Re-Animation: The Animation that Kenji Kamiyama Aims to Create in 009 RE:CYBORG

At First

Ever since the first 4 minute and 30 second promotional video for 009 RE:CYBORG was released, there have been a number of questions from those who saw it.

  • Isn't everything completely hand-drawn?
  • If it is 3DCGI animation, why does it look hand-drawn?
  • Why is the 3DCGI so different to international 3DCGI? The movement seems much more Japanese-styled?

Let us take a closer look at the 'Re-Animation' that Kenji Kamiyama and SANZIGEN will be using in 009 RE:CYBORG.


Almost any animation starts off with a storyboard being drawn up by the director and animators, based off the script for the story.

リ・アニメーション 01 © 009 RE:CYBORG Production CommitteeIn 009 RE:CYBORG's case, the script is first written by Kenji Kamiyama and then the storyboard is drawn up by Yasuhiro Aoki and Yuichiro Hayashi which is constantly checked and rechecked by Kenji.

The director, CGI director Daisuke Suzuki and animators then work though the storyboard taking each cut and working out a production plan in order to create the animation.

Today we'll be taking a look at how the animation of a section from the 009 RE:CYBORG promotional video featuring Françoise was put together. The scene was animated by SANZIGEN's top animator, Masanori Uetaka.


Under the watchful eye of the director and CGI director, Uetaka creates what is known as a layout.

リ・アニメーション 02 © 009 RE:CYBORG Production CommitteeThe layout features a background for the scene on which the 3D objects and 3D character are placed. After each layout is complete, it is run past the directors, who check the composition and performance layout - this is done multiple times with the animator constantly making changes until it matches the image of the directors.

The scene where Françoise jumps down features camera work, so the layout used is a large, long scene. Once the layout is complete it is handed to the art director, Yusuke Takeda and the staff at Bamboo in order to draw in the background and setting of the scene. This is done stroke-by-stroke on a computer, and is a very delicate job. The same goes for the 3DCGI animation.

Without the wonderful work of the art director and the staff at Bamboo, the world of 009 RE:CYBORG would never have come to life.


Next, the animator will take a 3D model of Françoise into a 3D space onto the computer and move her around in order to get the correct animations. Throughout this process both directors are constantly checking to make sure that the animation is coming out as it was originally set out to look.

アニマティクス 『009 RE:CYBORG』メイキング © 009 RE:CYBORG Production CommitteeMost 3D animations are made as 'full' animations which have 24 frames per second, but the SANZIGEN animation differs by using 'limited' animations, which vary between 8 and 12 frames per second, and give the animation a style that is much more familiar to normal Japanese animation. At the same time it still allows the characters to have a very smooth, 3D appearance.

Color Animatics

Once everything is in place, the scene goes though a process of cell shading on the computer, which will create shadows and light over the characters clearly differentiating the colors while moving more towards an appearance of cell animation.

カラーアニマティクス前半『009 RE:CYBORG』メイキング © 009 RE:CYBORG Production CommitteeColors are then carefully picked out by the color designer for the film, Yumiko Katayama along with the help of Rena Kawabata - each and every color is carefully picked to suit the series and composition perfectly.

Even at this point we can't quite say that the character looks hand drawn. If we were to take the character and place the camera at a lower angle the thin Françoise would end up looking very round. (Exactly the same as would happen with a real actress.)

Character Adjustments

This is where SANZIGEN really comes into play with their amazing character adjustment work. The above image is before adjustment, and the lower image is after adjustment.

リ・アニメーション 03 © 009 RE:CYBORG Production Committee

The Françoise in the upper left looks correct when looking at her from the side, but when you move the camera down her face becomes too round and the expression will look very off. After the adjustments of we look at the lower left version of Françoise, Uetaka has made the face considerably flatter (lower right), which allows for a much more 3D look which coupled with stretching the lines of the chin allows for beautiful curves for the front angle of the face. It's the same concept of using a hand-drawn character and slowly adjusting the pencil lines until the picture looks perfect.

Next we'll look at the point where Françoise is jumping down. The upper version is before adjustment, and the lower version is after adjustment.

リ・アニメーション 04 © 009 RE:CYBORG Production Committee

カラーアニマティクス後半『009 RE:CYBORG』メイキング © 009 RE:CYBORG Production CommitteeThe Françoise on the upper image has not had any adjustments made to her. The lower version of Françoise has had her body expanded and her face made considerably smaller. This makes the closer areas bigger and the further away areas smaller which creates a nice dynamic effect of Françoise falling downward.

This continues with each scene and character, with each scene being encoded in a dynamic way to bring the 3DCGI characters to life in the most incredible ways.


完成映像『009 RE:CYBORG』メイキング © 009 RE:CYBORG Production CommitteeFinally, the director and CGI director will will make the final checks. After that, the take of the character will be combined with the background created by Takeda and the Bamboo staff. This combination is the last step to making the completed video and is performed by the director of photography at SANZIGEN, Uezono.

Of course there are many more people involved in this process at each stage - programmers, illustrators and various other staff members work together on each and every scene, spending as much time necessary to create quality material.

But why do the animation in this way?

2D cell animation's charm comes from the ability to make wonderful images in each and every frame. SANZIGEN's animation allows us to take 3D characters and move them around freely, making even more wonderful images and curves that are almost impossible to differentiate from 2D animation.

written by Tomohiko Ishii