14 August 2016

1962: Best Japanese Animated Shorts


Year in Review

1962 got off to a great start for animation in Japan with the Animation Group of Three (アニメーション三人の会/ Animation Sannin no Kai), aka Yōji Kuri (久里洋二, b. 1928), Ryohei Yanagihara (柳原良平, 1931-2015), and Hiroshi Manabe (真鍋博, 1932-2000), holding their second animation screening event at the Sōgetsu Cinematheque on January 19, 1962.    

The second Annecy international animation festival was held in 1962 and Kuri, who would become a notorious figure on the international animation scene in the 1960s, had his debut at the festival with his 27 minute film Here and There (あっちこっち, 1961).  Some filmographies list the film as being released in 1962 and only 20 minutes. 

Kuri’s Clap Vocalism (人間動物園,1962), also known as Human Zoo, was entered into competition with the Italian title Giardino Umano at the 23rd Venice International Film Festival as part of the 13th Festival of Documentary and Short Films and won the bronze medal for animation (Osella di bronzo per i cortometraggi di animazione).  His film Stamp Fantasy (1961) had been at the festival the year previously and his work would regularly feature at the Biennale and other European festivals throughout the 1960s.

The path to international recognition for Japanese animation had already been forged by the animation pioneer Noburō Ōfuji (大藤信郎) who passed away in 1961 with two animated films incomplete (learn more)  In his memory, the Mainichi Film Awards created an award for innovation in animation, known as the Noburō Ōfuji Award (大藤信郎賞).  The first recipient of this award was Osamu Tezuka for his short film Story of a Certain Street Corner (ある街角の物語, 1962) The Mainichi Film Awards do not publish the other contenders for this annual prize, which got me to wondering what other films might have been on the short list.  Kuri’s Clap Vocalism was international sensation but didn’t get the nod until 1965 when the Mainichi film awards recognised several of his films together.   Manabe’s Cinepoem No. 1 is also one of the most innovative of the year.

In the world of television, Ryuichi Yokoyama’s Otogi Pro animation series Instant History (インスタントヒストリー), which had debuted in 1961, continued in 1962 under the new title Otogi Manga Calendar (おとぎマンガカレンダー) moving from Fuji Television to TBS.  In addition, Otogi’s World Tour (おとぎの世界旅行 / Otogi no sekai ryoko, 1962), an omnibus of seven shorts that Yokoyama has completed in 1960 where edited into a feature length release and given a cinematic release.  The distributor was Toho, who apparently oddly screened the omnibus film together with King Kong vs. Godzilla (キングコング対ゴジラ, 1962).

The other significant animation event in Japan in 1962 was the release of the widescreen feature anime Arabian Nights: Sinbad's Adventures (アラビアンナイト シンドバッドの冒険, 1962) on July 21st.  Not to be confused with the 1975/6 Nippon Animation TV series of the same name, this was Tōei Dōga’s fifth feature anime.  Co-directed by Taiji Yabushita and Yoshio Kuroda, this beautifully animated work was the first Tōei film to use a setting outside of East Asia.  Inspired by the classic legends of One Thousand and One Nights, the screenplay was developed by manga-ka Osamu Tezuka and the novelist Morio Kita.

Best Japanese Animated Shorts of 1962

Clap Vocalism
Ningen Dōbutsuen
1962年 / 3’
Yōji KURI (久里洋二, b. 1928)

Cinepoem No.1
Shinepoemu Sakuhin No. 1
1962年 / 7’
Hiroshi MANABE (真鍋博, 1932-2000)

Story of a Certain Street Corner
Aru no Monogatari
1962年 / 3’
Osamu TEZUKA (手塚治虫, 1928-1989)

1962年 / 3’


Motoro the Mole
Mogura no Motoro
1962年 / 13’20”
Hiroshi Ikeda (池田宏, b. 1934)
Toei Dōga

Otogi's World Tour
1962年 / 86’ (omnibus of 7 shorts)
Otogi no sekai ryoko
Ryuichi Yokoyama (横山隆一, 1909-2001)
Otogi Pro

The Ant and the Grasshopper
Ari to Kirigirisu
1962年 / 15’31”
Matsue JINBO (神保まつえ, b. 1928) / Gakken

The Rolling Rice Ball
Omusubi Kororin

Kazuhiko WATANABE (渡辺和彦)/ Gakken


 Here and There
1961年/1962年 / 27’
Yōji KURI (久里洋二, b. 1928)