episode of Why It Works. In between paeans to the madness of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, I’ve spent a fair amount of time here talking about the magic of Flip Flappers – its character writing, its style of storytelling, and how it uses visual framing to facilitate both of those things. But one thing that’s always stuck out to me about the show has gone somewhat unacknowledged so far: its beautiful backgrounds.

 

It’s hard enough for writers and directors to get recognition, so it makes sense that few people would recognize any background designers offhand. We generally think of backgrounds as no more than scenery, something to ornament the actually meaningful elements of a production. Even some actual anime creators adopt something like this perspective; given the minimalist backgrounds that often characterize Studio SHAFT’s productions, it’s no surprise that studio head Akiyuki Shinbo has mentioned how he doesn’t care about having backgrounds at all if they’re not directly relevant to a show’s goals.

 

But backgrounds are far more than just scenery, particularly in a medium like anime. In animation, every single element you see on the screen is specifically designed and chosen to exist there. Nothing exists without purpose, and simply relegating backgrounds to “the place where the action happens” denies a great deal of the medium’s storytelling power. Backgrounds are critical to anime’s mise-en-scene, the visual context that provides meaning to everything that happens. They can set moods, create the sense of a lived place, draw the viewer further into a show’s world, or even offer their own secrets or questions. A great deal of any show’s “worldbuilding” comes down to the literal, visual world it creates, and Flip Flappers is a show that’s deeply invested in creating new worlds. Fortunately, Flip Flappers is blessed with one of the best background-designing studios in the business: Studio Pablo.

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Studio Pablo aren’t really known outside of specialist fandom circles, because they’re not actually responsible for any productions themselves. Instead, they specialize in bringing gorgeous invented worlds to other productions, elevating shows through their softly painted pictures. Their backgrounds are noteworthy for their subtle color palettes, richness of detail, and naturalism of linework. Somewhere between evocative draft sketches and oil paintings, their backgrounds enliven all the works they support.

 

It’s likely you’ve seen the work of Studio Pablo, even if you didn’t recognize it at the time. It was their hand that offered such evocative settings to Seraph of the End, for example. Their detailed necropolis was one of the most arresting characters in that show’s first episode, and their later work lent a kind of beautiful dignity to the show’s decaying cities. In a show like that, backgrounds can ground the high theatrics of the plot in something stable and specific, offering a strange kind of solemnity to magical vampire battles.

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In other shows, Studio Pablo’s backgrounds facilitate the core themes of the work itself. Their contributions to The Flowers of Evil exemplify this quality, bringing protagonist Kasuga’s decaying suburbs to life. This show demonstrates some of the most arresting qualities of Pablo’s work: simultaneously photorealistic in outline and humanized in coloring, Kasuga’s town feels like a wounded but still breathing creature, a place where nothing grows straight and no light falls. In a show so consumed by adolescent malaise and disgust, Studio Pablo’s work helps the audience see the world in exactly the way Kasuga does. Of course, Studio Pablo aren’t only renowned for creating broken worlds: in fact, they were also tapped for background work on Studio Trigger’s Little Witch Academia, demonstrating equal confidence in constructing worlds filled with beauty and wonder. And you can see the merits of their personality-filled tapestries in shows like Mawaru Penguindrum, where their work was instrumental in creating some of that show’s most memorable settings.

 

It can be difficult to acknowledge at a glance just how much Studio Pablo’s backgrounds add to a production, but fortunately, we have a clear before-and-after example to demonstrate. Studio Pablo were heavily involved in the first season of the WIXOSS franchise, and their reliable background work ended up being one of the highlights of that series. Unfortunately, the studio wasn’t tapped for work on this season’s sequel, and the results are wincingly clear. Look at how much personality and pure life is embedded in shots like these, details and color palettes that go beyond “conveying information” to imply a dark and foreboding world lying just beyond the horizon. In comparison to the newer series’ purely functional, visually flat backgrounds, it’s clear how much careful background design can offer.

 

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And of course, for all its dramatic purpose, it’s ultimately also rewarding just to appreciate the fundamental beauty of the worlds these works create. While Studio Pablo were a wonderful choice to convey the fading splendor of Seraph or the squalor of The Flowers of Evil, Flip Flappers allows them to stretch their visions even further, offering vivid glimpses of countless evocative worlds. So let’s end today’s article by sitting back for a moment, and simply appreciating some of the wonderful worlds they’ve brought to life.

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Until next time!

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Nick Creamer has been writing about cartoons for too many years now, and is always ready to cry about Madoka. You can find more of his work at his blog Wrong Every Time, or follow him on Twitter.



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Crunchyroll – Romance is Rough in “Kenka Banchou Otome


High school romance is about to take a turn for the delinquent, because Kenka Banchou Otome (“Brawling Gang Leader Girl”) – a visual novel about a girl taking the place of her twin brother at the toughest school around – is being adapted into a short-form TV anime in 2017.

 

 

Kenka Banchou Otome – Girl Beats Boys, Hinako Nakayama has spent all of her life being raised in state-run orphanages, without ever knowing her family. As she’s about to enter high school, Hinako is approached by Hikaru, a boy who claims to be her twin brother.

