23 May 2014

The Blooms (2013)

“Deep down in the forest there lived flower fairies in flower gardens, waking up with the sunrise, eating sweets, and chatting with each other.  One day they had a visit from him and then.  .  .”
– Geidai 2013 DVD description

“A richly coloured, horticultural emporium of all-sizes, an operatic break-out, a techno-hued extravaganza.”
- MIAF 2013 catalogue description.

There is a lot of pressure on Japanese women to keep a slender figure, so it is delightful to find a young filmmaker who has made a film that celebrates the Rubenesque form.  For her graduate film for Geidai (Tokyo University of the Arts), Ayasa Kugenuma collaborated with students from the Geidai music department to create The Blooms (2013).

Over the quiet stillness of a watercolour garden scene, a female operatic voices tells us that these deep red blossoms can be found in a tranquil garden in the deep forest.  Morning has broken, and the flowers open to reveal the chubby ladies who inhabit them.  The buxom forest fairies are dressed in negligee, some wearing heart-shaped sunglasses.  Some of the other blossoms are laden with objects of decadence: cakes, fruit and berries, jewellery, and wrapped presents. 

After a morning of indulgence a fat caterpillar appears, singing in his bass voice “Hello Honey!”  The women embrace the caterpillar and compete with each other for his affection.  When he leaves, they cry and mourn his departure.  The next day, the women bloom again in a spectacular way, bared their breasts to the warm sunlight accompanied by jazzy music.  It is a sensual declaration that they will enjoy their short lives as indulgently as possible.  It is a colourful tribute to the beauty of the natural world and to voluptuous femininity. 

The music was composed by Kayoko Naoe with sound design by Fumiya Iwanaga.  The music was performed by Saki Nakae and Maki Takimoto (sopranos), Shiho Ogawa (mezzosoprano), Miyako Honda (alto), and Takaki Kurihara (bass), with orchestral accompaniment from Honoka Maki (flute), Nami Sugai (alto sax), Yu Ishimoto (trumpet), Ayaka Suzuki (trumpet, piccolo trumpet), Yurie Shirai (trombone), Tatsuro Kano (bass), Shota Kowashi (drums), Atoko Noda (violin), and Makoto Fukumoto (cello).

Ayasa Kugenuma (久下沼朱紗, b. 1987) was born in Tokyo.  She did her BA in Graphic Design at Tama Art University (2011) and her MA in Animation at Geidai (2013).  In addition to animation, Kugenuma does freelance animation.  Check out her illustrations and other work on her official website or on her tumblrThe Blooms won best student film at FICAM 2014 and is continuing to screen at international festivals throughout this year. 

Catherine Munroe Hotes 2014