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Putting aside the various vexations that have thus far blessed this new year and the neverending scramble for work that is the lot of the freelance translator, yesterday I took advantage of the weather to inaugurate my hiking year by vanquishing the small mountain (AKA large hill) that is Eagle Peak by Buntzen Lake, Vancouver's oldest reservoir. Picked up the latest issue of Kyoto Journal along the way at the neighborhood grocery store that somehow miraculously stocks the magazine, though it's been months since I saw an issue there and thought they had dropped it. In the meantime it looks like I've missed an issue. I was amazed by their Street issue, #55, my favorite so far. Just found an interesting page about the Japanese art scene, though it would appear to be a thing of the past.
Madhouse put up an interview with Atsuko Ishizuka on their newly revamped Flash site. I had to revamp my computer's settings just to be able to read it because of an apparent font incompatability in the Flash design or something - it requires a Japanese system setting. The interview answers the question that had long been on my mind about how she got into animation in view of her unusual style that is largely untainted by anime conventions. Simply put, she didn't come from the usual background watching anime and so on - she grew up interested in music and in graphic arts, and after considering which to specialize in, decided on design and entered an arts school where as a project she was offered the choice of creating video, which she chose simply because it offered her the chance to combine her two areas of interest. Thus she arrived at animation by an unusual route - from the fundamentals, as it should be, rather than the pervasive end product, which is undoubtedly what makes her work feel so different.
The sequence of events that led to the making of the Minna no Uta music video Tsuki no Warutsu (The Moon Waltz) late last year is also rather unusual. While in college she had created a number of short animated films entirely on her own, outside of classes, for the pleasure of it, and one of these, Gravitation, was featured on Digital Station, which along with another of her shorts brought her to the attention of that other NHK mainstay of independent animators, Minna no Uta, who were appreciative enough of the films that they decided they wanted her to animate one of their songs. However, by that time she had become a Madhouse employee, for which reason she felt it wouldn't have been right to accept a job on an individual basis, so she turned them down. But they were persistent and managed to convince Madhouse, an animation company, after all, to take on the project with her at the head - unusual considering her current position in the company, a production assistant. Though personally I'd think she has what it takes to make it on her own as an independent, Madhouse is an accomodating company, so hopefully we'll be able to see more work like this from them in the future that allows her unique aesthetic to come through.