"Reviews and Information on Japanese Animation Software"
ISSUE 18 3/12/1993
~ Special Mail Order Services Review No. 3 ~
This is the 18th in a series of files of comments and reviews of anime
(Japanese animation) items that we have bought. Please direct all comment
to us by E-mail or post us a message in the Forum. We also welcome any
reviews, artwork, or comments you would like to have included in the next
ANIME STUFF issue. Also please send us any comments about any incorrect
information contained here. A correction will be placed in the next
The ANIME STUFF Staff...
- Tom Mitchell : Publisher, Graphics, CompuServe & GEnie Distributor
CompuServe Address : 75156,1067
GEnie Address : TOM-M
- Masaki Takai : Writer & BBS System Distributor
CompuServe Address : 75106,3257
- Albert Wong : Writer, Index Research
CompuServe Address: 72657,2103
Internet Address: Albertw@chips.com,
Prodigy Address: WJTM10B
- Rick Sternbach : Anime Modeler, Writer
CompuServe Address : 74616,526
- Marijan Adam : INTERNET Distributor
INTERNET Address : >INTERNET:email@example.com
GEnie Address : M.ADAM1
Contributing Authors for this Issue:
- Curtis H. Hoffmann
Appearing in this issue courtesy of Hitoshi Doi.
Internet Address: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Edmund Yee
CompuServe Address : 76420,3707
/////////////////////////////OTAKU NO ORICLE\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\
A MAIL ORDER UPDATE FOR YOU...
Welcome to our third mailorder special issue. In this issue we take look at and
evaluate the Anime Stuff staff's favorite sources for mailorder anime goods. If
you're just getting into anime, this issue will be very valuable to you.
This is the 3rd update on the descriptions of our favorite sources. The last time
we did this was in the 7/6/1990 issue of Anime Stuff. Issue 13. Quite a while
ago! I was quite surprised at how many folks were still depending on that issue
for mailorder information, so I felt that we were long overdue for an update.
Many things have changed on the anime scene since the last time out. Some sources
have dried up, and new ones have replaced them. And some old favorites have
remained the same.
These are honest and frank evaluations of anime sources that the Anime Stuff
staff have actually dealt with. You can count on Anime Stuff to give you the
straight scoop on these places. After all, we've investigated with our own
- Tom Mitchell
PS: I should also add that for any of the businesses that we no longer recommend,
or are out of business, this is the last time they will be listed in Anime Stuff.
I decided to reprint the full text of previous reviews on them only because I
thought it might provide some valuable lessons one how even the best sources can
PPS: Please take note that we have a new staff member! Marijan Adam will be
joining us as our distributor on Internet, taking over duties from Barry Brown.
Barry is retiring from the job, and has chosen Marijan as his successor on the
system. Thank you for the years of excellent service Barry! And a hearty welcome
/////////////////////////////GIF GRAPHICS NOTE\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\
AS18COVR.GIF - 523 X 681 x 256 Colors
A colorful update of our Mail Order Special cover from issue 13.
A painting of Nanmo and Mughi, from Dirty Pair, waiting on their mail.
Painting by Tom Mitchell.
////////////////////////////MAIL ORDER REVIEWS\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\
SIGHT & SOUND
1275 MAIN STREET
WALTHAM, MA 02154
An excellent source for anime laserdiscs. This is actually the place I
bought my first anime disc from in 1985 when they were known as THE
INSTANT REPLAY and under different management. Since then, they were
acquired a couple of years ago by WOK TALK INC. and have gotten even much
Masaki Takai and I were the first two folks to turn them on to importing
anime for us. Since then, we seem to have created a monster since they
have become the East coast source for imported anime video. Their service
has always been excellent, although their delivery of discs from Japan
can be slow at times. Recently this seems to have gotten worse. But they
are always able to get what you want eventually. Sight & Sound has also
started carrying a TON of in-stock anime laserdiscs and BGM CDs. I envy
those of you who can check out their retail store. I hear it's quite
Also, their staff may not know a lot about anime...they call Cream Lemon
"Cream and Lemon" in their catalog...and sometimes pronounce "anime" as
"aneem", but they are learning. If you order new discs from them, be sure
and provide catalog numbers for the discs if they are titles that Sight
& Sound doesn't know about yet. It will help them search for it.
In short, Sight & Sound's relatively long track record in anime have
made them one of the better and more stable anime sources for the past few
years. Orders may be slow, but their excellent service and store front
business give them a lot of credibility.
The past year has seen a few changes for Sight & Sound in terms of their import
business. During 1992, the speed at which items ordered from Japan showed up
slowed down to a snail's pace. So much so, that most of the Anime Stuff staff and
several other anime customers began to look for other sources. It was looking
like they might even be getting out of the import business, because in their
monthly catalog they stated that they would no longer be keeping anime and most
other import categories in stock. This started rumors that they were getting out
of the import LD business, something they had specialized and been known for for
years. It was looking like the fears that Masaki Takai and I had expressed were
finally coming true! The bloated inventory of odd anime titles was dragging them
Were we loosing this great anime source? I contacted Sight & Sound to find out
and they assured me that they were not getting out of the import business, and
that all current and future ordered would be accepted. This came as a great
relief, but still their performance left something to be desired. Most of the
anime stuff staff has stopped ordering from them. I've been ordering laserdiscs
from them for almost 10 years, and I've decided to stick with them and see if
things change. They have a little bit, in that the speed of the imports have
picked up a bit. But I'm still testing the waters. This situation will certainly
bear watching, and I will report more if there are any significant changes.
