Vivid colors. Fluid, dynamic animation. Atmosphere out the wazoo. A sense of fantasy that could give even Studio Ghibli a run for their money. And he does it all himself. Allow me to introduce you to Ishida Hiroyasu. You may not know who he is yet, but I can assure you, he's worth discovering. Just look at his work.
A student of Kyoto Seika University, "Tete" first arrived on the scene at 21 on Novenmber 8, 2009 with a comic short film called Fumiko's Confession, which earned him the Japanese YouTube Video Award as well as The Tokyo International Anime Award's Award of Excellence in 2010. You might have seen this one.
The story goes like this: Girl asks boy out. Girl gets rejected. Girl runs off screaming. Girl then trips and falls a fall like no ordinary fall can fall. And that's when the magic happens. Have a look:
Seeing the sheer height of the drop for the first time is surreal, just managing to hit the "This does not compute" funny button in your brain, and yet also weirdly mesmerizing. From the moment the girl falls, Fumiko's Confession grabs you by the collar and doesn't stop running, whipping by the city, and from one swerving, racing background to the next, at a dizzying pace. The trick to this short is its sense of uncontrollable momentum. For one thing, it helps that the animation is incredibly dense and rich like good chocolate cake, arms and legs sweeping with each step.
But there are also more subtle details at play here. You can feel the shift of weight to Fumiko's spindly legs thanks to clever use of perspective that makes her seem to lunge foot-first out of the screen and, unusually for Japanese animation, a generous helping of squash and stretch that puts a bounce in her stride. It's as if half her body mass was transfered into her shoes. Even the overblown expressions, lively color palette, tremoring camera and ever-so-slightly tapered lines in the scenery add to the overall feeling of untamed chaos. And the music is befitting a circus acrobat to boot. The result is effectively a high-class running cycle, and some incredibly professional work for a solo indie animator. It's fantastic.
And now for something completely different. Two years later, Hiroyasu created another short, titled Rain Town, which blew Fumiko's Confession right out of the water. It eschewed action and comedy in favor of mood, a world that is mysterious and melancholy and somehow beautiful in its total disrepair, and a story told without dialogue, complemented musically by a lonely piano that creeps upon your soul and wouldn't feel at all out of place on Spirited Away's train of ghosts. The images look like moving paintings, lushly shaded and dramatically lit. And he still manages to get details like the ripples of rain on a puddle just right for that added touch of realism. The video below is best viewed at 720p.
His latest work was a third short film, Hinata no Aoshigure, that premiered in Japanese theaters early last month, although you wont find it on his YouTube page yet.
What you will find, though, is the trailer. A quick heads-up: those exotic birds and other oddities are the hero's drawings, brought to life on the screen. And if the faint Studio Ghibli vibe running through the first two shorts wasn't obvious enough for you to notice, the new film marks a shift in art style. Can you see it?
Ishida Hiroyasu is fairly new to the anime scene, and as such he hasn't quite garnered a strong audience or fanbase. But his films have been gradually growing more and more ambitious and complex, and with his latest clocking in at 25 minutes, you may be seeing a feature film from him in the near future.
To wrap this up, here's a piece of concept art for Rain Town, courtesy of the Japan Times:
Mr. Hayao Miyazaki, kindly forget Hideaki Anno. Kindly forget your son. This is your successor.
UPDATE: ...Or maybe you could come up with a better choice. How about it? Who would you choose as a worthy successor to Miyazaki? Sound off in the comments below. Studio Ghibli needs you!
Top Image Credit: Ishida Hiroyasu/Zerochan
Fumiko's Confession Image Credit: Ishida Hiroyasu/Cmtokyo
Hinata no Aoshigure Image Credit: Ishida Hiroyasu/Kawaiikakkoiisugoi
Just a reminder: You can find the rest of the things I've written on my Kinja. All of it is more sharply written than this, I swear. Most of it is about games, though. And to anyone who was having trouble before, the videos should be working fine now.