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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Sunday, May 29, 2005

09:30:07 pm , 393 words, 1246 views     Categories: Animation, Mind Game, Director: Masaaki Yuasa

Where's Yuasa

Philip sent me a link to a vid a while back that totally entranced me. I had no idea what it was, but I loved it. Research has proven the following. Kid Koala is this multitalented guy who makes incredible scratch music, and for two of his songs he got his cousin, who's an animator, to make some video accompaniment for him. The results are just fab and I've been watching the two vids over and over recently. You can see them here.

Some people who've seen Mind Game might be wondering what Yuasa is doing now. For people who missed the news, he's directed a short in Studio 4C's upcoming Genius Party omnibus of 10 shorts directed by 10 different people.

Here's the list of the shorts that was posted in a comment a while back when a flyer was found with the information at a con in the US:

- Dimension Bomb (Dir: Koji Morimoto)
- Twilight World (Dir: Shinichiro Watanabe)
- Nayorani (Dir: Mahiro Maeda)
- Space-Time Wars (Dir: Shoji Kawamori)
- Dream Machine (Dir: Masaaki Yuasa)
- Genius Party (Dir: Atsuko Fukushima)
- Moondrive (Dir: Kazuto Nakazawa)
- Touni (Dir: Tadashi Hiramatsu)
- Limitcycle (Dir: Hideki Futamura)
- Wanwa the Puppy (Dir: Shinosuke Harada)

I was thinking they were planning a summer theatrical run, but they're being surprisingly tight-lipped about it if they're still planning on doing that.

Obviously that's finished by now (there was a drawing held for people to attend the voice-recording session on the survey card in the Mind Game DVD, which must have been in January or so), so the question is what's next. The answer: I don't know. He supposedly wasn't involved in the latest Shin-chan film, so we'll have to wait and see.

You know it's bad when you read the sentence "Representations of foreigners were always outside the strict rules governing depictions of Egyptians, and sculptors working during the Kushite dynasty may thus have had more scope to 'create' freely" in a book of Egyptian history, in a passage discussing the possible reasons why only foreign kings were depicted realistically in sculpture while Egyptian kings were depicted in the traditional stylized fashion, and the first thing you think is, "Yeah, that's right, that would explain why Japanese in anime are always stylized the same way but foreigners are always made to look totally different."



Jericho [Visitor]

I remember watching the video for Basin Street Blues on Zed TV several months ago. I enjoyed the pacing of the music with the animation that imbues that damp heavy New Orleans funeral dinge. Fender Bender was just a cool animated argument. What I found impressive is how well a sense of weight was produced mereley by shifting digitized cutouts, which looks strategically different from animating every single body movement with different drawings (Like the coffin being lifted up). That way the visual look, like his lines and caricatures retain a ‘drawn’ sense that they are moving illustrations, not just moving drawings.
Damn that sound is awesome, when he starts slurring the brass section into into a whimpery drunkeness, it is very replayable on the mp3 player.
Does anyone feel that anime lacks this kind of sound? Most are obsessed with getting some J pop injected in their animation blood stream, and very few actually have a discernable sound,Yoko Kanno in particular. Or maybe not just anime but most production based level animation seriously lags in their music departments, most soundtracks are passable. Maybe I’m extrapolating a tad too much on how sound should be concieved just because Kid Koala is seriously awesome, but it just makes the animation more addictive if the sound itself can creep inside peoples pores.

Egyptians have a canon in their walls as well as anime has a canon in their representations of characters. I guess their design choices reveal their preferences on how they want to enjoy their scopophilia.

06/01/05 @ 00:05
Ben [Visitor]

One of the first things I remember thinking after seeing the film for the first time was how unfavorably the animation-music equation in anime fared in comparison. Many of the best animated films I’ve seen are films where the audio-visual synergy is as hermetically tight as it is in this film, few though they are. The reasons we don’t see such wonderful results more often in anime seem self-evident. At the most basic level, in conventional productions we don’t have genius musicians like Kid Koala creating music to which the animation is to be set without any creative constraints.

