Koji Yamamura’s Inaka Isha and Atama Yama
October 23, 2009
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.
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.
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.