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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Thursday, October 6, 2005

08:15:49 pm , 881 words, 1869 views     Categories: Animation, Indie

Alt anime

Atsushi Wada, Day of Nose

Tonight I was supposed to go see the Hungarian animated film Nyocker (The District), but was feeling tired and under the (rainy) weather, so I couldn't bring myself to make the by now thoroughly exhausting 30-minute plus trip downtown that I've been repeating daily for what seems like ages, thus wasting a ticket...

The first screening I attended at the VIFF this year was the Alternative Anime Strikes Back selection, at which several of the young creators represented were again present and said a little hello beforehand - namely Atsushi Wada, Hiroyuki Mizumoto and Kei Oyama. The theater was full like last year, and there were some video glitches like last year, and it was a satisfying selection, but it felt less novel this time simply because many of the same people were represented. At the same time the repeaters were among my favorites in the selection.

Nobuhiro Aihara's Yellow Night was longer and better balanced than last year's Memory of Red, which you wanted to go on for longer than it did, and do a little more, though the animation of what there was was superb. The film here feels just the right length, with just the right variation of textures and techniques, satisfyingly flowing between the chaotic and the ordered. The technique of throwing lots of different motions onto the screen into a big massive squirming scribble is apparently something of a familiar motif in his work that goes back to his early days in the 80s. There was also another animation battle with Keiichi Tanaami. These ongoing collaborations seems to be giving the work of both a revitalizing kick.

Naoyuki Tsuji was back with a trilogy of charcoal films about clouds after having been invited again to the Directors' Fortnight at Cannes this year. It seems the star of his popularity among the art animation set continues to rise, as a DVD of his films will be coming out on November 23.

Mizumoto Hiroyuki was there with a strange film in three parts. Before the screening he cautioned not to think too hard about the film, stating that it was basically just a "monster movie". The first part was live-action and very talky, featuring lo-resolution video footage of a protagonist wandering around the city babbling to himself pseudo-philosophically about monsters and their relation to humanity, while the second part was a jarring and headache-inducing animated bit, and the third was a coda reconciling the two. Overall I found it a bit of a stretch, but with his willingness to try daring large-scale experiments like this there is obviously some nice potential there.

Atsushi Wada's Day of Nose was a surprisingly enjoyable bit of surrealism, with salarymen patiently lined up to have their noses pinched and people lunging at goats and so on. Wada is interesting because he's mentioned that he didn't get into animation because he cared about animation per se. He says he's probably not even got what it takes to be an animator. He's probably right. It all started from the germ of simply being curious to see how a crude sketch would look if it moved. His films have the naive freshness and unpredictability of kids' drawings. What he likes to call "ma" - the sense of timing or pacing - is the key to his films, rather than the drawings, which could conceivably be any other media and probably have the same effect. He's got a unique sensibility and a good sense for the absurd. Koji Morimoto apparently liked Wada's Yellow Person enough to award the film the prize last year on Digital Stadium.

A nice contrast with Wada's laughable drawings (I mean that as a compliment) was the highly polished and rich visual world of Consultation Room by Kei Oyama. Close-up photographs of skin create eerily lifelike, repulsive textures that evoke the horror of disease and infection. Oyama has an original vision - a dark vision, but one that feels like it addresses inner issues in an enlightened and enlightening way. He has a strong sense for what he wants to say and how to say it in a way that is effective as animation. Being a squeamish person, I can't say it's a film I'll probably want to revisit often, but it was technically a very accomplished film and Oyama is obviously a name to watch. This was his graduation film from the Tokyo Zokei University, from which Naoyuki Tsuji graduated in 1995.

Finally, it was a pleasure to see Iki Norihito's Goodbye Song up on the big screen. I'd seen a sample of it previously, and felt uncertain about it because it was only a short clip that didn't make much sense on its own, but seeing the film whole everything fell into place. It was a delight of a film. Norihito is one of my favorite of the young generation active right now. He has a vision that's warm and focused on the world around him (he's a photographer as well), yet filled with wonder, and a talent for formal inventiveness. His films stay with you after you see them. Norihito actually spent two years interviewing and filming the children seen in Goodbye Song. Koji Morimoto again was the one who selected Norihito's film Ghost Story on Digital Stadium two years ago.

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1 comment

Jari Lehtinen
Jari Lehtinen [Visitor]

By the way, I discovered recently this site: http://www.reclamearsenaal.nl/index.php?id=297 Interesting commercials for Persil, since one of the creators is Hans Fischerkoesen. http://www.kiddiematinee.com/s-snowman.htm

“ATA, radical washing powder” is made in Sill Simphony style. Henk Kabos’ “Snowman in trouble", made at Joop Geesink’s Dollywood Studio, owes a lot to Fischerkoesen. Finally, Fischerkoesen’s own commercial “Scherzo” is based on Verwitterte Melodie that was made by him, Horst von Möllendorf and Jiri Brdecka in Prague in 1943.

10/10/05 @ 05:36