MIKADO LASER (J.C. Trading, Inc.)
JAPANESE CULTURAL & TRADE CENTER
1737 POST STREET
SAN FRANCISCO, CA 94115
A recent discovery for anime fans, Mikado Laser is turning out to be a fast
and reliable source of anime video and audio media. Located in the San
Francisco Japan Trade Center, Mikado imports anime video laserdiscs and
compact discs. They also can order most other import laserdisc, so J-pop fans
can get their concert videos, music videos and such. By shipping by air mail
instead of the slow normal route, Mikado manages to get some videos within a week
of the release date in Japan. Mikado also gets in new shipments weekly instead
of the monthly shipments of the other anime importers. In case you need some
video hardware to play your new software, Mikado is also a authorized Mitsubishi
dealers and carries Mitsubishi's line of VCRs and televisions.
In addition to laser media, Mikado is starting to import anime related CDs.
Although, they do not have a large collection of CDs, they are constantly
getting more. best bet is to special order the CDs you want. The deliveries on
CD are almost as quick as the LDs. ^_^
If you visit their store, they will take most forms of credit cards like Visa,
Mastercard. A wierd twist to their mailorder business is that they will not
accept credit card orders by phone. When ordering via phone, Mikado will give
you a reference number and put the item(s) on hold for you. Write the reference
number on your check and they will ship out the order when they recieve the
check. Mikado will hold orders in a safe place, so you don't have to worry about
the locals scarfing up the latest videos. ^_^
Mikado is a fast, reliable source of anime related media. Give 'em a call. I am
not an employee of Mikado, just a satisfied customer...
- Albert Wong
615 North 6th. St.
SAN JOSE, CALIFORNIA 95112
Nikaku Animart is by far the best anime mail order retailer that I know of. In
fact I don't recall any of the Anime Stuff staff saying that they have ever had
an problems with Nikaku. The service is friendly and delivery of mailed goods is
surprisingly fast. Items mailed are packed so carefully that I think guerillas
could deliver it with out any harm. They also issue a lot of anime catalog
updates in their simple type-written catalog flyer. And for the type of goods
that they carry, they feature the best prices of any place I know of.
Nikaku Animart carries a wide variety of anime goods. And in fact, is
the only reliable mail order source for some types of goods that we have
found so far. While our other sources specialize in anime laser video
discs and compact discs, Nikaku carries such things as anime books,
magazines, LOTS of compact discs, posters, and other odd bits such as
anime notebooks, pencils, idol cards, stickers, etc. They have also
started to dabble in some in-stock laserdiscs...which I don't think they
really need to do since we have so many good sources specializing in just
LD's. Nikaku should keep specializing in the items that other sources
Also, Nikaku has a retail store that you can visit. This has proved to
be a definite plus as far as long term stability goes as a business in
anime mail order. All things considered, you can't do much better than
Nikaku for excellent service.
Just about all of the above still holds true. I suppose Nikaku is doing well with
their laserdiscs inventory since the selection of titles, particularly current
ones, has expanded. Although, they still really don't feature any facilities for
special orders. The quality of their printed catalog has improved quite a bit. It
now features some nicely designed laser printed output in the same size format at
the old catalogs. This has really helped with the pictures of merchandise such as
posters. It certainly helps us shoppers. Nikaku is still the only mail order
source for goods that are not CDs, or LDs. And they are still highly recommended
as the best in the anime mailorder business as far as the Anime Stuff staff is
1739 NORIEGA STREET
SAN FRANCISCO, CA 94122
I like to think of Laser Perceptions as the West Coast version of Sight
& Sound. Again, the specialty here is imported anime LDs. Personally, I
have less experience with Laser Perceptions than some of our other staff
members, as I have always used some of our other sources for discs.
Although, I have bought a couple discs from them and found their service
to be very similar to Sight & Sound's. Laser Perceptions is also another
retail store, so you can visit them and take advantage of their large
in-stock anime disc selection. Perhaps Laser Perseptions' biggest
advantage over Sight & Sound is that they tend to deliver special
ordered discs faster.
Laser Perceptions seems to have acquired a dubious reputation among the Anime
Stuff staff, and other users of the service. The problem seems to be exaggerated
arrival times for videos ordered, some odd shipping practices, and taking just
arrived discs that should go out too backordered customers, and selling them to
walk-in traffic at their retail store. They also publish catalog listings in
their ads that show almost every laserdisc published, as if to say they have them
in-stock. They don't, and nowhere do they indicated that you would have to
special order these items. (A few of the items listed aren't even published
anymore!) If it says anything, none of the Anime Stuff staff has special ordered
anything from this store in a long time.
P.O. BOX 1235
RANCHO CUCAMONGA, CALIFORNIA 91729-1235
PHONE : 1-714-941-9750
Before I get to my comments on ANIMAGIK, staff member Albert Wong also
wrote a review of their services. And he did it in the plus & minus style
that I used in Anime Stuff Issue 4...
Animagik started out in 1988. Mostly dealing with selling comic books and games.
