I need your comments: General opinions on SHAFTXSHINBO works

Alright guys, here’s the story: I got wrapped up in a thing that I want to leave as a surprise for now, but for it to go anywhere I need to conduct some quick and dirty research. Since I have a readership and a comments field at my disposal, I figure I may as well use them.

So basically, I’m asking you guys for opinions. Specifically–as mentioned in the title of this post–your opinions on works by anime director extraordinaire Shinbo Akiyuki. I don’t need much. Just one or two paragraphs if you can.

Also, if some of you can drop a few names of any other communities where you feel I’ll get good responses, that would be great.


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17 Responses to I need your comments: General opinions on SHAFTXSHINBO works

  1. Kitsune says:

    This is my brief impression on Shinbo with a video excerpt. In that post I also mention Zoku SZS, my favorite anime of 2008, SHAFT editors, and color artists.

  2. Brack says:

    The following is cut out of a post I made about SHAFT productions (click my name for the link:

    “Visually of course, it’s fantastic. While Shinbo’s particular fetishes are all over the show – namely typography, geometrical design and near subliminal editing – he allows Akio Watanabe to bring plenty of himself to the show too in the action and character design. The only real flaw in Shinbo’s approach for me is his love of dialogue, too many long conversations and monologues slow the show down, even with all the visual tricks he pulls to try and keep them interesting. While that could be said to be the fault of the script, the fact is he does it across a lot of his shows, so it’s clearly something he digs himself. To the point where you think rather than a way around bad scripts, Shinbo thinks Wally Wood’s 22 Panels That Always Work are the be-all and end-all to visual storytelling.”

  3. Taka says:

    I think Shaft/Shinbo are at their best when the source material is vague enough that they can do interesting things with the animation and production. Sometimes they take things to an entirely different sometimes it can be pretty nonsensical when they use live action cuts of something but generally the innovation helps it.

    The other big thing that I think characterizes the show is references to other works. Parodies, homages, and quick cameos all serve to make things a little more chaotic but also to make things come full circle. When you watch Natsu no Arashi who is by the School Rumble mangaka and see Tenma sitting at the table it actually makes some sense.

    Shaft/Shinbo takes strange stories and using a strange allocation of animation resources create strange stories with equally strange visuals. For all their quirks I would call Shaft/Shinbo the modern art of the anime world.

  4. Dokuro-chan says:

    I’ve got a long comment typed up but it won’t let me post it ㄹ_ㄹ…
    I put it here, but why can’t I submit it as a comment? http://pastebin.com/9sxzmkNk

  5. shels says:

    I like pretty much everything that he do/did, being the SZS series my favorites, Bakemonogatari and now arakawa are pretty good too. That being said what makes him a good director is the Studio/people that surroundes him. With all the budget management that has to be done, if he wasn’t surrouded by people like Sugiyama, Kouji Azuma, Izumi takizawa or Akio Watanabe ( mostly working in character/ color/setting and design) his works wouldn’t have the style that we all love…
    Even then there are some works not being bad are not really exceptional like Soultaker, vampire bund, natsu arashi or tsukuyomi…

  6. lastarial says:

    For my tastes, SHAFTxSHINBO have the highest ratio of shows that I would consider keepers than almost any other director/studio combination that I can think of. I don’t know much about the outfit, other than what you’ve posted and what little people have translated, but I get a vibe that they choose their material carefully.

    SHAFTxSHINBO seem to pitch their shows at slightly older fans, and they are masters at breaking the fourth wall, displaying an impish sense of humour that rarely gets boring – taken to the max on Pani Poni Dash! Plus they, apparently, can produce a whole season for a budget that would create about four seconds of Evangelion 2.22. Although the strain does show sometimes, as seen towards to end of the original TV run of Moonphase.

    Shinbo has made a name for himself with a somewhat quirky directorial style, that riffs on the theme of the original material. This is most noticeable with the ‘stationary fetish’ of Hidamari Sketch, but is also evident in the direction of Bakemonogatari, Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei and Natsu no Arashi.

  7. wah says:

    Huh, it should accept a comment that long. Weird.

    Seems the spam filter ate your message. Don’t know why.

    Keep ’em comin’!