And I was equally struck by the wonderful feeling of weight in the movement, which, even though not necessarily ‘realistic’, is really effective. Obviously the movements were vectored and not drawn, but the combination of hand-drawn visuals with the movement was seamless, in which respect it’s similar to Aru Tabibito no Nikki.

Ahh. I want to see more from him. Incidentally his name is Monkmus.

Scopophilia. I learned a new word.

Incidentally, the film I’ve seen that combines audio and visuals to the most perfect degree is probably Norman McLaren’s Syncrhomy, where the visuals and the animation are, in fact, inextricable, because the animation (bars drawn on the audio stripe of a filmstrip) gives rise to the music; or is it the other way around?

06/02/05 @ 15:36
Vahid [Visitor]

I agree about the often-lackluster sound in anime. Of course, the same is true in most american TV animation as well. That said, in my mind anime like Boogiepop Phantom (a favorite of mine, and not for animation in particular) makes stellar use of sound and sound design. It’s a great show with very haunting and original sound production. Anyone seen it around these parts?

06/12/05 @ 07:04
Philip [Visitor]


some more monkmus available at
(though i can’t think you wouldn’t already know that…)

though it’s kind of theoretical, i was quite taken by “away”

06/12/05 @ 17:28
Ben [Visitor]

Actually, I can be pretty damn lazy when I want to be. This is a good instance. I never even bothered to look for his stuff, even though it would obviously have been easy to find. Blame it on the weather. And I’m not kidding. It’s damned depressing up here.


You did it again. I was enthralled by Away. Theoretical perhaps, but absolutely approachable and powerfully meaningful to me personally. My first reaction was: “I can’t believe somebody did this.” I couldn’t believe that someone could have had the brilliance to hone in on this experience that we all must have had as children, sitting there in the car coming home from a weekend trip to a lake to go windsurfing or whatever, tired, bored, looking out the window at the wires hanging from the poles passing by the car this side of a waning, warm, humid, red Texas evening, mezmerized, watching them dance, just watching and feeling, and that he managed to convey that feeling perfectly in a film. Damn. That’s a film that speaks to me personally so much, obviously. I’ll now be watching the others, and I’m sure I’m going to enjoy, though I doubt this one can be topped.

06/12/05 @ 18:47
Philip [Visitor]

with the strong b&w it actually reminded me of the quintessentiality of warawanai, in capturing the intensity of small things. if ever there was one, here’s the definitive proof that less is more.
your reaction is exactly what i thought. and again, more than one level of integration with the music.

when there are things like this to discover, the world can’t be such a bad place…

06/12/05 @ 23:54
Philip [Visitor]

on the subject of music and animation, you’ll have come across michal levy’s rhapsodical “giant steps"?

yeah, it’s perhaps a little too pure, but it’s rather breathtaking nonetheless.

06/13/05 @ 03:24
Ben [Visitor]

I had not, but again I was enthralled. Thank you. It’s a truly great piece. It’s nice enough when you find a piece of animation that’s perfectly matched to the music, but it’s downright thrilling when the music is by John Coltrane and the animation measures up to the music. The creator mentions synaesthesia, and I’m inclined to believe him. For some odd reason I got to wondering about the light shows of Scriabin. How happy he’d be to have someone like this make an animated film to his music. And more than even Fischinger, this really reminded me of Synchromy, because of the obvious surface similarity with the colored blocks. This is a good example of what baffles me about the lack of receptivity to abstract animation. I don’t find this too pure at all. It’s a perfect creation within what it sets out to do, moreso than most films that have a story.

06/13/05 @ 10:27
Philip [Visitor]

so… we await your indepth excursion into the question of anime/ation and music… ;-)

(by too pure i meant that there’s almost no space for narrative emotion - so strong in monkmus’ away - but then maybe that’s right for coltrane…)

06/13/05 @ 12:59