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I suppose most other people have probably heard of Sally Cruikshank, an independent animator who created animation for a bunch of Sesame Street music videos during the 1980s, but I only discovered her work recently myself, and it threw me for a loop. I watched Sesame Street as a child, but only intermittently, so I don't ever recall having seen her work, and I'm sure I would remember if I had. Who could forget having seen a film like Face Like a Frog, an utterly insane and psychedelic, not to say psychotropic, fun-house ride of a short that's one of the best mind-trips I've seen in animation.
It's a visual orgy of non-stop transformation, with ideas zooming by at a mile a minute, hilariously matched to the great song. The colors are vivid and the forms wobbly and simple. I love the whole sensibility of the film, from the in-your-face colors to the technically limited but in this case tremendously effective animation. It's like the love-child of Masaaki Yuasa and Yasunori Miyazawa. The vivid and simple but brightly-colored designs plastered all over the screen are reminiscent of Yuasa's early Chibi Maruko-chan music videos, and the very wobbly and uncertain style of animation is similar in effect to the very deliberate and brutal distortions to be seen in Miyazawa's recent work.
You can see almost all of Cruikshank's films up on Youtube, where she herself has uploaded them, and if you like them enough, you can also go to her homepage and buy them on DVD. Her other films are quite fun and worth checking out, although none of them have quite the impact of the amazing Face Like a Frog - especially if it's the first piece by her that you see, as happened with me. There are some great independent animators who worked on NHK's Minna no Uta music video show, which in retrospect seems clearly to have been inspired by Sesame Street's example, but I've never seen anything quite this wild on the Japanese show.
Nice to see that you are back to regular posting. Hasn’t been much of interest this Winter. The big exception being Hakaba Kitarou, a unique take on the entire Mizuki tale. I don’t know if it was his original interpretation or not but it’s very engaging. The color design and art design are excellent as is the layout and Masako Nozawa really gives this more sinister Kitarou a more devilish tone. Worth a look I think.
Thanks. We’ll see how long it lasts. Yes, it’s been something of a cold, hard winter for anime, hasn’t it. Thanks for the rec about Hakaba Kitaro. I did check out ep 1, but unfortunately it didn’t impress me as much as I would have liked. I’ll try to write my comments about it soon.
Thanks for your lovely comments! Sally
(google reads and reports everything)
My pleasure, Sally! I can’t wait to see Face Like a Frog in DVD quality.