It wasn't until July of 1989 that Animagik started dealing in
mail-order anime. Owned and operated by Patrick L. Minyard, who does
custom T-shirts, by the way, Animagik has the most complete selection of
items for the discrimating anime fan.
+ Animagik provides many shipping choices ranging from UPS Ground/US
Mail to UPS Next Day Air. COD's are also available.
+ Has a large selection of anime goods including Laser Discs, Compact
Discs, even VHS tapes. "Garage" kits and models are available. Even
really unusual items like stuffed Totoros and Jiji's can be found in
the Animagik inventory.
+ Free catalog listing current Laser discs, Compact discs and VHS
tapes that can be ordered.
+ Prices are occasional adjusted to reflect the dollar/yen ratio.
- Inventory is very limited. Usually, your order is processed and your order
is shipped from Japan. Turnaround time range from two weeks to months
depending on the scarcity of your order.
- Credit cards are not honored....yet. Only checks and money orders are
accepted. No quatloos or bright-shiny-beads, either.
Animagik can be reached by mail, phone, Compuserve and Internet computer
networks. Animagik can also be reached on the Animag BBS.
- Albert Wong
I would just like to add a few things to Albert's comments. Animagik is
one of the newer anime mail order sources on the scene. I have found the
service to be very close to what Nikaku Animart offers...fast delivery,
and personable service. The specialty here is mainly in CDs, LDs,
and...surprisingly...VHS video tapes. (In fact, it's the only source for
mail-order anime video tapes that any of us know of!) Animagik also
carries some other items such as animation cels, and model kits. I'd also
like to note that lately, Animagik seems to be the fastest source for
importing new anime video titles on LD. Another advantage that I like is
the fact that even though Animagik does not take credit cards, they will
only ask for payment when an item arrives. This is unusual and very
convenient for a smaller mail-order only business. This is a good idea
because that way if anything even happens to the business, customers
won't be stuck with lost funds. This will prevent any repeats of what
happened to many customers who shopped at another similar
business...Wyvern Web Graphics.
Since the last review, this source has gone out of business. Patrick cited
problems with his Japanese distributor, and felt that folks would just have to
wait too long for their goods. For what was basically a one man operation,
Patrick is to be commended on the fine job he did. And at least for us customers,
it was run in such a way that this did not become another Wyvern Web Graphics
situation. (Please refer to Anime Stuff issue 13 for a review of that mess.)
Ever wonder why Books Nippan, such a major name in US Anime Retailing is
no longer listed as a recommended retailer in Anime Stuff? In 1986, when I was
first getting into anime, Books Nippan was THE big source for anime
goods in mail order. It would seem that I became a customer in their last
good year. The mail-order business focused on the BOOKS NIPPAN ANIMATION
FAN CLUB, and this group originally provided excellent service, regular
catalogs, and great customer communications.
Well, with a change in management, headed by David Riddick, the club
became neglected as the new group pursued projects in music and video
publishing under the US Renditions label. Service and customer relations
declined and orders were neglected. I even had problems with their anime
magazine subscription service that took a year to resolve, only to find
that they took my check but never bothered to log the order. Meanwhile,
Books Nippan became more interested in cornering the market on Robotech
related items, got stuck with old and poorly selected inventory, and
have become famous for their tremendously inflated prices on in-stock
goods...raising prices as much as 100-300% over current Yen/Dollar
exchange rates. Folks looking at their booths at conventions often refer
to BN as "Crooks Nippan" now. A real shame. Being in marketing myself, I
always cringe when I see a good business go bad due to bad marketing,
customer relations, and simple mistakes. Books Nippan is a classic
example of a small company neglecting it's core business as it
over-extends itself pursuing new markets without having staff in place to
pay attention to the core business.
Pretty much the same situation. The mail order end of this business has shifted
to selling subbed and dubbed anime. Mostly due to the ties to US Renditions.
Personally, it's been so long since we put their mail order service to the test
that perhaps we should try again. The problem is, what do they have that's worth
getting that can't be had elsewhere at much better prices?
A new kid on the block that has already got a reputation for it's
vapor-catalog, even before the business is underway. General Products
is a major anime retailer in Japan famous for it's specialty in model kits.
The US business is off to a rocky start with potential customers by not
honoring catalog requests on its lavish catalog pictured in an ad in
Animag. Now the company is saying that catalogs will be shipped but be
cautious in ordering from it as most of the items will not be available.
Oh, goody! We will be watching this group closely.
Did this thing really ever get off the ground? Well, it's history now. The hard
times that hit the parent company in Japan over the past year didn't help at all.
By the way, we never did see that catalog. (^_^)
////////////////////////////BOOKS AND MAGAZINES\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\
ANIME U.K. MAGAZINE
I've seen some British anime fanzines before, some even some early ones edited by
Anime U.K.'s own Helen McCarthy, but this is the first serious British commercial
anime magazine & it shows. The magazine is in a larger format size 11.5" (29.75
cm) x 8.25" (21 cm) than a regular magazine (about the same size as the British
gaming magazine White Dwarf) with a full color cover & end page made from slick
heavy stock. Paper quality is good & from a heavy stock. The color exterior/b&w
interior graphics are clear & well reproduced. I'm impressed with the production
values going into the printing of this magazine.
