Tag Archives: Animation

Modest Heroes (Hiromasa Yonebayashi/Yoshiyuki Momose/Akihiko Yamashita, 2018)

In a short documentary available on Netflix, titled The Modest Heroes of Studio Ponoc, producer Yoshiaki Nishimura says that makers of short animation films are often asked: “Why do you make short films?” But he wonders why they never ask the question, “Why do you make feature films?” He suggests that short films are often viewed as a stepping-stone of sorts for people who can’t yet make feature films, but that this does a disservice to the form. As he says, short animation films have their own form of expression: “If the creator fully understands the idea, they can create great work… we create short films because we believe they have a value in and of themselves”

Nishimura is right to point out this unfair view towards shorts films. And it is admirable that Studio Ponoc’s second release, which clocks in at under an hour, should be an anthology collection of short films, rather than a traditional narrative feature, such as their 2017 debut, Mary and the Witch’s Flower. The good news is that this three-film collection does a strong job at illustrating the range of the studio’s talents, helping them emerge from the shadow of Studio Ghibli, for whom many of their staff used to work…

Full review for VODzilla.co

Advertisements

Breakthrough anime director Mamoru Hosoda on ‘Mirai’

In conversation with Japanese writer-director Mamoru Hosoda, he cites childhood and how young people change as a recurring theme that unites all of his original stories. As such, it seems strangely appropriate that we end up introduced to his own children during our interview. Having just told us that his latest animation, Mirai, is inspired by his kids, we ask him if any of the film’s characters were directly informed by his own brood, which leads to us being shown a family portrait on his phone. “Do you want to see my kids’ pictures?” he asks. “They even look similar.” Sure enough, a lot of the people pictured in the photo resemble the character designs in the film. “The father is different,” he concedes. “Obviously, I’m not that good looking.”

Although staged on a comparatively smaller scale to other Hosoda films like Summer Wars and The Boy and the Beast, Mirai still has an element of fantasy informing its portrait of family relations. It’s closer in spirit to his excellent drama Wolf Children, which spanned several years in the lives of a pair of lycanthropic children and the human mother struggling to raise them. Mirai also features troublesome children, though its exploration of time comes through the unique hook of a magical garden enabling a young boy to encounter his relatives from different eras, with a future older version of his younger sister Mirai acting as his guide…

Full interview for The Skinny

MFKZ (Shôjirô Nishimi/Guillaume Renard, 2017)

Scattered throughout animation MFKZ (aka Mutafukaz) – a collaboration between French company Ankama Animation and Japanese studio Studio 4°C (Tekkonkinkreet, Mind Game) – are a number of narrative-interrupting title cards that reflect something about the film’s various eccentricities. Some are posed as questions before expository information, such as in the case of ‘Who Are These Mysterious Wrestlers?’ One, in particular, stands out: ‘The Movies Have Never Seen Sh*t Like This!’ Although you can trace the DNA of a few notable influences, They Live and Akira among them, one might find that an accurate summation of MFKZ as a whole…

Full review for SciFiNow

Scotland Loves Anime 2018

Bar the occasional big screen outing for kids’ brands like the Teen Titans and My Little Pony, Hollywood has largely given up on releasing 2D feature animation in cinemas. And with the exception of recent European efforts like Ethel & Ernest, the best place for more traditional animation styles to thrive remains in the East, particularly in Japan. Anime on the big screen in Britain has become a big business thanks to successful limited runs via distributors Anime Limited and Manga UK, especially with 2016’s worldwide smash Your Name. The Scotland Loves Anime festival, returning for its ninth instalment at Glasgow Film Theatre and Edinburgh’s Filmhouse, is the best place for the unfamiliar and hardcore enthusiasts alike to get their biggest and most diverse dose of the medium…

Full feature for The Skinny

Mari Okada on her anime directorial debut ‘Maquia: When the Promised Flower Blooms’

Mari Okada has become one of the most prolific writers in modern Japanese animation, not only contributing scripts to various beloved shows, like a new version of Lupin III, but also writing entire seasons of others and seeing her work adapted across anime, manga, video games and live-action cinema.

With Maquia: When The Promised Flower Blooms, an intimate story set against an epic fantasy stage, she turns to directing her own material for the first time. It sees title character Maquia, a young woman from an elf-like race, lose her home, family and friends when her land is attacked by bandits intent on capturing its women. Legend has it that her kind never age, making them valuable to other kingdoms.

After Maquia escapes into the unfamiliar outside world, she stumbles across an orphaned baby, whose parents have been slain. She takes him into her care and tries to raise him herself. The film follows the pair over several decades, as one ages but the other doesn’t, while it also becomes clear that Maquia may not be the last of her kind after all…

Full interview for SciFiNow

Maquia: When the Promised Flower Blooms (Mari Okada/Toshiya Shinohara, 2018)

Genre fiction has many explorations of romantic love between an immortal being and a human protagonist – vampire stories are especially good for it. What’s less common is a focus on familial love between someone who’s fated to live forever, or at least several centuries more than most, and a human who won’t be alive for nearly as long.

Maquiaisn’t about vampires (and it’s not a horror), but does follow the parent and child relationship between a woman of fantastic origin and the mortal boy she takes under her wing…

Full review for SciFiNow

Junk Head (Takahide Hori, 2017)

As behind-the-scenes footage at its end shows, Junk Head is a true labour of love for Takahide Hori, who directs, writes and edits this stop motion animation, as well as voice work, composing the score and most of the other odd jobs.

A funny and both cute and creepy dystopian tale, it’s a truly unique vision, though for a taste of its style, imagine if Henry Selick or the Quay brothers made a film designed by Clive Barker, influenced by slapstick…

Full review for SciFiNow