I actually don’t have anything worthwhile to write about today, but since I’ve been in the mood for blogging lately, I feel that I should put down my thoughts on a few pieces of animation/an animator that I’ve stumbled upon and liked quite some time ago. They were refreshing little pieces, each having its own quirk and flavor, and are interesting in their own ways. It’s a rewarding feeling when you find something interesting completely by happenstance.
I guess what interested me most about these two shorts was how different each of them are from each other. One is a hyper-kinetic splash of flashy exaggeration and exciting speed, while the other touches down on the ground and tells a more subdued, personal story. The core of the works is the same, though. The detailed backgrounds suit the tone of the pieces well, and the animation is lively and quite convincing. I liked the way the switch from one approach to the other didn’t feel jarring. In the end, the underlying charm of the first film is retained in the next, albeit distilled into another form.
The first short I caught more than a few months ago. I was pleasantly surprised when I sat down and watched the little 2-minute piece. It was fun, vibrant, energetic and refreshing. The short itself wasn’t that incredible, and the content not that unique, but the reason it’s most impressive is just that it’s fun. Animation without any kind of strings attached to it–it’s just something upbeat, also it’s something that can even brighten up a gloomy day. In TV anime, shots of animation that is unabashedly exciting happen to be few and far between, thus I was delighted when I caught this.
The creator, Hiroyasu Ishida, has his own youtube channel which you can find here, and his own website, which you can find here. The various production details and information about the creator is in his site, so you can see how the two pieces were made.
The short starts off simply enough, then slowly descends into the flashy and exciting territory. The star of this film isn’t so much the cute storyline it presents, but rather the intense and flashy direction it took to tell the story. The animation is wild and filled with a lot of quirky exaggerations, and the fast hyper-kinetic dash conveyed a convincing sense of speed. In some ways it even reminds me a bit of Gainax, in the sense that everything in this film is done in a slapdash way, and in the sense that the motions are jumpy. Although thinking about it, it isn’t as wild and insane as I thought it was, but the short film had its own sense of freedom, throwing reality out the window and doing stuff that’s only possible in animation. The constant stream of action in the film gave the piece its own character. For an indie production, it’s also highly accessible. The short film was a little achievement of fun animation just for the sake of fun animation.
The film was pretty funny too. The premise it had going for itself was a nice avenue for Ishida to put in all sorts of funny ideas into the it, from the motion itself to the background. I especially liked the part where she falls out of the stairway, jumps over a startled cat, falls onto a playground slide, and then flies off.
For his most recent outing, Ishida switches his approach from the wild, childishly playful Fumiko to the more somber and personal work Rain Town. The short apparently was his graduation piece for the Kyoto Seika University Faculty of Manga (browse through their various selections here) just a year ago. I thought that this was his more ambitious work so far, in that the film is much fuller and more conceptually rich than Fumiko (though I think part of it is the length differences: Fumiko being two minutes long, and Rain Town being ten). Nevertheless, Ishida shows a higher degree of artistry in his later work, putting out a more sophisticated piece of work. It feels more well-realized and more complete.
Like I said up top, I think the most impressive part about Ishida’s work thus far is the apparent ease with which he slid into different moods and styles. It’s only been a year’s gap between Fumiko and Rain Town and he’s already shown that he has some variety, and that he can quickly go from one approach to the next with seemingly little effort. Gone are the out-of-control antics and comedic flavor of Fumiko and here comes the more meditative and mellow mood of Rain Town. He’s wanted to get into the animation industry, and his early productions seem to speak much of his potential. It may be too early to say, but judging from his work, it looks like he can go places.
As for the film itself, it is most assuredly a more structured and imaginative affair. A town where it rains everyday has its human inhabitants leave for higher ground, leaving behind the robots to get drenched. A little girl returns to “Rain Town” for a stroll, and the rest goes from there. It is a nice little personal piece that’s constructed quite tightly. It’s a simple film, with no unnecessary frills, and only the characters, the music, and the art are there working well together to bring the piece to life. What’s also impressed me about the film was how it felt sentimental without being sappy. It doesn’t come off as too precious. There’s this simplicity in the work that enables the film to evoke emotion without being too overly done. Anime that do this tend to be the ones I liked better, so it felt good to see the short do the same. I also liked how the film managed to tell more about its world with little action. It achieved a lot for itself in a short ten minutes.
This time, I don’t think the animation itself is the star of the film, but rather the music and the art are the ones to take the cake. The calm and subdued music helps the dreary and monotonous art design flesh out the world in the film. For a town where it rains everyday, both elements do well complementing each other in showing the viewer how sad and boring such a place could be. Everything in this film is simple, grounded and low-key–quite the departure from Fumiko. The bleak look and tone of the film provides a good backdrop for the girl character, who’s dressed in a yellow raincoat. Both Fumiko and Rain Town share background sensibilities (both are highly detailed), which I guess is the element that unifies both shorts. At the end of the film, a brief heartwarming moment occurs that caps off the work in a charming and sentimental way. This film, as is Fumiko, isn’t too far removed from ordinary anime unlike what I expected from an indie, but it isn’t such a bad thing. To me they’re more like showcases of what more could be done in the traditional framework of anime, and that could only be a good thing.
In the end, Rain Town and Fumiko’s Confession are good, creative and funky introductory pieces to Hiroyasu Ishida. There are some very good stuff in his films, and I hope we see more from him in the future.
On that note, I leave you with another very short and fun piece of animation from Ishida called boxkun Problem Production.