Cool vid, 5 stars.
Seriously now though, holy shit Axel. This is fucking fantastic work. I know how long you've been working on this project and I've seen it progress from a black and white storyboard WiP to this polished masterpiece. So I'm honored to be able to actually review it after all this time. I'm dumbfounded by how much polish this final version has, and am equally proud to have been any part of it :D
ALL THAT BEING SAID, I'm going to get into the spirit of the animation and put on my "serious" reviewer hat for a minute and give you as objective analysis as I can. Which is going to be difficult given my position as 'contributor', but I'll do my absolute best to break things down and see the pieces for what they are.
(Also: Be aware I've never seen Tokyo Ghoul so if I make mention of something that would be explained there, just disregard it as I am uncultured.)
So here goes, I'll detail sections then provide an "out of 50" score, because I'm weird like that.
Animating is no easy task. There is no easier way to get a sense for how time-consuming it is than to see your "Constructing A Fight Scene" vid which actually shows one of the scenes being made. Little known fact, before I started writing music I tried my hand at creating Flash animations for a few years and watched a great many videos and tutorials. Besides having the cumulative drawing skill of a class of 1st graders, I had the hardest time creating the sense of movement a good animation needs to convey.
Your animation does not have this problem whatsoever and conveys that sense of movement very well, the background following the characters subtly and their movements seeming as realistic as possible for this medium.
However, there were definitely some parts of it that had smoother animation quality than others. @2:20 the blood hitting the flowers was smooth as silk and it made for a sort of weird contrast not 10 seconds later @2:28 when the eyes blackened and the animation was slightly more choppy. I'd like to touch more on this in the end. Overall, I would have to say the animation was absolutely solid and most definitely your best work to date IMO.
Animation Score: 40/50
I originally was going to give a hard 25/50 on art because of what I perceived as inconsistent quality in the characters. I was going to say how, in some scenes the characters are very well detailed but in others they almost seem to still be placeholder.
That was before I re-watched it (like 20 times)and couldn't find any concrete examples of what I thought I saw. I spent some introspective time thinking about style and design and realized how much fucking work it takes to make an animation like this. There were still a few times when the art seemed to lean a little more into the "Goofy" side of things (@3:08 Bad Man's face) and away from the more serious overall tone of the narrative. The only times the character style seems to skew a little towards the weird are when it's from a less traditional camera perspective though so it's entirely understandable as to why it would look different.
And honestly, I'm glad I rewatched it a few more times because there were a few subtle artistic things that really caught my attention. The fact that you never actually see the torture is an interesting decision and leaves it in the eye of the beholder, that is to say, it's up to the audience to decide what's happening to Main Character off-screen. Whether this was intentional or not, I found it to be very neat. That blood hitting the flowers that I mentioned earlier, it was absolutely fantastic in terms of just 'visual art'. The backgrounds are full of detail and Flamey did an awesome job on the VFX stuff. Initially I focused too heavily on a singular aspect, when I should have been taking the piece as a sum of it's parts. And as a whole, I actually feel like the artistic aspect of this piece is the most powerful of it's makeup.
Art Score: 47.5/50
So this one is going to be hard. My personal feelings on this particular piece of music are that I've heard it too much and am sick of it. I think I mentioned earlier how you've probably heard the song more than I have now, and after seeing how much work must have gone into this animation I can say with fair certainty that... Yeah, you've definitely heard it more than I have. So if you can listen to it for longer than me, I'll get over my nitpicky OCD bullshit and keep chuggin' along.
I'm going to say that tone of the song doesn't exactly fit with the beginning of the animation. It's a torture scene, and there's essentially an upbeat chiptune playing, so that's sort of a weird gap to cross in your head in the first minute of this animation. But really this is me nitpicking because it will never feel right giving something that has my name on or associated with it a good score, so I have to find something to overanalyze and latch on to. So really at this point I'm just going to exempt myself from this section.
I think you did outstanding work on lining up the animation with the music, though. I must say I never imagined an animation going along with this song as I was writing it, and if you told 18 year old me that a song he wrote would end up in a Flash Animation on Newgrounds he would
a) not believe you no matter what evidence was provided OR
b) no longer believe in reality
So anyway you can call this a cop-out (and that's because it is) but I am not the right person to give you judgment on the sound.
Sound Score: N/A (We'll call it 50/50 for synchronicity reasons though :D)
[NARRATIVE AND PRESENTATION]
(This section takes on a more joking tone, as I'm going to pretend like you didn't send me a synopsis prior to me seeing the video and take it at face value as a new watcher)
I have no idea what's really happening in this movie. I know I like it, but I have seriously no idea what's going on or why. There's definitely a progressive journey in this piece, as mentioned in the previous section but as far as specifics go I'm at a total and complete loss. So here's my best guess.
So as far as I can tell, this adventure takes place in the basement of an abandoned colosseum(?) with a Bad Man(TM) who's seen Friday the 13th too many times torturing a young lad. He pliers off his scrotum and gives his ear a centipede enema. As Bad Man(TM) begins to walk away, the young lad has either a flashback or a journey of inner self. In this flashback (or mind voyage) he encounters Dr. Octagonopus's girlfriend, who tries to tackle him like Peebee from Mass Effect. Young Lad fights back, and either in a fit of endorphin-fuelled rage or cannibalistic confusion eats the skin off Dr. Girlfriend (Unrelated to Venture Bros). I don't know, the scene where he devours the lady in his head provided me with subtle erotic undertones but I could be interpreting this subjectively because I'm depraved.
