Background Art of Oh! Edo Rocket and Hundred Stories

November 20, 2009

Top: Oh! Edo Rocket, Bottom: Autumn Landscape by Sesshu Toyo

There are many interesting things to say about Oh! Edo Rocket, which is a wonderfully charming comedy series that deserves more recognition. What’s particularly intriguing is its unique background art that reminds one of eastern traditional Ink and Wash paintings. Its forms are free, defined by more intuitive contour lines in varying thickness and rendered in that ethereal watercolour, as well as often having that pleasant rice paper texture. The way these background pieces capture its surroundings are closer to the abstract impressionistic (Xieyi) than the detailed and decorative (Gongbi) and they are very charming to see. What’s even more interesting is how the more crisp and defined (less free) character designs interact with this impressionistic background art.

It almost looks like the characters are actors on stage of a play, and that is exactly how they are portrayed in the show. Oh! Edo Rocket is simply oozing of self-awareness, making fun of its own historical inaccuracies and the hilarious idiocy of 2D drawn figures trying to become more than what they are; endearing characters in a beautiful story of hope and love. Funny thing is that we do fall for these characters by the end, and there are lot of things in this journey that do move us, even if we are told “don’t take this seriously, it’s just stupid fun!” at every opportunity. That’s the magic of Oh! Edo Rocket. It’s the moment when stage dissolves and re-appear as another world, and we are compelled to give ourselves into the characters while being aware that they are nothing more than 2D actors putting on a show.

Another anime series I want to recommend in this post is an underrated horror title, Hundred Stories. Its background art is yet another abstract beast but unlike Oh! Edo Rocket, the characters actually fit in with the background. It’s because there is less rigidity in how the characters are drawn, as their forms and colours are more flexible in order to blend into the geometry and colour palette of different background pieces. Check out how the same characters look in different backgrounds below, and give this one a try if you are looking for a quality horror anime title.

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6 Responses to “Background Art of Oh! Edo Rocket and Hundred Stories”

  1. Cello Says:

    I’m especially fond of your posts disecting art & animation. This one is so delicately crafted, it jumps off my computer screen. Great stuff!

  2. gaguri Says:

    Thanks Cello, always nice to hear that coming from a graphic designer ;).

    Oh! Edo Rocket is a great anime, and its backgrounds is just a small part of what makes this anime so great (witty dialogues, great characters, the writing is really solid as well). But I guess those components have been covered before by other blogs. And I do enjoy looking into visuals and how they may be used as a tool as an expression of something more than just pertty decorations. Thanks for dropping by again.

  3. Kitsune Says:

    Nice backgrounds 🙂 They reminded me somewhat of Erin, especially the first picture 🙂 The sunset picture feels somewhat like Tokyo Marble Chocolate 🙂

  4. gaguri Says:

    Bit similar to Erin, with bolder brush outlines =). Mm Tokyo Marble Chocolate…I really didn’t like that movie (as a romance), but visually it was ok from my memory.

  5. 2DT Says:

    When I was watching Oh! Edo Rocket, I was mostly entranced by the dialogue: It tangles and jumps and goes from place to place, it sparkles with intelligence and wit and charm. Of course that makes sense, since the anime was adapted from a stage play.

    I never finished this show, but now I think I want to hunt it down and give it a fresh start. And this time I’ll be paying attention to the visuals. Cheers.

  6. gaguri Says:

    It’s interesting to sometimes pay attention to visual details, but they’re, well, backgrounds, and should take backseat to the characters/story/humour, since they are the essence of this show. Wonderful to see visuals working with the show’s content though.


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