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 2009, 01

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

12:07:32 pm , 535 words, 4679 views     Categories: Animation, Indie, Animator

Mirai Mizue

I just found out that indie Japanese animator Mirai Mizue has his own web site and you can see all of his films on there. That's one of the great things about indie animation today - it's quite easy for artists to share their work on their own home page if they want. Many years ago I wrote a bit about Mirai Mizue's debut film, Fantastic Cell (2003), which was shown on Digista, and wanted to see more from him in this style. But I never got around to looking to see if he'd continued to do anything in the intervening years.

I was reminded just now by a post by Amid on Cartoon Brew about his latest film, Jam (2009). Looking at his site, where Jam can be viewed online, I was delighted to discover that he'd not only continued to build on that style over the last few years, but that the films were all viewable on his home page. (Fantastic Cell is here) He's one of my favorite animators in today's indie Japanese animation scene, with a truly unique voice and sensibility.

The Carmen ~In Fantastic Cell~ (2002) is another one of the films in the patented 'cell' style that he's developed. It was actually a study for his debut film, but is quite fun and gets across what makes his films so much fun. He does a great job of bringing alive these organic yet abstract shapes of various cells and strange cellular creatures, and syncs the animation with the music in a way that makes the movement very funny and makes the film really fun and interesting from moment to moment. This particular film reminds me of Oskar Fischinger in the way the semi-abstract forms are zooming around on the screen - an abstract animated ballet set to a famous classical music piece.

Trip!-Trap! (2005) is perhaps the most impressive and broad-ranging of his films. It's a good showcase of the artist's broad range of styles and techniques, all jam-packed into a tremendously dense and fun 5 minutes and set to some great music by his constant collaborator Alice Nakamura. Devour Dinner (2008) does away with the music and goes with only funny sound effects, showcasing his ability to come up with an infinite array of those strange cellular creatures. It feels like Fantastic Planet in the way it consists of a simple sequence of shots depicting this fantastical, bizarre microscopic world in a sort of deadpan way. It's a darkly funny film where these imaginary creatures spend their entire lives eating and being eaten. Some of my favorite animation of the last few years has been work like this that treads the line between figurative and abstract in its depiction of familiar yet fantastic microscopic life, such as Robert Seidel's _grau and Erick Oh's Symphony.

His illustrations are also really cool, full of densely packed but whimsical detail. I love his sensibility and unique style. He thinks fractally, creating macroscopic forms that emerge out of seemingly repeating yet actually infinitely varied microscopic forms. He's carved out a very interesting place for himself as an artist. It's great to know there are a lot of animators in Japan working in such personal and inventive styles.