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.
Animation has an affinity with shape-shifting, to the point that even saying this is cliché. Since one of the first theoretical texts on animation, Serguei Eisenstein’s Notes on Walt Disney, the ability for objects to change forms at will has always been considered essential to the medium. That’s what Eisenstein called “plasmaticness”: the fact that animated objects and characters aren’t made of real matter, but rather of a sort of “plasma” that’s perpetually open to alteration. This is why animation has always been understood through the lenses of fairy tales, fantasies and phantasmagories.
Writing about animation isn’t easy. In my experience, the two pitfalls you’re bound to run into at some point are evaluation and description. Evaluation means that you have to justify that what you’re writing about is worth writing about: in other words, that it’s good or interesting in some way. But these are of course … Continue reading Motion/Movement
In my previous essay dedicated to Thomas Lamarre’s concept of animetism I argued that when studying animation, we shouldn’t just take into consideration space (how objects are distributed and move across the frame), but also time, which I believe is key to understanding the essence of movement. Indeed, movement is not just motion through space, … Continue reading Animation and subjectivity : towards a theory of framerate modulation
Memes are everywhere. That’s their most striking feature, really : wherever you go on the Internet, you’re bound to find something that more or less resembles it, from an image macro, to a twisted boomer comic or a completely surreal image that you do not fully understand nor wish to. Memes have become somewhat of … Continue reading Postmodern Media : Memes and Database Consumption
Thomas Lamarre’s The Anime Machine is undoubtedly one of the most important books dedicated to animation, and especially to anime. It manages to be at the same time a historical overview of anime and its techniques, a thorough analysis of some of its most prominent artists, and a compelling theory of animation and media in … Continue reading On animetism : or, the importance of sakuga to theory
Anime as relations of production What have we learned from our general overview ? That anime is difficult to define, obviously ; more precisely, that it is a shape-shifting phenomenon that changes depending on where you look at it from. This means that a definitive and all-inclusive definition is probably impossible. However, one can always … Continue reading Defining anime – Part 3
Is anime what’s on the screen ? While the formulation of this question might seem strange, as it is obvious that anime, as animation, is something that we look at, quite a large part of academic studies has chosen to approach anime indirectly. To put it simply, many scholars chosen to discard an approach of … Continue reading Defining anime – Part 2
In the end of 2016, the publication of the music video Shelter on the online platform r/Anime provoked a controversy : should this work, directed by a an American but produced by a Japanese studio, be considered anime ? An admin of the forum famously denied Shelter the qualification of anime, defining the latter as … Continue reading Defining anime – Part 1