Award-winning Animations: Merging Artistry And Imagination On The Screen – The acclaimed director of ‘The Wolf Children’ and ‘The Boy and the Beast’ paints an intimate portrait of a young boy’s vivid imagination and how it helps him accept the arrival of his sister in one of the last Japanese animated films.
Combines traditional hand-drawn art with CG animation to tell a love story passed down from generation to generation. The film was nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Animated Feature, received two Annie Award nominations, for Best Animated Feature and Best Writing for an Animated Series , and is one of five nominees for Best Animated Feature at the upcoming Academy Awards.
Award-winning Animations: Merging Artistry And Imagination On The Screen
, four-year-old Kun’s world is turned upside down by the arrival of his new little sister Mirai (meaning “future”). Kun struggles to keep what he considers his rightful place in the family as the center of attention, but is no match for the newborn, until one day he goes out into the garden, where he meets a group of strange characters from the past. present and future, including teenage Mirai. It beautifully awakens the vivid imagination of the little boy,
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Most notably, it may be one of the last Japanese animations to use classic hand animation. “For this image, the background was made with paint on paper. One might think, “Isn’t that normal for anime?”, but it’s actually a dying art. Everyone will digitize or make backgrounds on a computer, so this film, and probably the next Miyazaki film, will be the last to have paint-on-paper style backgrounds. It’s a shame it’s gone, but that’s just life. Style and technology are constantly evolving and we have to move forward,” Hosoda confirms through an interpreter during a recent visit to Los Angeles.
. “These 20 artists are literally the last people in the world of Japanese animation who would use this style of painting on paper, because after they’ve finished their picture, they’re probably working on Miyazaki’s last picture, after ‘this, no one will ask. to paint on paper, so they go digital”, he continues. “It’s very sad”
While Hosoda is willing to move forward and embrace CG techniques, he also plans to continue trying to incorporate hand-dr elements into his future work. He describes the current state of the animation industry in Japan as “a turning point” and says he’s already thinking about his next film. “I’m really thinking how will it be different, will the characters be all hand-dr, or will the characters be a mix of hand-dr and CG?” he asks “It really depends on what the overall story is and how we’re going to try to tell it.” I’m really sad that hand animation isn’t used as much, but I’m still thinking about it.”
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, says Hosoda, uses the most CG of any of his films to date. This is because the director and the artists at Studio Chizu have tried to recreate the aesthetics of the hand using computer graphics. “There’s actually a lot of parts where you can’t really tell it’s CG,” he says. “The CG elements are hidden. We did that because we’re trying to experiment with what we can do with CG and hand animation, so there are parts that aren’t CG-like and parts that are CG-like, and we just don’t it can be said
, like a fantasy sequence in a crowded train station, looks dramatically different from the film’s everyday world. “This sequence is actually the part where Kun has lost his identity,” explains Hosoda. “He’s lost who he is. That scene, the clock, his role is to ask Kun, ‘Who are you?'” I really wanted that character to have the power—he had to have the right to ask that question about who Kunn was, so he really became someone who was custom designed, not like a normal person, so we used a cropped image of him and CG-animated him, so his eyes are cropped and look a little hollow and he has all these sharp edges. I wanted the whole scene to stand out because it’s really about the question of identity, but also because I myself have an identity problem that I carry with me,” she says.
While characters such as the train guard are designed with a whimsical appeal, Hosoda sought a more familiar and believable visual style for the characters in
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. “I really wanted the characters to be realistic, but it really depends on who’s drawing them,” he says. The director hired a marriage: Emmy-winning Hiroyuki Aoyama and Ayako Hata, who collaborated with Hosoda on
– for character design and animation control. “Because they were actually a couple, they were able to show a realistic family dynamic,” she says. “They are very good”
Capturing Kun’s expression was one of the most difficult parts of bringing the film to life, according to Hosoda. “When illustrators say, ‘Oh yeah, I’m going to draw a baby,’ they mean what they think a baby is.” I didn’t want that, I wanted a more realistic representation of children, so I brought my son into the studio and had something like maybe 20 cartoonists around him. Not just to draw him—they held him, felt the softness of his skin and his thin hair,” says Hosoda. “I hated it, but because of the extra step we took to relearn what a baby looks like , we were able to really represent what a baby looks like in animation.”
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It contains some fantasy sequences but is still very much rooted in everyday life. “Children see the world in a wonderful way,” says Hosoda. “Every day brings something new and great, so whatever Kun imagines, that’s how kids see the world.” We adults think, “Oh, well, we can’t talk to dogs,” but then kids, the way they see it, maybe they can talk to dogs; or when they can’t ride a bike, but suddenly they can, maybe, somehow in their life, it’s like someone taught them. Adults don’t really see it, but kids do because everything is new and they don’t even question it, they accept it.
Represents his most personal film. “It’s very difficult to raise children these days,” he laughs hesitantly. “Before I had kids I thought having kids was a hassle – they cost so much money, you don’t have time, you don’t sleep, that’s what I thought. Actually, it’s true, yes, it’s a lot of hassle and it costs a lot of money, but spending time with children, it just brings so much happiness that neither the hassle nor the time matters. I really wanted to portray that in this film, so I based it on my own children.”
It is firmly rooted in the domestic world. “When you have a movie with kids, people think it has to be some kind of holiday movie, or it has to be an action movie where he’s like a hero, and then the kid goes away he goes on an adventure and there’s an antagonist . . . and he defeats him. Unless you have all those elements, people tend to think it’s not going to appeal to the audience,” says Hosoda. “I wanted to show that, no, other images can be attractive. Life with children, everyday life, there is hidden happiness in these moments of everyday life and I really wanted to portray that,” she says.
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A theme with Hosoda’s previous films is the idea of family. “They are all connected”, he insists, pointing out that he is always inspired by the things and people closest to him. “The important issue is how adults teach children and young people to live in society: how do they stand up?” he asks
“Really, the saddest thing about modern society is that it really has become an adult world; adults are the most important, but that’s not true,” says Hosoda. “Young people tend to be left out; they’re often seen as extras, but that’s not true. To build a new society, children and young people are important, and adults have the responsibility to teach them so that they can build the new society.”
Former editor of Animation World Network, Jennifer Wolfe has worked in the media and entertainment industry as a writer and PR professional since 2003.
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