24 March 2020

Playlist: Music of the Visual World

With so many people in the world being housebound at the moment due to the covid-19 epidemic, I thought I would put together some playlists for people who love animation as much as I do.  

I am starting with the selection that I put together for Nippon Connection in 2018, as most of the films can be found on line. The theme that year was music, so I have included links to the artists whose music features in the animations, so you can also support these musicians by streaming / buying their music during this difficult time of cancelled live events.

The first work in the programme, Moving Colors, is a group project featuring the work of 12 animation creators (aka Taku Team) with each team member representing their favourite colour. The title design is by Taku Furukawa (the Taku of the Team name), experimental animation pioneer and mentor to the professional animators in the team. The team consists of: Takuma Hashitani (orange), Waboku (aka Wataru Nakajima, brown), Hakhyun Kim (purple) Yoshiyuki Kaneko (black), Shiho Morita (red), Moe Koyano (raspberry/turquoise), Yū Tamura (green), Yasuaki Honda (crimson), Yewon Kim (mint), Tomoyoshi Joko (blue) and Hiroco Ichinose (gold).

Moving Colors by TAKU TEAM, 2016

Cosmic by Hiroco ICHINOSE of Decovocal, 2009

How Low Sympathy
by Decovocal / Music by scenarioart, 2014

Slowly Rising
by Hideki INABA / Music by BEATSOFREEN (aka Stan Forebee), 2015

Slowly Rising from kanahebi on Vimeo.

On + On
by Akihiko TANIGUCHI / Music by Cumhur Jay, 2016

Cumhur Jay - On & On - "Dyschronometria" from Akihiko Taniguchi on Vimeo.

The State of Things
by Ryo ORIKASA / Music by Tamaki Roy, 2017

by Sarina NIHEI / Music by Whitney, 2016

Whitney - Polly (Official Music Video) from Sarina Nihei on Vimeo.

Mad Love
by Ryōji YAMADA / Music by Keita SANO, 2017

La Madrague “Country of Westering Sun” マドラグ(西陽の国)
by Yuki HAYASHI / Music by youcan ゆーきゃん, 2017 
- the music video is not available online at the moment, but the song can be streamed

What is available online is an earlier work by Hayashi: his music video for moskitoo's Fragments of a Journey (2014), which screened in my 2015 Nippon Connection selection.

The Synesthesia Ghost
by Atsushi MAKINO / Music by Sasanomaly, 2015

I’ve Got to Take the Laundry In
by Naoya SANUKI / Music by Siamese Cats, 2016

Enjoy Music Club
by Whoppers (Naoya SANUKI and Zuck), 2017

Spring Time - Old Man 青春おじいさん
by Hōji TSUCHIYA / Music by Uri NAKAYAMA, 2017

A Long Dream
by Hōji TSUCHIYA, 2016

Oldman Youngman 加賀遼也 
by Ryoya KAGA, 2016

lilac (bombs Jun Togawa)
by ONIONSKIN / Music by Vampillia, 2015

Nandaka Mou なんだかもう
by ONIONSKIN / Music by Kidori Kidori, 2016

TO & KYO とう と きょう
by Tsuneo GODA, 2017

2020 Cathy Munroe Hotes

04 March 2020

Geidai Animation 11 Neo / 藝大アニメーション11ネオ

This year’s graduating animation class at the Tokyo University of Arts (Geidai) Graduate School of Film and New Media chose “neo” as their theme in a nod to the dawning of Reiwa era. They also liked that in addition to meaning “new”, “neo” indicates “a new rendition of something familiar.” In their introduction to their works, the students speak of both desiring to continue in the path of art traditions that have come before them while moving into the future with something new.

This year only 6 students were able to complete their films in time to graduate in 2020. All but one of the graduates are women and half of them are Chinese. Although I am is disappointed that the 7 other students from this cohort have not yet completed their graduate films, I am hopeful that there is much to look forward to next year because their first year works showed much promise. The 6 graduates each have their own individual styles.

Nianzi Li is my favourite animator of this cohort. Her first year film, When One Talks with a Lemon, is a delightful exploration of the metamorphic possibilities of the medium, but her true strength as an animator comes out in her graduate work Strawberry Candy. Using a pencil crayon drawings, she tells the first person perspective of a pre-school child who is being sexually abused by a family member. The story is told subtlety, slowly giving us the clues to what is really going on beneath the surface. It expertly conveys the confusion of a child who knows that something as wrong but is too young to have the vocabulary or knowledge to call out the behaviour directly. I look forward to more work by this artist.

I also like the work of Caori Murata, whose visual style has been greatly influenced by her studies in France. The use of a white background with a small square of colourful illustration is reminiscent of a paper edition of poésie published by Gallimard. Her works are a kind of animated bricolage.

11th Graduate Works / 第11期生修了作品集

Yoshiro Kawakami (川上喜朗, b. 1993)
A native of Tokyo, Kawakami graduated with a major in Painting from Tokyo Zokei University in 2018 before continuing his studies at Geidai. He explores “the motif of illustrated boys and girls” in his animation, paintings, and illustrations.

Twitter @KawakamiYoshiro
Instagram @kawakami_yoshiro

First year work:

Summer Sky Reverie (雲梯/Untei, 2019)

“It’s summer vacation and all the kids in the neighborhood have left to visit relatives. But there in the relentless glare of the sun, is a boy looking up at the sky.” (5 min.)

