03 May 2009

Moving (おひっこし, 2008)

At the Musabi Student Film Explosion screening at Nippon Connection, the real standout for me was a three-minute animation from director Kei Suezawa (末澤慧). Musabi is the nickname of the Musashino Art University (武蔵野美術大学), a leading college in the education of young artists including Satoshi Kon.

The film Moving (おひっこし/Ohikkoshi, 2008) takes a simple story concept and uses it as a vehicle to show off the animators talent. The animation is executed with innovation and a sense of humour. It opens with moving men clearing the furnishings from a room. Two identical grey cat decorations sit side-by-side on a shelf staring forwards with wide eyes and ambivalent expressions on their faces. Neglected by the movers, one of the two cats tumbles off into the traffic. From there the cat falls into the sewers and floats out into the ocean to begin its adventures around the world. The film closes with the cat landing back in the moving van, but it’s colour has faded to white during its journey making the cats look like a pair of salt & pepper shakers.

The cel animation looks to be hand drawn and uses bold colours. A professionally mixed soundtrack of music and sound effects complements the high quality of the animation. My one criticism of the film is the inclusion of one of those stock scenes of an aboriginal island community dancing around a caldron which suggests they are cannibals. This is such a cliché and not even a funny one at that.

When I looked this little film up on Musabi’s website, I found that someone named Hodaka Ueda (上田穂高) received top billing on their screening list, but I have found very little information about the current status of either of these two students. Ueda and Suezawa seem to also have collaborated together on another short animation called Buraunkan Heya (ブラウン管部屋). Judging from the high quality of Moving (おひっこし, I suspect that the students behind it are studio bound and have a bright future in animation ahead of them.

© Catherine Munroe Hotes 2009