Let´s talk anime with Aya Suzuki

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At this years annual Frame by Frame animation seminar in Oslo one of the guests were Aya Suzuki, a british-japanese animator, that gave us a talk about her experiences working on anime in Japan. Aya has had the pleasure of working with both Hayao Miyazaki and Mamoru Hosoda on such films as The Wind Rises and Wolf Children.

Mangapolis didn´t miss the opportunity to have a chat with Aya Suzuki. Quite naturally the conversation started off with Hayao Miyazaki and Mamoru Hosoda; how many times do you talk to anyone that has worked with the two names anyway? The topic had to come up at some point, and there can´t be a better topic to break the ice.

Having worked with both of the famous directors Suzuki could tell that Miyazaki and Hosoda couldn´t be more different in the way they work. Where Miyazaki likes to have full control and is involved in all the stages and aspects of the movie; Hosoda manage to rely more on the people around him and he trust them to do their part. Miyazaki will redo everything himself if he´s not satisfied; while Hosoda gives animators a very brief instructions of what he wants, and trust the animators to produce the best possible result.

Aya Suzuki´s dream to become an animator started when she was a teenager. In Japan “everybody” watch anime and the interest doesn´t end in childhood. While in Europe most people will stop watching animated series when they enter the teenage years the Japanese has a completely different culture; there is an anime aimed at all ages, so when you grow out of one series, there is always another waiting. In Japan no one ever has the chance to grow out of anime, it´s a brilliant business strategy, Suzuki laughs.

Of the animators between the age of twenty and thirty the majority are female animators, but the numbers even out as many of the female animators marry and “retire” as they enter their thirties. Suzuki feels that Miyazaki´s movies influenced both girls and boys of her generation in a great way; so Suzuki was not the only one that developed a dream of becoming an animator.

Every animator has his or hers speciality within animation, Suzuki reveals, there are basically two main categories that animators fall into: There are those that grew up with Bruce Lee movies (she smiles as she says this) and are extremely good at animating action scenes. For those in this category action scenes comes naturally and they master the movement of the action like they are choreographing a dance. But usually the same animators come short when asked to do “every-day scenes”; these scenes are the other category where Aya Suzuki feels more comfortable.

There are those animators that can master both categories like Takeshi Honda and Toshiyuki Inoue.

Aya Suzuki tries to challenge herself and develop as an animator by taking on projects where she has to animate action. Even though she claims that action scenes is not her speciality I was extremely impressed by her action scene from Death Billiards (2013) that she screened at the Frame by Frame seminar.

Like most animators in Japan Aya Suzuki works as a freelance and has been involved on many different projects for many different studios. At the same time is very usual for freelance animators to work exclusively for one studio even though they are not directly employed by them. It is extremely hard to get into the big studios, like Studio Ghibli, and it is impossible to get a job there by normal means. You will have to be recommended by someone.

Suzuki was recommended to join the team working on Wolf Children because she had worked on Sylvan Chomet´s The Illusionist which is a movie Hosoda happens to be influenced by. And from there she was recommended to other studios, and this is the usual arrangement between the big studios in Japan, Suzuki says. To be recommended by one studio is a sign of quality and in this way freelance animators can jump between the studios.

These days Aya Suzuki has a permanent job in Europe on the weekdays and works as a freelance from her bedroom in London in the weekends. She has often planed that she will have to say no when they call from Japan, but usually she somehow ends up accepting more projects instead. There is always some project that sound tempting, she laughs.

How The Wind Rises Inspired Me

The Wind Rises is the movie about Miyazaki´s favourite topics: Planes! Now, I am no airplane buff, so I can only imagine how good this movie is to those that are! The details in this movie really make me wish I knew more about planes so that I could appreciate all the amazing planes and engines and all that stuff.

That is why, after seeing the movie, I wanted to do a little bit of research on the subject. I wanted to see if the planes depicted in the movie was actual planes that had existed. I knew the Zero had existed of course (I was not asleep in history class), but I noticed a lot of other planes that were in the movie that I had never heard of, or recognised, so this got me interested. As I am a huge fan of steam punk these pre-jet engine planes appealed to me. That is all the excuse I need to dedicate an evening to this. So, “TO THE INTERNETS”, i cried and jump-started my google search engine set to image search. Engage!

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Fun Fact:Studio Ghibli is actually named after the Caproni Ca.309 Ghibli World War II fighter aircraft designed by the very same Caproni that Jiro meets in the movie.

All the scenes with the italian aviator Caproni shows off some really funny-looking planes from an early and experiential phase in the history of aviation (between 1910-1920). The Great War gave aviators new possibilities through military funding that spawned a lot of experimental designs (some more successful than others).

In the movie Caproni comes flying in on a really strange looking aircraft that I can´t believe would even fly, but the plane is an actual plane designed by Caproni, the Caproni Ca.31. And it flew (even though the first version of it, the Ca.1 model, crashed on its maiden flight)!

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I can´t help to notice a little detail in the background in one of the scenes where Jiro and Caproni walks on the wings of the Ca.60; you can see a plane that looks similar in design as the planes from Porco Rosso.

