Sakuga. A powerful word amongst a growing English-speaking fanbase dedicated to researching, cataloging, and gushing over their favorite animators and animation supervisors. What exactly is 'sakuga'? 作画 refers to the animation drawings of an animated work. This includes both 原画 (genga, the key animation drawings) and 動画 (douga, the in-between animation drawings). English-speaking internet users have adopted this term to act as a short hand for animation they find high-quality. Key animation by Tanaka Hironori. Source: Yes! PreCure 5 GoGo! episode #4 Key animation by Tanaka Hironori. Source: Testuwan Birdy Decode: 02 episode #5 Does anyone have any favorite animators? Have you ever wondered who did a big battle in a favorite series of yours? Yes? No? Maybe? Pants? Let's start with something modern and most likely to be known to casual fans. Terminology シリーズディレクター (shiriizu direkutaa) & 監督 (Kantoku) Series Director & Director The Series Director is in charge of overseeing the entire series. They attend every meeting, help plan the upcoming episodes, and attend voice recording sessions. The Series Director credit is most often used for Toei Animation works. Dragon Ball Z uses シリーズディレクター to describe the role played by Nishio Daisuke for episode #1-199 (there is no Series Director for #200-291). 'Kantoku' is used by most other studios to describe what is essentially the same role. For example, the Kantoku of Naruto Shippuuden is Date Hayato. 'Kantoku' is also used in film to describe the film's director. Translating 'Kantoku' is tricky. For television shows I simply use Series Director and for movies Film Director. It's descriptive and easy to understand. 演出 (Enshutsu) Episode Director (TV) or Technical Director (movie) The 'Enshutsu' credit is another tricky credit to translate. For television the role is essentially that of an episode director. The Series Director cannot personally oversee each episode of a television series. Although Nishio Daisuke liked to personally direct and storyboard episodes of Dragon Ball and Dragon Ball Z every chance he could the role of directing often went to another. While final say on any matter always goes to the Series Director an Episode Director more often then not was allowed to make an episode in his own vision. Most directors stick to a unified style to keep a series as consistent as possible, but every so often--especially for long-running shows--an episode director would be brought in to shake things up. Naruto Shippuuden Series Director Date Hayato is fond of allowing Tsuru Toshiyuki to write and direct important episodes of the series. Episode #85, which featured an important battle, used unique directing techniques, a higher number of drawings then usual, and many talented key animators. Wakabayashi Atsushi was brought on board to direct episode #167. Wakabayashi acted as an Animation Supervisor and Key Animator. Wakabayashi is perhaps the most experimental director the series has using undoubtedly the highest number of drawings any episode of Naruto has ever used for the climax of Naruto versus Pain. 絵コンテ (Ekonte) Storyboard The Japanese term 'e-konte' is a combination of the kanji 絵 and the English phrase 'continuity board'. More often then not you will see the term translated as 'storyboard' to match generic English animation credits. The role of the storyboard varies from project to project, directors Peter Chung and Michael Arias discuss the intricacies of the role in further depth in this thread at the Anipages forum. Most Toei Animation titles rarely use the storyboard credit. Episode Directors are expected to draw their own storyboards, which act as the visual script of an episode or film. The use of a separate storyboard artist does occur when the episode director is strapped for time or otherwise a bad artist. Dragon Ball episode #130 is storyboard by Series Director Nishio Daisuke despite the enshutsu credit going to Hashimoto Mitsuo, for example. A storyboard credit will sometimes be given to a talented key animator. For the 2006 Naruto movie Matsumoto Norio provided the storyboard and key animation for a series of action cuts, essentially given free reign from Film Director and Writer Tsuru Toshiyuki. 作画監督 (Sakuga Kantoku) Animation Supervisor The animation supervisor is the person who oversees, checks, and corrects the key animators' drawings. The changes can be for many reasons but are most often to bring the characters "on model" so that they more accurately reflect the original character designs. They often work closely with the Chief Animator and Chief Designer, but overall, the final look of the episode hinges on the artistic abilities of the animation supervisor. Note: You'll most often see this credit translated on other sites as an "Animation Director", but since they only oversee the key animation aspects I feel it is more appropriate to give them a title of supervisor which is also an accurate translation of kantoku. 