Mista Mountain’s Fight for the Yamamote Line!

Wow, I guess we haven’t posted anything for a while.  We’ve been really busy on animation projects that we can’t really share or post about here. Yeah, we sold portions of our souls to Marvel\Disney… but not to worry… we’re still your favorite  indie animation studio.  To prove that fact, we proud to announce our first fully in-house produced video game. Sure we’ve done a ton of game work in the past for clients like Ubisoft, EA, Bungie, and Microsoft, but we’ve never developed our own game from start to finish in-house.

So because we haven’t updated in forever, we’re going to show you guys everything from the very beginning on this game development. This game is going to be centered around the Mista Mountain character from the Joe is Japanese series and his epic battle to rid the Yamanote Line of the Chimpira scourge.  Basically it’s a 2D side scrolling fighter. We’re trying to get inventive in this old school genre. The real-life Mista Mountain has a unique fighting style and we’re going to attempt to capture his techniques  in a fun to play head-crackin’ scroller, about his real life exploits on the train loop of Tokyo, Japan.

Stay tuned for a ton of updates as we develop this game.  Keep a close eye here on our animation studios’ production blog for on-going updates… and eventually maybe even some playable beta versions!



Thanks in every way to readers like you that are sharing this mini-comic! The Search Dog Foundation has notified us of some good donations coming in our honor, and we couldn’t be happier. Well we could be happier… if  YOU would donate now to help the Search Dog Foundation. It’s an unsung group that has sent rescue dogs to find people in over 75 deployments- including the World Trade Center attacks, Hurricane Katrina, the Haiti disaster, and now in Fukushima, Japan.

The comic has been reprinted by Wired Magazine, New York Times by columnist Andy Revkin, CREATIVE, Ain’t It Cool News, Bleeding Cool, Comic Book Resources, and hopefully a lot more that we’ve probably missed. We’ve released this mini-comic as a creative commons license so we encourage you so share, re-post, or re-print it anywhere you like. For free.

Please share the crap out of this comic it seems to be inspiring people to donate to the SDF but we’ve still got a long way to go… I feel like I’m on a pledge drive for PBS, but dammit people this is important.

Thanks again to everyone that has given their support!

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JiJ character roughs

It’s been a little while since we’ve drawn new Joe is Japanese material. Time to get familiar with the characters and add in what we’ve learned since the last time.

There’s a few new tricks, and overall I’m liking the direction. It’s a little looser, more expressive (I hope).

JiJ : Teaser Frames

Yes, we know Joe is Japanese is slow going on its production. Not much to be done about that now. However circumstances will change when we get some sponsorship $… but until then, here are some frames from the Two Buckets story. It’s a wild one.

JiJ : The 1st date on a plane

An early, early edit of the latest Joe is Japanese episode’s audio. Normally we don’t post WIP that are this early on, but Joe really wanted to hear what a mPUA he is. 😉 This takes place on an airplane as Joe & Miyuki sit two seats and an aisle apart… That fact will not deter them from some flirty talk. The reactions of the other passengers trapped between them should be priceless (as soon as we actually find the moment to record them). Quicktime after the jump with BOTH english and Japanese subtitles.

Continue reading “JiJ : The 1st date on a plane”

JiJ : Mista Moutain Character pin-up

Another character splash from Fates in-house project, Joe is Japanese, the enigmatic Mister Mountain. As with most all of the Joe character shots, I was trying to be all metaphorical… Yama-sama is calm and cool under fire, contemplative but capable of powerful action…

But if anyone could trim bonsai while performing crane kata and dodging arrows, it might be Mountain.

You like the flag at all? I was being expirmental and trying to go for a bit of quick sumi-e style watercolor effect, basically using the smear tool a good bit.

At any rate, we got the last bit of sound recording for Joe 3 done. There’s a bit of dialogue sync to be assembled still, and that should be it. Be on the lookout.

Joe is Japanese is © Humouring the Fates Inc., all that jazz. We’ve got a splash shot for every main character, so you can expect to see these trickling down for a bit to come. Color versions too!

JiJ : Two Buckets “gun play”

This is a couple of strung-together cuts from the second act of the new short. Definitely up a notch from the last two, but now I’m disgusted by my complete lack of dynamic angles. So flat!!

THIS IS NOT JOE. Joe himself is not in this clip. These are, instead, Very Bad Men That Joe Has Known. There’s a lot of those, it seems.

It is, as far as I can tell, physically impossible to twirl a pistol like that. I know, I tried, I dropped a model Sig several times, I bruised my toes in the great pursuit of Art. But that’s the magic of animation for you… animation is all about the things that can’t be done, being done.

There’s two examples of staggered timing here (“staggering” is when you set the timing so that it goes 2 forward, 1 back). For instance the clutching hand in the third cut is seven frames that ease in and out of a closing motion, but by setting the timing as 1-2-3-2-3-4-3-4-5-4-5-6-7-6-7, you extend the timing from 7 to 15 frames without additional drawings, and create that clutching motion. The laugh cycles at the beginning are also staggered, but not so evenly (more like 1-3-2-1-2-4-5-4-3-2-5-4-3-6-5-6-7, or something like that, I don’t know). It’s not as good-looking as straightforward, properly animated action, but then again it’s a cheat.
Continue reading “JiJ : Two Buckets “gun play””

JiJ : Racing Crew

A series of racing-themed images for Joe is Japanese. This depicts pretty much everyone in the main storyline cast, something I haven’t gone into much up to now. The characters are (from upper left to lower right) our titular hero Joe and his femme fatale Miyuki, Mister Mountain and Koga, Victor and BJ, Island Masta and the nefarious Kawakami.

JiJ : Opening Animation “gung-fu”

This one is a bit unusual, in that it’s not a sequence from the narrative. This is, instead, a small piece of animation that appears in the opening sequence. It will likely be used as a masking element, though in what capacity I’m not sure… I just draws ’em, I don’t makes ’em up (sometimes).

I enjoy animating silhouettes ’cause they’re a lot easier than full character work… you can hide murder in that negative space. Ultimately it becomes a matter of just following the lines, but in fact the initial rough animation for this contained a full (if incredibly scribbly) character. It wasn’t until the cleanup phase that it became a complete silhouette.

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JiJ : Two Buckets “turntablin'”

This is an interesting piece, because it’s really not set up for a specific animation routine… instead, it’s built as a series of layered actions so that the compositor can set it to the music. So there’s sets of actions; drag, release, center switch, just the basics… but set to the music, it looks pretty sweet. This particular sequence is really just a line test… it’s not set to anything in particular, but it shows how the moves work.

In theory, we could probably make an interesting little Flash game out of it all, too… the elements are there, anyway.

There’s a couple elements that aren’t included here… there’s sway in the bar, for instance, and a flicker to the record reflection so that it’s not so static. But I gotta leave something for you guys to check out in the final.


Layered line test, completely drawn in-system using a WACOM Cintiq and some custom HTF techniques. No trees were harmed in the making of this production. Took a couple days to put it all together.

Continue reading “JiJ : Two Buckets “turntablin’””

JiJ : Kenji Saga “legbreaker”

Line animation for the upcoming HTF project Joe is Japanese… one of many, many cuts, this one involves a story Joe tells his friend Koga in a bar about how his buddy Kenji maimed a guy in a fight once.

Needless to say, this scene won’t be truly complete without sound. MMMmmmmm… crunchy. :D

Koga at MySpace