Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Kayoko's Diary

Last night I watched this film on Crunchy Roll and it left me with mixed reactions but was an overall positive experience. The movie shows some clear similarities to Grave of the Fireflies and Barefoot Gen, the film I didn't find as overly dramatic as Grave of the Fireflies or as inappropriately cartoonish as Barefoot Gen. However, both of those films have a level of quality of animation that this movie doesn't achieve which keeps this film from having a greater emotional impact. 

Based upon real life, the film revolves around Kayoko, who is at the beginning of the film, a first grade girl and the youngest member of her family of 6 in 1940 Japan. Later, her pregnant mother gives birth to a baby brother. For the first portion of the film, the movie is rather loosely plotted following Kayoko's life and developing the characters. While the perspective of a first grader makes the film somewhat alienating to older viewers, the film does not misstep and is refreshingly sincere with the realistic attitudes of the characters which makes the first half of the film continually enjoyable.

As the film moves on, Kayoko moves to the second grade and her life changes as she is expected to mature to set an example for her baby brother. The film gradually darkens and the presence of the military is felt stronger as the film moves along as the viewer experiences the hardships of wartime life through chants, parades, and personal belongings given to the military. The film's tone darkens more as Kayoko is evacuated to live with her aunt in the country. Then time moves forward skipping several years to 1945 when Kayoko is in the fifth grade and leads to a climax that I won't spoil for the sake of readers who have yet to see the movie.

As a whole, I think that Kayoko's Diary is a refreshingly honest animated film which handles its difficult subject well, but is brought down by rather weak animation and rather derivative character designs. The backgrounds are well designed with attention to detail, but are so well made that the foreground elements and characters don't quite fit into the world which they are placed. Ultimately, the movie is an emotionally engaging experience but not an artistic or particularly unique one. I cautiously recommend this film to those who are interested in an interesting animated historical account but not for those who are looking to be artistically engaged.

Here is the link to the movie at Crunchy Roll:

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Welcome to my blog!

Welcome to this blog, created entirely for the purpose of drawing attention to more obscure animated features. It's not a great blog right now, but it will continue to get better each day, so please come back or I'm just wasting my time. 

The first film that I feel is worthy of more attention(even if I haven't seen it), but as of yet has not been released on DVD or VHS is an avant-garde musical from artist and filmmaker Gyorgy Kovasznai called Foam Bath, which has some amazing artwork. There is an entire research center in Hungary devoted to his achievements and here is their website with five short films and select works of his art from the 50's to the 80's. Be cautioned that there is some nudity which some people might find objectionable.

Further contact information can be found on the site, and to have a snowball's chance of seeing this movie, contact them and see what sort of response you get.

Update: June 3rd, 2008 Below

I've found a short video on Vimeo with several clips from Foam Bath and several of Kovasznai's shorts. Many thanks to Kultplay for uploading this short video. You can find the blog through the Vimeo link, but it's in Hungarian, so I won't link to it directly as it would likely be of little use to the only person who's currently reading this blog.