  8. jpmeyer says:

    The mean answer: visual noise and references masquerading as jokes
    The non-mean answer: the most otaku database-y director/studio out there notclose

  9. 2DT says:

    Ooh, research? I like the sound of that. :)

    The first time I heard of Akiyuki Shinbo was by hearsay: My friends and I were listening to the opening of Soul Taker, a show I hadn’t seen. They assured me that I really didn’t have to, because the visual style was nearly unbearable. Since that was animated by Studio Takenoko and not SHAFT, I take that as evidence that Shinbo’s “flair” isn’t limited just to his interactions with one studio.

    But it certainly seems like that’s where he’s been in top form. I’ve seen the first Sayonara Zetsubou-sensei, Natsu no Arashi!, parts of Tsukuyomi Moonphase, parts of Hidamari Sketch, Maria+Holic, parts of Dance in the Vampire Bund, parts of Bakemonogatari and now Arakawa Under the Bridge. I’m sure I missed one in there.

    To me, the interesting thing about ShaftxShinbo is the meeting point between nostalgia and the cutting edge. That comes across most clearly in Natsu no Arashi, but for example, the fact that (to my knowledge) each arc in Bakemonogatari begins with a kabuki-style intensifying drum beat. There’s a care to it that goes beyond just making the most of a pathetic budget.

  10. Margaan says:

    Yeah, I’m afraid that your blog definitely doesn’t like long posts—this is the second time I’ve been 404ed. This time I just put my (abstruse?) thoughts up at http://pastebin.com/FQixmZ9P .

  11. wah says:

    Weird, I’ve gotten comments much longer than these in the past. Maybe some weird setting changed in a WordPress update or something.

  12. Chun says:

    Shaft and Shinbo….

    It’s like Shaft is just some sort of random businessman who happens to acquire a series here and there in hopes of making it in the world, and is doing fine in hopes of being a humongous studio, but doesn’t really know what to do with it, and then Shinbo shows up and is like “WASHI WA KAMI JA” and throws a lot of crazy interesting direction from his gut into the series that works out in the long run. Minus a tail and plus on the beer.

  13. Orange says:

    How I see it, Shinbo is superb directing comedies and shows that are trying to give viewer something to consider about. Plot driven action stuff like Vampire Bund in other hand feels like it’s missing something important that I just can’t put my finger on it. Leaving last impressions kinda weak.
    In short: Shaft+Shinbo is really great when they are producing something that’s comedy and/or offering social commentary. That includes most of their shows, anyway.

  14. lvlln says:

    Akiyuki Shinbo

    I’ve been a fan of his works since watching Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei in 2007. I like how irreverent he is with his works. He plays around with different art styles, different episode formats without care for convention. I especially loved the more out-there stuff at the later episodes of Zoku SZS. The 12 despair girls episode was one of my favorites.

    He also seems to enjoy using the modern otaku culture a lot. Of course, SZS made fun of that a lot, but there are little touches like the EDs to Natsu no Arashi 2 and Maria Holic being callbacks to 8 bit video games.

    Speaking of which, I also like the often psychedelic animations in the OPs and EDs. The various PPD OPs are highlights for me, being very stylish but also using the art to give us some insights into what the characters are really like. And it’s probably more Shaft than Shinbo, but the musicians they get for the OPs and EDs tend to be excellent.

  15. Glo says:

    I am someone who will pretty much love anything as long as it’s presented in a unique way. Characters, plot, anything. If it’s unique, I will pretty much eat it up.

    I probably don’t even have to write anything else for you to realize that I love Shinbo X SHAFT. Both of them have unique styles that you don’t get anywhere else, so when they’re combined, you get a clusterfuck of unique explosions that make me more excited than a schoolgirl with a crush.

  16. keideki says:

    I think ShinboxShaft has quite a bit going for it. Some of the stuff they make is pure gold that can be enjoyed by just about anyone, but I would have to say most of it cannot. I would liken it to natto. Japanese people seem to be nuts for the stuff, but most foreigners cant stand the taste. Every once in a while you get some non-Japanese person who likes it (Myself, a couple friends I know) but mainly it is a dish best left for those who have the palette to appreciate it.

    I thought all of Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei was strong, and had both mainstream appeal and unique appeal, and I believe the same of Tsukuyomi. Other titles, like Arakawa under the Bridge and perhaps Pani Poni Dash (to an extent) are much more tuned to the hardcore otaku crowd. Is there anything wrong with writing to that demographic? HECK NO. Is it going to turn your show into a block buster? No. To be honest I think most of his work is brilliant, but it can be a hit or miss as to whether or not he can integrate hardcore otaku in-jokes with normal comedy (SZS and Tsuku) or not (AUTB and PPD).

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