Database for Animation Studies


Toward a Phenomenological and Polymer-chemical Study of Animation Cels in Terms of Visual Experience and its Material Reality

This research began with Mr. Hideo Watanabe entrusting to the authors’ university his huge collection of “intermediate” materials which he obtained between the 1970s and the 1990 while working as director, key animator, and many other roles in the anime industry. Focusing on the animation cels, in the archived Watanabe collection, which are under the critical situation of being seriously damaged, we undertook a cross-disciplinary research. Respectively specializing in materials chemistry and animation studies, both of us conducted chemical analysis of two animation cels selected from the collection, while considering the meaning of conserving and managing animation cels, the history of the development of plastics, and the introduction of the chemical materials often called celluloid to animation. This essay is intended to report the achievements of our research, and further to address and discuss this question: how human vision has been formed/transformed through the animation industrialized on the basis of cel medium. Still in its early stage, this research aims at theorizing how the cel functioned as an agent in relation to the medium’s material reality, as well as providing the anime industry and other sectors with knowledges of conserving and managing animation cels possibly considered as cultural resources.

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