The magazine itself is devoted to anime fandom in Britain, with articles &
reviews of series, characters, models etc and news of upcoming released from
Britain, the US & Japan (note: they say a lot of nice things about Animeigo,
calling them 'wonderful human beings'). What is probably the most valuable for
the British fan is "WHERE I CAN GET THIS STUFF?!!". Unlike the US & Canada where
we have relatively good access to comics shops that carry anime merchandise and
mail order services, it is more difficult for the British fan to get books,
magazines and videos since it is all imported (some of it from the US) and the
video standard is different (NTSC vs PAL).
The first issue has a color front cover with an original picture of Noa Izumi &
Alphonse from Patlabor by Wil Overton with a color back cover design of Mario M-
66 from Black Magic M-66 by Steve Kyte. Contents include: latest anime news
(Macross II release, Akira on the BBC, British convention Anime Day 0092: Con in
the Pocket, Animecon 2 (now AnimExpo)) and articles on Patlabor, Yamato models,
anime and how to get it in Britain (including names and addresses of stores &
publications in Britain and the US plus fan listings from all over the world),
BEM's (bug eyed monsters) in anime, anime roleplaying games, a review of Robot
Carnival, anime licensed candy (ie Gundam chocolates) and a recipe for Totoro
The second issue has an original color front cover of those lovely angels: Kei &
Yuri, with a back cover of an female pilot getting out of her mecha. Contents
include more anime news (Animecon 2 becomes AnimExpo, British conventions
conTanimeT & Anime Day 0092 - Con in the Pocket), future British PAL anime
releases (Fist of the Northstar, 3X3 Eyes, Project A-Ko, Crystal Triangle,
Wandering Kid by licensee Island World Communications and Bubblegum Crisis 1 by
Animeigo), plus articles on the Dirty Pair, Fist of the Northstar video review,
A-Z anime dictionary (starting with A), anime video games, Patlabor OAV & movie
synopsis, an overview of Bubblegum Crisis and a review of Night on the Galactic
Railroad. What seems to becoming a regular feature are the anime recipes, this
time it's a Super Deformed Fridge Cake.
The third issue has another original cover of Ako, Bko & Cko from Project Ako and
a back cover of Aura Battler Dunbine. Inside are anime news (British dubbed
Dominion and Project Ako release) and articles on Project Ako, Anime A-Z (B this
time), synopsis of BGC episodes, a look at Roujin Z, Shirow's Orion manga, roll
playing anime, artificial life and anime (ie bumas), Dominion (plus a review at
the English dub of Dominion Act I), Black Magic M-66 manga to anime. Also this
issue's anime recipe is Iczer Pasta. A bonus in this issues are paper dolls of
the Knight Sabres in their underwear and their accompanying hard suits for a
reader to cut out and dress the girls (Mackie would love this). Also included is
an order form for anime starved British fans to order merchandise (publications &
BGC! cels) from Anime UK directly.
Overall, I find the magazine to be well written with excellent original art, but
I do have some question marks. Some of the articles/reviews aren't credited
towards anyone (corrected in issue #3). Also, the issue #2 article on the Dirty
Pair seems to have taken some of its material from the Dirty Pair articles in
Animezine #2 & Animag #8, but wasn't credited. Nitpicking aside, I applaud the
Anime UK crew with doing a good job of putting together a professional looking
magazine. Anime fandom in Britain seems to be a few years behind North America
(light years behind Japan of course) but looks like it could be catching up
quickly. I recommend the magazine not only for British fans but also for anyone
who is interested in a slightly different perspective on anime.
- Edmund Yee
NEWTYPE'S VIDEO DATA SPECIAL ISSUE "MOVIE, TV, & ORIGINAL" ANIMATION SOFT CATALOG
1992 (Published by NewType Magazine/Kadokawashoten - Kadokawa Mook, 610 pages,
The serious anime fan in the U.S. lives and dies by catalog numbers. These
precious digits are the key to importing our favorite anime laserdiscs from
Japan. Without a catalog number, your favorite LD importer can't order what you
want. They won't understand what you're looking for. If you don't have a catalog
number for what you want to see, you're not going to see it. Horrors! Gasping
breath! Shakes! Catalog numbers are the life blood of the anime fan.
Anime fans swap these numbers in order to help fellow fans find what they are
looking for. There are catalogs for Japanese videos released in Japan. The
problem is THEY CAN ONLY BE FOUND IN JAPAN and are very hard to come by here.
Occasionally, some of the anime importers in the states will get in a handful,
and these bibles sell for prices that would make one think they were embossed
with gold. Up until now, members of the Anime Stuff staff have been lucky to
obtain copies of a quarterly publication called LaserDisc Review, which is an
illustrated guide to all the laserdiscs released in Japan, inluding anime
listings. This has served us well, but now there is a new book that has been
released by the publishers of Newtype magazine that's even a more valuable guide!
Known as the NEWTYPE ANIMATION SOFT CATALOG 1992, it is an impressive listing of
all the anime videos available at press time in Japan. I didn't just say
laserdiscs...I said VIDEOS. As in EVERYTHING including laserdiscs AND videotapes!
This is the first time that we encountered a catalog listing videotapes too!