 

According to Hikaru, Hikaru and Hinako are the children of the head of the powerful Onigashima yakuza family, and Hikaru wants Hinako to switches places with him at Shishiku Academy, an all-boys school overrun with the nation’s toughest delinquents. Can Hinako save her brother, find romance, and become the new boss of the school?

 

 

The staff for Kenka Banchou Otome – Girl Beats Boys includes:

 

  • Original work: Spike Chunsoft
  • Director: Noriaki Saito
  • Series composition: Natsuko Takahashi
  • Character design: Majiro
  • Assistant character design: Akane Yano
  • Prop design: Keiko Kitayama
  • Art director: Yusuke Ikeda
  • Backgrounds: Studio Suuuu
  • Color design: Yoko Suzuki
  • Director of photography: Junpei Takatsu
  • Photography: Asahi Production
  • 3DCG: studio A-CAT
  • Sound director: Hiroto Morishita
  • Sound production: Groove
  • Music: Setsuna Records / Simple Notes
  • Editing: REAL-T Inc.
  • Animation production: project No.9 × A-Real

 

 

The cast for Kenka Banchou Otome – Girl Beats Boys includes:

 

 

KENN as Totomaru Minowa.

 

 

Shouta Aoi as Takayuki Konparu.

 

 

Yoshimasa Hosoya as Rintarou Kira.

 

 

Tetsuya Kakihara as Yuta Mirako.

 

 

And Tomoaki Maeno as Houou Onigashima.

 

 

The voice actor for series protagonist Hinako Nakayama has not yet been announced. Also announced (but not pictured) were Tsubasa Yonaga as Hikaru Onigashima and Takashi Kondō as Haruo Sakaguchi. 

 

Each episode of Kenka Banchou Otome – Girl Beats Boys will be approximately 10 minutes in length.

 

Sources:

Otakomu

Ota-suke

Official Kenka Banchou Otome – Girl Beats Boys TV anime home page

 

Paul Chapman is the host of The Greatest Movie EVER! Podcast and GME! Anime Fun Time.



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“Kingdom Hearts” Celebrates 15th Anniversary with New PS4 System


When Kingdom Hearts HD II.8: Final Chapter Prologue launches in Japan, fans will also get the opportunity to purchase a special themed PlayStation 4 console. Due out on January 12, the Kingdom Hearts 15th Anniversary Edition system will be priced at ¥33,980 ($295) for the 500GB version and ¥39,980 ($347) for the 1TB version. 

 

The Jet Black Kingdom Hearts console comes with a custom PS4 theme, and it’s currently up for pre-order.

 

 

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Joseph Luster is the Games and Web editor at Otaku USA Magazine. You can read his webcomic, BIG DUMB FIGHTING IDIOTS, every week at subhumanzoids. Follow him on Twitter @Moldilox.



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“Four Goddesses Online: Cyber Dimension Neptune” Trailer Shows Each Character in Battle


Compile Heart shared a new trailer for Four Goddesses Online: Cyber Dimension Neptune, the action-RPG that’s in the works for PS4. You can see Neptune and the rest of the gang in action as they take down enemies on the field, followed by a peek at the contents of the Royal Edition. 

 

 

Four Goddesses Online: Cyber Dimension Neptune hits PlayStation 4 in Japan on February 9, 2017. 

 

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Joseph Luster is the Games and Web editor at Otaku USA Magazine. You can read his webcomic, BIG DUMB FIGHTING IDIOTS, every week at subhumanzoids. Follow him on Twitter @Moldilox.



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It’s Pirates Versus Ninja As “One Piece” Anime Casts Raizo


There’s been quite as build up, but the One Piece anime is now ready to debut the ninja, Raizo.  Episode 768, “The Third One! Raizo of the Mist, the Ninja, Appears!” will feature Masashi Ebara (Naruto’s Might Guy, Eat-Man’s Bolt Crank, Cowboy Bebop’s Cowboy Andy, plus 75-year old veteran voice actor Hiroya Ishimaru (Mazinger Z’s seminal giant robot pilot Kouji Kabuto) as Oden. 

Catch the episode December 11th.

 

 

 

 

via Natalie

 

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Scott Green is editor and reporter for anime and manga at geek entertainment site Ain’t It Cool News. Follow him on Twitter at @aicnanime.



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Good Smile to Re-Release Popular Hatsune Miku “Deep Sea Girl” Figure


A few years ago, Good Smile released a “Deep Sea Girl” version of Hatsune Miku, based on Yuuya-P’s beloved Vocaloid song. Now, by popular demand, she’s coming back, and you can preorder her starting now.

 

 

 

This 1/8 scale figure stands approximately 160 mm tall and was sculpted by Iwanaga Sakurako. Based on commemorative art done by Haruyo for the song’s inclusion on the Million Saisei & EXIT TUNES PRESENTS vocalodream album, it depicts Miku underwater in a black dress, as she’s seen in the original “Deep Sea Girl” video.

