A Child’s Metaphysics – Koji Yamamura

 

In this animated short “A Child’s Metaphysics”, Koji Yamamura represents the crazy imagination of children with his unique animation style and reminds us what it is to be a child.

This is composed with a series of very short animations, and each animation has a different child in it.  One child’s head is filled with numbers, another’s head turned into a giant book, another child forces their sad face turn into a smily face, another catches their own tears in a glass and put it inside their body, another character has an endless zipped mouth and can’t say anything, while another child tries to fit into a different shapes that is getting smaller.

Children are the constant subject in his animation. He has published many children book,  he has made some animation for children, and in his masterpiece , “Kafka’s A Country Doctor”, there is a sick boy who wants to die.

Koji Yamamura is one of my favourite Japanese animators of all time. He is probably known for his award-winning film “Mt. Head”.  However, in this animation “A Child’s Metaphysics” with his such a simple style, he made me realise this is what only animation can do.

 

 

Recruit Rhapsody

This is a final film that is made by an animator Maho Yoshida when she was a student at Tokyo University of Arts. I saw this film for the first time when I was a 2 year at my previous university, and I believe seeing this animation was part of why I decided not to look for a job like this. How Japanese students find their jobs in the final year of universities is shown very realistically in this Animation and I remember it became a viral hit between young recruits in the recruitment season.

After I did a facial expression exercise in this course, I rewatched this animation and amazed how expressive the characters in this animation are. She managed to show complex expressions and emotions without any lines. Especially the smiles they make at the recruiting fair scene always gives me goose bumps.

Octocat Adventure

Octocat Adventure is the series of animation that David OReilly has posted on youtube pretending as a 14 year-old boy Randy Peters.  Everyone believed that this is created by a little kids by the rough drawing that looks like it’s illustrated using MS Paint the drawing software everyone has used when their kids with terrible voice-over. the story is about Octocat’s quest to find his parents.

In the last episode of the series, OReilly revealed that it is not a child’s work by changing the medium to 3D. I saw this films at OReilly’s talk at the London International Animation Festival for the first time, but I thought I would have believed it was made by a child and empathised with the story if I find it on youtube.

About this project, he says

“…you’ve all proved one vitally important point: audiences don’t need polished, slick animation to find a story engaging. They are happy to follow the worst animated, worst designed and worst dubbed film of all time, and still laugh and cry and do all the things you do watching a so-called “high end” film.”

I think what he wanted to prove with this project apply to most of his work as well. For instance, one of his early work “RGB XYZ”

I’ve always interested in his work not only because of the way he uses 3D graphics in his animation but his perversity, and knowing about this project made me interested in his work more.

 

 

David OReilly. (2018). Octocat Adventures. [online] Available at: http://www.davidoreilly.com/octocat-adventures/ [Accessed 12 Mar. 2018].

David OReilly. (2018). Works. [online] Available at: http://www.davidoreilly.com/#/rgb-xyz/ [Accessed 12 Mar. 2018].

ShiShi Yamazaki

 

I’ve always thought rotoscope is a lazy method to make an animation, but ShiShi Yamazaki’s animation made me think that there is a good way to use rotoscope.

She developed her watercolour hand-drawn rotoscoped animation when she was learning in Tokyo University of the Arts. Her animation has always ShiShi herself dancing with most of the time half-naked in it. I love her unique movement and dance, the transition of the scenes and the way the character translate into abstract shapes

Her work also appears in a lot of commercials, such as Shiseido, Chanel, Prada.

This is the video she made for Chanel starring Cara Delevingne last year, and below is the video of how she directed the animation for Chanel.  After knowing how she animated all the frames with watercolour, I could never say rotoscope is lazy.

 

 

Yoko Kuno

First of all, I would like introduce her graduation film this animator Yoko Kuno created when she was studying at Tama Art University (2012).

When I saw this animation for the first time, I was amazed by how she manage the camera movement with her constant morphing style.

She spent 1 year and a half, and has done over 3000 drawings by herself for this animation. For this graduation film, she also contacted the singer Cuushe asking to use her music in the film. After completed the film, they’ve collaborated throughout the years as Cuushe loved Kuno’s work so much. 

Kuno designed the cover for her albums and even another music video for Cuushe’s latest album.

She has experimented rotoscoping in this music video, and I was very surprised by the shift of the live action footage to her stylized character animation.

Masaaki Yuasa and Flash Animation

Today, I finally finished my presentation.
I was extremely nervous because it was my very first presentation in English.
Here is what I presented today.


I chose this director for my presentation because I personally really enjoy his work even though I am not a big fan of Japanese anime. Yuasa is interesting to me because of his unconventional approach to animation and his studio ethos.


Masaaki Yuasa started out working for an obscure contract anime studio called Ajia-do.
The studio was formed by very skilled animators who also knew how to handle all of the other directorial processes. Yuasa experienced almost every animation role during his time at this studio, where he worked on a lot of anime shows that every Japanese person has heard of.


