Beastars season 2 sets the bar for 3D CG anime once again

Beastars, and the murder mystery-mafia-romance-thriller, is back. The second season of the critically acclaimed anime series, produced by Japanese animation studio Orange and based on the popular manga series of the same name by Paru Itagaki, premiered on Netflix in North America this past weekend. ended on Japanese television this past March.

With the return of director Shinichi Matsumi (Steam boy, Land of the Lustrous), Beastars season 2 delve into the relationships and arcs of its main cast, with protagonist Legoshi – fueled by his complicated feelings for his herbivore classmate Haru – plunging himself into a quest to hunt down the culprit behind Stem the Alpaca’s murder. Meanwhile, the deer Louis, Legoshi’s rival for Haru’s affections, drops out of Cherryton Academy to pursue a dark and tortuous journey of self-discovery as Shishigumi’s new boss, Cannibal crime clan that Louis’ former leader killed at the end of the first season.

Arguably, aside from the anime’s compelling characters and Byzantine storylines, the strongest element of Beastars The attraction is its animation. The quality of the entire 3D CG animated anime can be quite impressive or missed; For everyone Land of the Lustrous or Dorohedoro, only one Ghost in the Shell: SAC_2045 or Old arm. Orange, however, broke the formula on how to create a compelling 3D CG anime with the aesthetic flair and ingenuity of traditional 2D animation.

Split Legoshi's frame with his anthropomorphized animal classmates in Beastars Season 2.

Image: Orange

Beastars presents a modern civilization populated by anthropomorphized animals à la Zootopia or BNA: Brand New Animal, with society informally divided between carnivores and herbivores. Most Beastars takes place at Cherryton Academy, one of the few boarding schools in the world Beastars where herbivores and carnivores live side by side.

Naturally, with these many characters and species on screen, the question is how to animate all these different variables in a way that looks natural and interesting without causing weird movements or machine. Orange navigates this challenge through a combination of several techniques; The first of these is to design each character to have roughly the same proportions, if not size, as the protagonist Legoshi. There’s a practical effect to choice: similar designs take away the amount of work that would otherwise go into creating new animations for the entire supporting cast. Orange also uses motion capture technology to capture the facial expressions and physical representations of the series’ voice actors, allowing staff to create natural and nuanced character animations. than.

Louis, a deer in a lilac suit made by Shishigumi with outstretched hands in Beastars Season 2

Image: Orange

But above all, the beauty of CG stems from the choice of frequently rotating frame rates between selected scenes and sequences throughout the show depending on what’s going on. This allows the program to mimic the nuances and feel of 2D animation in certain scenes, such as when characters are talking and moving in the background, while emphasizing smoothness and fluidity. flow of 3D animation in other scenes, especially in panning or fast-moving sequences – motion sequences in which characters are physically fighting.

In select moments, Orange will also alternate two-dimensional renderings of characters and frames in selected moments of the series. It’s especially notable when used to describe characters that don’t often repeat themselves in just one or two moments of the season, like the squirrel, the elk, and the dog in business attire, who ate during a board meeting to decide on the new Beastar, or the exchange screen between the members of said board meeting at the beginning of the second episode.

Split frame swap between multiple anthropomorphized animal characters, rendered in both 2D and 3D animation

Image: Orange

These scenes not only exist for the practical purpose of reducing the time and labor required to animate these characters in 3D just so the audience never sees them again, but also to depict reactions and emotions that would look odd or weird if rendered in 3D . We’ll see it again in the climax of this season’s final episode, in which Legoshi comes face to face with Stamp’s killer. Without going too far into trophy territory, Legoshi stood stooped with his body hairs bristling with intensity, his snout bleeding as he charged forward for another clash with his opponent. It’s a dramatic and memorable shot, made all the more so by the fact that it fits perfectly into the show’s distinct shaded aesthetic while not trying to hide the fact that it’s traditionally drawn. system.

Ironically, many 3D CG anime productions are overly dependent on 3D CG with little regard for the principles of traditional animation, such as pacing, composition, and cinematography. Even with motion capture, the characters will move like stiff mannequins with soft, smooth faces, simulating copies of human expressions while moving on background where no sense of impact or interaction can be felt. The briefly executed lighting animation also contributes to this weird feeling when watching certain 3D anime, such as in the case of Ghost in the Shell: SAC_2045, with shadows moving erratically or disappearing altogether.

The dwarf rabbit Haru hugs the gray wolf-face Legoshi in Beastars Season 2.

Image: Orange

In addition to the technical aspects of series production, the power of Beastars’ animation is its emphasis on effective blocking, pacing, and cinematography. The stylized detail of the silhouettes and the characters’ normal expressions are impressive, with the detailed animation of Legoshi’s hair and angry wagging tail being particularly notable. All thanks to Matsumi’s skillful direction, combined with Nao Ootsu’s impeccable character design, raised the bar. Beastars higher than its CG-animated contemporaries.

Although there may not be any scenes comparable to the scenes of the first season start animation stop irregular motion courtesy of Michiya Kato and produced by Dwarf Studio of Rilakkuma and Kaoru fame, nor that of Yoko Kuno beautiful painted animation series in the seventh episode of the previous season, the second season of Beastars nonetheless a great demonstration of how CG animated anime can be made and most importantly well done. | Beastars season 2 sets the bar for 3D CG anime once again


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