Mamoru Hosada’s Superflat Monogram and Kojiro Shishido’s Naked Youth
March 6, 2009
I recently had the chance to re-watch in high quality (well…higher than youtube) a 5-minutes-animated-commercial for Louis Vuitton, so this might be a good time to talk briefly about that. It’s directed by Mamoru Hosada, which may interest fans of Toki wo Kakeru Shoujo. The ‘story’ is about a girl who suddnely gets sucked into a strange dimension full of pretty colours and shapes, then sadly returns to reality…only to realise that you can experience it all over again when you next visit Louis Vuitton retailer (dot dot dot).
On the bright technical side, I liked how real world was presented as dull and lifeless in that grey colour palette, which served as a great contrast to the Superflat dreamscape the girl enters. The combination of colours and shapes are obviously Louis Vuitton-related, the Monogram Multicolour design (funny colours on white background) you see above happens to be Takashi Murakami’s, who produced this commercial. The part where she enters the world through a wormhole above looks like it’s Louis Vuitton Damier (those brown checkered design you see everywhere), and I mention this because I appreciate how the combination of colour, patterns and animation has so perfectly captured its rough, leatherly texture.
It does occassionally have that sense of Muarkami‘s Superflat characteristics coming alive in animation, especially in cuts where the LV monograms are responding to her jumps and tree-like shapes grows in a flattened form. Obviously a commercial product and doesn’t have the impact of other 5 minute shorts such as Kigeki or She and Her Cat, but still an intriguing exercise in style by the director of Toki wo Kakeru Shoujo. Here’s the link to higher quality download for those interested (58 MB).
Speaking of shorts, the works of Kojiro Shishido in comparison…is not as easy to watch. I don’t know much about him to be honest except he happened to fall under my never-ending hunt for the obscure. His works are all about atmosphere. There is no dialogue, strong use of uneasy BGM and very disturbing adult content. So if you don’t want to see male penises or ejaculations, I don’t recommend watching any of his videos.
Naked Youth above is actually uploaded on youtube by the artist himself for us to see. It’s an impressive piece of story-telling of two guys finally becoming ‘naked’ towards each other, both literally and figuratively. The way he’s structuring his narrative is particularly fascinating. There is one disturbing scene of a guy showing his penis to a friend, which is like WTF DUDE!?! may seem unusual, but is actually a accumulation of many hesitations, frustrations and desires suggested through subtle glances and awkward moments. Tension is mostly built up through its disorienting soundtrack, which slowly builds up through entire length of the short and makes the ending that much powerful. There is a repetition of a particular scene that leads to that final ‘revelation’, it’s hard to describe, but it’s exactly the kind of narrative structure that works only in film/animation (impossible in print form at least) and it always pleases me to see more animators taking advantage of that.
This is Shishido‘s earlier work titled Sweet Sweet Virgin, which was unpolished and quite bad to say the least. It was like watching Kim Ki Duk‘s second film Wild Animals. The talents are there and sadly it hasn’t matured enough at the time of its making.