This 600+ page reference guide lists all currently available anime laserdiscs and
video tapes. Each listing features a black and white picture of the video's
cover, with text featuring all major staff, video software specs, story synopsis,
year of release, price, and CATALOG NUMBERS. The listings also feature a star
rating system of one to five starts with five stars being a classic, and one star
denoting crap. The rating system is not reliable though due to the fact that many
films regarded classics are given so-so listings, and many so-so or downright bad
videos receive excellent ratings. Anime Stuff staff members were downright
stumped by some of the ratings! The rating system was the only useless portion of
All the listings are presented in alphabetical order. The catalog also becomes
more valuable because it presents title listings by artist and director, and even
listings for anime produces by popular studios! And to top it off, the paperback
book also comes with it's own clear plastic book cover in anticipation of all the
handling this catalog is sure to receive. Nice touch!
This is the first time this catalog has appeared. And for a first effort, it's
absolutely amazing! I would recommend finding this book to any serious anime
collector. I hope we see a new volume produced for 1993! Newtype's publisher may
be in some financial trouble now, but great products like this will certainly
pull them through!
- Tom Mitchell
//////////////////////////OTHER ANIME MERCHANDISE\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\
The Care and Handling of Animation Cels
Great -- I've Got One, Now What?
Copyrighted October 13, 1992, by Curtis H. Hoffmann.
Permission is granted to cross-post this file in whole to other
computer networks (in fact, I'd be very happy if someone would crosspost
this to Fido.) This file may be re-printed in a fanzine or newsletter
as long as I'm notified, in exchange for a copy of the issue this
article appears in. This article can not be altered, or re-printed in a
for-profit magazine, without permission.
A glossary of terms can be found at the end of this article.
Additional suggestions provided by Robert Woodhead. [RW]
With the increased interest in anime artwork, more people on R.A.A.
are suddenly finding themselves the (more or less) proud owners of anime
cels. But, the question now being asked is "How do I take care of these
things?" and "What do I do with it?"
They are simple questions. I'll ask one simple question myself.
What do you WANT to do with your cel?
A little bit of background.
When the director is laying down the framework of a film, two things
are done at once -- the writers create the storyboard, and the director
draws the model sheets to circulate amongst all of the animators. The
animators use the model sheets to ensure that no matter who is drawing
what character, any given character will look the same from one scene to
the next. The pencil roughs are shot as a pencil test, and then when
the director approves the pencil test, the roughs will be passed on
to the assistant animators for clean-up, and then to the in-betweeners
so that they can draw the pictures that the animators skipped. The
final pencil drawings may be filmed for another pencil test, after
which the pencils will be xeroxed onto the clear plastic cels. While
this is happening, the background artists will be painting the artwork
for all of the different scenes, and the special effects animators will
start work on things like rain, and missile attacks.
It is much easier for the animator to draw the action for one
character at a time for each scene, so if two or more characters appear
in a scene, each character will be placed on a separate cel (the
combination is called a cel set-up.) Unless, two characters are in
physical contact (ie. -- holding hands,) in which case they'll be drawn
on the same cel.
The pencil drawings will have written notes on them to tell the paint
department which colors to use in painting each part of a character, for
each cel. When the paint department is done with a given scene, it will
be placed under the camera to create the master film.
At the same time, the voice actors may be laying down the dialog
tracks. When the animation has been filmed, the sound effects are recorded,
and mixed in with the voices. If this is a movie, or OAV, the required
number of copies will be struck from the master.
You now have a finished film. (There will be some exceptions to the
above steps, depending on the director, studio, and budget.)
Well, in western animation circles, you can buy finished pencil
drawings, production cels, backgrounds, model sheets, storyboards,
lithographs, and seriagraphs. Each has its own merits, rules for
handling and storage, and rules for judging its value. The same holds
true for anime cels.
In general, the less you handle any form of artwork, the longer it
will last. Make sure that your hands are clean. If they are greasy
(ie. -- your natural body oils have built up a little,) wash them
throughly with soap, and make sure your hands are completely dry. Hold
the art work by the corners, or edges. If you are holding the artwork
flat, support it in the middle with your hand, and be careful to not get
it dirty or greasy.
If you have obtained your cel and the matching pencil drawing at the
same time, the cel may have been placed directly on top of the pencil
drawing. This may be a problem, because the paint from the cel may have
attached itself to the paper, and if you try to pull the paper free, you
could possibly damage the cel, or cause the paint to peel off the cel in
flakes. And, the longer you wait to separate the pencil drawing from
the cel, the worse the problem will become. If you don't want to risk
damaging the cel, take it to an animation gallery and ask an expert to
remove the pencil drawing for you.
"Cels can be separated from the pencil-test by gentle peeling. Bend
the paper, not the cel, and work around the edges of the stuck bit.
I've yet to have any paint stick to the paper." [RW]
If you just want to keep your artwork in storage (either as an
investment, or because you don't want to display it any more,) DO NOT
STACK LOTS OF CELS ON TOP OF EACH OTHER. The ideal is to have a special
shelf cabinet with thin sliding shelves spaced an inch apart: this
way you can store maybe 2 or 3 cels in a stack per shelf.
DO NOT PLACE HEAVY OBJECTS ON TOP OF THE CEL. This stresses the
paint, may cause it to crack sooner, and may also cause the paint to
adhere to whatever is touching it. If you don't have a cel shelf, buy
some semi-glossy paper, some animation paper, or even animation cels,
and use same to protect the paint on the back side when you put the cel
in storage (otherwise, the different cels may stick to each other.)
