24 September 2018

Geidai First Year Works 2015 (YouTube Playlist)

Geidai First Year Works 2015 (YouTube Playlist)
一年次作品2015  (YouTube Playlist)

The 2015 first year works of Tokyo University of the Arts (Geidai)  graduate students are almost all now available on YouTube.  These are the students of the graduating class of 2016, which went by the moniker 07YELL.  Tomoko Takaya graduated with the class of 2017 (08ZOOM).  Yuriko Noda has not yet graduated from Geidai's MA programme, but took time out to improve her stop motion animation skills in Ghent.  She just graduated from the Royal Academy of Fine Arts (KASK) this year and returned to Japan.

Only the trailer of Takoto Katayama's work Melting Down is currently on YouTube, but you can watch it in full on Vimeo - click here.  I have included the students' descriptions of their films below with short bios and links to their social media profiles.  Enjoy the animation!

Animator Profiles:

 “In a dimly lit kitchen as a chunk of meat is sliced, bugs creep out from the cut. Ordinary action like cooking transforms [it in]to the weird and the creepy.”

Hitomi OHTAKARA (大寳ひとみ, b. 1988) did her undergraduate degree in Design Informatics at Musashino. You can follow her on tumblr, vimeo, and twitter.

I Wanna Be Your Friend

“For friendship it is the most important to be cooperative.”

Iku OGAWA (小川育) was born in Tokyo. He has a degree in Graphic Design from Tamabi (2012). You can follow him on twitter, blogspot and tumblr.

Melting Down 
Sugoyaka-na Yugami

“The fear to be ruined calmly without any conscience. Everybody is getting distorted soundly and gently.”

Takuto KATAYAMA (片山拓人, b. 1989) was born and raised in Fukushima, where is experienced the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and its ensuing disasters. He studied design at Nihon University (2012). He does illustration and design in addition to animation. Check out his profile on vimeo or YouTube, or follow him on twitter.

Will Hatching Day Come? 

“This is a story of a little girl who believes she can hatch an egg one day if she keeps warm.”

K. Chayanit (K・チャヤーニット/ Kiatchokechaikul Chayanit / b. 1990) is from Bangkok, Thailand where she graduated from Sipakorn University with a degree in Decorative Arts (2012)

Fair Winds 
Haru no Kaze 

 “One day when I came home, I found my mother [had] become a cat. Unfamiliar appearance of the parents confuses the child. Yet, the time of the parents and the child passes quietly like a spring breeze.”

Eri KINOSHITA (木下絵李, b. 1991) is from Fukuoka. She has a degree in Design from Kyushu University (2014).


“One morning in the rainy season. A woman with curly hair wakes up. Phantasmagorical images of self-hatred come to her one after another.”

Tomomi KOMAZAKI (駒﨑友海, b. 1991) was born in Tokyo and studied Visual Design at Joshibi (2014). You can follow her on tumblr and vimeo.

Crossing Sight

“Various visions of life and death, as seen from an operation table. Did the operation succeed? Is the patient still alive?”

Xueqing SHAO (邵雪晴 / ショウ・セツセイ, b. 1991) is from Beijing where she studied animation at the Beijing Film Academy (2013). Check out her work on YouTube.

Color Blots 
Shimi Asobi
“A game to find image in a chance. In this Aleatoricism there are much more potentials than what I have moved.”

Saori SUZUKI (鈴木沙織, b. 1988) is a painter and sculptor in addition to making animation. Follow her on tumblr.

A Black Cat 
Kuroi Neko 

 “It consists of only [a] woman who keeps caressing a resisting cat.” yourself.”

Mika SEIKE ( 清家美佳, b. 1974) is from Kansai. She started making independent animation films in 2001. After working for many years in the field of education, Seike rejuvenated her animation career at Geidai in 2014. Learn more about her through my reviews of Thinking and Drawing: Japanese Art Animation of the New Millennium and Face to Face (お向さん2007). You can follow her on twitter to learn more.

Rain Shower 

“Rain showers briefly bring back flashes of color to a shopping [trip].”

Tomoko TAKAYA (高谷智子, b. 1992) was born in Tokyo, A graduate of Musashino Art University's Department of Imaging Arts and Sciences, Takaya graduated with the Geidai class of 2017.

Misfit Lil’ Sparrow 
Chunko no Nande? 

 “A little sparrow, Hanko, cannot make her head still like other sparrows. She wonders why.”

Yuriko NODA (野田ゆり子, b. 1992) is from Chiba. She has a majored in oil painting during her undergraduate studies at Tokyo University of the Arts (Geidai). Upon graduation she began her MA studies in animation at Geidai in 2014. She has recently graduated from the animation programme at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts (KASK Conservatorium) in Ghent which was founded by Raoul Servais. Follow her on twitter or instagram.

and, end 
En en 
 “‘Someday, this will end. I hate it. I wanna live forever,’ murmurs a girl over and over again. Does she repeat the same moments, or does she move forward? It looks and sounds either way. A wordplay animation.”

Mio YAMANAKA (山中澪, b. 1990) was born in Ehime and graduated from the Department of Human Expression at Kobe University (2013).

The Yellow Ball 
“A mysterious yellow ball falls down into the present city across time and space. It involves many people and unfolds various dramas.”

