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: September 2005, 23

Friday, September 23, 2005

08:36:59 pm , 430 words, 1256 views     Categories: Animation, Indie

Ika Matsuri

Koji Yamamura's blog is called "Shirarezaru Animation", which means animation that should be known. Recently he talked about a piece that fits the bill perfectly: Totally off the radar, and totally great. It's called Ika Matsuri or Squid Festival, and it's by Naoyuki Niiya. Niiya drew lots of comics and stuff as a kid, which you can see on his home page. I take it he was a Garo youth. Never satisfied with the same old limitations, he'd always been interested in mixing media, so for example he hand-crafted dozens of copies of a miniature scroll comic book that he handed out as his unique business card. He eventually got around to animation in his twenties. But he didn't take the quick route. For his virgin piece he spent several years coming up with the story and hammering out the storyboard, and then several years animating the film. As he puts it, "I wasted my 20s on that thing." He did everything entirely on his own, alone in the countryside in Okayama, using a bare minimum of material - "a Fujica Z400 8mm camera, a tripod, a few eyelamps and a stainless steel ruler". A one-man film. And with a happy ending. An MTV person saw the film at a screening, liked it, bought the rights, had a soundtrack made, and the film was seen on MTV Japan for several years. The negative for the film was lost, but he's put up a Quicktime movie of a VHS copy of the original version, which contains additional material (the ending) cut by MTV. And most importantly, the soundtrack as Niiya originally intended it, free of all the extraneous sound effects of the MTV version. Ideally to be watched in a dank room of a run-down apartment at twilight in total quiet on an old projector. Niiya wanted to come up with something that would match the dreamlike feeling of the 8mm stock he was using, and the idea that came to mind was the warm feeling of a sepia-toned naked light bulb, like in an old silent film, an image that serves as the seed from which flows a perfectly balanced and vividly executed dreamscape. It's a buried gem of true indie animation. Afterwards Niiya got involved in films, doing special effects and insert animation for films like Koichiro Ikawa's Nemimi ni Mizu, but the good news is that last year he finally bought a PC and says he's going to start working on a new short soon. I think anybody who sees Ika Matsuri will be looking forward to it.