【Illustrator/PV Animator】吉田ドンドリアン / ヨシツギ (YOSHIDA Dondorian / YOSHITSUGI)

I’m aliv-

Hatsune Miku from Crypton’s Character Vocal Series. Original line art for this available at illustrator’s Pixiv.

吉田ドンドリアン (YOSHIDA Dondorian), also known professionally under ヨシツギ (YOSHITSUGI), is an up-and-coming illustrator best known on Pixiv for her distinctive and abstract watercolour style. She has also forayed into illustrating and compiling videos for Vocaloid songs on niconico, the most recent of which was for river’s アン・イノセンス (Un-Innocence). In addition to illustrating for leisure, she has also drawn artwork professionally for various publications, such as Kodansha’s Faust magazine and Megami Creators, and has made a website, done art direction, drawn artwork, and done CD jacket design for two of Voltage of Imagination’s CDs’ sites. Yoshida’s birthday is on December 21st, resides in Chiba Prefecture, Japan, likes to paint and illustrate with analog tools and techniques, and when working digitally, uses Adobe Photoshop CS3 on Windows Vista.

Yoshida’s style is of a relatively abstract and watercolour-like style that incorporates many vibrant colours, little to no shading and quite a bit of subtle and faded floral patterns. She almost exclusively draws female characters, but unlike most JPN illustrators, she gives little precedence on characters’ faces and expressions, and rather strives to create a spectacle with the entire picture as a whole, taking more priority in colour, composition, and theme. Her characters’ eyes are very round, and they typically sport only subdued or calm expressions. They are also drawn in static poses most of the time, with characters either standing, falling, or floating(?), but these types of arrangements really do add to the peaceful and calm atmosphere that most of her illustrations give off. The fact that Yoshida doesn’t employ traditional shading techniques is also a unique feature, and as a substitution to the absence of shading, she instead indicates depth by layering darker colours on the lighter ones and melding them together for a gradual and delicate effect. She also uses lightly coloured, sometimes faded lines to enhance this look.

Macne Nana as depicted in 月ノ魚 (Tsuki no Sakana) by 一本勝負P(IpponshoubuP).

Other than the background-less, single-character style, Yoshida is also capable of producing another style where she often draws an undetailed character put against an near-abstract background splashed with solid colour. In this style, Yoshida usually combines deep, dark colours against vibrant, practically neon shades to make a statement, and in many cases she makes use of only one main colour and their respective shades. The highest recurring primary colour used in these works seems to be blue. Colour coordination is unique, but the contrast in colours may sometimes be a little too strong. As well, Yoshida makes a lot less use of the transparent qualities prominently seen in her character-focused artwork, but when she combines her two styles, the results are quite stunning (See the image above this paragraph).

It is worthwhile to note that about half of Yoshida’s works are non-digitally done with colour ink, which is why there’s noticeable colour bleeding in most pictures, and why she also seems to have a good understanding of how to emulate the bleed and transparent effects in digital works as well. Moreover, Yoshida’s artwork may be slightly reminiscent of shimeko’s (しめ子 at Pixiv) style at first, but Yoshida’s are quite a bit more natural (in both analog and digital examples) as shimeko’s style has no bleed, more sharp, clean lines, and everything is much softer and blurred – all of which are small clues that hint at the digitality of shimeko’s illustrations. (For two digital examples, Yoshida | shimeko. Note the points at which the soft colours fade into white – Yoshida’s has more spread and dark edges at the end before becoming white.)

Lastly, Yoshida’s PV style is as creative and sometimes as abstract as her illustrations, but they mostly employ basic animation effects and a high number of static illustrations. Despite the supposed and deceiving simplicity of execution, the PV for Un-Innocence is perhaps one of the most artistic and original Vocaloid PVs out there. Please take a look.

Essential Works – PV:
1. アン・イノセンス (Un-Innocence) (niconico link) **Highly Recommended**
2. Colchicum! (niconico link)
3. 月ノ魚 (Tsuki no Sakana/Fish of the Moon) (niconico link)

Website: http://sekitou.sub.jp
Blog: http://bye.sekitou.sub.jp
Pixiv: http://www.pixiv.net/member.php?id=251864
Piapro: http://piapro.jp/yoshi_nba
Twitter: http://twitter.com/Hello_World_

【Illustrator/PV Animator】高村真耶/MAYA (TAKAMURA Maya)

Artwork of the main characters from Zektbach’s Blind Justice~Torn souls, Hurt Faiths ~

高村真耶 (TAKAMURA Maya), also known as VJ MAYA, is a professional illustrator who also does video work, and is best known for her animated videos in Konami’s beatmania IIDX games, such as PVs for Zektbach’s Ristaccia and kors k’s smooooch・∀・. She resigned from Konami in 2008 and now works as a freelance illustrator, though she has recently made two videos for beatmania IIDX 17 SIRIUS. Takamura’s birthday is on March 30th and is a graduate of Osaka University of Arts.

Takamura’s artwork is of quite the anime/manga style, with many large eyed characters, undetailed faces, and beautiful, almost extravagant clothing designs. However, her artwork, even outside of the fantasy-themed Zektbach videos, seems to be influenced by things such as 17th century fashion(?), Middle Eastern costumes, and other western clothing in general (dresses, ribbons, jewelled hairpieces). Of course, Takamura is also capable of executing many other styles and themes skillfully as well, outside of the themes mentioned above. Her artwork is mainly drawn with impeccably clean black and white line art and then coloured in, and she usually shades parts of the hair and details with black lines as well, giving them a intricate and solid look. Her colouring style varies a lot depending on what kind of tone she is trying to achieve, but everything that she does colour is very colourful, vibrant, and extremely well-coordinated. She seems to like using bright, almost neon colours if she gets the chance, and her mastery of colour is made apparent by this as they are just bright enough that they don’t look garish or difficult to look at.

