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.
July 2005
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Archives for: July 2005, 29

Friday, July 29, 2005

02:26:42 pm , 597 words, 3120 views     Categories: Mind Game


I just noticed that at least two other sites including Cartoon Brew reported on the Mind Game wins a day earlier than me using the exact same title: Mind Game sweeps Fantasia. Aside from the fact that it's amazing how fast Mind Game news travels now, I thought that was kind of remarkable, but then again, it really was just the perfect title. I went ahead and changed the title for good measure. Great minds think alike.

It's kind of shocking how overwhelmingly positive most of the reactions I've read have been, not just in terms of proportion, but in terms of degree, of how glowing the already positive reviews are. I didn't know whether people over here would react as positively as me to it, so it feels good to see that most people over here seem completely bowled over by it, as I suspected they would if they could just see it. It's so great to hear all these people - many of whom know a good bit about animation - coming forwarding saying this is one of the best animated films they've ever seen. I'm obviously not the only one who felt Mind Game was the animated film I'd had to wait all my life to see.

There were plenty of people in Japan who praised it as soon as it appeared, but there were just as many, if not more, who just didn't seem to get it. Far from the tepid reaction on its home turf, over there the reaction has been incredible so far, as Yuasa said in an interview at the Montreal festival. I felt happy for him that he'd finally been able to get a great reaction like that. It's entirely possible that that's only because of the unique nature of the venue at which the film has been seen - a festival - but I think it confirms what most people knew: the film would have to wait to get its real due from the rest of the world. Of course, one year later probably more people have heard of it than seen it (which isn't even saying a lot), since it's still not available over here, so it looks like it will take a little while longer for the film to really make way. But at least it looks like it may do so eventually, slowly but surely, now that it's made a splash at a major festival.

Just about the only thing I've regretted about having seen Mind Game is how gray and boring everything else has seemed in comparison ever since. What's amazing - to me - is not that Mind Game is so original, but that everything else in comparison can seem so unoriginal. If the film was a celebration of the possibilities of the medium, then the flipside is that it showed us just how little those possibilities were being explored in animated filmmaking. I'm hoping it can stimulate people to break out of those boundaries and look for new forms and styles. I mean, Mind Game was made by a very small staff at a very small studio, and it looks closer to something Bill Plympton might conjure up than to a big studio warhorse, but technically it's an industry film, so I see it as a wake-up call to the industry.

Speaking of whom, it's nice to know that Bill Plympton appreciated Mind Game. I figured if anyone should like the film, it's him. He's about the only person who's been (singlehandedly) making interesting animated features over here these last few years.