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“Community” goes Anime

Heads up fans of NBC’s Community. Tonight’s episode has a Retro Anime sequence created by our friends at Titmouse. The sequence has characters from Community animated in the style of 80’s anime (Robotech/Voltron/Bubblegum Crisis style designs). Enjoy these exclusive advance images below (UPDATE: full sequence is embeded above). The animation is directed by Grif Kimmins, animated by Parker Simmons, and Produced by Ben Kalina. Additional credits include: BG Layout & Paint: Lauren Airress & Khang Li, Composite by Mike Newton. Community airs at 8pm on NBC.

  • The second most awesome show on TV gets a little more awesome. NICE.

    I can’t believe they’re cancelling it after this season. For shame, NBC. For shame…

    • cbat628

      I don’t think they’re planning on cancelling it, it’s just being put on a mid-season hiatus. Although I will admit that being pulled out of the mid-season isn’t a good sign. However, I still hope for the best :).,65685/

      Also: Yes, it DID just get a little more awesome.

      BTW, I’m curious as to what show beat Community as the “most awesome show on TV.”

      • Parks and Rec of course. :)

      • cbat628

        You sir and/or madam, have just earned yourself a new t.v. friend.

        (sorry I don’t know your first name :)).

  • Well, they’ve done animation before, as we all know. When they did the Christmas episode last year, the characters were hilariously self-aware of their stop-motion-ness… I wonder if the same thing will happen this time around.

  • Baron Lego

    Not to be a humbug but here’s a thought- why not have an actual Japanese studio handle the animation/artwork chores for these kinds of parodies? Domestically-produced “anime style” satires always seem to fall short of hitting the mark in terms of nailing the look.

    • mitten

      I just watched this episode, and the segment is so lousy that any attempt at parody or homage comes off as third rate made-for-youtube dragonball student work.

      • Chris Sobieniak

        I wouldn’t be surprised there, but then I suppose getting a Japanese studio to do something like this was either out of the question or out of their price range as well.

      • Tory

        mitten, how did you see the episode before it aired?

      • snip2354

        The price range being too high? I question that guess- animators in Japan get paid a small portion compared to what we get paid!

      • mitten

        – Tory, I work at place that receives content (movies, tv, music videos) and makes it available for streaming and download through a very popular brand of gaming console. So we get shows 1 -5 days before they air.

      • hello

        Funny, because the ‘animators in Japan’ are actually usually in South Korea or the Philippines

    • Shombo

      You can be a humbug but, I think it’s in good hands with a domestic studio. If a overseas studio did it they might try to make it too close to original look. It’s a parody for a reason and I feel like titmouse-folk understands that. We’ll see though, haven’t watched yet.

    • andrew

      The answer is economics. Japanese studios are EXPENSIVE. Their domestic market is booming- they don’t need business from us. We have to outbid their own internal clients. Doing animation for us just isn’t attractive to the Japanese anymore.

      • Funkybat

        Heh, I remember when the whole reason any American studio sub-contracted to a Japanese one was to SAVE money.

        Reminds me of the scene in Back to the Future III where 1955 Doc derides a broken electronic component for being “Made in Japan,” while 1985 Marty is confused, because “all the best stuff is made in Japan.”

      • Chris Sobieniak

        Even in Japan, their cartoons are farmed out to studios in Korea, China and elsewhere nowadays. It’s a vicious cycle!

      • Truthhound

        Stop pointing this out like you’re some kind of genius.

  • Doug

    Well, I for one, am glad that an American studio is getting work for a American broadcast tv show. Makes sense to me. jobs, jobs, jobs!

    • DonaldC

      I can understand that, but when going for a specific look from a specific place, you may as well go for the real deal.

      • The Gee

        Schedules matter, I’m sure.

        But, see what I wrote in response to Kelseigh’s comment.

        Some want authenticity, other people, most people will settle for To-may-toe. If this were some form of homage and not a comedy bit, maybe the “real deal” would matter more, maybe it would matter a lot. But, it probably works like they want it too.

        So, schedule, comedy. Prime Time TeeVee. A show that will probably be cancelled continues to take risks, to the delight of some. Entertainment.

  • I always find it amusing when people do “anime style” parodies, they always pick styles that are 30 years (or more) out of date and look nothing like what’s become popular in the modern era.

    Hell, I doubt most modern anime fans were alive when these styles were popular.

    • The Gee

      How often do you see anything close to anime on primetime network television on a network which doesn’t have any primtime animated shows?

      I’d guess not often. So, it probably won’t matter much how it looks, how it moves or what identifiable era it can be traced to for most people who watch that show.

