FanimeCon - Day Three - Hiroyuki Yamaga
These are production drawings from Futi-Kuti, an OVA series in production from Gainax and Production I.G. While it's one of the latest anime series from Japan, it has its roots in the school of animation started by the late Osamu Tesuka. "Very little moves, but in a sci-fi setting, I'd like to think the characters are realistic," said Hiroyuki Yamaga, one of Gainax's founders.
Yamaga (on the left, with translator Toshi Yoshida on the right) is 38 years old, not much older than the postwar anime industry. Every Japanese animated film that followed the war was inspired by the movies produced by the Walt Disney Co. (Yamaga recalled Dumbo was a particularly impressive movie). The Toei animation studio, which claims Hayao Miyazaki as an alumnus, was formed to challenge Disney films, recalled Yamaga. Around the same time, the Mushi Productions company created by manga artist Tesuka was set up to make weekly TV shows on a tiny budget. Those two companies were the genesis of today's animation industry, and they were often bitter rivals in  the 1960's said Yamaga.
Regardless of whether an animator came from the Toei school or the Tesuka school, they had to work with less money than the lavish American post-war cartoons. "What's the difference? A lot less cels," Yamaga said. "In a conversation scene, Disney will have the characters moving, but in Japanese animation, everyone freezes and only the mouths move." Overcoming that limitation has been one of the charms of anime, which tells vibrant stories while holding the number of cels per second to a minimum. That low cel count has become a fixture of anime, from Jungle Emperor to Neon Genesis Evangelion.
The beauty of anime comes at the expense of some very hard work. Get started at a studio like Gainax, Yamaga said, and you'll get an entry-level inbetweener's job. You'll sit at a cramped desk, more appropriate for a World War II U-boat than for a motion picture studio. Expect to spend 15 hours a day at that desk drawing cels, for which you'll be paid no more than $2 a day - no matter if the cel shows a moving mouth or an exploding planet. The faster you work, the more cels you produce and the more money you make. Impress enough people and you might move up to a key animator's job in three years, said Yamaga.

Day One

Day Two

Day Three

Day Four