Xinxin LIU (刘新新 / リュウ・シンシン , b. 1989) was born in Dalian, China. She studied animation at the China Academy of Art (2012). Check out her work on vimeo.

mind scape
“The things are formed in the mind from the casual scenes of daily life. These [imaginings] accumulate and make an assembly of fantasy.”

Kaori RYŌ (梁佳緒里, b. 1991) was born in Tottori. She graduated from Musashino in 2014.

22 September 2018

NC18 Animated Shorts 2: Cosmic! by Hiroco Ichinose

Nippon Connection 2018 Animated Shorts 2: Cosmic! by Hiroco Ichinose 

I first encountered the work of animator Hiroco Ichinose (一瀬皓コ) at my very first Nippon Connection in 2008. Her independent works at that time like Cow’s Day (ウシニチ/Ushi-Nichi, 2007) and Ha・P (ハピー, 2008) delighted me with their minimalist animation style and quirky sense of humour. She has continued to impress me with her original works like Two Tea Two (2010) and her collaborations with her husband, animator Tomoyoshi Joko (上甲トモヨシ). 

Both graduates of the animation programme at Tokyo Polytechnic University, Joko and Ichinose were mentored by art animation pioneer Taku Furukawa (古川タク). They founded their own animation studio called Decovocal (デコボーカル). In addition to their independent works, they have been commissioned to work on a number of commercial projects for both CM and TV. My favourite of these is the 26-episode children’s series Rita and Machin (リタとナントカ, 2016), adapted from the French children’s stories by Jean-Philippe Arrou-Vignod with illustrations by Olivier Tallec

I chose Cosmic! (2009) for the Music of the Visual World: Japanese Indie Animated Shorts programme at Nippon Connection because I wanted to put the spotlight on two of the animators behind the Taku Team in the first selection, who I felt where following in their mentor’s footsteps. Ichinose and Joko make animation very much in the spirit of Taku Furukawa. Like the works of Furukawa, in Cosmic! Ichinose deploys a a simple line drawing animation style with vibrant colours to tell an amusing, offbeat tale of a romance between two angels who are separated from each other by a strange intergalactic bird who deposits them on separate planets. While apart, their story is told via split screen, accompanied by a minimalist acoustic guitar soundtrack by Junji Ichinose (一瀬純司). 

Check out the work of Ichinose and Joko on their official YouTube channels: 

Cathy Munroe Hotes 2018

21 September 2018

Nippon Connection 2018 Animated Shorts 1: Moving Colors by Taku Team

The theme of my selection at Nippon Connection this year was music. As most of my readership is outside of Germany, I know that many of you were disappointed not to be able to see the screening. Fortunately, most of this year’s selection can be found uploaded by the animators or the people who commissioned the animations on their official platforms. This is the first in my series highlighting this year’s selection. I will embed each video and give a little background about the artists involved.

Moving Colors from Decovocal on Vimeo.

The first work in the programme, Moving Colors, is a group project featuring the work of 12 animation creators (aka Taku Team). It is a tribute to the animator Taku Furukawa (古川タク, b. 1941) by young artists who were mentored by him at Tokyo Polytechnic University’s undergraduate animation programme. Each team member in this collaboration represents their favourite colour. The title design is by Furukawa himself. The team features: Takuma Hashitani (orange), Waboku (aka Wataru Nakajima, brown), Hakhyun Kim (purple) Yoshiyuki Kaneko (black), Shiho Morita (red), Moe Koyano (raspberry/turquoise), Yū Tamura (green), Yasuaki Honda (crimson), Yewon Kim (mint), Tomoyoshi Joko (blue) and Hiroco Ichinose (gold). The animations by the various creators were then edited together in a dynamic way by “Taku Team” with Tomoyoshi Joko of Decovocal as the creative director. The music is performed by Tomohiro Higashikinjō, Toyomi Kobayashi and Ryusaku Ikezawa.

Furukawa's Tyo Story (上京物語, 1999)

I chose this piece for Nippon Connection 2018 because it is a celebration of music and motion – something central to the aesthetic of the artist it celebrates. Taku Furukawa is an independent animation pioneer in Japan. He was first mentored by the animation iconoclast Yōji Kuri (久里洋二, b.1928) in the early 1960s but then went on to international acclaim for his own independent shorts. I have reviewed many of his works over the years including: Phenakistiscope (驚き盤, 1975), Nice to See You (ナイス・トゥ・スィ・ユー, 1975), and Tyo Story (上京物語 / Jyōkyō Monogatari, 1999).

 He is also well known in Japan for his prolific contributions to the long running Minna no Uta (みんなのうた / Everyone’s Song, 1961-present) series on the public broadcaster NHK. Since the passing of puppet animator Kihachirō Kawamoto, he has been the president of the Japanese Animation Association (JAA). He is known for collaborating with other artists such as his projects with the collective G9+1 and his prolific series of short shorts (chōtanpen / 超短編) with the composer Jun Sakurai (桜井順, b.1934) called One Phrase Theatre / ヒトコト劇場 (You Tube Playlist).

 There is no story in this piece, rather the overarching theme of “colour” (the title uses the American spelling, which is taught in Japan. This blog is written in Canadian English). Each of the animators (they call themselves “creators” in their explanatory notes) made a short inspired by the music and their selected colour. If you are familiar with the work of these artists (I believe they have all had works screened at Nippon Connection over the years), you will be able to recognise their distinctive artistic styles immediately. As a visual guide, I have taken some screencaps from the credits to act as your guide:

Cathy Munroe Hotes 2018


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