Studios often release cursory behind-the-scenes material to tie in with their releases. Few go as far as P.A. Works. Over a year after the release of its high-fantasy epic Maquia: When the Promised Flower Blooms, the Japanese animation company has posted in-depth breakdowns of cuts from the film on Youtube. The result is a goldmine for anyone who works in animation or takes an interest in how it’s made.

The videos are narrated by Toshiyuki Inoue, who is credited as the “main animator” on the feature. While his commentary is in Japanese, the clips contain a wealth of visual information that will make sense to anyone halfway familiar with the animation production process. Finished scenes are contrasted with storyboards, pencil tests, and exposure sheets, as Inoue explains the creative decisions his team made along the way.

Inoue is one of Japan’s top 2d animators: his credits include Akira, Ghost in the Shell, and Paprika. His art for Maquia has been compiled in a series of books, which this making-of material is intended to promote. The videos can be viewed on P.A. Works’s Youtube channel — look out for those whose titles begin with the same string of characters as the one embedded above. Anime News Network has an interesting report on Inoue’s contributions to the film.

Maquia was released in Japan in February 2018, and in North America five months later. It was well-reviewed and submitted to the Oscars, but failed to pick up a nomination. It’s notable for being directed by a woman — still a rarity in the world of anime. Mari Okada made her name as a screenwriter before moving to the director’s chair. Last year, she spoke to Cartoon Brew about her career.

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