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Maybe this is just me reading to much into it tho. If I knew more about planes I would probably know the references (if there is any).

The Caproni Ca.48 was a bomber plane designed by Caproni in 1917/18 and was another plane that you would not believe could fly when you look at it.

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I think the only plane that flies in the movie (in a dream mind you) that never flew in reality is the Ca.60 model. And it never reached past a prototype. But check that out; MADNESS, it could never fly!

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I can honestly say that I now know a little bit more about planes now that I have seen The Wind Rises and after it inspired me to look further into the world of planes. I still have a long way to go before I am a proper airplane buff, however.

 

Anime at Frame by Frame March 15th at Filmens Hus

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The annual Frame by Frame animation seminar is back at Filmens Hus/Cinemateket March 15th. The great thing about FxF is the intimate and laid-back format of the seminar. A great place to get familiar with the animation industry and to have conversations with both the veterans and rookies in animation. If you have a good idea for an animation and looking for a place to discuss it with those in the industry; FxF is the place for you. Bring your portfolio!

This year Japanese animation is represented by a screening of Miyazaki´s The Wind Rises (2013) and special guest Aya Suzuki. Tickets for the movie is included in the seminar pass.

For those not familiar with Aya Suzuki; she is an animator that has worked on some of the major anime productions in Japan, including The Wind Rises (2013) and Wolf Children (2012) that are both titles which has screened under the Mangapolis Anime Programme at Films from the South.

Please check out Aya´s blog here.

Together with Films from the South we at Mangapolis will hold an interview with Aya Suzuki that will be posted both at this site and over at filmfrasor.no. So after you meet her at FxF you get another chance to know more about her in our interview.

Oh yeah, before I forget to mention it; Lars Hemmingby will hold a short presentation of the Mangapolis Comic at FxF. A showcase of concept art from the horror-gothic-steam punk-weird science-film noiresque-murder mystery-zombie-extravaganza-o-rama-tron-o-matic that is Mangapolis: The Comic.

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First Weekend with Anime at Films from the South

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At Films from the South this weekend Sunday was Mangapolis day with a total of six screenings of anime at Oslo Kino. I would like to take the opportunity to thank all of those cool people that came to the screenings. And there was a lot of you! As last year Japanese Anime attract an audience. Not any audience either, the best audience in my opinion! And here is why: As I introduced several of the Mangapolis screenings I recognized that a lot of you were present at several of the anime screenings. Meaning that you must have had a very busy day, indeed! Thanks to you all!

Next weekend will not only be a Mangapolis day, it will be a Mangapolis WEEKEND! A total of ten anime screenings during the weekend. It´s mad! But you awesome people are just mad enough to handle it!

As always, check out Film from the South´s festival webpage for the full Mangapolis program (remember that you can also buy tickets directly from the site). And don´t forget to vote on your favorite movie at the festival to win the audience award (it is possible to vote at filmfrasor.no). I´m not gonna try to influence your votes, but last year the anime Wolf Children won the audience award, and it would be really cool if an anime ran away with the award this year as well.

Gotta Watch ´Em All!

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At this years´ Films from the South watching anime will be a bit like a race! Collect tickets from six of the anime films on the Mangapolis program at the film festival and you can win vouchers from Neo Tokyo and movie tickets to a screening of a movie of your choice at Oslo Kino. See here for a full list of the Mangapolis program (now with trailers!). Make sure to stop by Neo Tokyo´s online store to find out what to spend your vouchers on.

Follow these simple steps to enter the competition:

1. See six anime movies at the festival

2. Keep the ticket stubs

3. Put the stubs in an envelope with your name and email

4. Deliver the envelope at NeoTokyo at Arkaden in Oslo no later than Tuesday October 22nd at 04.00 pm.

All winners will be contacted by email.

Can you watch ´em all?

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The Full Mangapolis Section at Films from the South Festival Released

In October from the 10th to the 20th seven anime movies will hit the cinemas in Oslo as part of the Mangapolis section at Films from the South film festival. Two of the titles have already been leaked on this site, but now the full program has been released (earlier than planned)!

This year Mangapolis has a total of seven titles to offer anime fans that would like to watch anime movies on the big screen. Here´s a quick count of the anime titles. And to help keeping track of the count we have no other that Winston Churchill! You ready, Winston?

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Wait, we haven´t started the count yet! Focus, Winston!

Here we go:

The audience favorite from last year, Mamoru Hosoda´s Wolf Children, makes an appearance this year as well. This excellent anime is destined for  a norwegian release November 15th, so this is like a pre-release, and everyone likes pre-releases, right? Also from Mamoru Hosoda is the bizarre Summer Wars. 

What´s the count so far Winston?

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Thank you, Winston.

Moving on, Makoto Shinkai also had a title last year with Children Who Chase Voices from Deep Below; this year it is his latest masterpiece Garden of Words that you will be able to enjoy.

