08 January 2024

NIAFF 2023 Archive/アーカイブ: Director Rintaro's Talk / りんたろう監督トーク


Renowned animator Rintarō (りんたろう, b. 1942) premiered his latest animation at the debut Niigata Animation Film Festival (NIAFF) in March 2023. It seems fitting that he should have been a guest at the first NIAFF, because he started off his career as an in-betweener on the first colour anime feature length film The White Snake Enchantress (白蛇伝/Hakujaden, 1958), also known in English as Legend of the White Serpent.

One of the reasons that Niigata was chosen as a location to host an animation festival for feature length films is that Niigata is the birthplace of two animation pioneers who worked on Hakujaden: Hiroshi ŌKAWA (大川博, 1896-1971) and Kōji FUKIYA (蕗谷虹児, 1898-1979). Ōkawa (sometimes transliterated as OHKAWA), who has been called “The Man Who Aimed to Become Disney” by historian Nobuyuki TSUGATA, was the producer of Hakujaden and Fukiya contributed to the early technology used at Tōei Animation during the making of Hakujaden. In honour of their achievements, NIAFF awards the OHKAWA/FUKIYA PRIZE for technical contributions to animation.

Rintarō calls his work a manga eiga – an earlier term for animation – literally “cartoon film” and it takes its inspiration from early Japanese cinema and animation history.  Manga Cinema dedicated to Sadao Yamanaka: Nezumikozo Jirokichi (山中貞雄に捧げる漫画映画『鼠小僧次郎吉』, 2023)  is an adaption of the story of the legendary Edo period thief and folk hero, sometimes called Jirokichi the Rat in English. It is based on the script of  Nezumikozō Jirokichi Zenpen: Edo no maki (鼠小僧次郎吉 前篇 江戸の巻, 1933), the first of a trilogy of films written and directed by Sadao YAMANAKA (山中 貞雄, 1909-1938). Yamanaka was a pioneering film director whose brilliant career was cut short when he was drafted into the army and died in Manchuria. All but 3 of his early films, including this trilogy were lost, and with this work Rintarō and his team, including character designer Katsuhiro ŌTOMO (大友克洋) and composer Toshiyuki HONDA (本多俊之), sought to pay homage both to Yamanaka and to the art of silent cinema. In this clip from the NIAFF 2023 Video Archives, Rintarō talks to animation expert Ryūsuke HIKAWA (氷川竜介) about why he decided to do this project. Some of the highlights of the discussion are how much animation has changed so much since Rintarō first started in the industry, how young people today don’t know a lot about silent cinema – a medium that Alfred Hitchcock called the purest form of cinema, and his collaboration with Toshiyuki HONDA on the music for the film. Please use the captions auto-translate function for the language of your preference.

In the run up to the second instalment of NIAFF in March 2024, the festival is sharing highlights of last year’s festival every Tuesday on its YouTube Channel. Subscribe to see more. Nezumikozo Jirokichi is distributed internationally by MIYU.
2024 Cathy Munroe Hotes