Mar 17, 2010

As I was looking on youtube for early Japanese animation, I came across a piece by Noburo Ofuji titled Mura Matsuri - Harvest Festival or the Village Festival. This animation is made in 1930 in Japan. Noburo was working with cutout and silhouette animation. He was a true master of the genre. It was exciting to see cutouts used in such creative and elaborate ways. It seems to me that he used a replacement technique to create the movement of the figures. It was also interesting to see the texture and the patterns of the paper as they weren't lit from behind to create a silhouette.
The animation is a two and a half minute short, musical piece. I was delighted to be able to look at it and recognize some of the possible influences. The most obvious one that comes to mind is the cutouts by Lotte Reiniger and Emile Kohl's morphs. (This is of course, just a guess, a connection that I saw, but I don't have any evidence that it is actually the case.) The "musical bouncing ball" invented and used by the Fleischer brothers in 1924 in their "Car-Tunes" series seems to have inspired the creators of this animation. They use a more intriguing version of the bouncing ball, where the ball transforms into the kanji characters as the music progresses. The letters bounce to the music and appear in sync with the rhythm of the music and morph into a human figure. I am not sure the audience was expected to sing along as they were with "Car-Tunes", but I found myself nodding my head to the music...

Posted by a very sleepy Eszter

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