Who Are These People?!

Alright, here's a mystery that I have yet to solve. We've already seen the cameos of Yasuo Otsuka and Hayao Miyazaki (and family) from the final episode of Lupin III. There's one other major instance of cameos, and it comes at the end of the first Panda Kopanda cartoon.

At the end of the film, there's a leftward pan of a crowd waiting to see Papa Panda at the zoo, and it's packed with all the people who made Panda Kopanda. This was a beloved project, because it was the first reunion of the old gang from Toei Doga. Everyone had moved away, one after another, starting with Otsuka in 1969, after completing Puss in Boots. Eventually, everyone apart from Yasuji Mori - Takahata, Miyazaki, Otsuka, Akemi Ota, Yoichi Kotabe, Reiko Okuyama, Michiyo Yasuda, yadda yadda - had made the jump to A-Pro. After Lupin was finished, and the Pipi Longstockings project fell through, Panda Kopanda was churned out to vent all that frustration and pent-up energy.

Also, let's not forget a 22-year-old Yoshifumi Kondo, who joined the gang on Lupin. So you can see why the Panda cartoons, and especially the first one, have such a vibrant energy. The thing just pulses with life, like a pack of schoolkids let loose on a snow day.

So, here's the big question about this crowd shot at the end: who's who? You can pretty easily spot the real people, since most of the faces are simple, iconic cartoon faces. I managed to take three pictures, so everyone can take their best guesses.

This is something for John Lasseter to ask about the next time he travels to Japan. Or Ben Ettinger - maybe he knows who's who.

In the second photo, you can spot Lupin and Jigen, which is funny. Just below them, you can see the birthday boy - he's pretty easy to spot with the glasses and son hanging on him. In the third photo, at bottom right, it looks like Kotabe. He has that kind of long face, so that's my guess. Was that Okuyama at the end of the first photo? And who's the girl at the opposite end of the third picture? I see the hair and the blue outfit, so I'm thinking that's Ota, the wife. Again, I'm just guessing, and trying to plug my own Miyazaki Heroine theory into the mix.

I'm pretty stumped on this one, and I'm dying to know. Pass this among your so-called Ghibli friends and see if they can spot anyone. Use this as a benchmark to see how devoted a fan they really are. Get somebody at Pixar on the horn!

3 comments:

Chris Sobieniak said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Chris Sobieniak said...

Too bad I can't help here, though I did noticed an odd white head-ish looking thing that turned out to be "Q-Taro", from Fujiko Fujio's manga that was stuck there in the first two pics. Still, this would be the thing that really deserves to be investigated!

Being reminded how much I enjoyed Panda Kopanda for much of what you said in the first movie. It had that sort of apark of something new they wanted to dove into while at A Pro. Love to read more on the failure on the Pippi Longstocking project Miyazaki and Takahata were planning on, much of that idea did seem to carry over into this film I've noticed (mainly that of the little girl being left alone in the house with the pandas while her grandma left town).

Thinking back to the crew members putting themselves at that panning shot, I'm often reminded how much I've heard how the animators of The Simpsons tried to do that early during that show's run, to a point that the producers had to put their foot down and stop it. After that point, most crowd scenes were barren of some sort of wacky pose or irrelevancy and in place with something standard and generic (why I stopped watching that show). That was what I liked about animation when even the staff didn't take themselves serious enough to have fun in their work.

Gut Suitman said...

> Eventually, everyone apart from Yasuji Mori - Takahata,
> Miyazaki, Otsuka, Akemi Ota, Yoichi Kotabe, Reiko Okuyama,
> Michiyo Yasuda, yadda yadda - had made the jump to A-Pro.

Partly wrong. While their husbands quit Toei in 1971, Okuyama
and Ota stayed in the company some more years.

> And who's the girl at the opposite end of the third picture?
> I see the hair and the blue outfit, so I'm thinking that's Ota,
> the wife.

She is Kyoko Yoshizawa from another popular anime series called
"Dokonjo Gaeru" (see Wikipedia). As A-Pro started producing the
first TV series around the same time as Panda Kopanda, some
of the animators (including Yoshifumi Kondo) participated in
both.

> You can pretty easily spot the real people, since most of the
> faces are simple, iconic cartoon faces.

Even though they are "simple, iconic cartoon faces", their design is
less similar to the ones of the Toei-Nippon-Animation-Ghibli
(i.e. Mori-Kotabe-Miyazaki) line. Rather, they are much closer
to the ones that appeared in "Dokonjo Gaeru", whose characters
were designed by future Ajia-Do founders Shibayama Tsutomu and
Kobayashi Osamu.

Based on the design of the faces and the cameo of Kyoko-chan,
I'm pretty sure that this crowd shot was drawn by an animator
from the "Dokonjo Gaeru" team. And although it is almost certain
that this shot has a lot of real people caricatuarized as an
in-joke, it doesn't necessarily feature the ex-Toei elites
like Miyazaki and Kotabe.

(In fact, there was a plan that Miyazaki joined to the "Dokonjo
Gaeru" team, but it was cancelled because his approach deviated
too much from the standard of the series....)

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