In recent years Japanese animation has started developing a new culture altogether when it comes to “smearing” with a more original tradition, detached from the American style (even though examples of smears animation were already present since the ‘70s, just think of cuts like these). Together with this “new” way to make certain kinds of animations, the more realistic “character acting” is still kept at high levels, heir to the influx of great animators of the past like Mitsuo Iso, Hiroyuki Okiura and Toshiyuki Inoue. These two different approaches to animation seem to travel parallel roads, one might think never to meet. Despite this common belief a significant amount of young animators has tried to assimilate both schools of animation in their own personal styles and today we’re going to talk about one of them: Ryosuke Nishii!
Ryosuke Nishii(西井涼輔), whose birthdate is to this day unknown, is intrigued by animation for the first time thanks to the senpai in the radio communications club. The guys in the club were very passionate about indie animation and encouraged Nishii to work on his first projects. In 2012, once high school was over, he participates at the TOHO Student Film Festival’s sixth edition in the “Animation Department: short films” section, organized by the film distribution and production house by the same name to promote young talents interested in the various kinds of cinema, with the short movie “Remembering Monochrome”(想起モノクローム).
His work, which stars the protagonists from Satoshi Kon’s movie Tokyo Godfathers as mobs, already shows certain aspects that would make him stand out in the future: a peculiar attention to make the characters’ movements look believable through personal movements far from cliched choreographies, a strong preference for shots close to the ground or with subjects very close to the objective and, last but not least, a care for the secondary and small movements of clothes, which helped giving more life to the main character’s body. Something to take into consideration is how, despite Nishii being just an amateur at the time, the short is very well presented, a nice portfolio for any young animator looking for a mainstream studio to work in. It was animated without that many inbetween frames, almost like he had to show off his key animator skills, it has background art almost looking like layouts and he didn’t really focus on photography and sound design. Thanks to the theme of the short film Nishii was able to take care of any possible problem color design could have brought up and focus on his strongest technical skills, killing two birds with one stone. Sadly his work doesn’t stand out so much in the midst of the competition yet he’s quickly noticed by Doga Kobo and recruited as a key animator in Yuru Yuri’s second season for episodes 6, 7 and 11, where he got to know producer Shota Umehara, who then became a good friend of his. This is very unusual since he didn’t have any prior experience as “professional animator” and despite what he had proven in his short movie it was unsure he could handle the series’ character designs. He worked on very crucial cuts for a beginner between kitchen scenes and happy dances, being able to meet the standards and not betray the producers’ expectations, with whom he remained in good relations with. In the same year he realized a cut for Project R under Nihonbashi Bridge (Nihonbashi Koukashita R Keikaku), a music video for IA’s vocaloid song.
This short is very important for Nishii’s career, since thanks to it he would come in contact for the first time with many web-gen animators from whom he’d take some inspirations in the following years: Shingo Yamashita, Bahi JD, Rapparu, Ryo-timo, Yuuki Watanabe and so forth. Watanabe in particular will help Nishii developing his smearing skills.
