Initially daily but now sporadic blog about anime and world animation with a specific focus on the artists behind the work. Written by Ben Ettinger.
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Archives for: July 2004, 08

Thursday, July 8, 2004

08:10:39 pm , 610 words, 5998 views     Categories: Animation, Mind Game

Mind Game tidbits + A History of Japanese Animation

Mind Game Official SiteJust thought I'd mention a small bit of Mind Game news: People who can read Japanese can now subscribe to a mailing list from the official home page (go to the news section). And for the same folks, Studio 4C has put up a Mind Game discussion board, cleverly titled "Mind Game" -- "Game" in this case meaning turtle; hence the mascot. Reportedly Yuasa himself will probably drop in from time to time.

What is quite probably the single most ambitious and historic anime screening to be held anywhere ever kicked off two days ago on Tuesday: 日本アニメーション映画史 (Nihon Animeshon Eigashi), A History of Japanese Animation. Hosted by the National Film Center of the Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo, and consisting of 37 separate programs to be shown between July 6 and August 29 (each ranging from 60 to 120 minutes, with repeats), the mammoth project will bring to the screen -- probably for the first time since most of these films were premiered -- more than 230 individual films, including shorts and full-length features, traversing the entire span of the Showa period -- from the 1924 short 蟹満寺縁起 (Kanimanji Engi) to 1991's 注文の多い料理店 (Chumon no Oi Ryoriten / The Restaurant of Many Orders).

The latter was a film completed by Kihachiro Kawamoto based on sketches by the late Tadanari Okamoto, one of Japan's greatest and most beloved independent animators of the last thirty years, whose entire oeuvre is being shown over the span of an incredible six programs. No less astounding is the fact that no less than four programs are being devoted entirely to the oeuvre of the namesake of Japan's most prestigious animation award, the Ofuji-Sho: Noburo Ofuji. Indeed, two programs will be devoted to early master Sanae Yamamoto, two to Ryuichi Yokoyama, the pioneering comic artist and creator of Fuku-chan, and two to Mitsuo Seyo, the creator of the Japan's famed first full-length animated feature, the wartime Momotaro propaganda epic 海の神兵 (Umi no Shinpei / The Sea God Soldier). The bounties extend into the post-war period; fans of early Toei Doga will be happy to discover that most of the films of Toei Doga precursor Nichido Eigasha are being shown, followed by those early Toei Doga films themselves - a rare opportunity to see these lush full-color animated extravaganzas on the big screen as they were intended. Adding to the embarrassment of riches is the chaste admission cost: ¥500 (even less for students) -- pocket change indeed in a country where movie tickets regularly run upwards of ¥2000. That's what I call putting tax money to good use.

Now if only I was in Japan!! >:(

First Mind Game, now this. This is definitely the summer to be in Japan.

Perceptive readers will note that this screening series does not quite harken back all the way to anime's auspicious birth in 1917. This is because these early films have been lost.

This series actually falls in line with a number of recent developments. One of the widely talked-about releases of 2000 was an 8-DVD set containing all anime that had won the Ofuji-Sho, an amazing and unheard of release that garnered both shouts of glee and ravenous stares from thrilled anime fans -- only to promptly sucker-punch them with the sticker price of ¥240,000 ($2200). Funny, huh? Well it gets funnier. This year they outdid themselves in both arenas. Not only is the newest DVD set, 日本アートアニメーション映画選集 (Nihon Art Animation Eiga Senshu / Japan Art Animation Movie Collection), bigger, with 12 DVDs, each on a particular theme, each chock-full with long-unavailable rarities from the vault of the the Tokyo MOMA, but the price is generously expanded to boot: ¥360,000! ($3300) They're cheap! Buy two! (after mortgaging your house)

Now you see why this series is so welcome.