With the first Rebuilt of Evangelion film hitting theatres in a month’s time the advertising onslaught is on, and what better strategem than to infiltrate the local ubiquitous コンビニ ? ( convenience stalls )

First off we have the Evangelion Doritos chips, followed by the iced milk coffee. Not a bad combination for an afternoon snack. The limited stamp collection was released a little earlier ago. These items were all cursory purchases; in that I didn’t set out specifically hunting for them but simply noticed it by accident, so there must be plenty of other merchandise out there for the EV fan.

Product placement through Anime is commonplace here in Japan, ( Freedom Project is an excellent example ), something which I feel creates considerable vibrancy and dynamism to both parties when executed skilfully. Sometimes “Product Placement” can be an oxymoron, because the very existence of the animation is to sell the product.

Evangelion Stamp Collection available here.

Jul 31st 2007

Freedom 4 goes on sale today, so I can finally post some screen caps from the renewed opening sequence :

I must have seen the opening sequence a hundred times over( both the old and updated one ) through the course of my work here but I still get that adrenaline rush everytime I watch it because its so beautifully done ( by the brilliant folks at Kamikaze Douga 神風動画 ), with the visuals and Utada’s “This is Love” complementing each other perfectly. In this renewed sequence the visuals get an update, with some new content from episode 3 spliced in, as well as Ao’s first appearance.

Jul 27th 2007

One of the perks of living in a big metropolis like Tokyo must be the wide and wonderful choice of art exhibitions. Over my 3 years of stay here I have been fortuitous enough to attend some truly breathtaking ones like Mucha and Pixar’s 20 Years of Animation, certainly not exhibitions that strut by your house everyday.

Kazuo Oga’s exhibition at the Tokyo Museum of Comtemporary Art, which I visited with Ros yesterday, is the latest addition to that fine list.

Kazuo Oga Background Art Exhibition & Art Book


Jul 23rd 2007

Freedom’s 6th television commercial starts airing on Japan TV today, so I can show some screencaps from the clip. The theme music is again Utada Hikaru’s “Kiss & Cry”, the single is slated for release later in August. We started working on this about a month ago, shortly after we finished Freedom episode 4. Its the first time the audience get to see Takeru and Bis on earth and the lush greenery is a nice change from the colder colour palette used in Eden.

You can watch the full clip from Freedom’s website here.

And now for a little production trivia. Which part of the animation was 3D and which was 2D ? ( excluding backgrounds, dust effects and water ) Is it…

1) Everything is 3D. Period.
2) Only the vehicle is 3D, the rest are hand drawn.
3) Only the vehicle and the 2 characters are 3D, the bison are hand drawn.
4) Everything is hand drawn.

Anyone ? :]

ps Please read this post for the previous (5th ) Freedom Cup Noodle Commercial.

Jul 20th 2007

I haven’t been following much Japanese music other than Hikkie these days, but during a recent trip to Tsutaya an album playing in the store caught my fancy so much I asked for it after listening to just 2 songs. It turns out the copy they were playing was the only one they had in the store – so its a case of pure serendipity I guess. The album is “School Food is Good Food” by a relatively new band who call themselves School Food Punishment. Please don’t ask me why; Japanese bands have the strangest names.

You can listen to 2 sample tracks from the album here. I’m drawn inexplicably to music which triggers my brain to visually create scenarios, a sort of mental mise en scene – which very often create inspiration for my animation projects. Music by Chicane and Clannad, for example, and most recently School Food. I really like that feeling.

By the way, my 2 year old Ipod is dying on me. There’s rumours abound that the 6th generation Ipod will feature a full touchscreen like the Iphone, so let’s see what Steve Jobs say later this year before I make plans to replace my old one.

Jul 18th 2007

Traffic lights at a cross junction in Nishi-Ogikubo, where I cycle past everyday to and fro work. In Tokyo cross junctions allow you to well, cross diagonally (unlike Singapore), which can really be a live saver when one is in a hurry. Speaking of which, the busiest scramble crossing in Tokyo will have to be in Shibuya, made famous by Sofia Coppola’s Lost in Translation.

Jul 16th 2007

The first book from the Freedom novel series, which cover plot events happening in Freedom dvd 1 and 2. I’ll probably never get around to read it but for those who wish to immerse in a more detailed and elaborate world than the one featured in the anime series it might be an enjoyable trip. I wonder if you can find this in Kinokuniya Singapore ?

