While the initial reception has been relatively subdued, many will no doubt look back on Heike Monogatari both for what it is and for what it represents; a significant work of animated cinema which marks a new beginning in director Naoko Yamada’s career. While the complex realities of the show’s production certainly merit critical attention, what most interests me about Heike Monogatari is not its place in the history of Japanese animation but the way it uses the medium of animated cinema to present us with a living image of history itself.
The concept of realism in animation is a tricky one. Indeed, animation is thought to be the perfect medium to transcend reality and give shape to one’s wildest dreams - it has become a cliché to say that the animator’s imagination is the only limit. However, paradoxically, some of the most important artists and works in the medium have seemingly relinquished this aspect, believed to be essential.
It’s probably no secret by now that most of the work done by the Hiroyuki Imaishi-You Yoshinari team contains some sort of political commentary ; however, when looking quickly at works like Kill la Kill or Promare, one might be led to believe that this commentary rests on a simple-minded manicheism : bad fascists/capitalists are … Continue reading Beyond Manicheism : the politics of Brand New Animal
Katsuhiro Otomo’s work in animation is mostly and rightly remembered for his 1988 masterpiece Akira, especially in the West where it has become part of the SF and animation canon. However, just like his career as a mangaka goes beyond Akira, his contribution to anime does not only come down to this behemoth of 80’s … Continue reading Before and after Akira : the themes and motifs of Otomo’s shorts
This essay is dedicated to all the artists at Kyoto Animation who died in the 2019 fire attack and whose painstakingly beautiful work is here celebrated. What seems the most beautiful thing to me, what I would wish to do, that would be a book about nothing, a book without any external ties, which would … Continue reading Liz and the Blue Bird : Beyond Realism