He directed a movie Mind Game in 2004. Yuasa had worked for the industry for a considerable time at this point.
Following Mind Game, he directed three TV series: Kemonozume, Kaiba and Tatami Galaxy.
On all three of these productions, he worked as a Director, animator, writer and storyboarder.
It’s not common for directors to fulfill this many roles but Yuasa uses his diverse set of skills to help almost every department of his anime. Because of this –even though most of the work he has done are adaptations of Manga or novels– his visual style is instantly recognisable as it significantly differs from standard anime.
Yuasa’s style is known for his great use of wide camera angles and distorted perspective, rough but clean lines, flat and vivid colours, simple designs, and experimental narrative.



He also directed, an episode of Adventure Time as a guest animator. Yuasa was the second guest animator on Adventure Time after David O’Reilly. It is animated in a style different from most other episodes of Adventure Time, and it has a style very unique to Yuasa.

Examples
– Finn and Jake’s constant motion through 3D space
– Constant perspective changes
– Use of colour gradients
– Use of patterns
– Stylistic changes to Finn and Jake’s character design
– Change to narrative pacing


just before he did the episode of Adventure time, he set up his own studio, Science Saru in order to make the offer from Cartoon Network viable. For Yuasa and his studio, the experience of working with Cartoon Network was significant. He once mentioned in an interview, that when he visited the Cartoon Network studios, he was very surprised and shocked that everyone working there looked Happy. Yuasa felt this way because even though animation is obviously big business in Japan, the working conditions in the Anime industry is very poor.

After this experience he aimed to change working environments in the Japanese animation industry while maintaining the appeal of Japanese anime and quality.


At the same time, Yuasa was directing “PING PONG The Animation” for Toei, a large Japanese studio. Yuasa used his own studio, Science Saru, to help with certain scenes on this project. Yuasa and his team experimented heavily with flash during this period.

Flash animation is animation created in the adobe software, flash.
Flash relies on point-based coordinates, allowing smooth transitions between frames.
Flash is technically CGI, as in Computer Generated Imagery. Animators don’t have to redraw every object in the entire frame from scratch.
Because of this, Adobe Flash is usually used for low budget animations. In an effort to save time and money, western studios are increasingly drawn to flash techniques over hand drawn ones. However, Yuasa’s Flash animation is a bit different from this.


Here is a video they are showing how they animate in Flash

“Flash’s real advantage is a smoothness of movement and a clarity of line. So it’s ideal for showing small objects growing ever-larger in size while maintaining their original form, or for constantly mutable forms like water.”

This quote from his interview helps us to understand why Flash is suited to Yuasa’s three dimensional and distorted perspective animation. Flash also, potentially, makes the inbetweening process for all motion more directly and immediately controllable than outsourcing/offshoring that process as the industry usually does.

This year, He released his first two feature films since Mind Game, in 2004. They used flash for both films, but one of the films “Lu Over the Wall” is Yuasa’s original story and it was produced entirely with Flash animation,

– Yuasa’s team drew key frames by hand and traced them in Flash.
– This saved them from having to draw more than eighty frames per scene as Flash took care of the in-betweens.
– This allowed Yuasa to produce a feature with a team two thirds smaller than a regular studio.


However the visual direction of Lu Over the Wall looks conventional and kitsch in comparison to Yuasa’s previous work.
Lu Over the Wall features very few appearances of his trademark style such as unusual angles and vibrant colours. Instead, Lu Over the Wall is primarily composed of orthodox shots and a more subdued palette.

I do prefer the old sketchy style rather than this new vector-like animation, and I’m a little bit sad to see this is the direction he wants to take.
On the other hand, Lu Over the Wall can be seen as good example of flash animation allowing smaller studios to create large, commercially viable features. Perhaps this is a vindication of Yuasa’s goals, mentioned earlier.
It’s proof that Flash animation can work surprisingly well even on the big screen.


The reason I would prefer not work as an animator in Japan (other than stylistic preferences) is because of the current working environment. Most studios can only pay animators very little for their work and the average yearly income is 1 million yen which is approximately 7500 pounds. Japanese animators average eleven working hours a day.

I hope there’s a way this can change in the future.

Science Saru aims to challenge these conventions, an example of this is their 9-6 work day policy. The studio’s co-founder, Eunyoung Choi, believes that animators need to experience life outside of work to be more effective in their approach.

I think the development of young Japanese animation studios, like Science Saru, is key to the industry’s future.


Science Saru will release the new series “DEVILMAN crybabybased on Japanese Manga Devilman for Netflix next year

Satoshi Kon, Millennium Actress

The end of the last month, I went to a screening of an animated film called Millennium Antress (Sennen joyû, 2001) directed by Satoshi Kon one of the greatest anime directors of all time.

  

The animation in his films is always breathtakingly realistic.  However, the storytelling in this film is standing out from any of other animated films.

It is about the life story of a legendary actress Fujiwara Chiyoko who retired more than thirty years ago, told to a documentarian that decides to make a documentary about her.

Kon’s story is always told in a way where the line between reality and fantasy are blurred. This film is not an exception, the line between events of Chiyoko’s real life and scenes from her films is blurred and complex. What makes this film more interesting is that when the scene shift into Chiyoko’s past, the interviewer and his camera man also walk around in her past and interacting with people.

This is a film that probably could never work as a live action film because of the seamless changes between reality, memory and films and the transformation between a girl, a young women into an old woman.

The another remarkable point of this film for me is the running scene of the main character. There are a lot of different running scenes of her in this film as she is always finding the man she loves. I find the animation absolutely beautiful.