      I’m just guessing though.

      I’ve never seen the sitcom but from what I’ve read, it often wears it geek colors proudly.

    • JMD

      I grew up on the shows listed above and enjoyed their resurgence when I was a teen and Toonami aired them. I don’t really mind if it’s not authentic, I just like that they’re doing it. It’s reminiscent enough and looks pleasing. Anime over here’s been dying for too long, I’d like to start seeing a come back. It was nice when anime was mainstream for a while, like when they aired the anime-style T Mobile Sidekick commercials, it was fun when people liked what I like.

    • Chris Sobieniak

      I was. :-P

    • Funkybat

      Unless you are a big Anime fan, or a hard-core animation scholar who knows in-depth about the history of different genres, this is pretty much what Anime is to every other American. Also, for those of us who are only casually aware of most Japanese animation, we have no idea what decade many of the popular shows originated in, let alone the visual styles. It’s only because I’m an artist and animator that I can even distinguish variations in style between different Anime, to a lot of people I’m pretty sure it “all looks the same” from Astroboy to Speed Racer to Spirited Away.

      This bit on Community was meant to be understandable to a relatively wide audience of American TV viewers. I’m sure a few people who saw it didn’t even get the joke of why they “turned into cartoons” for a couple of minutes. For most people, the parody just “worked” despite any niggling details that surely leapt out to Otaku.

      • Chris Sobieniak

        I would say the best decade would be the 80’s myself.

  • Van

    I’m a big time Robotech/Voltron fan and these designs aren’t even close the style for that era. Looks more Yugi-Oh-ish in my opinion. Oh well, at least the comedy is good.

  • This is the only network show I watch… for a reason.

    Can’t. Wait.

  • sgt

    Typical. Butthurt, pedantic anime fans bitching about things that don’t matter. Just another reason not to take these basement-dwelling nerd virgins seriously.

  • Michel Van

    This is the style of 80’s anime ?

    A parodies the style of 80’s anime ?

    sorry, but the Futurama anime parodies is much better…

  • Mike

    Sad..I’m a big fan of Titmouse’s work on shows like Superjail! and other, smaller projects, and expect a lot from what they put out. I haven’t seen this segment yet, but those character designs are so painful I can hardly look at them. I’ve seen only the occasional example of 80’s anime, but I’m with the others who say they didn’t quite nail it.

  • I can’t pass judgment on this until Community airs, but the problem with a lot of Japanimation parodies is that you touch on a few exported-to-America millstones, boom, that’s it.

    Saturday Night Live‘s “TV Funhouse” segments are a case in point – the George Clooney/Speed Racer parody isn’t that good, since it’s not much more than “haha, Speed Racer mixed with a topical reference.” “Kobayashi” works better, since there are quite a few obvious and hidden Dragonball Z references, and the general idea – man eats lots of hot dogs to save the world – is funnier.

    Parodies are usually better when they’re more specific, even if the thing being parodied is obscure. I’m not sure how broad this Japanimation-style segment is, but I’m curious enough to watch Community for the first time, so mission…accomplished, I guess?

  • JMD

    You know, I don’t think it’s that it doesn’t look like 80’s anime, it’s that it doesn’t look ‘old’. If you faded it and added film grain the face shapes and hair styles would look about right (simple and without detail, not quite as sharp and edgy). The eyes are a bit too ‘bright’, but I can forgive that.

  • Corey Howard

    The cat looks to me like Korin from Dragonball Z. :D

  • An Anime Fan

    This doesn’t look like an 80’s anime style. What it DOES look like is an American anime fan’s attempt at an 80’s anime style. I’ve seen a number of 80’s anime (Macross, Galaxy Express 999, Gall Force, etc.), and anyone else who grew up with 80’s anime would tell you that this isn’t a very good imitation.

    At least you can sort of tell they were going for Master Karin (from Dragon Ball) with the cat.

  • D.B.

    I thought the segment came out great

  • D.B.

    I thought the entire episode was great, and this segment was definitely a highlight. I loved it. I’m also a huge fan of Titmouse and knowing that they were involved makes it all the more awesome.

  • Ed (Jack Norris)

    Ah, purists: always working relentlessly to make the world a more tiresome place.

  • Why is there absolutely no literacy of anime designs on this site? Both the editorship and the readership regularly pick and poke over western designs, but can’t find anything even close to an accurate identification of Japanese artists. Anime has a much stronger culture of character designer awareness than we do, and the aesthetics of individual shows is tied directly to individual manga artists. It’s a whole massive, fertile culture of decades of creator driven content and you all just mix it up in you heads as ‘anime style’ It’s very very sad.
    Shingo Araki died yesterday. You people need to sort it out before a half century of diverse animation culture passes you by!

