Friday, June 13, 2008


last night's adventure in anime was wicked fun. the first series, "genius party" featured breathtaking visuals coupled with only occassionally befuddling, non-linear storylines.

one of the directors of the shorts, shinichiro watanabe, was present for the screening. in his opening remarks, he made a heartfelt and impassioned case for hand-drawn animation, over the hegemony of computer-generated 3D that seems to have taken over north american animation to the exclusion of any other iterations. he claims that only with hand-drawn can you see the "soul" of the animator, and to a certain extent i would have to agree. the success of pixar (and i'm an avowed pixar fan), is mostly due to the top-notch writing, characterization, humour and inventiveness of the storylines. the compelling visual aspects are usually confined to the wizardry and "how'd they do that?" wonder (i just watched "monster's inc" this past weekend with my niece and nephew, and the ruffling, indpendent hairs on sully's be-furred body are indeed, marvelous to behold), as opposed to the soulfulness/tangible humanity of the animator's vision. it is rarely the visuals that elicit the emotional response. and the people! forget about 3D animated people...they look horrible, terrible! like stiff, waxen robots when the animators attempt any semblance of realism.

on the other hand, the human characters in watanabe's short film "baby blue" in the showcase (my favorite by far) practically oscillated with the intensity of nostalgic, unrequited love and coming-of-age sorrow for what could have been that it depicts. it was a remarkably potent story for all its' slightness (in essence, it's about a teenage boy who asks his childhood friend to cut school, take a train out to the end of the line and spend the day with him, before he moves away) and it was winsome and touching. the collaboration between the well-chosen music (a pared down, piano and guitar instrumental that reminded me of the score for "eternal sunshine of the spotless mind"), visuals, and story, worked together to produce a neat little film whose mood and emotive effects linger long after the movie is done; like the micro reverberations of a plucked string on a cello, vibrating slowly and echoing softly into stillness, filling a room with the impressive weight of its' timbre.

my other favorite film was called "deathtic4" directed by shinji kimura. the aesthetic was a big departure from what most people commonly associate with japanese animation. this was mostly computer-generated, and featured a cute, lumpen, odd-ball cast of endearingly drawn zombies, trying to return a live frog back to its' home, chased by quirky, tricycle riding, moo-ing (you kind of have to see it), red-hatted (and still ominous!) "zombie police".

the only one i really didn't like was this too-long rambling "philosophical" number that read like sartre by way of william gibson (shudders). it was too-long! also, the stunning, layered visuals were marred by this droning voice repeating existential platitudes like: "god. reason. reason is god? doubt is god? reason is doubt" terrible. i will never understand why william gibson became deified. "neuromancer" features some of the WORST speculative fiction writing i've ever encountered. it's interminably boring, droning, hackneyed, and worst of all, commits the most egregious of cliches against the future.

"genius party beyond" was slightly less enjoyable...the visuals were again fantastic, but the storylines veered waaaay off course. some of them were just plain odd and distasteful. this showcase definitely showed studio 4degreesC animators stretching beyond whatever previous conceptions people had about aesthetic characteristics of japanese animation. the showcase as a whole was very different, and there weren't any that i particularly enjoyed or liked or loved.

tonight is dj ruffneck's return! heehee...i'm so so so pumped! you're going to have to peel me off the walls. i fully anticipate waking up tomorrow clammy with dried sweat, with aching palms from banging on walls for reloads and hoarse voice from screaming my little baby chicken head off. first i'm going to see another two sets of short films with the dotytron, bwong, dr. rei and her manfriend. the first one is called "japanese spotlight: emerging auteur animators" then we're going to see "scene not herd" which is the annual one i always go to that features music videos from around the world (but mostly north america...and lately, mostly indie). my work friend K will be joining us, too! this is following a dinner at sushi inn (it's my first time going). it's a big night and a long day, considering i won't go home in between.

good thing i have a clear plate tomorrow! i might head downtown with my friend D and try to find a button for a dress and exchange some yarn at romni wools. other than that, maybe dinner with A&C and S, or else, wallowing at home on the couch with a hungover (and probably cranky) dotytron.


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