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TezukaOsamu.net/en > NEWS > Tezuka Osamu Manga Museum > TOMM the 13th Exhibition: Tezuka Osamu “Experimental Animation” Exhibition

Tezuka Osamu Manga Museum

TOMM the 13th Exhibition: Tezuka Osamu “Experimental Animation” Exhibition

(1998/01/01)

If you’re talking about archetypal Tezuka Osamu animation works, no doubt everyone will call to mind the TV animations of “Astro Boy” and “Jungle Emperor Leo”. In fact, the growth of Japanese TV animation series into one of Japan’s most powerful cultures, which has come to be dubbed “Japanimation”, began with the broadcasting of the Tezuka Osamu production “Astro Boy”.

Nonetheless, the first animation produced by Tezuka Osamu was a 38-minute short film entitled “Tales of the Street Corner”. This work was not made for TV broadcasting or for the big screen, but was produced wholly to research animation techniques.

In “Tales of the Street Corner”, the musical score was created first with the pictures being added later, elaborated to suit the music. Today, almost no TV animations are produced in this way, with the music preceding the artwork. In addition, the last scene of “Tales” employs a technique called “5-layer-contact multi-filming” in which five different background elements were run at different speeds across the screen to create a highly realistic 3D effect. In order to achieve this effect, Tezuka Osamu filmed several meters of background artwork and made improvements to cameras and filming platforms.

In this way, “Experimental Animations” were created not with the aim of commercial broadcast on the big or small screen, but to pursue the possibilities of expression in animation. Tezuka Osamu produced 14 experimental animations during his lifetime. All these productions were self-funded and were made without official sponsorship.

This exhibition shines a spotlight on the characteristic features and experimental contents of Tezuka Osamu’s experimental animations, with the aim of elucidating the significance of these productions within the body of Tezuka Osamu’s animation work.

 

 

 

Introduction: What is experimental animation?

If you’re talking about archetypal Tezuka Osamu animation works, no doubt everyone will call to mind the TV animations of “Astro Boy” and “Jungle Emperor Leo”. In fact, the growth of Japanese TV animation series into one of Japan’s most powerful cultures, which has come to be dubbed “Japanimation”, began with the broadcasting of the Tezuka Osamu production “Astro Boy”.

Nonetheless, the first animation produced by Tezuka Osamu was a 38-minute short film entitled “Tales of the Street Corner”. This work was not made for TV broadcasting or for the big screen, but was produced wholly to research animation techniques.

In “Tales of the Street Corner”, the musical score was created first with the pictures being added later, elaborated to suit the music. Today, almost no TV animations are produced in this way, with the music preceding the artwork. In addition, the last scene of “Tales” employs a technique called “5-layer-contact multi-filming” in which five different background elements were run at different speeds across the screen to create a highly realistic 3D effect. In order to achieve this effect, Tezuka Osamu filmed several meters of background artwork and made improvements to cameras and filming platforms.

In this way, “Experimental Animations” were created not with the aim of commercial broadcast on the big or small screen, but to pursue the possibilities of expression in animation. Tezuka Osamu produced 14 experimental animations during his lifetime. All these productions were self-funded and were made without official sponsorship.

This exhibition shines a spotlight on the characteristic features and experimental contents of Tezuka Osamu’s experimental animations, with the aim of elucidating the significance of these productions within the body of Tezuka Osamu’s animation work.

 

Exhibits

 

Original manuscript exhibit: “Gachaboi’s Record of One Generation”

Moving Picture Theater-style Tent: Screening of “Tales of the Street Corner”

The posters that appeared in “Tales of the Street Corner”

 

Video screening

 

Unreleased experimental animation 1: “Memory” “Male” “The Genesis”

 

 

 

Part 1

To Tezuka Osamu “experimental animation” represented the dissolution of “Disney animation”

………..The technique of moving 12 frames per second wastes so many images. Put another way, Disney made animation the monstrous beast it is today, monstrous in a good sense; in short, the nature of animation production is such that it’s something anyone can do. However, Disney effectively said, if you use this many frames, on this scale, spend this much money, then you’ll finally be able to create something like this – creating the equivalent of a model for animation and thereby creating preconceptions, a fait accompli. As a result, all animations that followed imitated the Disney model, leading to a tendency to see animation as something that could not be produced without a huge budget, enormous amounts of time and a vast team.

 

………..My personal feeling was that given the opportunity, animation is essentially something that can be made by an amateur. I felt that it would still be possible to make an animated film if you reduced the number of frames and the number of people involved, even simplifying the movements of the characters. I created Mushi Production in order to seek out simple production techniques, putting Disney completely out of my mind.

 

………..The first animation I made was “Tales of the Street Corner”, which, as the title implies is about a street; there are street lamps and trees and many posters on the walls, none of which move at all. Although the film is almost 40 minutes long it includes 451 cuts. Having 451 cuts meant that there were some cuts of 0.5 seconds. ………..To be sure, if you look the images do change in a jerky manner. ………..By having static street lamps and posters and so on, although these things don’t move, they can be seen with different cuts. This is what animation represented to me. I wanted to make this visual style one of the characteristic features of Mushi Production, and started work on “Astro Boy” from there.