    Case in point, this does NOT look like 80s anime. ‘Bubblegum Crisis style designs’ would be the work of Kenichi Sonoda, an important and influential figure who – surprisingly for a human being! – his work is very specific and identifiable. And I just don’t see the 80s here at all. Early 90s all the way.

    In fact, this does not look like anime. It makes the very common, amateurish but uniquely western copyists mistake of positioning both eyes inwards on the face towards the nose, Garfield style. The nearest eye should be positioned back to follow the form of a human head. Schoolboy error.

    What this looks like specifically, and was clearly conceived as, is a knock off of Boondocks – a western/Korean style – and the above article should be labeled as or mention such.

    Sorry if my pissy internationalism was too tiresome for some of you.

    • Chris Sobieniak

      No, keep going on, people need to know!

    • Funkybat

      I completely believe you when you talk about there being a rich diversity of visual styles and character design when looking at the entire history of Anime. It’s just that, to my 20th-Century-American-suburbuia-raised brain and eyes, a lot of the differences just aren’t evident.

      What the hard-core Anime folks need to understand is that until the late 1980s, Japanese animation was either not on anyone’s radar here, save for a few geeky “Japanimation” fans trading 5th-generation VHS copies in their lockers and rec rooms. What little animation there was on American TV that was clearly Japanese in origin was derided by most people as cheap junk with little aesthetic value. People raised on Walt Disney and Looney Tunes expected cartoons to look a certain way, and Anime was born and bred in a different culture.

      Anime had a big surge here in the 90s and early 2000s, but for most people, including animation fans, who grew up in the 60s, 70s, or 80s, Anime was either fringe or not even in the picture. We don’t know all of these subtleties because we didn’t grow up with it. It’s like expecting Korean audiences to be familiar with 1980s British cartoons, and to be able to tell Cosgrove-Hall productions apart from, say, SuperTed or Bananaman.

      I do agree with you that Western-born artists almost always fail to get that “certain something” that even we naive Americans pick up on that distinguishes cartoons actually made in Asia from American knock-offs or homages. I agree this one is reminiscent of the Boondocks, but that’s not a terrible thing. I consider the Boondocks it’s own kind of visual style. I actually wish the show had hewn more closely to Aaron’s art style in the newspaper strips, which was Anime-influenced but more distinctive to me than the animated designs.

      As for Americans appreciating Anime and being able to appreciate the subtleties you talk about, I think that will change over time. For now, expecting us old farts who grew up watching American cartoons from the 30s-80s is like expecting your average middle-aged American to care about pro soccer as much as they do football or baseball.

      • Chris Sobieniak

        Much of what you say Funkybat is quite true in trying to understand this as a whole. The reason why some of us got into anime in the first place was that it was something ‘different’ and we wanted to understand it as well.

        “It’s like expecting Korean audiences to be familiar with 1980s British cartoons, and to be able to tell Cosgrove-Hall productions apart from, say, SuperTed or Bananaman.”

        You’d be surprised how many Americans wouldn’t know either! :-P

      • But on the other hand, we are most of us professional artists here, and we anime advocates only ever figured these things out with our own two eyes. Anime should be no newer to any of us by now, more familiar in fact, than American cg animation, in terms of having time to develop a literacy.
        I can’t accept age or conservatism as the excuse from a practicing artist. It’s precisely that conservatism I’m calling out in the first place.

      • Ed (Jack Norris)

        You sure do love to flatter yourself, Tony.
        Really have to say that it was flat-out dirty and dishonest to change my “purism” to “internationalism,” in your earlier response, just as it is to accuse everyone who doesn’t treat this trivial inaccuracy in a comedy bit as a great Crime Against Art of “conservatism.”
        It must be quite the rush to walk around on a daily basis with such a degree of pomposity and self-importance keeping your ego in a permanent state of tumescence.

  • Jenos

    While the animation was pretty stiff, the heart was in the right place.

  • just saw it on-demand!

  • It served its intended purpose: a short anime parody. Cool it, guys. It was good. And this is coming from a guy who likes anime.

  • Guys, it’s just a funny segment on Community. You’re devoting too much time to the implications of anime’s slow death over this.

  • Well american animation is coming back to 2D and seems to be stepping it up recently. As american animation doesn’t limit it self as much as japanese anime we can start to see a lot of american animations adapting the anime style which originally was based off of Disney’s style. So america is going back to a more hipper style of of what they used to have which japan hipped it up.