originally posted at https://canmom.tumblr.com/post/717962...

Hi everyone, it’s Animation Night! Still happening!!

Tonight I am evidently running quite late. The reasonable reason for this is that I just arrived at my friends’ house in Glasgow and it’s taken a minute to get everything set up. The less reasonable reason is that I spent a lot of time today playing Beat Saber. But anyway!

Gif source: @muppethole

Today is going to be a combination of old stuff and new stuff! Back in the day, one of the first things I showed on Animation Night were short film collections such as Meikyū Monogatari (1987) [lit. Labyrinth Tales, but known in English as Neo Tokyo and Manie-Manie] and Robot Carnival (also 1987).

The unifying factor in both of these is Katsuhiro Otomo, but let’s not make it all about him! Both are collections of short films by a huge variety of directors. For Otomo himself, it was a ridiculously busy time - as well as directing films in both collections he was hard at work on Akira. For Robot Carnival he created the intro and outro, telling the story of the Robot Carnival itself, a massive crawling machine whose displays have turned into deadly weapons to the apocalypse survivors it runs over below.

Gif source: @lepidopteraesthetics

And alongside him are a number of familiar names. Kōji Morimoto, future cofounder of Studio 4C, made the ridiculously involved short film Franken’s Gears almost singlehandedly (his family helped with the inbetweening!). Animator Manabu Ōhashi, who tragically passed away last year, made a beautiful abstract short film called Cloud. And Yasuomi Umetsu, whose uniquely chunky hyperrealist design style I’ve written about now and again, directed a troubling short called Presence about a man who creates and destroys a gynoid, probably the most technically spectacular film he’s done. Takashi Nakamura (who I must cover soon, director of e.g. A Tree of Palme) brings a riotous midnight dance of machines in The Tale of Chicken Man and Red Neck. Hiroyuki Kitakubo, future director of Golden Boy and Blood: the Last Vampire, brings a satirical 19th-century fight in Strange Tales of Meiji Culture: Westerner’s Invasion.

All in all it’s one of my favourite short film collections - this is probably like the fourth or fifth time I’ve shown it to people? It’s a great and very varied ride.

Gif source: @otomokatsuhiro

And Meikyū Monogatari, this is the work of Madhouse, and as such it has films by Rintarō and Yoshiaki Kawajiri. Rintarō who introduces us by leading a girl into a strange surreal circus to set the stage for the other shorts. Kawajiri directs cyberpunk racing short The Running Man, which is pure imagery and carrying 1000 synthwave music videos on its back - but the original is surprisingly dreamily paced. The biggest highlight is Otomo’s Construction Cancellation Order, in which a salaryman attempts to shut down a massive out-of-control autonomous construction project, butting up against a robot foreman who will do anything to continue the work. If you watched Akira and felt like “damn I think this needs more machinery porn”, Otomo’s got you covered! It’s a great short, unfolding with a sense of wonderful comic inevitability.

Tonight the plan is to revisit both of these short films! But also to check out some recent short films that I thought were neat. For example, we have How And Why Don Jose Dissipated by ‘Animoshe’, a psychedelic short about a bee and a tourist with a truly unique style…

And Record Highs by Beryl Allee about an athletic competition among frogs amidst… striking circumstances.

It’s also coming into CalArts season, so if we feel hungry for more, I’ll check out the latest student films. Plus, if you’ve seen anything neat you’d like to watch together, tell me and I’m sure we can find room!!

Sound fun? We’ll be going live shortly over at twitch.tv/canmom and start the films at 10pm UK time! Would love to see you there ^^


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