Meanwhile at work one of the production staff members was kind enough to check with me regarding the name I would like to see appear in the credits for the US Freedom dvd. For a while I was afraid they might just do a direct translation from my Japanese Kanji pronunciation(黄永豪); spelled “Kou Eigou” – but this is totally unrecognizable to anyone who knows me so I naturally opted for my english name “Vong yonghow.” I just hope they spell it right !

Jul 12th 2007

Sometimes 15 seconds is all it takes.

Months ago while channel surfing I caught a short trailer for an upcoming TV anime series, nothing but a short 15 sec blurb; 3 characters in a chase scene through some mundane Tokyo neighborhood. It was so short I didn’t even manage to catch the title, but the animation was jaw-dropping; unmistakably feature film quality.

Next day at work the animation folks were already talking about the same trailer I saw. It turned out our neighbour from across the street, Madhouse ( the folks who gave you Tokyo Godfathers, Paprika ), has a new work up their sleeves – Denno Coil. (電脳コイル)


Jul 7th 2007

I’ve been a big fan of renowned Japanese illustrator Yoko Tanji ever since I saw her work after arriving in Tokyo 3 years ago, so you can imagine how elated I was when she replied an email I wrote to her a few days back. ( considering she must receive fan mail by the hundreds everyday. )

Yoko Tanji

I had learned about her latest works while visiting the blog of her friend Enrico Casarosa, ( an amazing storyboard artist from Pixar with a penchant for Japan, who was super nice to add my blog link on his. ) prompting me to write to her while in a brazen, excited state of fanboy stupor.

In her reply she remarked that she had bought Freedom 1 dvd *Yay!* and had enjoyed watching it, which understandably made this fanboy very, very happy.

Be amazed by her beautiful illustrations at http://www.tanji.jp/

Jul 3rd 2007

Just received this today, Michael Arias’s Tekkon Kinkreet 2 disc limited edition dvd, which I had also watched in Shinjuku a few months back. The limited edition comes in a thick, sturdy cardboard case, with the main feature labelled Kuro ( black ) and the specials on Shiro ( white ). There are also 2 booklets, ‘Director’s Notes’ and ‘Essence Tekkon Kinkreet Making of’. Everything is in Japanese, except a production note that Plaid wrote.

Update 060907- I managed to haggle Ando-san, co-director of Tekkon Kinkreet for an autograph on this dvd. Read more about it here.

Tekkon is a visual powerfest conjured up by the top talents in the industry, and one viewing is simply not enough to fully appreciate the insane amount of detail and beauty created by the art direction team, headed by Kimura Shinji, who also worked his magic in Steamboy. ( Morita-san once lamented that it was a pity Kimura-san was unable to work with us on Freedom )

For those who can’t get enough of the artwork behind Tekkon, these 2 official art of books, Shiro and Kuro (book covers and purchase links below ) are must buys; there’s so much artwork to show, they couldn’t cramp in one book.

I also have a few rare copies of the above books that are autographed by Kimura Shinji ( art director of Tekkon Kinkreet ) for sale, if you are interested please contact me about details. While stocks last.

You can purchase a set of the Tekkon Kinkreet limited edition dvd here.

Jul 1st 2007

Freedom 4 dvd - Bismarck

Cover art for Freedom 4 dvd, to be released on the 27th of July, with Biz finally getting his own cover. My colleagues and I all agree that he looks rather stylish and cool; which is really amusing once you get to see what he’s up to in this episode.

Check out the other released cover art for Freedom 1, 2, 3 and Previsited.

Jun 28th 2007

Takeru from Freedom and Ray from Steamboy greet visitors at the entrance of Sunrise Emotion Animation Studios ( Steamboy Studios ) in Ogikubo, Tokyo. We’ve just moved to this bigger studio last week ( which actually is just a block down the road ), check out this older post.In case you are wondering why that Steamboy cardboard figure look like it was made by a fan, that’s because its really old ( Steamboy took 8 years to complete ), and must have been made during the early stages of production, maybe even before Ray Steam’s character design was finalized.

While most of the the action is happening at the Anime Expo in California with the release of Freedom on HD dvd, back in the studio work goes on for the 6th installment of the television commercial that will go on air later in July, in conjunction with the release Freedom 4. I was just watching the rough cut during the production meeting this afternoon and one of the scenes from the commercial bears resemblence to Utada Hikaru’s Deep River promo clip. Her song “Kiss and Cry” will continue to be used as the theme music.

Jun 26th 2007
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