Eizouken is making waves this season, so it’s time to set our sights on this small studio backed by a big name.
Keep Your Hands off Eizouken! gives insight into the animation business as seen from the animators’ points of view, so it’s perfect for something like this, I think.
Science Saru started on the 4th of February 2013, so the studio is only about 7 years old as of this post. It’s called Science Saru (saru meaning “monkey” in Japanese) because they wanted to be fresh and innovative. To give the proper explanation as paraphrased from Yuasa’s collaborator Eunyoung Choi, the “science” is the logic and brains of the operation, while the saru represents the “monkeying around” and creativity of the operation (AniTrends 2019) – a dichotomy you see in Eizouken itself between Kanamori and Asakusa/Mizusaki.
To go back to their origins again, they started out animating the Food Chain segment in Adventure Time, but quickly hauled their butts back to what they do best (anime, of course) (Amidi 2015). They’re notable in their usage of Flash, rather than 3D CGI. For those unfamiliar with (Adobe) Flash, it’s a somewhat deprecated technology – at least, in the context of Chrome, which would prefer you not use it because its applications hold potential cyber-nasties (Google Chrome n.d.). It was huge for pushing web animation before the vulnerabilities were discovered. Kanamori sent her “video research” buddies to the PC room to show them the finished work on Hold That Machete Tight!, after all, so PC rendering of the hand-drawn animation is clearly a big part of the process these days.
Sidebar: Eizouken’s logo, first seen in episode 2 when Asakusa tries to affix it to the roof of the club building, has “feet” much like the Science Saru logo. The discussion of how to animate those “feet” means the similarity is probably not a coincidence…
Science Saru’s two biggest hits of the past few years are Devilman Crybaby – which I have no access to, but I already know from the hearsay it’s quite the trip – and Eizouken, which I’ve been referring to throughout this post…so you know I’ve watched it. I never got into the “Yuasa aesthetic” (as it can be called) until I got to Eizouken, with my experience prior to that mainly coming from the first episode of Ping Pong…which I admit looks kinda weird but has real dynamism to it. That same dynamism can be found in all samples of Yuasa’s work and Science Saru’s in general, including that one meme of Akira (from the aforementioned Devilman Crybaby) running, which is why I think people lap it up so readily. The looseness of the animation, particularly in Eizouken, brings to mind Mob Psycho 100, which isn’t by them but utilises similar animation techniques.
Sidebar 2: If you go through the resources I’ve linked throughout this post, you’ll find videos of the anime-making process. It shows that Eizouken is pretty accurate…even if it does wander off into fantasy land to make you question if that is the case.
So what’s your favourite Science Saru work? As I’ve explained, I probably haven’t seen what you might be talking about, but a good anime does wonders for opening people up to new experiences…
- Amidi, A 2015. How Masaaki Yuasa Used Flash to Create His ‘Adventure Time’ Episode. Available at: https://www.cartoonbrew.com/flash/how-masaaki-yuasa-used-flash-to-create-his-adventure-time-episode-107691.html
- AniTrendz 2019. INTERVIEW: Science Saru Co-founder Eunyoung Choi & “Eizouken!”. Available at: https://anitrendz.net/news/2019/12/10/interview-science-saru-co-founder-eunyoung-choi-eizouken/
- Google Chrome n.d. Use or fix Flash audio & video. Available at: https://support.google.com/chrome/answer/6258784?co=GENIE.Platform%3DDesktop&hl=en
- Sakuga Blog 2017. Anime Craft Weekly #34: Masaaki Yuasa and Science Saru Flash Back. Available at: https://blog.sakugabooru.com/2017/03/17/anime-craft-weekly-34-masaaki-yuasa-and-science-saru-flash-back/