The Ghibli Influences on the Inspired World of Made in Abyss | Anime Studio Spotlight


Made in Abyss is a stunning production and
there’s so many ways we can talk about it. The director was one of Madhouse’s biggest
names when the studio was in its prime, working on the Monster TV series and Piano no Mori,
the music is created by the award winning Australian composer Kevin Penkin and the monsters
are animated by Kou Yoshinari, famous for his insane level of detail and unique forms
of movement. But for me, the most captivating part of Made
in Abyss isn’t in the foreground. Rather, it’s in how it develops a believable
world through an extraordinary level of artistic detail in the backgrounds. Hello and welcome to The Canipa Effect. This is an Anime Studio Spotlight on the background
studio, Inspired. This is the first time on the channel that
we’re not covering an animation studio in studio spotlight. Anime isn’t the result of just one team,
but instead the efforts of a collaboration between select groups of talented and professional
people. These relationships are aided by the fact
that most anime studios are within close proximity of each other and teams of production assistants
who go back and forth to make sure everything’s running smoothly. When a background studio is selected for a
project, one of two things will happen. Either the studio will select a background
director amongst themselves or the anime’s core staff will already have someone in mind. For example, Nagi no Asukara and Hanasaku
Iroha’s Background Director, Kazuki Higashiji is closer to P.A. Works than he is with background studios,
so he is able to be a freelancer. Alternatively, ACCA 13 and Seraph of the End
background studio, Studio Pablo will select someone within their staff to lead a project. The series director will send requests for
what sort of art settings they’re looking for and there will be a back and forth between
the background staff and the anime staff on how this world should look, starting with
the background director drawing blueprints for locations, known as setteiga. In the case of Made in Abyss, much of this
was simply based on the manga, but there was new dimensions of realism that this particular
project could play into. Studio Inspired is one that has held its trump
card back for a while. Participating in a mix of TV and film projects
with their Art Director, Kunihiko Inaba, although their work has been great, fans have found
it easy to overlook their name. Although shows like Meganebu and Baby Steps
have some great environments, the studio’s founder has taken a backseat role
on many projects. Until now. Please meet Osamu Masuyama. Studio Ghibli doesn’t just take anyone. With strict requirements for traditional methods
and Hayao Miyazaki’s impossible standards, Ghibli stands at the pinnacle of world animation
production. Or stood, rather. Miyazaki’s confusion over whether he wanted
to retire or keep making films put the studio at a standstill which lead to staff leaving
for new creative ventures. But that aside, Ghibli films are masterful,
expensive and important. And Osamu Masuyama, an enthusiastic oil painter,
was hired to work on them after being inspired by Isao Takahata to enter the anime industry. Credited for Spirited Away, Ponyo and Howl’s
Moving Castle, along with many of Miyazaki’s short films exclusive to the Ghibli museum,
he managed to impress Background Director Nizo Yamamoto so much that he brought Masuyama
along as his assistant art director for both Fantastic Children and The Girl Who Leapt
Through Time. And then in 2007, Yamamoto was selected to
direct his own film, a rarity for a background artist. And with how demanding the job of directing
is, he couldn’t serve as background director for his own film, instead giving Osamu Masuyama
his first job as a background director. So, to recap: Masuyama got hired by one of
the most prestigious anime studios at the age of 25 and then quickly became the assistant
to one of the most prestigious background directors in the industry. And then in 2009, he left Studio Ghibli to
create his own studio. But this wasn’t like many other background
artists who created their own teams. For example, the famous Shinichiro Kobayashi’s
studio, Kobayashi Production gave him the opportunity to take more roles as Background
Director for shows like Revolutionary Girl Utena, Berserk and Detroit Metal City. And so in a way, he’s been taking a back
seat. Working as a background artist whilst other
members of his team direct, conducting lectures, publishing books and even starting up teaching,
with art classes for both newcomers and those that aim to become professionals. And now, in 2017, just for Made in Abyss,
he’s back. Why did the famous Osamu Masuyama return to
background directing specifically for Made in Abyss? God knows. But it’s worth mentioning that his speciality
is in forests and greenery. It’s only reasonable to assume that despite
