24 April 2020

The World of Ryōji Yamada / 山田遼志の世界

The World of Ryōji Yamada / 山田遼志の世界

In the “before times”, when we were still able to meet in small groups in Japan, I was able to attend one of the The World of Ryōji Yamada ( 山田遼志の世界) special screening events hosted by tampen.jp. The screening selection featured a mix of Yamada’s acclaimed animated shorts and his commissioned works (music videos).

Waiter (2014)
Popping, Mixing (2012)
LaLaLa Brothers (2011)
Keita SANO’s ‘Mad Love’ (music video, 2017)
King Gnu’s ‘Prayer X’ (music video, 2018)
Doodle Project II (2019)
Kicell’s ‘Hitotsu dake Kaeta’ / キセル「ひとつだけ変えた」(music video, 2018)
Natsu to Suisei’s ‘27th’ / 夏と彗星「27th」 (music video, 2020)
WONK’s ‘Cyberspace Love’ (music video, 2017)
Hunter (2017)
handshake (2018)
Firehead (2019)

Yamada has an MFA in Animation from Tama Art University, and in 2018-2019 he had the opportunity to live in Germany as a Trainee Japanese Council Affair of Culture. During this time was a guest student of Andreas Hykade at the Filmakademie Baden-Württemberg, and he was able to join us at Nippon Connection for a screening of his film Hunter.

I went to the event to see the film Yamada made in Germany, Firehead. I am glad that I did because I had never sat down and watched a selection of Yamada’s films altogether before and it was interesting to see how his style has developed over the years. I was also impressed by Yamada’s ability to adjust his style to suit the needs of his clients in the commissioned music videos.

Music is an integral part of Yamada’s films and the music for his independent works are composed by his long time collaborator Makoto Takahashi. I purchased a CD of the music Takahashi composed for the films at the event and it came with a fold-out poster featuring Yamada’s art.

Apart from Firehead, all the other films from the screening can be found online and I have assembled them for you below (plus the trailer for Firehead). The discussions with the director from the screenings can be found on tanpen’s YouTube Channel (JP only)

Waiter from Ryoji Yamada on Vimeo.

Doodle Project II (2019) from Dante Zaballa on Vimeo.

HUNTER from Ryoji Yamada on Vimeo.

handshake from Ryoji Yamada on Vimeo.

FIREHEAD Trailer from Ryoji Yamada on Vimeo.

Cathy Munroe Hotes 2020

23 April 2020

Affordance (アフォーダンス, 2016)

Hayato Nove (野辺ハヤト, b. 1971) is a graphic designer and illustrator by profession. Along with his web designer wife Tomoko Nobe (野辺智子), he has his own company breath piece which specialises in illustration, album cover design, web design, logos and other art projects. In addition to these commercial endeavours, Nove is also an artist and musician. In recent years, he has experimented with the medium of animation. Affordance (アフォーダンス, 2016) is his second film after his 2013 work Caterpillar (watch here). It was a part of the animation selection that I curated for Nippon Connection in 2017, and we were lucky enough to have Nove join us at the screening and answer questions about the film.
The term “affordance” is relatively new to the English language. It was coined by the late American psychologist James J. Gibson in a 1977 article entitled “The Theory of Affordances” and explored more deeply in his 1979 book The Ecological Approach to Visual Perception. Gibson is considered one of the key 20th century researchers in the field of visual perception, with his work exploring how we see the world we do. Affordance pertains to how our perception of an object defines the possibilities of how it can or should be used. Thus, the concept of affordance is a key one in design (See: Don Norman, “Affordances and Design”, and Nove encountered the term during his studies at Musashino Art University.

Using Nove’s characteristically minimalist monochrome palette, Affordance is a mesmeric film, weaving in and out between simple line drawings to elaborate patterns of movement and metamorphosis. The varying pace of the animation is matched by the soundtrack, which was composed and performed by the artist himself .

You can immerse yourself in Nove’s unique poetic vision on Vimeo now:

Nove is currently working on his latest work Parallax, due out sometime this year.  Watch the trailer:

Cathy Munroe Hotes 2020

22 April 2020

Kōji Yamamura’s Archives / 山村浩二作品アーカイブ

Kōji Yamamura’s Archives / 山村浩二作品アーカイブ

The renowned independent animator Kōji Yamamura’s bilingual studio website, Yamamura Animation, has long been an invaluable source of information about his creative works. Although he may be best known overseas for his award-winning animation shorts, in the Japanese publishing world he is also known for his prolific illustrations for books, posters, and other media.

With the support of the Government of Japan’s Agency for Cultural Affairs (文化庁 / Bunkachō), Yamamura Animation has expanded to include an archive of stills, videos, storyboards, photographs, documentations of exhibitions, sketchbooks, and much, much more.

Some rare delights in the archive include stills and information about his earliest animations, such as his very first animation at age 13. Yamamura made the 8mm Short Short Show Theater (しょーとしょーとしょうげきじょう / Short Short Show Gekijō) using the techniques of cutouts and cel animation.

Many of Yamamura’s early works are now available to screen on Yamamura Animation’s YouTube and Vimeo channels. Four works, "Parade" de Satie (サティの「パラード」, 2016), Notes on Monstropedia (怪物学抄, 2016), A Child's Metaphysics (こどもの形而上学, 2007), and Yamamura’s Oscar-nominated Mt. Head (頭山, 2002), are available to rent or purchase on Vimeo On Demand (embedded below). "Parade" de Satie, Notes on Monstropedia, A Child's Metaphysics, and Yamamura’s recent work Dreams into Drawing (ゆめみのえ / Yumemi no e, 2019) are also due to be available via Amazon Disc on Demand sometime this spring. Please support this remarkable artist by acquiring his work via these outlets.

Satie's "Parade" from Koji Yamamura on Vimeo.

Notes on Monstropedia / 怪物学抄 from Koji Yamamura on Vimeo.

A Child's Metaphysics/こどもの形而上学 from Koji Yamamura on Vimeo.

Mt. Head from Koji Yamamura on Vimeo.

Catherine Munroe Hotes 2020