総作画監督 (Sou Sakuga Kantoku) & キャラクターデザイン (kyarakutaa dezain) Chief Animation Supervisor & Character Design In recent years the Chief Animation Supervisor credit has surfaced. Typically a Chief Animation Supervisor will be a series' Character Designer. For Kill la Kill the character designs are provided by Sushio. Sushio also acts as the Chief Animation Supervisor. The role essentially entails working with the Animation Supervisors for each episode to help them get a feel for staying on-model, should that be the desire. The Chief Animation Supervisor also acts as a second layer of quality control, checking episodes for bad drawings and approving good drawings. For Dragon Ball and Dragon Ball Z episodes #1-199 this role was called チーフアニメーター (Chief Animator). Chief Animator Maeda Minoru designed the characters and helped the Animation Supervisors grow more comfortable in the series' look. Naruto Shippuuden uses the Chief Animation Supervisor credit in a different manner. Episodes outsourced to Korean or Chinese studios receive a specific Chief Animation Supervisor to correct drawings already corrected by the Korean studio's Animation Supervisor. For Naruto Shippuuden episode #272 Abe Hiroki, Shin Min-sub, and Lee Boo-hee are credited as Animation Supervisors. Ukulele Zenjirou receives credit as a Chief Animation Supervisor, despite the Character Design credit for the series belonging to Suzuki Hirofumi. [Kana] Action Animation Supervisor & Mecha Animation Supervisor One of the earliest instances of the Action Animation Supervisor is perhaps the 2001 film Gekijouban Cowboy Bebop: Tengoku no Tobira where Nakamura Yutaka was credited for the role due to his involvement both as a main key animator for the film, but also for helping design layouts for action scenes. The role isn't always a sign of smooth production, however. Samurai Flamenco has uses the credit, but due to the series' hasty production schedule this was to help rush the work out the door quicker. This applies to Mecha Animation Supervisor, as well, although in the case of a series like Sunrise's Gundam Build Fighters the role is assigned to veteran animators who specialize in making mecha move. Se Jun Kim and Oobari Masami are two popular names working on the aforementioned Sunrise series. 原画 (Genga) Key Animation A genga animator or "key" animator draws the key images in a scene, using the character layouts as a guide. The genga animator draws enough of the images to get across the major points of the action in a specific scene. For example, in a sequence of a character jumping across a ravine, the genga animator may draw an image of the character as he is about to leap, two or more as the character is flying through the air, and a final image of the character landing on the other side of the ravine. 動画 (Douga) In-Between Animation A douga animator or "in-between" animator draws the frames that are still missing in-between the genga animators' drawings. This provides a fluid motion of events in a scene. For example, based on the images drawn by the genga artist of a character jumping across a ravine, the douga artist has drawn additional images to make the character appear to have smoothly jumped across the ravine. [/QUOTE] Drawings In Hagane no Renkinjutsushi: Fullmetal Alchemist episode #19 Roy lights Lust on fire and brutally burns her to death. That entire scene's key animation was provided by Kameda Yoshimichi. Kameda did both the key animation and in-between animation for that scene himself. Kameda is one of many young and rising stars in Japanese animation, quickly becoming a name amongst his peers. Kameda has even begun attending discussion panels with his well-known seniors in the industry and even held an informal YouTube stream himself recently. Episode #19 used about ten thousand drawings in total, no doubt plenty of those drawings going toward the cuts provided by Kameda. That's a lot of frames to draw, if you hadn't guessed. Just how many drawings does a single episode use, though? Due to limited time and finances, most episodes of Japanese animation are allowed between 3,000 and 4,000 drawings per episode. Hagane no Renkinjutsushi: Fullmetal Alchemist episode #19 with its 10,000 drawings is an example of an above-average television episode. Asobi Machi has commented that most first episodes of a Bones series tend to use about 10,000 drawings. Studio Trigger's Little Witch Academia short film, with a budget of $400,000, used about 17,000 drawings across its 26 minute runtime. Numerous drawings isn't always a sign of great animation, however. Shin Seiki Evangelion episode #1 brought to life a strong atmosphere using only 700 cels. Angel Beats episode #1 has upwards of 11,000 drawings yet the quality of these drawings and their use was so poor the episode has a nasty reputation. Who is who? One might wonder "How does one tell which animator did which scene specifically?" Do as I do: hit up YouTube. Search for MADs or sakuga videos. There's a number of super-awesome dudes like AnimeBlue (BlueSakuga), Murad, and Yamaneaki123 who do regular AMVs dedicated to specific animators or even just for the awesome animation across all Japanese animated series' for the month. These are great ways to tell help learn the styles of current crack animators. One can even learn about older ones, too! Sakugabooru is a great resource for learning and sharing information about animators. Some message boards prohibit the linking of unofficially uploaded videos, even if the video is a small section of a film or television episode. Sakugabooru is merely for animated gifs and pictures making it a great way to share information and examples without breaking rules.