As for her videos, they are, to put it in one word, incomparable, especially for the heavily animated Zektbach videos. All animations were drawn by Takamura alone, and the fluidity of everything is incredible. I can’t even begin to imagine how many pictures she had to draw for each video (or even every few seconds) in order to show that kind of detailed motion. Composition of videos are perfect as well, with a lot of creative effects for both changing scenes and connecting objects. Despite being obviously 2D, videos like Turii ~Panta Rhei~ have animation that include panning and zooming, making the videos even more immersive. Takamura’s video work is probably the pinnacle of hand drawn PVs. Please watch them.

Essential Works – beatmania IIDX videos:
1. Ristaccia
2. smooooch・∀・
3. Turii ~Panta Rhei~ **Personal Favourite**

Website: http://maya.vc/ (Japanese)
Wikipedia Entry: http://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/高村真耶 (Japanese)
RemyWiki Entry: http://vjarmy.com/wiki/index.php/Maya_Takamura
Youtube Playlist: http://www.youtube.com/view_play_list?p=9C16845C60947851

【Illustrator/Animator】 吉成曜 (YOSHINARI You)

It might not look like it, but this post took a very sad and long amount of time to compile. Hopefully it’s not too much of a behemoth to read and that I managed to make sense.

Hrist from Valkyrie Profile. Click for full version.

吉成曜 (YOSHINARI You), the younger brother of Yoshinari Kou, is a professional animator and illustrator, and currently works under GAINAX. His representative works include doing the mecha designs in the Gurren Lagann series, and for doing numerous character designs and illustrations for the Valkyrie Profile series in collaboration with his brother. Y.You’s birthday is May 5th, 1971, and graduated from Tokyo Design Gakuin.

Y.You’s illustration style is hard to classify properly as he does a lot of different things, though the one thing that is consistent is that he draws with a lot of solid, straight, and angular black lines, and his characters’ faces are more anime-like than realistic as they lack details such as eyelashes, even though he usually draws real noses and lips. His colouring style is also extremely easy to recognize. For shading, he mostly uses relatively low-contrast shades, and as a result makes his pictures seem flatter and less “shiny”, and sometimes shades with a different colour than the main colour (In this case, the blue with purple on the legs). He also likes using inorganic colour palettes such as purple and cyan. Y.You is also very good at non-human pictures. However, Y.You is so overwhelmingly incredible that I can’t possibly apply all the above to all of his works, and you can see some significant contradictions to everything I talked about above.

In addition to doing character designs, he also did mecha/machine designs for series such as Gurren Lagann and Melody of Oblivion. His mecha style is generally pretty colourful and although they are machines, the lines are relatively more curved and are not rectangular or boxy, giving them a less “piece of large metal that moves” feel.

Y.You as an animator is extremely well-known for his action and explosion scenes, the latter of which became so recognizable that fans coined the term “吉成爆発” (Yoshinari Bakuhatsu/Yoshinari Explosion). His action scenes consist of a lot of jumping and soaring, plus interesting camera work that involves close camera shots and little panning. As for his explosions, if you see a large cloud-like ball of fire and dust marked by different colours at the border with an inward center, then you have just witnessed a Yoshinari Explosion. The next time you see something similar in an action-packed anime episode, please think of the genius that is Y.You.

Of course, animation is impossible to believe without seeing, so please take a look at the videos below. Each frame is drawn and coloured by hand, though for the newer clips they may be coloured by computer then had some CG/textures added into the original frame.

In no particular order:
1. Yoshinari You MAD (niconico link)
2. Cyborg 009 Segment (niconico link)
3. V Gundam Clip
4. Maze OVA Segment
5. ねこぢる草 (Cat Soup) Clip
6. WHITE ALBUM Ep12 ED (niconico link)
7. 秋色恋華 (Akiiro Renka) OP (niconico link) (This was animated by both Y.Kou and Y.You)
8. キラメキ★ヨーコ BOX(KIRAMEKI★YOKO BOX) cut (+frame by frame)
9. Pani Poni OP clip (On repeat, from full OP)
10. 宇宙海賊ミトの大冒険 (The Adventures of Mito the Space Pirate) Clip (niconico link)
11. Best of OP/ED (niconico link) (Y.You’s part is from 6:27-6:34)
12. Animators Rainbow (niconico link) (Y.You’s part is from 1:05-2:01)
13. 魔法少女プリティサミー (Magical Girl Pretty Sammy) omake PV (niconico link)
14. Gurren Lagann Parallel Works Track 08
15. FLCL Finished vs Rough Comparison (niconico link) (Y.You’s part starts at 0:28-end)

Wikipedia entry: http://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/吉成曜 (Japanese)
作画@wiki entry: http://www18.atwiki.jp/sakuga/pages/45.html (Japanese)
Y.You Youtube Playlist: http://www.youtube.com/view_play_list?p=C5AA844E010163B6
Gurren Lagann Y.You Rough Clip: http://www.gainax.co.jp/anime/gurren-lagann/c242.html