 

As these excerpts from Tezuka Osamu’s February 13, 1988 Asahi Prize Memorial Lecture reveal, Tezuka Osamu’s first animated film, “Tales of the Street Corner”, was a challenge to the time-, manpower- and cost-consuming production processes of Disney and aimed to pull apart the preconceptions surrounding animation. Tezuka Osamu was able to start production of the world’s first television animation series, “Astro Boy”, on the basis of the results of “Street Corner”.

 

Exhibits: Image data ~ Tezuka Osamu’s Experimental Animation Techniques

 

A: Full animation and limited animation

B: Composition/semi-transparent exposure (double rush)

C: Contact multi-filming/optical transmission

D: Synchronization with the music, an image panel from “Pictures at an Exhibition”; Exhibition Case 1 – a reproduction of “5-layer contact multi-filming”

 

 

 

Intermission

Existence of a 16-year hiatus in Tezuka Osamu’s creation of “Experimental Animation”

As this chronology shows, the eight experimental animations “Tales of the Street Corner”, “Male”, “Memory”, “Mermaid”, “Drop”, “Cigarettes and Ashes”, “Pictures at an Exhibition”, and “The Genesis” were all released during the six-year period from 1962 through 1968. The release of “Jumping”, which was to be the ninth experimental animation, however, did not come until 1984, and Tezuka Osamu did not produce a single experimental work in the intervening 16 years. What is the significance of this 16-year hiatus?

Production during this period was vigorous. The TV animation series’ “Astro Boy”, “Jungle Emperor Leo”, “Amazing Three”, “Adventures of Monkey King”, “Princess Knight”, “Vampire” and “Dororo” were all running, and “One Thousand and One Nights” and “Cleopatra”, the first feature-length animations for an adult audience were released in 1969. Moreover, this was the golden age for first generation TV animations and aside from Mushi Production, the studio presided over by Tezuka Osamu, other studios were also actively creating animated series for television. The bankruptcy of Mushi Production in 1973, led to a 5-year period during which Tezuka Osamu created no animations for television or theater, however, the 1978 release of “Bander Book”, Japan’s first 2-hour animation, saw the revival of Tezuka Osamu’s animations on TV.

In this way, although Tezuka Osamu produced animations for the big and small screen virtually constantly throughout his career, there is some distortion in the production of experimental works. The experimental animations that were produced in the early days of Mushi Production were predominantly Disney destruction works, in short, the development of animation techniques that did not involve time, labor and money. This development made weekly broadcasts possible and led to the establishment of the television animation industry. Were the experimental animations that were created 16 years later, from “Jumping” through “Broken Down Film” and “The Legend of the Forest”, produced with the same objectives as in the early days?

 

Exhibits

 

Tezuka Osamu and Music – Jukebox Exhibits: A Chronological Comparison of Experimental Animation and Commercial Animation

 

 

 

Part 2

The “Experimental Animations” of Tezuka Osamu’s last years marked a return to the characteristic “movements” of Disney animations

Sure enough, my purpose in creating animations stemmed from a desire to explore, to try something experimental; making experimental animation was my creed. However, in order to create experimental works I needed to make money, to amass funds. That being the case, I had to be a bit calculating and unsentimental. I realized that there was nothing for it but to make animations for television and the theater and thus began my work in these fields. However, when every man, boy and bucket started to make TV animations, I began to feel ridiculous, and although I stopped making animations for television, to me at least, the works I made were not TV animations but experimental works, and I was content as long as they incorporated at least one element that satisfied my exploratory spirit.

 

………Thus television animation became enormously popular. But the TV animations that become popular had reached a kind of saturation point, and I found myself in something of a dilemma as to the production techniques involved in Astro Boy type animations. Against this background, I began to take a fresh look at Disney and at full animation and to create images that somehow moved and could be watched and enjoyed.

 

………The essence of animation is its movement, in short, the fact that animation moves is what attracted me to it. Movement at the very least means a change in form. For example, when a cat walks, it is not just the cats’ legs that move, everything moves, from the muscles of its body, the shape of its stomach, the turn of its head, to its expression. There is something highly seductive about this movement, an eroticism. So said Tezuka Osamu in the Asahi Prize lecture cited earlier. After developing time, labor and cost saving techniques for television animation and establishing it as an industry, Tezuka Osamu did an about face and began to create works that brought out the aesthetics of “movement” in animation. This was a return to the Disney-style animation that he had supposedly deconstructed in his first experimental animation, “Tales of the Street Corner”. Television animations featuring gigantic robots and the loves of realistic human characters had mushroomed, and with animation series’ that had seemingly forgotten the intriguing nature of movement inherent to animation becoming increasingly mainstream, Tezuka Osamu created experimental animations that connected to the emotions aroused by the realization that movement means something is living, that it has a life.

 

Exhibits: Image data ~ Tezuka Osamu’s “Experimental Animation” Techniques 2

 

“Jumping” (comparison with the line drawings)

“Legend of the Forest” (explanation of the techniques used)

Exhibit of cells (acrylic mounting)

“Self Portrait” story machine Exhibit Case 2

(Tezuka Osamu’s) Original animation materials (original pictures/storyboards, etc.) Video screening

Video screening

Unreleased experimental animations 2: “Muramasa” “Push”

 





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