Last week I announced that Miyazaki´s The Wind Rises will be a part of the Mangapolis program and this is really the jewel in the crown at this year Films from the South festival as far as anime goes. Don´t miss out on this one! Also from Studio Ghibli is the classic Whisper of the Heart, directed by Yoshifumi Kondō. 

Hit it, Winston!

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…Winston…you´re fired…

So, before we lose count, the last two titles this year are 009 RE:Cyborg and Blood-C: The Last Dark. If you enjoy epic fighting and things getting blown up and shot at (of course you do), you have no reason to miss out on these!

There you go, seven anime titles!

Keep tuning in for, if not in-depth professional reviews, at least some sort of immature amateurish commentaries on each of these titles!

 

 

 

The Wind Rises Ready for Films from the South!

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Greetings! For those that already visited filmfrasor.no today might have read the news that Hayao Miyazaki´s latest (and possibly last) film The Wind Rises is ready for Films from the South 2013! That will be the first screening of The Wind Rises in Norway before it is ready for regular cinema screenings in 2014.

The Wind Rises is a story of Jiro Horikoshi, the designer of the legendary Japanese Zero fighter aircraft that played a key role during WW2. All you history buffs out there will know how feared and efficient killing machine the Zero was; obviously a hell of a design. The movie is however not about the Zero, but rather a story of a young boy dreaming of taking to the skies. This dream leads him to study engineering and eventually become an aircraft designer. Which takes him into employment at an aircraft manufacturer where he is put to work on fighter plane designs. Weapons of war. Needless to say, the subject of the movie is controversial. But the movie is more about one man´s dream and a  how he makes that particular dream come true than a political commentary on war and peace.

In any case it is simply amazing that this movie will screen at Films from the South 2013 and not only that, it is the closing movie of the festival. The first anime to have that honor. Let´s make it annual, I´ll say!

The Wind Rises is the second anime movie that is officially ready for Films from the South 2013, the first was 009 RE:Cyborg confirmed way back in June. There will be more Japanese anime at the festival as part of the Mangapolis programme. All the anime titles will be released with the rest of the titles for the festival on filmfrasor.no on September 27th, so make sure you drop by there then!

 

Also, keep your eyes peeled for possible early sneak peeks here as well. wink wink nudge nudgeEricTerry

 

 

 

 

 

Hashtag Desucon

Mangapolis is now one more Desucon experience richer after Desucon 8. As always at anything related to Desucon I had great fun. Read all about my last visit to Desucon:Cosplay last year here. Yesterday I also wrote a short and personal article on my visit to Desucon 8 over at filmfrasor.no. Check it out, folks!

As you will know by now Mangapolis screened Totoro and Cowboy Bebop at Desucon 8 and that was of course my main purpose for being there this year. But of course I could not resist getting sucked into the amazing world of Desucon! One of the things I really got into this year was Instagram, so every time I got the chance I would try to capture a small piece of the Desucon atmosphere with my smart phone camera and instantly tag it with #desucon on Instagram and Twitter. Check out Mangapolis´ Instagram and Twitter accounts for an in-depth coverage of Desucon 8 from the perspective of my camera.

Don´t hesitate to follow the accounts if you like them!

Mangapolis at Desucon 8

As some of you might remember I went to Desucon: Cosplay last year, and I had a great time there! It was my first real encounter with Desucon and my thoughts on this is documented here.

For those that would like to know; yes, I am going to Desucon 8! And not only that, Mangapolis will screen two anime movies this year at Desucon!!

Which great anime titles do we have for you guys this time, you ask?

Just give me a moment to give a fitting introduction, here goes:

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And with that bombshell I give you title number 1: My Neighbor Totoro (1988)

This classic Studio Ghibli is such a feel-good movie that the universe is close to imploding on itself every time it is on screen. So this might very well be the last ever screening of My Neighbor Totoro and also the end of the universe as we know it! You wouldn´t miss that, would you?

And title number 2 at Desucon 8: Cowboy Bebop: The Movie (2001)

Cowboy Bebop the anime series was one of the first anime series I ever watched, and I was hooked!

I will see you at Desucon 8!

Why The Last Unicorn?

 

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If you read this blog the last week you will know that Brandon Graham introduces the screening of The Last Unicorn at OCX. If not, read this blog post.

It is Brandon Graham that picked the movie The Last Unicorn for this screening. So when Mangapolis had a short chat with Graham we asked him why he decided on The Last Unicorn.

“I picked the last Unicorn because of how much I enjoyed it as a kid and how it led me into other anime. The first comic I ever drew was based off of the movie”, said Graham.
As explained on this blog earlier The Last Unicorn is part of Studio Ghibli´s history. Graham had this to say on that: “It’s part of a pre Ghibli era that along with the Hobbit and Thundercats was such a cool mix of Arthur Rackham and anime”
Arthur Rackman was a very influential british Book Illustrator of the early 20th century. The distinct style that Rackman adopted for his drawings was partly influenced by Japanese woodblock traditions.
“I really like seeing the mix of eastern and western styles”, said Graham as a final answer to our question.