19 March 2007

4-Day Weekend (4デイ・ウィークエンド, 1998)

I've been a fan of British indie band The Bluetones for many years now, but only recently discovered this video for their 1998 song "4-Day Weekend." The animation is done by Studio 4°C, a studio founded in the mid-1980s by Koji Morimoto (森本晃司), Eiko Tanaka (田中栄子), and Yoshiharu Sato (佐藤好春). They have done a wide range of cutting edge animation work from Mind Game (2006) to The Animatrix (2003).

I like this video directed by Koji Morimoto for many reasons. On the sentimental side, the bubble-blower the young female protagonist is using in the scene that bookends the video is commonplace in Japan and my kids love to use them. On the more techinical side, I love the contrast between monochrome and colour. Normally I much prefer traditional line drawing to computer animation, but the colour effects in this short piece make it visually quite striking and original.

The use of black and white also suits the good and evil theme of the dream sequence that takes up the central part of the video. It culminates in a wonderful sequence in which the black spirit of the girl (shades of Ghibli films past in parts of this sequence) plummets to the earth but the boy transforms into a streak of white light to rescue her. Colour is then restored to the world as the band sings "I'm alive, I'm alive..."

My only criticism of the video would be the lifeless CGI rendering of the band performing in a haze of blue. As it is they look awkward and not very visually interesting. It would have been better if Morimoto had used the same style as animiation that he used to render the couple in the storyline. On the whole though, I think this is a superb video. I like the humour of the final scene. It's always nice to end a short film on a light note.

Here is link to the video.

Genius Party / Animation

© Catherine Munroe Hotes 2007