Background art is the most gorgeous thing about Anime

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The most fascinating thing about anime and manga has always been the background drawings. Especially when watching an anime in high definition these can look super stunning. just can’t believe that these settings were actually drawn. After reading Bakuman we all know that mangaka like to get their inspiration from real places head out with their cameras or start collecting books with usable pictures from all around the globe. But the characters usually get all the rightful attention and that’s why I want to talk a little bit about one of the major companies which is specialized in doing gorgeous background art. Meet the Japanese art studio 草薙 (Kusanagi).

I didn’t like Welcome to the space show that much. Sure, the ideas were great and the whole design of the world was fantastic but the story was lacking a bit. No surprise when the main goal is creating a colorful universe the characters itself have to step back. Nevertheless the backgrounds were gorgeous and justify the purchase of the Blu-ray alone.  Kusanagi was behind this one and did a marvelous job. The company is more than often releasing books with their artworks and did so for Welcome to the space show as well. In two books most backgrounds of the movie are shown. Without the hectic storyline you can just sit back with a cold Gin tonic and really appreciate the effort that has been put into these drawings. So many details and quirky ideas. Chapeau.

welcome to the space show

Welcome to the space show

If you love Ghibli you love the work of art director Nizo Yamamoto

Everybody just has to love the study Ghibli movies. I haven’t watched them as a child but unlike with Disney this doesn’t matter. You don’t need to have fond childhood memories to appreciate the soul and art of studio Ghibli. Unfortunately I missed the latest one when it hit my local theaters. Shame on me. To make up for it I gathered some gorgeous background by Ghibli in house artist Nizo Yamamoto. The artist (and he truly is one) has worked as an background illustrator on some of Ghibli’s most noteworthy films. Laputa, Grave of the Fireflies and Princess Mononoke, just to name a few.

He even contributed the background art to one of my favorite Animes The girl who leapt through time by director Mamoru Hosada. A man who just doesn’t do bad films. Summer Wars belongs to his oevre as well and is among Ame and Yuki easily one of my favorite Animes. Hosada just got the basic premise of making movies: Concentrate on the chatacers. That’s the main point why most movies fail because they are focusing too much on the story and neglect the characters.

Especially with Anime the directors are drawn towards big events and constant movement.

the girl who leapt through time
The girl who leapt through time

There has has been a supposedly nice exhibition in Tokyo about Nizo Yamamoto which unfortunately ended on September the 23rd. But to make up for it the artist often shares great pictures on his twitter account. You should really follow him for recent updates on his work. He even shares some sketches and stuff he is working on from time to time.

Non non byouri brings you true 田舎 (いなか) feeling

After finishing Persona 4 the golden on my Vita I’m really into the Japanese countryside setting. The calm has a really meditative quality and ever since playing Persona 4, I love to watch Anime with a countryside setting to relax after an exhausting day. The background art is made by Kusanagi as well and got a nice nice art-book release with all the backgrounds drawings. I don’t own it myself but found a wonderful blog which great pictures of several art books. Make sure to check it out. Went straight to my feed reader.

non non byouri background


Of course we are interested in the whole process of creating backgrounds for anime an manga. I managed to find a great video explaining the whole work-flow involved. Studio 4C  (probably best known in the West for producing Animatrix) demonstrates the process involved with drawing background art in this little video.

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  • I would totally buy like a wall size print of these. I’m sure it would cost a million dollars, but still. One of my favorites is when kiki is flying over the city she eventually settles into.

    • That sounds like a great idea. Would totally buy some oversized prints for my flat. If you have the extra space for it, I’m sure it would look stunning on the wall. Maybe that’s a business idea you should pursue :) You already got one customer :)

  • Ich kann in diesem Beitrag in so gut wie allen Punkten dir nur zustimmen!
    Die Liebe und das Detail für die Hintergründe sind meistens faszinierend, weil man eigentlich immer etwas findet, egal wie oft man sich einige Animes anguckt, in denen auch viel Wert auf den Hintergrund gelegt wird. Gutes Beispiel Filme von Ghibli und auch von Madhouse. (s.o.)
    Letztens hatte ich den Kinofilm von K-On! (Kyoto Animation) bekommen und in der Zusatz-DVD haben sie auch gezeigt, wie sie Referenzen gesammelt haben, um den Film so detailgetreu wie möglich wiederzugeben, zumindest bzgl. der Umgebung (in dem Fall, sollte der Film auch in London spielen, weshalb die verantwortlichen Produzenten, Animateure etc. auch dort waren). An sich war das mal eine Interessante Sache, mal einen Teil des Entstehungsverlaufes aus deren Perspektive zu sehen. :)

  • [M]uhammed

    I don’t know about drawing that match. but i think that Background Artists got my full respect as Artists. hell if i go to japan i would definitely go to one of their Exhibition.