Archive for the ‘The Nether Side’ Category

A polygon of animation

Wednesday, July 28th, 2010

Vendredi pointed out to me one of the unique offerings of anime from Russia. Recently, we were exposed to a Russo-Japanese collaboration in First Squad. I thought it was disappointing, especially because the Japanese part of the collaboration was done by Studio 4C, one of the more hallowed anime studios around. More of the blame, however, can be placed on the poorly told and executed story of the Russians. It didn’t help that the trailer was so different from the film itself: the viewer was made to imagine that the film was going to be a creative action film featuring a girl with a katana, and it was going to be done by Studio 4C. What came out was a quasi-documentary, quasi-feature film, and it was entirely a disappointment.

I became more wary of Russian animation after that experience, but I’m glad to say that Polygon changed that perception into something a little more positive: it’s a short animation that aged very well considering it’s more than 30 years old.

Quoting Vendredi,

Polygon was produced in the Soviet Union in 1977 with a completely analog animation technique known as “photographica”, where characters were coloured using two sets of cels, rather than one – having two sets allowed a very complex portrayal of colour which gives Polygon a rotoscoped or almost computer generated look.

It is only ten minutes long, but I liked how the short portrayed the dynamism of war’s spectrum. Something created to be a weapon of war was actually a weapon of pacifism: isn’t war just the other side of peace?


Ocean Waves: a beautiful aberration and a testament to loyalty

Wednesday, July 14th, 2010

AHR asked me to comment on his analysis [more intensive stuff than mine, honest!] on the Ocean Waves film. It made me realize it’s been two years since I’ve watched the movie: it was high time for a re-watch. I’m glad I did, because I was also finally able to figure out the previously quizzical parts of the movie and contextualize it within the film. I am very slow sometimes, especially when the movie appeals more to my emotions than to my head: this was the case with Ocean Waves, and this was the reason that despite previous re-watches, I couldn’t understand some parts near the film’s end.

Before I delve into the nitty-gritty of the film, however, let me first elaborate on the film’s history. It was directed by Tomomi Mochizuki, director of House of Five Leaves. He was an upstart back then, and the film was done to showcase the ability of the animation students. While it spent more than its budget and went past its deadline, the result (at least to me) is a brilliant departure from most Studio Ghibli films: unlike the imaginative realms and worlds of Spirited Away or Totoro, the film was founded and grounded on human reality. This was a story devoid of the ostentation of other Ghibli offerings: it was down-to-earth, minimalistic, and realist in perspective. In other words, it was an aberration, a deviation.

It is beautiful because of its masterful execution and a working policy of its minimalism: more often than not, it shows, not tells. Morisaki never explicitly voices out how he takes his friendship with Matsuno seriously, but it shows in one of the earliest scenes of the movie: when Matsuno told him to come after he’s finished with his work, he instead immediately rushes to him with little regard for his employer’s and co-workers’ perceptions. One can always tell one’s friends when one is in trouble as to whether they are fair-weathered or true friends. I think the same occurred with Morisaki: when he stood up against an unreasonable decision by the school, only Matsuno was there with him. The rest of his friends didn’t come along.

This was beautiful cinematography: at the first moment Morisaki sees Rikako, he sees only her. He cannot even see Matsuno's face fully because of his attraction towards her. Great stuff.

This was beautiful cinematography: at the first moment Morisaki sees Rikako, he sees only her. He cannot even see Matsuno's face fully because of his attraction towards her. Great stuff.


The Nether Side: Band of Ninja (Ninja bugei-cho) [1967]

Sunday, July 11th, 2010

Nine years before Nagisa Oshima released his extremely controversial and highly seminal In the Realm of the Senses film, predating Lust, Caution by about thirty years, he was already involved with much experimentation: his film, Band of Ninja, may or may not be considered anime, depending on how one defines anime. It has moving pictures, indeed: there is animation, but not the kind one has grown to expect in anime. Unlike the stylistic slideshow of Bakemonogatari, Band of Ninja is essentially a slideshow. Motion can be noted, but it is not even the motion that can be seen in the earliest forms of anime such as Astro Boy: it really is a slideshow.

This is the most illusive movie poster I've seen.

This is the most illusive movie poster I've seen.


In celebration for four years: The Nether Side

Saturday, July 10th, 2010

It’s been four years since I’ve started to blog here at AnimeBlogger. I asked for suggestions in a previous post of mine, but it seemed no one had something in mind. I was thinking about what to do as thanks for my readers; luckily I was able to browse through a decent recommendation thread in /a/ (yes, I did not write that wrong). I saw a picture that was full of experimental and artsy anime offerings: I then realized that it was going to be what I will be doing in celebration of my four years. I will be talking about anime OVAs, series, and movies on the fringes of the medium: these are the entrees that even a significant number of anime fans are unfamiliar of, experiments and gifts that try to push the envelope of anime. Interspersed among my regular commentary on current anime series, I hope this segment brings more attention to these mostly unknown works of art. I won’t try to dissect them as surgically as I did with Tatami Galaxy; I’ll just try to invite more people to enjoy these works.


I’m calling this segment The Nether Side, primarily to pertain to these anime being below the radar of most anime viewers. It’s also a colorful title in itself.