Anyway, eating the lady(lel) gives him fantastic evil tentacle powers, which allow him to break free of his bonds and engage his captor in mortal combat. But, surprise! Bad Man(TM) had tentacles all along! So they fight, and Young Lad ends up defeating Bad Man. Then he eats him too, because fuck it. Although if I were in his position and I just beat down some guy who's been torturing me for a while I'd probably take a bite out of his face too. It's a primal and dominant action, to bite another person so as to rend the flesh from their bone. It would probably feel cathartic. And from what I hear fresh blood is always better than frozen.
So plot-wise I'd say I'm also not the right person to make a judgment call on whether things make sense or not. This time I won't cop-out though because content-wise, I love it. The visuals, the ideas, I'm a fairly "death and destruction" type of guy, a "hipster edgelord", if you will. Diablo 2 Lord of Destruction was 13 year old me's religion. So all of this content fills me with sanguine pleasure.
The music and animation work together hand in hand and the visuals playing on queue with the song, creating a type of progressive journey that, by the end of the piece, feels like things have changed for the better. Or at least, for the less torture-y for our main character.
I don't really have a lot else to say about the presentation, other than it was well worth the wait.
Narrative/Presentation Score: 45/50
I really had a hard time coming up with this end part because I wanted to go in all "YEEEAAAH, AXEL DOES IT AGAIN!!" but I also wanted to leave you with something to consider for your future works. It's actually been quite a process for me to sit here for the last hour and watch, analyze and break down what I'm seeing. I actually hit the character limit for the review and had to go back and reword and condense some of my nonsense. But I undoubtedly enjoyed it, and writing this all out only took a fraction of the time it took you to finish the animation so it's only fair.
I really hope you take my criticisms (and the following bit) as only words meant to direct or help and not deteriorate or hurt.
After watching this a few dozen times and having my (3) brothers watch it too, we discussed a few different topics and landed on what I could use for my final word. So I'm going to summarize my feelings into a single word that I think might help you to understand what I'm seeing here.
That word is: Inconsistent.
PLEASE don't misinterpret what I mean by this because if I was to use two words they would be "Inconsistently Amazing".
Axel, you've achieved a new level in Content Creation and should be proud of this moment: When your presentation has such quality that the viewer is upset that it's not perfect. Let me try to put this to analogy:
You visit a new restaurant. You get a big juicy steak, and it's decently good. You come back again in a few weeks, get the same steak and it's AMAZING. So you go back again later to get that same steak but this time it's only "good", not "AMAZING". It's not like you're disappointed or let down by the quality really, it's still a good fuckin' steak. It's just that one time was SO GOOD you went in hoping or even anticipating an equally amazing steak and it didn't happen. So you go a fourth time, get the steak and it's AMAZING again. You go back a 5th time and it's just "good" once more. But now you're even more confused because the last time you went, the steak was amazing just like the first time. It's not like the restaurant itself is bad, just your expectation of quality has been set by that second time you went and anything less than that seems off, even if it's still very good. Does this help expand upon what I'm getting at here?
Often the animation was smooth as silk. Sometimes, the animation was choppy and almost slideshow-like. Often, the art was astoundingly well done and absolutely immaculate, thought-provoking and emotional. Sometimes, the art was a rough and less drawing to the eye.
At best, this was amazing. Something I'd interrupt silent grace on Easter Sunday in a packed church to show people. At worst, it was decently solid with room for improvement. You see what I mean? It was never bad, it doesn't have any parts that are straight "bad". It's just the sections that seriously deliver outshine the rest of eveything else. You know, thinking about it this is a complaint I actually get a lot about my music. There are parts of a song that are spicy, little bits and pieces of a melody or sound that would make the track unique or worth listening to. But the rest of the piece would be repetitive and underwhelming comparatively. Consistent quality is a real struggle for anyone who makes anything. Swordsmiths, carpenters, parents, artists, musicians...
In the end though, I really do believe this is a stellar work that deserves serious recognition for your efforts. I only wish my upvotes were worth more :(
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This is probably the greatest and most thorough review I'll ever see in my lifetime, and I loved every word of it. The fact that you not only watched it multiple times, but watched the making-of video, showed others, held discussion, and wrote an amazing review shows how much you care. I couldn't ask for anything more really!
I also think your criticism of inconsistency is completely fair! I was aware that doing something like this meant a bigger amount of work than anything I was used to. Still, I took the plunge, because a song I liked hit me right in my soul blood. I did what I could, and despite some good personal improvement, there's plenty of room to get better. Consistency is just another one of those things I have to work on, and if nothing else, I'm glad you liked this despite the issues! I also loved the steak analogy, it was perfect.
All that aside, I really do appreciate the time you took to write all that out. It was far more than I was expecting, that's for sure! Even if this doesn't get a lot of attention, I don't really mind. I made it because your song inspired it, and if the musician himself liked it a lot, that's good enough for me :)
I basically lost/missed the whole sense to it, but the music rocks. Pretty amusing second half. Thumbs up!
I'm glad you enjoyed it!