Towards the year’s end he makes some cuts for Hiiro no Kakera’s episode 11. The following year he works on three episodes of GJ-bu, with an animation direction similar to Yuru Yuri where he would be able to make a name for himself thanks to some important scenes for the series, like the crying scene in the third episode. We remain in the year 2013 and Nishii makes a very interesting scene in Minami-ke Tadaima where a semi objective is supported this time by a very good timing able to make the two girls’ nonchalant behavior stand out. This kind of movements, in that perspective, was a responsibility expected to fall upon a veteran’s shoulders yet Nishii, probably wanting to specialize in that kind of work, was still able to take the job and make it the most memorable cut from the series. After this he worked on a lot of cuts, some in episode 7 of Hetalia The beautiful World, in which we can see clearly Watanabe’s influence: in this moment in his career we’re looking at a Nishii perfectly aware of how realistic animation is very useful to describe a character’s disposition or to deal with dramatic moments while noticing how smears can be useful for comedic purposes. With his next work everything changes: he’s employed again by Daga Kobo to work on Love Lab! In this television anime our animator is a constant presence, credited in four episodes and in the Opening. Despite the fact that he has to make a lot of cuts in a short time for schedule problems we can notice how his style has begun to integrate well studied movements with smears and, for the first time, we notice examples of exaggeration, stylization and deformation of faces and characters’ bodies. He has a good relationship with effect animation, heavy touches of photography and near-manga gags, this way enriching a lot his working experience. It would be nice to analyze each and every important cut he did in Love Lab yet for simplicity’s sake we can say that they work because they introduce a more or less realistic animation which then is completely abandoned thanks to exaggerated elements, creating a peculiar comic timing. The same year he was called for two other special “Sakuga-Projects”: Yozakura Hana no Uta’s first episode because of his connection with the director Ryo-chimo, and the PV dedicated to the second anniversary of Idolm@ster Cinderella Girls. In 2014 he works on some cuts for Mikakunin de Shinkoukei, where we can still notice Watanabe’s influence but, most importantly, Nishii becomes part of the outstanding staff of Ping Pong the Animation’s Opening sequence with extremely famous animators like Shinya Ohira, Shinji Hashimoto and Hokuto Sakiyama. Once again, thanks to his “camera on the ground” specialization, he’s able to stand his ground together with the masters with decades of fame and experience behind. Again in 2014 he works a lot for Your Lie in April’s second Opening sequence and episodes 2, 10, 18, 22 and 23. In this series he keeps the Love Lab approach and he makes on his own almost two minutes of musical performance in the second episode! It has to be said that nothing like this had happened before in his career, demonstration of how much episode directors felt comfortable with him around.
By now it’s clear to everyone that Nishii has a unique talent as character animator: he’s able to obtain good results at the first try even when dealing with some kind of motion he’d never worked on before. Another aspect he can implement starting from the results he got from Love Lab is the photo-like care for his cuts; in other words, the little or big indications the animator shows to the photography staff in his drawings to demonstrate how to “deal” with his scenes during post-production. The following year he participates in Saekano, where his “fixed camera” reveals itself essential to direction purposes in many scenes. 2015 is also the year of Idolm@ster Cinderella Girls TV, where the animator is really busy with stages dealt together with the veteran Isao Hayashi and fake television shots where he distinguishes himself thanks to the same kind of timing he used years before on Minami-ke. The following year he debuts in theatrical animation with the anime movie Classmates, where he’s given some key scenes and some comic-relief scenes in full Yuuki Watanabe style.
If whilst working on Ping Pong’s OP his technical skills saved him from ruining an awesome sequence, now his versatility is a tool in the hands of Shouko Nakamura’s storyboard whom, without Nishii’s presence, wouldn’t have been able to transform into reality some of her mental pictures. In Fall he deletes his Twitter account, being too busy to use it and benefit from it, in order to focus entirely on Occultic;9 where he finds himself working on Key Animation 7 episodes out of 12. The animated adaptation of the latest work from Steins;Gate’s creator is a true testament to Nishii’s maturity, who draws an impressive number of cuts extremely complex and rich in details, to the point where the fourth episode was animated completely on his own. Despite this, considering that three years prior for a young animator like him working on so many cuts would’ve meant a drop in overall quality, with Occultic;9 we see none of this and Nishii is able to stand his ground and bear a heavy load of work with scenes of this or that quality in a Solo Episode (an episode completely animated by himself NdA). In this last job, Nishii seems to have completely abandoned the use of smearing, maybe because of an animation direction very keen in maintaining realism to the maximum levels.
What will the future reserve for us? In 2017 Ryo has been only working on Saekano Flat, so can we let imagination run wild and assume he’s working on a new and complex project similar to Occultic;9? Only time will tell us.
The translator hopes this sorry mess of a translation is enough to satisfy your aniblog needs.