Obsessive Art of Trapeze
January 15, 2010
I’ve been pretty busy recently (staying up late with my design team and checking out wonderful places in Seoul and all) but still managed to find some time to catch up on anime. In a desperate attempt to keep this blog alive, I would like to take this opportunity to talk about a particularly interesting design element in Trapeze.
One could say that the world of Trapeze is covered all over with polka dots just as Bakemonogatari is constructed by lightly framed units. Ever questioned why, or even where the animators got the inspiration from? If I have to speculate, much of the show’s visual design owes to the obsessive and bizarre works of a Japanese artist named Yayoi Kusama.
Above you can see her works of her trademark polka dots. Below are screenshots taken from Trapeze.
Wikipedia will tell you some very interesting things about her character, which you may find relevant:
Her paintings, collages, soft sculptures, performance art and environmental installations all share an obsession with repetition, pattern, and accumulation. Her work[…]is infused with autobiographical, psychological, and sexual content. She describes herself as an “obsessive artist”. Kusama has experienced hallucinations and severe obsessive thoughts since childhood, often of a suicidal nature. The vast fields of polka dots, or “infinity nets,” as she called them, were taken directly from her hallucinations.
And I think Kenji (director of Trapeze, Mononoke) used polka dots to a great effect. What’s essential here are repetitions to an obsessive degree, effective combination of vibrant colours, and intelligent use of ‘lighting’. One of the reasons why Yayoi Kusama’s art feels so surreal is because of the way those coloured dots are being reflected off certain materials, and I certainly feel that Kenji’s efforts to emulate that effect paid off. In above screenshot of a guy’s room for example, the way the lights reflect off the polished floors, walls, ceilings, and even window frames, all make the room feel more bizarre. Like Shinbo’s light frames, I found this design element refreshing, unique and most of the time effective (certainly paints vivid psychological landscapes in key scenes). The style eventually lost is original charm though, it didn’t really grow on me as I watched more episodes.
Trapeze delights in a number of more innovative techniques (I greatly enjoyed Trapeze for its creativity) but like animekritik, I found the show far from reaching any sublime heights. I loved episode 2 and episode 11 but majority of the show wasn’t quite as excellent. I could go on and on about its potentials and how the show remained too tame and not so ambitious but you don’t want to read that do you. Instead, I will recommend Kenji’s previous work, a brilliant masterpiece called Mononoke. You will actually find those two sharing lot of similarities (being the product of same creative staff after all).