Maneki-Neko

Animatic (animation) and character design, 2020

Maneki-Neko is the 6-week final project of my second-year animation studio class. In it, I explored the idea of fate and spiritual callings - the idea of noticing something that is hidden to everyone else, and how magic can be found in the most mundane and unexpected places. I was inspired by Studio Ghibli and Japanese animated movies such as Your Name (2016).

Maneki-Neko was my first of many things - conceptualising an animation from storyboard to its final animation, producing an animation that was longer than 15 seconds, creating a character and setting for animation as well as simple techniques like lip-syncing. In the end, I was not able to produce a clean and tidy animation as I had envisioned, but came to a stopping point at a detailed animatic.

My moodboard for this animation consists of character sheets from Studio Trigger (those of Kill La Kill and Little Witch Academia), photos of Japanese scenery, shops and diners which bring strong senses of nostalgia, and animated examples of these scenes. I love the animation of Studio Trigger; I admire their humorous yet natural character expressions, and the exaggerated fluidity of their motions.

I separated my storyboard into 3 scenes for easier time management, which I divided into distinct cuts on an excel spreadsheet. My initial moodboard was sketched traditionally for speed, and was made into a crude animatic on After Effects. The animation as seen now is done on Photoshop and finalized with After Effects.