At the suggestion of a friend, I decided to marathon Burst Angel in the span of a day while getting some work done. Burst Angel was created in 2004 by Gonzo and licensed in America by FUNimation (I told you I would get to a FUNimation title).
The story is very similar to Bubblegum Crisis Tokyo 2040 (BCT 2040). We follow around a group of girls that are fighting against mutated people/creatures that are wreaking havoc in Tokyo. Each character set has the a few archetypes of characters. The strong silent/ rebellious leader, the loud quirky girl, the young genius (in BCT 2040 its a young male), and a serious but yet sometimes fun leader or business head.
I really had no knowledge of the series going into it, it had been a while since I had seen a trailer for it and I have never really looked into the title to see what it was about. Having said that, there was an early episode that really had kinda set up some high hopes of a direction the series would go. However, the story never progresses down that path. After a few episodes of introducing characters in the first few episodes, I thought this storyline was going to be the main plot for the remainder of the series. It only turned out to be a one off kinda episode that never touches the topic.
All was not lost, from a production standpoint, Gonzo creates some of the best CGI in all of anime. I really got familiar with their work when I was preparing my SGMS presentation last year. However my presentation covered only 3 time periods of CGI in anime, it’s inception, the titles when it started to become more mainstream and where it was at today. If I had a longer period of time to present, one of the areas I wanted to go into was the mid 2000’s. Some titles that were the first to use CGi were in the late 1990’s and Gonzo was one of the studios that was at the forefront of the movement.
So to see a title from 2004 which is the time I wanted to study more as there was a flurry of new techniques and such coming out. Burst Angel had some really nice animated robot sequences in the later episodes. A couple years prior to this title there were studios that when animating robots, would animate them very robot like and not too responsive, they look very rigid and unnatural. Burst Angel has scenes where robots are slinging around large weapons and you can get a sense of the weight of the weaponry from the way the robot is wielding it. The robot will swing the weapon into position and they go past where they need it and bring it back just a little. It is one of the animation principles, but you didn’t see these applied to CGi robots before in anime.
The downfall of the series a little bit is the lack of compositing in those final episodes. By compositing I mean that there are effects that look like they are just dropped onto the animation and don’t blend into the environment to make it fit in. Explosions are placed over the top of the animation and sometimes you can see that things around them aren’t effected by the burst of light and fire. In one shot in particular you can see the building underneath an explosion has no breaking windows or even damage.
I may be coming off as really harsh, but I’m not. At the time this was released it probably was pretty solid to other anime titles being produced at the time. A lot of titles in that time were experimenting with CGI and how they could use it. I have a fascination with this time period because in a way it relates to what I am working on as well.
All series have budgets and restrictions, in my Cosmic Rage project, I have the limitation of doing the whole project with my laptop. I dig into these titles because it is very intriguing to see how other animators cut corners to save on budgets and how they have to keep budgets in mind. It is fun to dissect how they did things to get a certain look as well. And to be honest some of these things they can get away with because the audience doesn’t know what they are looking for in some cases.
I enjoyed Burst Angel, I thought it was an entertaining 24 episode series that really allowed me to see more of what Gonzo was doing in the mid 2000’s. It is a time period that I would enjoy to see more titles from since it was such a time for experimental techniques and balancing looks with a computers render power as well.