Tissue paper is also good. Then, store the cels as you would record
albums -- in a vertical position, with something stiff (like heavy
cardboard, or a thin sheet of wood or metal) to act as a support to
prevent the cels from sagging or curling. If you have the matching
background painting, store it together with its cel(s).
Pencil drawings, model sheets, and storyboards can be stored just
like any other paper records that you want to have kept in good
condition. Placing them in a folder and stored vertically is just fine,
but they can also be kept in a stack.
As a general rule, any artwork placed in direct sunlight will fade
and age more quickly.
For storage conditions, keep in mind that temperature and humidity
extremes that make you feel uncomfortable will probably also have an
adverse effect on your artwork. So, try to keep the temperature between
50 and 90 degrees, and the humidity fairly low.
If your artwork has been framed, feel free to stack the frames on top
of each other, with some kind of padding in the middle to prevent
scratches to the frames themselves.
If your artwork has been matted, wrap the mattes in tissue paper, and
either place them on storage shelves, or placed vertically in a box with
enough support to keep the mattes from sagging or bending under their own
weight (but not so tightly packed as to squeeze the mattes and cels.)
In general, storyboards are fine on their own.
Model sheets can either be matted or framed (but it's just as good to
carefully place them in a special notebook or folder ala a photo album.)
Backgrounds should be kept with their matching cels, if you have
Lithographs and seriagraphs are intended to be framed -- either in a
matte, or under glass like any other picture or cel.
Cels can be either matted, or framed under glass. (If you have a
multi-cel set-up, and/or the background painting, just line up the
registration holes, and place the cels over the background as
necessary.) If you can afford it, take your artwork to an animation
gallery, and pay them to do this for you. One of the advantages for
this is the gallery can help you select the type of matteboard or frame
to use. If you are going to do the work yourself, get some mounting
tape from an art supply shop, and the matte board or frames you want.
Presentation of the cels is really just a matter of personal taste.
So, look over the selection of matte boards and frames to see which one
will work best with your given character and/or scene. Remember, you
don't need to use a square opening -- a thin rectangle, diamond, oval, or
circular opening around your character may look better. Choice of color
and the number of layers of the matte (2 or 3 layers, in a step-like
effect) are up to you. If you don't have the original background art,
feel free to use colored construction paper, or something else.
Otherwise, the cel will be sitting on a white backing board, which may
look very boring. The main guidelines to follow are: try to keep
the image area centered in the frame, and DO NOT CUT THE CEL UP TO MAKE
IT EASIER TO CENTER.
A CEL THAT HAS BEEN CHOPPED UP IS WORTHLESS FOR RE-SALE.
Attach the tape ONLY to the top corners of the cel. If you apply the
tape to the full edge of the cel, the cel will warp as it stretches and
expands with time. (Cels change their size with age and temperature.)
Then, just let the cel hang free at the bottom -- it'll be ok this way.
When you tape the cel to the matte, or frame, position the artwork to be
as centered, and visible, as possible.
If you are framing your cels, keep in mind that as a cel ages, it
emits a gas that will build up inside the frame. So, every 6 months to
a year, you should open up the frame to let the artwork air. Otherwise,
the cel and/or paper will become discolored. I don't think that there
are any hard-and-fast rules for how long the artwork should air -- an
hour may be enough. At the same time, you should replace the tape, to
eliminate any sagging that may have developed.
"When mounting and framing cels, make sure that the matte, backing
paper and TAPE are all 100% ACID FREE." [RW] This is a good point,
because acid-based mattes will accellerate the aging process of the cel.
"UV-resistant plexiglass is a better choice than glass for a frame,
as it protects the cel from sunlight better, and will not break and
scratch the cel if you drop it." [RW]
DO NOT frame your pencil drawings underneath your cels. Store the
pencils as you would the model sheet.
If you are like Hitoshi Doi, you want to keep the cels in good
condition but don't want to hang them on your walls. If this is the
case, find a notebook or similar-style folder, and place the cels inside
ala a photo album, keeping the pencil drawings in a separate folder.
Place sheets of tissue paper between the combined cel set-ups if
necessary to keep each set-up from sticking to the next. (It is not
necessary to put tissue paper between each cel of a given set-up. In
fact, most cel dealers will staple the cels together for a set-up, and
then mount the set-up with the staples in place.) Then, store the
folders in a vertical position.
Since you may get your cels stapled together for a set-up, I suggest
removing the staples before mounting and/or storage. Because the cels
will expand and contract at different rates, the staples may actually
cause the cels to warp with time.
What To Look For In A Good Cel:
If you are buying a cel as an investment, there are certain
guidelines that animation collectors follow that you should be aware of.
The generally accepted attitude holds that the best cels are ones where
a character is positioned in the middle of the cel, facing the camera,
with the eyes open, in a full-length pose, with the matching background
art. If the feet are cut off, the eyes are partially closed, or the
character is too far to any edge of the frame, that cel is considered to
be inferior. However, close-ups of the face and shoulders are also
considered to be good for a full-on, or 3/4 profile, with the eyes fully
open, and mouth closed. Of course, if the character(s) is in an
interesting pose, or is in the middle of an unusual action, this is also
considered to be desirable.
If you can get the original background, DO SO. Otherwise, feel free
to present your cel with any home-made background (or colored paper) as
you see fit. Also try to get the pencil drawings, if available.
