originally posted at https://canmom.tumblr.com/post/703101...
Hi friends! Welcome to Animation Night, the night where we watch animations.
Tonight we’ll be returning to an ever-recurrent theme: short films! So what’s new or interesting in the world of short animated films?
Well, first up, the Gobelins animation school have released their most recent crop of graduation films. Which means, as is Animation Night tradition, we must consume them.
Gobelins student films are always a treat - I don’t know if there’s something in the water over there, close supervision by the school, or just the fact it’s the most prestigious animation school in the world and has set a certain tone. But while at their sister school CalArts you’ll find a lot of promising films with a few absolute standouts, Gobelins students have such a consistently distinct vibe and intense mode that it often feels more like a highly accomplished animation studio, you know.
This year has been especially stylistically varied. (You could say it started a couple months ago with Au Revoir Jérôme, which we watched on AN126, but that seems to strictly be a late release of a 2021 film, not a 2022 film? anyway). For me some standouts are…
VULVINE REINE D’EXTASE (Vulvina, Queen of Ecstasy)
This one’s absolutely bonkers. Far too NSFW for youtube, it’s an extremely ero-guro story about a queen who is incredibly horny for Death, as in, the Grim Reaper. It’s got a beautiful paint-like style that feels like what a more animated Belladonna of Sadness might look like, perhaps by way of Takato Yamato, blending 2D and 3D and even a reasonable use of AI to add a dash of flowing, morphing shapes. What sort of school is based enough to let its students do something like this?
GLOIRE AMERE 40000 (Bitter Glory 40,000)
This one stands out to me just because its character design style is so weird in such a specific way. Some kind of immortal space marine lady, after winning the big war, returns to a home she does not recognise - the sort of melancholy ambiguous emotion that a Gobelins film loves to play in. But the art style is kind of an exaggerated version of the 2000s flash scene - the pointy face and droopy eyes that are like no actual anime, the gradients, the mechanical lines. The main character’s design is of course riffing on warham, but like pushed to an even more extreme proportion. It is strange and fascinating to look at and I can only admire the imagination that takes us there.
This one’s more grounded; a story of a band being torn apart by circumstances and the difficult emotions it raises; summer evenings awash with warm light. What makes it stand out to me is the subtle, naturalistic character acting that gets a huge amount of distance out of a low drawing count, the amount it is able to express through elision and implication. It’s a really masterful showcase of the kind of realist animation that’s becoming a specialty of France.
There’s many others to look forward to as well: a sashimi chef’s son who starts identifying with the fish; three brothers contemplating death in elaborate surreal dream sequences; a fictionalised depiction of the real-life murder of Costa Rican harpist Pacifica Zelaya; and if that’s all sounding a bit gloomy a fun spin on the ‘search for a cryptid’ sort of story with a mythical creature searching for the legendary ‘human’.
Next up, Kojo Tanno is continuing to make… his very specific series of wordless animated short films of intense psychic battles in science facilities and vast grey landscapes. The influence of Akira is evident, and more recent action anime, but there’s also some really particular stylistic touches like the omnipresent particles, cross motifs, dismemberment, time loop shenanigans… here’s a sample!
Honestly, I don’t know a lot about Kojo Tanno. He’s a Patreon-funded artist, apparently based in Nagasaki, who started posting films on Youtube about 14 years ago with さよなら、わたし･･･ (goodbye, me) and that’s about all I’ve got; he rarely ever says more than ‘A Kojo Tanno film’ and ‘support KOJO TANNO FILM here’ so… who knows!
Anyway, in those fourteen years he’s produced a ridiculous amount of unreasonably stylish animation for a one-man operation, so we’ll take a run through some of his films tonight. I think way more people should be aware of him!
Pixar! You know ‘em. Or if you don’t know ‘em, you can read Animation Night 75 and learn about the dawn of 3DCGI. Like a male angler fish having sex, they’ve gradually been absorbed into the Disney machine these days, and the distance between a Disney film and a Pixar one has gotten narrower and narrower.
But there is one Pixar tradition that yet holds, and that is the creation of a short film to accompany every one of their theatrical movies since A Bug’s Life! These short films functioned as technical experiments, training, and opportunities for their animators to direct films of their own. The result, although inevitably inflected by the values of Pixar films, is a fascinating little cross-section of CG history.
It’s been long enough since I’ve seen most of these films that I’m going to save detailed commentary on specific films until later. But the ones I’m looking at are Geri’s Game (1997), For The Birds (2000), Boundin (2003), One Man Band (2005) and Day and Night (2010) - the last notable as the first time that Pixar have tried their hand at traditional animation. They are generally speaking comedy shorts in the classic style, a hapless protagonist going through a series of misadventures with an emphasis on broad character animation.
Australian pixel animator Paul Robertson (on here actually! see @probertson) is someone I’ve never really covered on here, which is quite an oversight.
Robertson is known for a kind of bouncy, information overload animation style, drawing on videogame (or Fleischer)-style loops, often in searingly bright pastel colours. Typical motifs are body horror and plentiful gainaxing (bouncing boobs); it’s not entirely surprising that Gravity Falls hired him to animate a parody bishojō game. In some cases, his work becomes so dense with allusions to videogame characters and anime to the point that it becomes less ‘nerd t-shirt’ and more ‘hyperpop’; in others it’s less specific but still very much in that space between. He’s the kind of artist that, if he were Japanese, would probably have Takashi Murakami all over him.
So, I recently remembered that Robertson existed. And digging back into him, I learned that alongside his work on Gravity Falls and Adult Swim, Robertson created a 13-minute long film Kings of Power 4 billion % in which an enormous cast of characters team up to fight a frenetic battle against alien invaders, which escalates until they’re fighting a guro-themed goddess in some kind of psychic dimension. The sheer visual density and pace of jokes is something I can only really compare, outside of Robertson’s work, to Homestuck’s finale animation [S] Collide.
And if that wasn’t enough, Robertson followed this up two years later with (ahem) Pirate Baby’s Cabana Battle Street Fight 2006. This one is framed like a beat-em-’up, following two characters fighting their way up through a skyscraper full of squids.
Since those two monumental efforts, Robertson has largely made much shorter loops of a few seconds on his Youtube channel while doing commercial work - and surely cultivating his power even more. If he ever chooses to ride again into the short film realm, one wonders if anyone will survive.
Remember Sakowski Studios? Primarily working to animate concepts of youtuber cr1tikal/penguinz0, we last visited them on Animation Night 109. They just - as in literally as I’m typing this - dropped a new sequel to their cyberpunk slapfight story Godslap.
From French animator duo PULPE, a year ago, I stumbled on this neat little film SLICE about a gay French boy struggling to confess his feelings, with some very clever layouts.
@mogsk directed me over to Humans-B-Gone!, a fun-looking series about a bug war from the cockroach point of view. It uses a neat nonphotorealistic CG style that gets pretty close to drawing.
And coming at that boundary from the other direction is Moikaloop’s recent video for Agrume, in which their Moika character performs at a virtual club - a true feat of solid drawing. It’s an evolution in a way of the previous video for Ghost Data, now approaching full animation with some wild camera moves - short but very sweet. Moika is a Chilean animator who stands just at the edge of NSFW animation, clearly having written Me! Me! Me! into their soul on a deep level. (Using ‘they’ since I can’t find any pronoun info, but if someone knows better, lmk and I’ll fix my post!)
And looking at the time, I think that will about cover us! But if there’s any short films you’d love to watch in a group, please let me know and I’ll slot ‘em in! Either way, please sidle on over to twitch.tv/canmom where we will begin the show shortly~