29 August 2022

Southpaw (サウスポー, 2019)


I first saw this delightful music video when the director and animator Sawako KABUKI (冠木佐和子) first posted it on YouTube back in 2019. When it screened at the Hiroshima Animation Season as part of the Japan Animation Association (JAA) selection Dive into the Sea of Japanese Independent Animation!, it stood out from the other films for its exceptional use of humour and movement. 

Kuricorder Quartet - SOUTHPAW | Music Video from SAWAKO KABUKI on Vimeo.

The video was commissioned by Kuricorder Quartet (栗コーダーカルテット): a quirky, multi-instrumental band featuring recorders (soprano, alto & great bass) and many other instruments. Since 2015, when Kenji KONDŌ left the band, they have actually been a trio but did not change their name. They are known in particular for doing covers of popular music and writing and performing film and TV soundtracks. Southpaw (サウスポー, 2019) is Kuricorder’s cover of the duo Pink Lady’s 1978 hit song “Southpaw” – which is said to have been inspired by the left-handed baseball pitcher Tomotsu NAGAI who played for the Crown Lighter Lions (now known as the Saitama Seibu Lions). When performing the song on television, Mie and Kei of Pink Lady wore glittery pink and white disco interpretations of baseball uniforms. 


No doubt inspired by the amazing choreography of Pink Lady, Kabuki chose to use dance as the main theme of her music video. She filmed fellow animator Manabu HIMEDA (whose delightful 45R Official Site Animation also featured in the JAA program) dancing and rotoscoped him into neckless humanoid character. A master of metamorphosis, Kabuki multiplies the dancing figure and positions the multiple figures in various moving patterns on the screen – always in perfect time with the rhythm of the piece and dynamically capturing the spirit of the performance. The audience was moved to gales of laughter. In a short amount of time Sawako is able to evince precisely that irrepressible urge to dance one feels when one hears a song like that really slaps (to use the modern lingo). 

 2022 Cathy Munroe Hotes