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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

 

 

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Design Illustration

32 Wildly Different Cover Designs Interpret Dave Eggers’ New Sci-fi Novel

October 21, 2021

Grace Ebert

By Clare Rojas. All images courtesy of McSweeney’s, shared with permission

Coinciding with the rise of the vibrant book cover blob, Dave Eggers’ new novel takes a profoundly divergent approach. The Every was released this month by McSweeney’s—the author is also the founder of the San Francisco-based independent publishing house—and is a follow up to his hit dystopian work The Circle. Despite a similar focus on the rise of surveillance capitalism, The Every features 32 different cover illustrations and graphic renderings, casting each interpretation as a design object in its own right.

Eve Weinsheimer created sixteen of the jackets, which display the book’s swirling logo designed by Jessica Hische in a variety of color combinations. The remainder range in aesthetic and style and include Robyn O’Neil’s dark graphite drawings, minimal tableaus by Clare Rojas that position tiny figures among imposing environments, and the dizzying geometries of Kristin Farr.

McSweeney’s dispersed all 32 editions of the book at random to independent bookstores, notably skipping Amazon because “I don’t like bullies,” Eggers told The New York Times, and plans to print more in the future. Some of the designs are available in the publisher’s shop. (via It’s Nice That)

 

By Clare Rojas

Top left: By Kristin Farr. Top right: Robyn O’Neil. Bottom left: By Chris Johanson. Bottom right: By Eve Weinsheimer

By Geoff McFetridge

Top left: By Clare Rojas. Top right: By Jon Adams. Bottom left: By Kristin Farr. Bottom right: By Tucker Nichols

By Robyn O’Neil

 

 



Art

Eerie Graphite Drawings Encase Aliens and Sci-Fi Experiments in Looming Stacked Towers

September 21, 2021

Grace Ebert

“Engineering Consciousness.” All images James Lipnickas, shared with permission

New Haven, Connecticut-based artist James Lipnickas conjures towering sci-fi structures filled with futuristic labs, clashes with aliens, and massive laser beams shooting from rooftops. Working in graphite, Lipnickas uses heavy shading to shroud his architectural renderings in mystery and unfamiliarity as tentacled creatures crack through the walls and humans become science experiments. “This series really grew out of my interest in advanced technologies integrating with humans and how it shapes us moving forward,” he says.

Amidst the machines and eerie contraptions, the artist interrupts each building with a level containing a garden bed or an illuminated tree grove. “The future holds many unknowns (technology and lifeforms).  We can’t forget the natural world while we move further from it,” he says.

Before the end of the year, Lipnickas will show some of his works at Chicago’s Vertical Gallery and in a few virtual exhibitions with WOW x WOW. You can find more of his drawings, and keep an eye out for an expansion of the series shown here, on his Instagram. (via Jeroen Apers)

 

“Through Different Identities” (2021)

“Way of the Future” (2021)

“Intelligent Machines” (2021)

“More than Human” (2021)

“A Simulated Reality”

“Techno Human” (2021)

 

 



Amazing

An Absurd Mockumentary Follows a Disheveled Robot that Mooches Off His Ornery Creator

August 26, 2021

Grace Ebert

Brian and Charles are just like any other roommates. They enjoy bedroom dance parties and competitive games of Scrabble, pull dated clothes from each others’ closets, and even argue over whose food is whose—Charles is notorious for sneaking bites of Brian’s vegetables when he’s not around. In most senses, the bond between the perpetually disheveled pair is typical of other friendships, but one thing sets them apart: Charles is a bumbling, redundant robot Brian built during an intense depression one winter, and now they’re stuck together.

Similarly brash and awkward, the quirky duo stars in a brilliant short film written and directed by Jim Archer. The mockumentary-style production follows their shared routines of eating berries and wandering their bucolic cottage property, before capturing the cabbage-fueled fight that threatens their bond.

Archer shared some behind-the-scenes details on the low-budget production with Short of the Week, and you can find an extensive archive of his short films on his site.

 

 

 



Art Craft

New Articulate Cardboard Sculptures by Greg Olijnyk Populate Miniature Worlds of Fantasy and Science Fiction

May 20, 2021

Grace Ebert

“DvG 2.0.” All images by Griffin Simm, © Greg Olijnyk, shared with permission

An eerie pair of buildings, a jet-powered dragonfly, and a sci-fi-inspired retelling of David and Goliath complete with an oversized robot and samurai comprise the latest cardboard sculptures by Greg Olijnyk (previously). Fully articulate and outfitted with LED lights and glass where necessary, the extraordinarily detailed works are futuristic, slightly dystopic, and part of larger world-building narratives. The architectural constructions, for example, are “the start of a series of pieces exploring the fear, fascination, and curiosity aroused by the stranger in our midst. The weird presence out of place. The building of unknown purpose with no windows and with lights flickering at night,” he says. “What’s going on in there?”

Olijnyk is based in Melbourne and shares works-in-progress and more photos of the machine-like sculptures shown here on his Instagram.

 

“DvG 2.0”

Detail of “DvG 2.0”

“Dragonfly Bot”

“The New Neighbours,” 80 x 75 x 30 centimeters

“The New Neighbours,” 80 x 75 x 30 centimeters

Detail of “The New Neighbours,” 80 x 75 x 30 centimeters

Detail of “Dragonfly Bot”

“Dragonfly Bot”

 

 



Animation Design

The World’s Largest Robot Walks, Kneels, and Points Toward the Sky Above Japan

October 5, 2020

Grace Ebert

All images courtesy of Shutterstock

An iconic sci-fi character comes to life in the form of an enormous droid that looms 60-feet above Japan. A project of Gundam Factory Yokohama, it’s the tallest robot in the world, and after months of engineering, this life-sized bot now can swivel its head, kneel, point upward, and even walk, despite weighing an incredible 55,500 pounds.

RX-78-2 Gundam robot is straight from Mobile Suit Gundam, the 1979 animated television series that originally was directed by Yoshiyuki Tomino and animated by Sunrise, before turning into a massive franchise with more than 50 films, television spin-offs, manga, and video games. It was slated for unveiling at a new amusement park dedicated to the bot this October, but the opening has been postponed due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. If you have the chance to visit the Tokyo area in the next year, however, Gundam will be stationed in the Port of Yokohama, which is just south of the city. (via My Modern Met)