him being able to pass up on so many other projects, when he saw the world of Made in
Abyss, he stepped forward and finally said, “That is a world that I want to create”. And honestly, who wouldn’t? The world of the Abyss and the town that surrounds
it is vibrant with nature. It’s a place that constantly evokes new
images and ideas that make you want to explore further into it. No wonder explorers constantly risk death
and disability to go down there, it’s a world of aesthetic possibilities that the
world above can’t possibly match. Masuyama is someone who strives for realism
above all else. Whilst other artists might want to go for
expressionism or surrealism, in Made in Abyss, he wants the world to feel real. To be a blend of familiar locations in order
to create something brand new entirely. He refers to background art as the most important
role in presenting a world to an audience, as it can tell you about the sort of place
the characters grew up in, the era it’s either set in or based on and come to conclusions
about how they might live there. With realism comes detail and fans of Made
in Abyss may be interested to learn that Inspired used to have a “Flower of the Week” feature
on their website. Seriously, they did 71 editions of this, spotlighting
a new flower each week. Even their article on moving studios just
talked about the new flowers in the studio. And Made in Abyss is full of them. I wish I was some sort of flower expert like
them so I could identify them, but with each part of the world, there are different types
of flowers that bloom there, creating real ecosystems. And in some cases, no flowers. For example, outside of the orphanage, you
can see that the grass has been worn down. You’ve probably seen what are known as desire
paths, dirt pathways that have been developed over time from people choosing the quickest
route. But kids are unpredictable, and you can see
how the grass has been trampled all around the entrance to the orphanage. And it’s details like this that bring it
to life. Realism isn’t just about it looking real,
it’s about it feeling real and convincing the audience that it could be. It’s not just about foliage either, it’s
also about textures and buildings. You can understand the social and financial
status of people by the state of the buildings they live in. Simply compare the rich part of town where
brave adventurers return from to here, where it’s all falling apart. Compare these wooden planks to
the ones in this office and you can see the extra time and effort put into
the scratches and rot that signals disrepair. As they go further down into the Abyss, each
layer has its own aesthetic qualities. The first layer is full of grass, mossy rocks
and cliff-edges. You can even see the sedimentation of the
rock in the sides of some of the cliffs. Yet, when they reach the second layer, it’s
a sort of jungle, swinging from the tree roots. And if you look carefully, you can see that
the hanging roots are particularly gnarly and ripped, presumably because these are the
roots that the beasts grip their claws into and swing from. Made in Abyss features some of the most stunning
backgrounds in TV anime. Masuyama’s background in working at Studio
Ghibli has delivered an unending love and level of detail that exceeds beyond anyone’s
expectations for the show. Although due to the amount of work it requires,
they’ve had to outsource art to Creators in Pack Although thankfully, their position
as Art Direction allows them to project their very specific view. Osamu Masuyama and the team at Studio Inspired
have created something that delivers the show’s plot at a new caliber. An adventure should effectively show a visual
progression through environments and the backgrounds here are distinctive, location specific and
have a certain reality that tells a story beyond what the characters are telling us. Thanks for watching The Canipa Effect. This is the first time I’m covering a background
studio, so I really wanted to make sure it was one that was really interesting. If you’re yet to watch Made in Abyss, it’s
available on Anime Strike and HiDive, depending on where you live and I totally recommend
you do. There’s some weird moments, but overall,
it doesn’t stop being a true story of adventure. Oh, and I’ve just been announced as a Guest
for Crunchyroll Expo. If you see me around, say hi and I’ll be
on a couple of panels and stuff throughout the weekend. But before I go, I want to give a special thanks to all of
those supporting the channel on Patreon. In particular, I want to give a special thanks
to the heroic Hamad, the fantastic Flying Colors Foundation, the muscular Mankoto LePlant,
the alluring Albireo, the important Isaac Woo, the animated Austin Hardwicke (He’s
an animator, so that one was actually good) and the modern Mike Tamburelli.

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