07 October 2014

Pecora’ped (ペコラペッド)

Pecora’ped (ペコラペッド)
I was quite taken by the enthusiasm of two young animation entrepreneurs, Miyako Nishio (西尾都) and Ikue Sugidono (杉殿育恵) at Hiroshima 2014.  Working as an animation team since 2006, Nishio and Sugidono use the name Pecora’ped (ペコラペッド / Pekorapeddo). 

I should point out that the apostrophe in their official name has been inserted by me to aid English speakers with pronunciation of their unusual name.  As is often the case with Japanese artists, their use of English can sometimes lead to unfortunate choices in names and titles.  As it seemed unlikely that these two bright-eyed women with such a kawaii aesthetic intended to use a violent word like “raped” in their name, I dug a little deeper and found that the name Pecora’ped is the result of bringing together the words “Pecora” and “moped”.  “Pecora” is from the Latin (and modern Italian) for sheep (in English it is also used by scientists for the infraorder of mammals to which sheep belong).   Apparently, Nishio and Sugidono wanted their name to bring together the fluffiness of sheep and the rapid movements they associate with mopeds.  I am not sure how effective the name is in Japanese, but if they want to market themselves abroad with their cheerful and fluffy image, they may want to consider re-branding their romaji name. 

Nishio and Sugidono met as students at Hiroshima City University’s Department of Design and Applied Arts.  Since graduating in 2006, Nishio worked as a designer for five years for Nintendo, while Sugidono has worked as a freelance animator and artist.  Sugidono’s indie work Madly in Love (メロメロ, 2013) has screened widely at international festivals from ASK? Film Festival, where it won the Grand Prize, to Tricky Women, Image Forum Festival, and most recently Fantoche.  

According to their official website, Pecora’ped aim to provide their viewers with “ukki-uki and wakku-waku experiences” (うっきうき!わっくわく).  I am not exactly sure why they have altered the spelling slightly, but uki-uki (うきうき) and waku-waku (わくわく) are common onomatopoeia in Japanese meaning “cheerful / lighthearted” and “exciting / thrilling”.

Their DVD The Films of Pecoraped 2007-2014.7 starts off with their earliest film together, Straying Little Red Riding Hood (迷走赤ずきん, 2007), an amusing over-the-top retelling of the classic fairy-tale done in a cutout-style with simple animation movements. SPONCHOI Pispochoi (2010) is a colourful little film featuring cheerful humanoid insect-like creatures who giggle and chat.  When they start growing moles on their faces they start to sing about this, determined to remain cheerful about this potential flaw in their otherwise perfect lives.  More and more disturbing things happen to these poor creatures but they remain resolute in their determination to remain cheerful.

In conclusion, the DVD features four short-shorts completed by Pecorap’ed this year: Baking Mochito (ぷぅっと もち彦, 2014), an animated haiku dedicated to the New Year’s tradition of roasting mochi (rice cakes), Evolutionary Tree (進化の樹2014), a cutout celebration of the natural world, Human Gene Pool (人間の遺伝子プール, 2014) an unusual take on humanity with some very unexpected twists, and Model Organisms Collection (モデルの生物コレクション,2014) a fashion show featuring various organisms, real and imaginary, with Darwin himself taking the stage as if he were the designer.

The DVD is not a complete works.  For a taste of their work so far, check out their Show Reel and other films on Vimeo.  You can also check out their contribution to the award-winning NHK omnibus Shinichi Hoshi Short-Shorts (星新一ショートショート調査, 2008) by ordering the DVD.

What really impressed me at Hiroshima was Nishio and Sugidono's entrepreneurial spirit.  In addition to the DVD, they had made beautiful jewelry, stationery, and other lovely gift ideas using characters from their animations.  They also make picture books and illustrations and are enthusiastic about collaborating with other artists and running animation / art workshops.  The tree-shaped brooch that I bought made a lovely souvenir of the animation festival and tied in well to the Satoyama Concept workshop that I attended in Fukui Prefecture after the festival.

Catherine Munroe Hotes 2014