 

The figure costs ¥14,815 before tax, and will start shipping out in September of 2017.

Source: Good Smile

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Kara Dennison is responsible for multiple webcomics, runs social media and interviews for (Re)Generation Who, and is half the creative team behind the OEL light novel series Owl’s Flower. She blogs at karadennison.com and tweets @RubyCosmos.



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“Chaos;Child” Kicks Off TV Broadcast with Hour Long Debut Episode


Chaos;Child, an upcoming TV anime adaptation based on the 4th main entry of 5pb’s “Science Adventure” series of visual novels, will be starting off its Japanese broadcast with a bang with an hour long first episode that debuts on January 11, 2017.

 

 

Chaos;Child will broadcast in Japan according to the following schedule:

 

  • AT-X: every Wednesday during the 23:30 time slot beginning on January 11, 2017.
  • Tokyo MX: every Wednesday during the 25:35 time slot beginning on January 11, 2017.
  • Sun TV: every Wednesday during the 26:00 time slot beginning on January 11, 2017.
  • Chiba TV: every Thursday during the 25:00 time slot beginning on January 12, 2017.
  • TV Kanagawa: the first episode will air at 24:30 on January 12, 2017. After that the series will run everu Thursday during the 25:00 time slot.
  • TV Saitama: every Thursday during the 25:05 time slot beginning on January 12, 2017.
  • KBS Kyoto: every Friday during the 25:35 time slot beginning on January 13, 2017.
  • BS11: every Friday during the 27:00 time slot beginning on January 13, 2017.

 

Please note that some Japanese broadcast schedules count early-morning programming as late-night programming of the previous day, so for example the 27:00 time slot on Friday is actually at 3:00 AM JST on Saturday morning.

 

 

Chaos;Child is directed by Masato Jinbo and features animation by Silver Link. The series is set in Shibuya in 2015, 6 years after a catastrophic earthquake devasted the area. At Hikehou High School, a private academy situated in the rebuilt city, a young man named Takuru Miyashiro has founded a high school newspaper club. Together he and his friends investigate a string of murders called “The Rebirth of the New Generation of Madness”.

 

Source: Ota-suke

 

Paul Chapman is the host of The Greatest Movie EVER! Podcast and GME! Anime Fun Time.



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New “Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya” Song to Be Released This Month


We may be beyond hope for another animated installment of The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, and there hasn’t been a new light novel for five years, but fans will be getting something new come December 16th: a song.

 

 

It has been announced that Aya Hirano, Minori Chihara, and Yuko Goto will be reuniting as Haruhi, Mikuru, and Yuki to perform a new song. “Sixth Sense Adventure” unites returning Haruhi lyricist Aki Hata with composer Yoichi Sakai (Girls und Panzer). The track will be on sale starting December 18 via iTunes, animelo mix, mora, music.jp, Recochoku, and others. There has been no word yet on whether there will be an official North American release of the track.

Source: Otakomu.jp

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Kara Dennison is responsible for multiple webcomics, runs social media and interviews for (Re)Generation Who, and is half the creative team behind the OEL light novel series Owl’s Flower. She blogs at karadennison.com and tweets @RubyCosmos.



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Kit Out Your Boat Girls with New Christmas Clothes in “KanColle”


New “Kantai Collection” update introduces Christmas Mode for six of your faves.

It’s that time of year when even battleships like to dress up and feel festive. Kantai Collection is launching an update featuring a “Christmas Mode” for six of the game’s regular girls. The new art is part of a larger winter-themed update that also includes new BGM and encounters.

 

Kuma:

Maruyu:

 

Akashi:

Chikuma Kai Ni:

Tone Kai Ni:

Commandant Teste:

The update will also introduce new art for Akebono outside of the Christmas theming:

 

Christmas Modes are available for a limited time.

 

Source: Otakomu.jp

 

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Kara Dennison is responsible for multiple webcomics, runs social media and interviews for (Re)Generation Who, and is half the creative team behind the OEL light novel series Owl’s Flower. She blogs at karadennison.com and tweets @RubyCosmos.

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Help Your Nendoroids Express Themselves with New Face Swaps


Nendoroid is continuing its initiative to make their figures more fun and interactive — and they’ve gone beyond dress-up into expressions. The newest addition to the Nendoroid More line, Face Swap 02, lets you bring a new level of expression to your figures.

 

 

The nine face plates, an expansion on the first 2014 set, include a wide range of the cute, the emotional, and the downright weird. Some feature art by illustrator ittomaru and manga artists bkub and Mangatarou, while others are taken from entries sent in by fans. The nine plates are sold independently of any other Nendoroid figure, and do not come with other parts.

The new plates, coming out in April 2017, cost ¥463, with a total of nine available. Good Smile is currently taking preorders.

Source: Good Smile

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Kara Dennison is responsible for multiple webcomics, runs social media and interviews for (Re)Generation Who, and is half the creative team behind the OEL light novel series Owl’s Flower. She blogs at karadennison.com and tweets @RubyCosmos.



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