Koji Yamamura’s Inaka Isha and Atama Yama

October 23, 2009


Left: Inaka Isha, Right: Atama Yama

Like Kato Kunio, Atama Yama is highly respected amongst fans of arthouse animation. His two works I want to briefly recommend in this post are his Atama Yama, and the amazing Inaka Isha (adaptation of Franz Kafka’s A Country Doctor). There are few stylistic elements common to both Inaka Isha and Atama Yama, such as having animated scratchy layered textures, distortions of foreground, and dramatic narration voiced as if they were Noh drama. Ah here then we find something very interesting. Inaka Isha is adapted from a German novel, but Yamamura uses Japanese sensibilities of Noh drama to present its content.


'canvas' of Inaka Isha

While I can appreciate the technical merits of Atama Yama (you can tell lot of techniques and skills were involved in crafting that work) it didn’t really move me. Inaka Isha in comparison, is a beast. Perhaps Inaka Isha is more successful because its dark and bizarre content benefited much more from Yamamura’s style than something more tame like Atama Yama. His distortions and textures feels more intuitive than articulated, which brings out qualities more akin to energetic madness that sucks you in. It appeals at its very primal level, distorting and warping your every senses and it won’t let you go until the ride is over. Inaka Isha is only 20 minutes long and is certainly something worth checking out for fans looking for something different in anime.

Distortions of Inaka Isha

Distortions of Inaka Isha

I won’t ramble on too much and now direct you to Ben’s excellent article on Inaka Isha. It captures exactly why the movie deserves such a recognition and I honestly can’t add much to what he has already said.


7 Responses to “Koji Yamamura’s Inaka Isha and Atama Yama”

  1. 2DT Says:

    Just finished watching Inaka Isha. It’s quite disturbing, but you’re right about those Noh elements. Somehow that style of speaking heightens the sense of dissociation and non-reality.

  2. gaguri Says:

    Yay, hope you enjoyed it =)

    And yea, it was really a nice touch for Yamamura to introduce that noh element into Kafka’s work, really refreshing isn’t it.

  3. Vendredi Says:

    Always have found it rather fascinating how much the Japanese are into Kafka – or well, perhaps it’s just that they’re into existentialist and absurdist literature in general. Perhaps it’s simply more of an Old World thing – existentialist stuff isn’t exactly all the rage here in North America. (Go figure, this is, after all, the same readership that puts stuff like the Da Vinci Code and Twilight through the bestseller lists… ugh)

    I am always getting a backlog of stuff to watch from your blog posts – always enjoy how all the stuff you cover is really for fans of animation in general.

  4. gaguri Says:

    Lol…as much as I enjoyed the ‘flip the page’ power of Da Vinci Code, Dan Brown’s not really at the same tier as Kafka is he. I heard some people praise his latest work, which I just didn’t get much out of, and I’m convinced more knowledge on masons is not going to boost my literary appreciation for it.

    It always pleases me to hear my recommendations are being heard, and people actually watch what I suggest. I know some titles I talk about aren’t that popular but I’m glad some people still look for titles like these, so thank you for making it that much worthwhile =)

  5. vendredi Says:

    Do keep up the recommendations – I have a fondness for animation regardless of source – Japanese anime just happens to be of a usually consistent and easily available quality; I find that outside of Pixar, Disney, or Dreamworks films, it’s very difficult to find animated titles.

    One nice thing about Canada though is that animated works here get a lot of sponsorship and while there are very few feature length films we do have a lot of animated shorts produced by the National Film Board of Canada. Compared to all the recommendations so far on this blog this contribution might be a bit piddly, but you can find pretty much all the NFB shorts viewable in complete form here on their official website: http://www.nfb.ca/explore-by/title/?genre=1&lang=en&title_range=All&decade=&sort=title

    There’s a host of animation styles, genres, and topics, from stop-motion, CG, rotoscoping, even scratching straight onto film, with shorts of all genres from as far back as the 1960s.

  6. gaguri Says:

    Wow those shorts look super interesting. My internet is capped at the moment (ye the urban legends of prehistoric australian internet are all factual) but thanks for that, I now have a list of ‘artistic bursts’ whenever I need them, haha.

  7. […] about the history of Japanese literature, but as I can tell absurdism has found something of a home in Japan – Murakami’s award-winning Kafka on the Shore is partly a fictionalized biography of […]

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