Any scratches directly on the cel, folds, creases, smears, or cuts
will devalue the cel. Also, if the cel has paint stuck on it, or ink
that doesn't belong, this should be removed by a professional before
mounting or storage (keep in mind that this will cost money, and doing
it yourself may cause more damage to the cel than not, so this cost
should be figured as part of the actual purchase price.) Check, too,
for places where the paint has flaked off.
Another problem that I have seen lately are jagged-looking xerox
lines. Originally, the outlines of a character were carefully
hand-inked by humans, but now they're just transferred to the cel via
xerox. The result is a line that has rough edges, and is broken rather
than continuous. Many of the anime cels I've been looking at have xerox
lines that look so bad as to detract from the rest of the picture.
(This probably means that the xerox machine used was either very cheap,
or needs a cleaning.) It's best to have a crisp, thin black ink line,
or even better -- outlines inked in using shades of color matching the
neighboring patches of paint.
If you simply want to buy a cel of your favorite character, you're
probably going to ignore the above guidelines, and will just purchase
whatever you can find and afford. Keep in mind that if you decide to
sell your artwork at a later time, you may be doing so at a loss.
However, you're the one that has the final word on matters of taste,
so go ahead and get whatever appeals to you, regardless of what other
people might like, or suggest.
Artwork As An Investment:
Caveat: As with anything, animation artwork has a value as long as
the series, movie, or director remains popular. And while at least one
person wants to buy your artwork for more than you payed for it. When
the popularity fades, the value will decrease. Further, while demand
exceeds supply, you can dictate your own terms. Therefore, if the
market is flooded with cels for one show, or there are simply too many
shows in the market compared to the number of investors, the value of a
cel will drop to nothing. Which means, animation is one of the riskier
forms of investment. Especially since tastes change, and what you think
is valuable may turn out to be completely worthless at a later date.
In the traditional world of American animation collecting,
seriagraphs and lithographs are an artificial market. Any company that
printed up a limited number of copies of a given lithograph, may choose
to print up a second run and thereby destroy the resale value of the
first edition. Also, the only reason a given litho increases in value is
that other people want to buy one at the higher cost. If the market
loses interest in a given litho, you may not be able to sell it at any
price. Personally, I won't touch a litho or seriagraph, but other people
buy them because of the unique poses and/or settings, and because the
initial purchase price may be lower than that of an original production
Storyboards can easily be xeroxed, so be careful of paying too much
for a copy. If you can find the original pencil version, you probably
won't be able to afford more than 5 or 10 pages out of the 200 to 300
pages used for a standard movie. This is again a matter of personal
taste, but the one rule to follow is: make sure that the pencils aren't
smeared, and the paper is in good condition. Because there's only one
original storyboard per movie or TV episode, they can be very expensive,
and are a good investment as long as the given show or movie remains
popular. (And, the storyboards get handled a lot when the story is
being developed and altered, so the paper will eventually get roughed
Model sheets are more valuable than pencil drawings, as long as the
model sheet can be autheticated (after all, it is one of several copies,
and what can be copied once, can be copied any number of times,) and
they are in good condition.
Pencil drawings normally have no real value. UNLESS, they are
drawings of very popular characters from very popular shows, where the
cels are no longer available. (A pencil drawing of Ayukawa from KOR
could be sold for upwards of $600, if it were a good pose, and you could
find the right buyer.)
Backgrounds are valuable only when paired up with the matching cels.
However, in many cases, the background may be nothing more than some
speed lines, and can easily be replaced with a photo of the men's room
in the JFK Airport.
Production cels can range wildly in value, depending on: whether the
pose is bad; the character is too small; it's not a popular character;
it's not a popular show; you have the matching background; etc. A boring
cel isn't worth $5. A cel of the Dirty Pair could be worth more than
$500. And as time passes, the number of available cels will drop for
each show -- either because of mishandling, destruction, or simple
demand. The result being that if a show is no longer being made, the
supply will naturally drop independent of demand.
Animation art is very easy to forge. And it's a real problem when
you realize that a Disney "Little Mermaid" cel can go for $7000, and can
be forged at a probable cost of $100. While no one is going to forge a
cel of Mary Bell, there is a greater possibility for making a profit from
an Orange Road, City Hunter, or Totoro imitation.
Keep this in mind when someone has priced an amazing find ridiculously
low, or they have a cel that is absolutely impossible to find anywhere
else. If it's too good to be true, it's probably a fake.
It's easier to spot a forged "Bambi" cel (the paints used in the fake
may be too clear and vibrant, the cel may not be aged and discolored
enough, or the registration holes may not have been in use at the time
the film was made.) Faked anime cels are much harder to spot, and most
anime studios do NOT stamp their cels for authenticity.
Maybe they should start.
So, just be careful.
Animation art is animation art, regardless of whether it's a cel of
Scooby Doo, Hammmerman, Bugs Bunny, Mickey Mouse, or your favorite giant
robot. The guidelines for handling, storage, and presentation are the
same. If you have any questions, feel free to ask in
Rec.Arts.Animation, or go to the nearest animation art gallery and ask
for advice there. But, using simple common sense won't hurt (ie. --
"will letting my little sister, who's covered in jam and dog hair, play
with the cel be a problem?"
On the other hand, most western animation art galleries won't handle
anime cels (either because of a lack of interest, or the preconception
that there's no money in that market,) so they are NOT necessarily the
best places to go for re-selling your art, or for getting them assessed.