Graduation work:

Boy with Child (螢火の身ごもり/Hotarubi no Mugomori, 2020)

“A young boy gets pregnant. He suffers through morning sickness and cold stares while facing the new life inside him.” (10 min.)

Nianze Li (李 念澤, b. 1995)

Nianze Li was born in China and studied at the Sichuan Fine Art Institute New Media Art Department (2017).

Twitter @kurikopupu
Instagram @kuriko_sawa

First year film:

When One Talks with a Lemon (レモンと話したら /Remon to Hanashitara, 2019)
“What I say is never what you hear. It's like the printer misaligning the images little by little. This animation work portrays those communication gaps using various techniques including print, digital treatment and collage.” (4 min.)

Graduate film:

Strawberry Candy (いちご飴 / Ichigo ame, 2020)
“She has an unspeakable secret but the memory is gradually fading.
The little girl is no longer sure if it was a dream or reality.” (7 min.)

Yinan Liu (劉 軼男, b. 1993)

Yinan Liu is from Tianjin, China. She graduated from the Beijing Film Academy in 2015.

Website https://animaliu031.wixsite.com/yinanliu
Twitter @LiuynAnima
Instagram @anima_Liuyn

First year film:

What's that Smell? (においがする / Nioi ga suru, 2019)

“The world is filled with smells -- good smells, nasty smells, nasty but good smells, addictive smells, captivating smells, reminiscent smells, and so many more. What's that smell?” (3 min.)

Graduate film:

The Big Tree in Front of the House (家の前に大きな木がある / Ie no mae ni ōkina ki ga aru, 2020)

“It should have been an ordinary day but it was anything but usual. There was a large crowd in front of my grandma’s house. Where did the people come from and where were they going? I was peering out at them from the window, but the big tree obstructed my view.” (6 min.)

Caori Murata (村田香織, b. 1994)

Murata did her undergraduate study at Musashino Art University, Department of Visual Communication Design (2017). During her MA she studied as an exchange student at ENSAD (École nationale supérieure des Arts Décoratifs) in France.

Twitter @m_caori
Instagram @caori__mu

Graduate Film:

Our house / Notre maison (わたしたちの家 / Watashitachi no Ie, 2020)

“Alice goes out and opens doors as she pleases. The houses show her fragments of love that we all long for day to day throughout our lives.” (3 min.)

Sijia Luo (羅 絲佳 b. 1993)

website: https://www.sijia-luo.com/ 

Sijia Luo is from Guangdong, China and is a graduate of the Sichuan Fine Arts Institute (2015). She is inspired by a variety of art forms and describes her film development as experimental with the aim of seeking “liberation from visual language”.

Graduate Film:

I Am a Motif (私はモチーフ/ Watashi wa Mochifu, 2020)

“Realizing how different they are from one another, the three motifs - musical, visual and narrative - start to doubt themselves. But once the melody begins, the musical motif could not resist the impulse to dance and the others follow. Perhaps I, too, am a motif.” (8 min.)

Emari Okayama (丘山絵毬, b. 1992)

Born in Okazaki, Aichi, Okayama graduated with a degree in Aesthetics and Art History from Tokyo University of the Arts in 2015.

Graduate Film:

Empty Hands (おうさま・ひめ・ぶた・こじき/ Ousama hime buta kojiki, 2020)

“A mix of life tales in modern Japan where fate is predicted by your name and a fingerplay song. Are the members of this society playing into the hands of some higher being or are they living the life of impermanence?” (7 min.)

If you missed out seeing these works and the works of the first year students in Yokohama last month, you have another chance in Tokyo on from March 20 to 22nd at the Geidai Ueno Campus

© 2020 Cathy Munroe Hotes

09 June 2019

She is Alone (彼女はひとり/ Kanojo wa hitori, 2018)

Suicide is a solitary act but the ripple effects of such a death spread pain in an insidious manner through the lives of those connected to the individual who has so abruptly departed. First time filmmaker Natsuki Nakagawa (中川奈月) explores these ripple effects in her intense 60-minute drama She is Alone (彼女はひとり/ Kanojo wa hitori, 2018).

The story centres on Sumiko, played brilliantly by the up-and-coming actor Akari Fukunaga (福永朱梨), a high school student who has lost her mother to suicide. Rather than reaching out and talking to family and friends, Sumiko internalizes her grief. This leads to a cold relationship with her father and a destructive relationship with her childhood friend, Hideaki, played with great sensitivity by Kanai Hiroto (金井浩人). Sumiko is blackmailing Hideaki and as the layers get peeled back on their relationship, we begin to realize that there is a lot more going on in this twisted coming-of-age tale.

The film draws on elements of the thriller and the Japanese ghost story genres. During the Film Talk: Tokyo University of the Arts at Nippon Connection, I learned that Nakagawa is an admirer of the work of Kiyoshi Kurosawa, who was her mentor at Tokyo University of the Arts. Her film does emulate the mood of his films, helped in a great part by the fact that she was able to work with Kurosawa’s cinematographer Akiko Ashizawa (芦澤明子). It is a strong debut feature and I hope that Nakagawa continues to grow as a filmmaker.

You can follow director Natsuki Nakawa and actor Akari Fukunaga on twitter.

2019 Cathy Munroe Hotes