Animation

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Animation History Illustration

An Exhibition Unearths Rare Production Drawings from the Futuristic Neo Tokyo of the Anime Classic ‘Akira’

June 9, 2022

Grace Ebert

Akira, cut #1, Final production background detail, Toshiharu Mizutani, poster color on paper, 93 x 53 centimeters. All photos from AKIRA (Movie), based on the graphic novel AKIRA by Katsuhiro Otomo. First published by Young Magazine, Kodansha Ltd. © MASH • ROOM / AKIRA COMMITTEE, shared with permission

Katsuhiro Otomo’s 1988 sci-fi classic Akira has had an unparalleled influence on anime and film, and an exhibition at the Tchoban Foundation in Berlin showcases the original drawings that brought its futuristic cyberpunk setting to life. Akira – The Architecture of Neo Tokyo features 59 production backdrops, layouts, concepts, and image boards, many of which have never been shown publicly. The collection includes now-iconic works by art director Toshiharu Mizutani and collaborators Katsufumi Hariu, Norihiro Hiraki, Shinji Kimura, Satoshi Kuroda, Hiromasa Ogura, Hiroshi Ōno, Hajime Soga, Tsutomu Uchida, and Takashi Watabe.

Otomo first released the dystopian story as a manga series in 1982 before turning it into the highly influential action film a few years later. The narrative follows characters Shōtarō Kaneda, the telekinetic Tetsuo Shim, and their friends, who navigate the imagined Japanese metropolis of Neo Tokyo with its neon streetlights, crumbling infrastructure, and unrelenting post-apocalyptic vibe.

Ahead of the exhibition, curator Stefan Riekeles also released the book Anime Architecture: Imagined Worlds and Endless Megacities. The volume contains fantastic scenes from various animated classics including Ghost in the Shell and Metropolis. You can see Akira – The Architecture of Neo Tokyo through September 4, and according to It’s Nice That, the show might travel to London next.

 

Akira, pattern no. 182, final production background, Toshiharu Mizutani, poster color on paper, 55 x 42 centimeters

Akira, pattern no. 2211, final production background, Hiroshi Ohno, poster color on paper, 50 x 36 centimeters

Akira, pattern no. 2204, picture board, Toshiharu Mizutani, poster color on paper, 25 x 35 centimeters

Akira, pattern no. 700, final production background Toshiharu Mizutani, poster color on paper, 26 x 37 centimeters

Akira, pattern no. 214, final production background, Toshiharu Mizutani, poster color on paper, 25.5 x 37 centimeters

 

 



Animation Design

In Clever Stop-Motion Tutorials by omozoc, Wooden Boards Slice Like Sticks of Butter

June 1, 2022

Kate Mothes

Stop-motion animator omozoc (previously) has a knack for making complex and labor-intensive processes look remarkably effortless. In a new series called Stop Motion Woodworking, planks of wood are sliced with kitchen knives, cookie cutters carve mortise holes like dough, and a bench scraper shapes tenons for the joints with the smoothness of a blade through a stick of butter. Satisfying chopping and slicing sounds accompany the construction of a small stool that is just the right size to hold a milk crate, which features in its own tutorial video.

Find more animations by omozoc on YouTube.

 

 

 



Animation

A Brilliant Orange Orb Shape-Shifts Through Time in a Meditative Animated Short

May 20, 2022

Grace Ebert

A metaphor for the way fragments of time both accumulate and mutate as they slip from one moment to the next, a glowing sphere is the subject of a calming short film by Argentinian artist Ezequiel Pini, of Six N. Five. The CGI animation follows the bright orb as it expands, multiplies, and transfigures into alternate forms like a sun dropping beneath the horizon and windows evocative of the recently demolished Nakagin Capsule Tower. Although simple in shape, the round object “represents care, calm, and attention to achieve its ultimate perfection. We are a circle, without boundaries, beginning or end. Infinity,” Pini says. Watch more of his poetic works on Vimeo.

 

 

 



Animation

A Trailer for João Gonzalez’s Animated Short ‘Ice Merchants’ Follows a Cliff-Jumping Father and Son

April 29, 2022

Grace Ebert

Selected as one of ten projects for the International Critics’ Week at the Cannes Film Festival, João Gonzalez’s “Ice Merchants” is a frigid and precarious tale about a father and son. As the title suggests, the pair sells the frozen material, although to reach the market in the village below, they have to grab their parachutes and leap from their cliff-side home each day.

Gonzalez, who also performed and composed the accompanying soundtrack, created “Ice Merchants” in a minimal style similar to his award-winning “Nestor” and “The Voyagers.” He shares about the new film in a statement: “Something that has always fascinated me about animation cinema is the freedom it offers us to create something from scratch. Surrealistic and bizarre scenarios and realities can be used as a metaphorical tool to talk about something that is common to us in our more ‘real’ reality.”

Watch the trailer above, and follow the Portuguese director on Instagram to stay up-to-date on future viewing opportunities.

 

 

 



Animation

Abstract Forms Evolve into Insects and Animals in a Hypnotic Animation by kanahebi

April 27, 2022

Grace Ebert

Chaotic masses of rounded shapes morph into insects, animals, and other organic lifeforms in a new animation by Hideki Inaba, aka kanahebi (previously). Drawing on the inevitability of change, “FLOW” opens with a small cluster of matter that swirls into a diatom-like disk. The digital renderings expand in size, form, and density throughout the short film as they contort into increasingly complex creatures from beetles and butterflies to birds and sweeping, radial motifs containing multiple species. For more of kanahebi’s mesmerizing animations, visit Vimeo and Instagram.

 

 

 



Animation History Music

A Short Film Collages Chicago’s Past and Present in a Profound Look at the City’s History of Activism

April 19, 2022

Grace Ebert

A palimpsest of history, politics, and art, a short film by Lisbon-based director João Pombeiro is an ode to the Midwest’s largest city and its people. “Chicago” travels across time periods and neighborhoods in a poetic collage of community and culture: cutout photographs of children sit in front of reconstructed streetscapes, animated snippets depict cars from today and decades earlier driving next to each other, and the El runs through the background.

Created as a music video for Lance Skiiiwalker, the layered imagery mirrors the composition, which infuses audio clips from civil rights-era speeches, police sirens, and news broadcasts into Skiiwalker’s otherwise soft, jazzy track. Opening on the South Side and traveling downtown, “Chicago” is a profound, nostalgic consideration of the activism, pride, and compassion that have shaped the city.

Pombeiro frequently works in this style that melds analog and digital, and you can watch more of his films on Vimeo.