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