Questions pertaining to the animation of Book 2 began to arise after Nickelodeon released the first official clip from the new season. Many fans suggested that the animation in Book 2 looked different than the animation in Book 1. After watching the clip several times over, I also came to the same conclusion. I knew that there had to be an explanation so I began to dig for information.
My search started on Twitter; I came across an interesting tweet on January 23rd by a man named LeSean Thomas. Thomas found an article claiming that Book 2 would release in either March or April of 2013, so he tweeted it. The tweet itself was irrelevant in terms of Book 2′s animation, but the discussion it created was a big lead to follow.
One of LeSean Thomas’ followers replied to the tweet, asking him if he worked on Book 2′s story boards. Thomas replied shortly after explaining that he did not work on Book 2 and added that Season 2 was done by a Japanese animation studio named Studio Pierrot.
In order to ensure that LeSean was a credible source in the first place, I did a bit of research on him and learned that he worked on the animation for Book 1 at Studio Mir. Needless to say I trusted his input, but I wanted to make sure that I completely understood him.
I tweeted LeSean asking if he could reconfirm that Studio Pierrot was working on Book 2, but apparently the situation had grown much more complicated to a point where a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ would not suffice. Instead, he sent me a link to a YouTube video and explained that the last 10-15 minutes of the video would answer all of my questions. I decided to watch the entire video rather than the last 15 minutes and I soon realized how much more complicated the situation really was.
The video LeSean sent me was a 50 minute interview with Studio Mir’s executive director, Jae-myung Yoo.
One thing I learned from the video is that there seems to be a bit of a rift between Korean animators and Japanese animators. The Studio Mir executive director, Jae-myung Yoo, praised Korean Animators for their ability to adapt and style their animation to other’s preference. The skill has proven to make collaboration between Korean animators and other foreign animators a bit easier. Japanese animators, on the other hand, didn’t receive the same type of praise. Jae-myung explained that the Japanese only animate their way and are unable to adapt to other animator’s styles. This makes collaboration with Japanese animators much more difficult.
During the last 15 minutes of the video, Jae-myung discussed Studio Mir’s association with Book 2. The original expectations were that Studio Mir would animate Book 2 just as they did Book 1. However, Studio Mir received the offer to animate another series known as The Boondocks the same time they received the offer to animate Book 2. Even though working on Book 2 would have been more beneficial for Studio Mir, the animators were exhausted from working on Book 1 because the process proved to be very difficult.
Jae-myung took all of the animators in a room to make the final decision: The Boondocks or The Legend of Korra. In the end, the studio picked The Boondocks over The Legend of Korra because the animation process would be less rigorous. When Studio Mir backed out of animating Book 2, a Japanese animation studio known as Studio Pierrot came in to fill the role.
After some time, Studio Mir received a call from the producers of The Legend of Korra who re-requested that they work on Book 2’s animation. Jae-myung speculated that there was probably a problem with the animation in Studio Pierrot so the producers wanted Studio Mir involved to ensure that the animation was done properly.
Even though the animators in Studio Mir were exhausted, Jae-myung feared that if Book 2 failed, Studio Mir and Korean animators in general would have their reputations tarnished for Studio Pierrot’s failures. Consequently, Jae-myung decided to involve Studio Mir in Book 2′s animation process as well.
Based off of that, it looks like both Studio Mir and Studio Pierrot worked on the animation for Book 2. Since the two studios had different animation styles, they couldn’t use both – they had to choose one. Studio Mir most likely adapted their animation style to fit that of Studio Pierrot’s which is the reason why Book 2′s animation looks different.
After analyzing the video, I still dug around some more to see what else I could discover. What I found was further confirmation that Studio Mir and Studio Pierrot had indeed both worked on Book 2’s animation.
On LeSean Thomas’s official website I found that he had posted about the Book 2 clip we received a few weeks back. Underneath the embedded video he wrote, “Congrats to the gang at Nick and Studio Pierrot/Mir! Here’s to a great season 2!”
That pretty much confirmed it for me. Case closed.