For that, you're better off finding someone who collects anime cels, or
try to re-sell your artwork at a convention. (Which may cost you more
money than you'd like.)
In any case, treat your cel like the work of art, and slice of anime
history that it is, and it'll last for a long time. As long as you
enjoy what you've purchased (or were given) it will have a value
completely independant of what other people think.
If you have any other questions, or want to learn more about the
process of creating animation, or in handling your cels, there are
several books that will help. Disney's _The Illusion of Life_ is good.
For other titles, ask in Rec.Arts.Animation, or just go to your nearest
library, big bookstore, or art supply shop and start looking on your
own (which is a great way to learn more about the history of western
animation, as well.)
Storyboard: A bunch of sheets of paper with little panels that
contain the basic action of the film, suggestions for character
positioning and action, and accompanying dialog. If you can get your
hands on the original pencil copy of the storyboards, you'll have a
one-of-a-kind original. It's very easy to xerox these, so xeroxes
aren't worth much.
Model sheets: Sheets of paper that contain standardized drawings of
each character in a variety of poses. Each animator will get a batch of
xerox copies, so it's not likely that you'll find the pencil originals.
But there will probably be a studio stamp on the sheet to authenticate it.
Pencils: AKA Pencil Drawings: These are the products of the
animators, who are drawing on stacks of large, thin sheets of animation
paper. Most pencils are very crude, sketchy drawings that are intended
primarily as guides for the action.
Pencil tests: The pencils are placed under the camera (originally for
film, but more increasingly, for video tape,) and shot to ensure that
the basic action is what the director wants, and that there aren't any
drawings that are seriously misaligned from the rest of the batch.
Scene and sequence numbers: These are the little codes written in one
corner (usually the upper right,) used to indicate the order of the
pencils and cels. Each studio may have a different way of identifying
its scenes (and the different elements, called sequences, that make up
each scene.) But, if the cels were to all fall into a pile on the
floor, they could be put back into order by using the codes just like
you would page numbers.
Finished pencils: AKA Cleaned up pencils: Once the pencils have been
approved, they are passed on to the assistant animators to be cleaned
up, and drawn to comply with the model sheets. A second pencil test may
be shot at this stage. Also, the animator, or assistant director, will
write in the color schemes for the painters to follow, as well as
special directions for the inbetweeners (such as "a slow pull-out",
where the character is changing in size, but the camera holds its
Inbetweens: These are just more cleaned-up pencils, but the
difference is that the animators only draw 1/4 to 1/8 of the actual
images, (which are called "Extreme poses") and the rest are drawn by the
"inbetweeners" by a process of interpolation (following the orders of
the animators,) such as the above-mentioned "slow pull-out."
Cel: AKA Production cel: A clear piece of plastic, on which the paint
is applied. Also refers to the finished piece of artwork. Normally,
one character will be placed on one cel each, with moving objects and
vehicles being painted on separate cels. There are two universal
standard sizes of cels in use: "12-field," and "15-field." You'll
usually find 12-field cels for TV shows, while 15-field cels are used to
show more detail for a given shot, generally for movies if necessary.
(As a guide, a 12-field cel is about 12" by 9". A 15-field cel is 15" x
13". More or less.)
Multi-cel set-ups: A fancy phrase meaning that more than one cel was
used for a given shot. If a scene includes three people walking in
different directions, each character will be on a different cel. Also,
in the character is talking, his face may be on one cel, and his eyes
and mouth on another (This way, the animator only needs to draw the face
once, and the mouth only 3 or 5 times.) As a general guide, the more
cels used for a scene, the darker the bottom cel will appear, therefore
few set-ups will have more than 5 cels: because of the darkening effect,
complexity, and work involved.
Backgrounds: While the characters and moving objects are on different
cels, the background picture will generally be a water-color, or
oil-based, painting on thick construction paper. Background paintings
can be of any size desired, and may be very large to allow for long,
unbroken camera pans. Because one scene may have many cels, but only
one background, these complete cel set-ups with background paintings tend
to be worth a LOT more than the other set-ups by themselves.
Multi-plane Camera: This is a device first used by Disney in "The
Mill," to give the illusion of depth to a scene. As a character walks
across the screen, objects in the far distance will move at a slower
rate than scenery closer to the audience. To create this illusion,
different layers of scenery and backgrounds will be mounted on sheets of
glass at varying distances from the film camera, and shifted at the
appropriate speeds during the actual shooting of the final film.
Special effects: Rain, fire, smoke, and missiles are all considered
to be classes of animation separate from that of humans or animals.
Therefore, a character animator will be used to draw a human or animal,
and a special effects animator will concentrate on the rain, or smoke,
or whatever. Which means that the special effects will be on separate
Seriagraphs and Lithographs: These are just ways of making copies of
artwork almost looks like a cel, but aren't. These are COPIES, and NOT
original artwork. They have an artifical value, and are worth less than
Publicity cels: AKA Promotional cels. Basically, these are just ways
for a studio to get money out of suckers. This is artwork that was not
used to make the film, or episode, and has no real value -- just like a
Title cards: Cels or paintings that have the episode's titles on
them. These also tend to be rare (one per show) and therefore more
- Curtis H. Hoffmann
October 13, 1992
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Date of original publication: 3/12/1992
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