Thursday, September 19, 2013

Production I.G: The Little Details

A long time ago, while conjuring up some superbly detailed artwork, my friend intimated that God resided in the details.

Not being Christian per se, and without a religious millimetre illuminating anywhere on my body, I didn’t have a clue what this guy was on about, or which dippy deity he referred to. The only thing similar I’d heard was that Old Nick (you know, the Devil) was in those same details.

Which rendered me somewhat confused.

That is, I until around 16 years ago — when I first watched Mamoru Oshii’s enthralling anime feature Ghost in the Shell (1995).

While the original manga pages — titled Kōkaku Kidōtai in Japanese, written and illustrated by Shirow Masamune — pushed quirky as much as cerebral, light-hearted and a trifle perverted, this animated movie interpretation by Oshii, of Patlabor fame, was dark, a tad more intelligent, and the most innovative cyberpunk romp since Akira (1988).

It also led to an obvious Wachowski siblings’ homage with The Matrix in 1999.

Truth is, Ghost in the Shell knocked off my cotton socks to hammer home the studio behind the film — Production I.G — as my favourite Japanese anime company. It’s a lofty perch that I.G retains nearly two decades later.

Here’s where I get to lob in some silly puns relating to the introductory ‘theme’: God knows I.G deserves it, and by Heaven above they go for the jugular of those little details, glean ‘em, tweak ‘em, and quite often leave you gob-smacked, gasping for more with each successive experiment in style, form and technology. Halle-bloody-lujah.

To start with, there’s so much damned depth to I.G productions.

Not just the background animation or those aforementioned little details; it goes beyond the superlative character designs, the tight direction and slick production values; the depth lingers somewhere beyond this production company’s penchant for risk-taking along with clever marketing panache.

They’ve got to be doing something right to have established themselves at the forefront of the severely stiff competition that is the Japanese animation industry, and further to have maintained that position.

Likely this has to do with the talent involved at the studio.


...with thanks to Francesco Prandoni @ I.G and Ben Pollock @ Madman.