Japan Animator Expo 2015

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The Japan Animator Expo was awesome! 

winter15-foshMost of us have probably seen that crazy ME!ME!ME! music video a few times, but did you know where it came from or did you know already? Just in case you have no idea in short it was part of a huge animation expo that contained over 35 short videos! Most of them involved some kind of Mecha and a few EVA shorts thanks to Trigger and Gainax; however I can’t possibly talk about all 35 of them so I will pick a few that I enjoyed.

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winter15-skylion Well there are quite a few of these out there. Most were curiosities, and many looked like proof of concept for a future work. All of them had lavish attention payed to them, and all of them are worth watching if you are a fan of the medium and what it is capable of doing. But for me, I’m a bigger fan of storytelling. So, my pics focus on the art of short animation, as the art of short storytelling. What can you say with brevity while still completing a thought from beginning, to climax, to denouement?

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spring15-samsI personally love watching anthologies.  Collections like Memories, Short Peace, Robot Carnival, Neo-Tokyo and more all allow some incredibly inventive works to be made by some of the absolute best talents the anime industry offers.  Heck, Space Dandy is an anthology adjusted to be a TV anime, which is why its such an awesome show!  From Satoshi Kon to Yoshiaki Kawajiri, from Katsuhiro Otomo to Shinichiro Watanabe, from Masaaki Yuasa to Yasuomi Umetsu (don’t ask me how I feel about Umetsu, its complicated)… I could spend days going over the incredible amounts of talent who work on anthologies.  But so many of these people were established creators well before they worked on anthologies.  The Animator Expo is brimming with talents both old and new (this up and comer named Miyazaki something worked here), there are so many different kinds of works here, all worth watching for a variety of different reasons.  Here are just a few

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Here are my choices!

15) Obake-chan

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Obake-chan dreams of her Shinigami senpai~

How many people remember a little comedy series called Nichijou? If so then Obake-chan is the right animation short for you! The “story” follows a ghost named Obake-chan on her day to day life as a ghost and how she tries her best to be a spooky scary ghost! Seeing those bits made me laugh a lot and she even has a ghost cat that follows her around. So why did I mention Nichijou earlier? Well for starters we get a few really quick mini episodes of gags and comical stuff with Obake-chan trying to scare people much like the first twelve episodes of Nichijou which had some really odd stories like the stuff with the wooden cube wars and what not if you know what I’m even talking about! Besides that I found this one to be really cute and I’m a big fan of Nichijou like anime.

16) Tokio of the Moon’s Shadow

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Yeah pure WTF summed up in one screenshot.

This one was freaking weird as hell because it was about a kid who lived on the moon along with several other characters living on the other planets? I guess they were in charge of protecting those planets and each guardian was being killed off by some mysterious alien? Yeah the story was really strange, but aside from the alien killing the other characters it was about a guy from the moon wanting to meet a girl from earth for some romance thrown in? Animation wise this was probably the weakest one on my list because it jumped around from terrible looking CGI, sketch like drawings and so on; however the mecha fight vs the evil alien was cool even though that killer alien turned into a magical cat? Yeah again this whole short was full of WTF IS EVEN GOING ON!?

21) Iconic Field

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Awesome animation yo~

Much like the hit ME!ME!ME! This short also plays out like a music video with little to no dialog being spoken, but instead we a lot of amazing visuals; however the story I got from this short was cut into two parts with the first being about a boy who met a blue haired girl and they became friends, but years later he runs into the blue haired girl again after her team of freaky aliens attack the earth? Yeah it was odd and for the most part it jumped around from the past and present while carrying the theme of war. Animation wise it was really amazing to watch and it sorta reminded me of Gundam 08th MS Team or some of the older Macross stuff especially when it came down to the character designs which were done by Iwao Teraoka who didn’t really work on anything Gundam related but he did stuff for X’amd lost memories, Planetes, the EVA rebuild movies, Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood, Samurai Champloo and Outlaw Star.

25) Hammerhead

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I love this title card.

Being a superhero is tough work especially when you are owned by the government and with a name like Hammerhead it made me scratch my head because it sounds silly! Then again most superhero names are dumb, but for the most part it was about a dude who could regenerate his body much like Wolverine or Deadpool if you are familiar with those Marvel characters and if you are currently watching One Punch Man I highly recommend you watch this short unless you aren’t into gore? If not then yeah you might want to skip this because the gore is quite graphic and detailed! While the core story was about a guy who fights giant monsters with a big hammer the real story was that Hammerhead wanted to die but he couldn’t since his powers always being active. The story was also narrated by Hammerhead’s daughter who we see at her fathers side laying in a hospital bed practically dying, but that was sorta his wish to finally die after countless fights; however the government doctors rush into the room and force his powers to activate! I guess in the end the government used him as a weapon and weren’t about to let him simply die because there was a new rampaging monster to defeat and I think seeing his daughter helped him to decide to continue living for her sake and to save the world? Yeah this was another awesome short with great artwork and a really tragic story added to the mix.

35) Cassette Girl

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This was easily the best.

Ohh boy Cassette Girl was by far the most amazing thing I’ve seen from the Animator Expo! It had everything I could want from over the top mecha fights, bunny girls, ecchi elements and a bit of a retro 80’s vibe from the VHS quality fight scene, but what was this one about? A girl living in the future where there are media police who hate any old school media and the main girl seems to be a of a collector of anything VHS until she gets attacked by freaking huge robot that looked a lot like the Decepticon Soundwave, but I really enjoyed how the animators used the VHS thing as the girls power and how she could use a tape and transform into something from that tape which just so happened to be a bunny girl outfit and later I learned the actual fight was paying respects to an older anime called Daicon IV which was made in 1981 by Gainax which is really cool! I mean the whole time I was thinking more on the lines of FLCL because of Haruko wearing a bunny girl outfit while surfing on her guitar? I guess even that series pays respects to Daicon IV as well.

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Tell me a story!

01) The Dragon Dentist

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Damn those are some big teeth.

We are drawn into the memories or dreams or maybe even the nightmares of a past life. While this short exact story might escape a logical progression, it’s still capable of evoking a sense of wonder, and a sense of sacrifice. The Dragon Dentists seem to be caretakers for an awesome power, one that traces it’s roots across several battles and many wars. I wanted to know more about this world as it managed to capture a feeling of epics past. How did the dragons get involved in war? What’s so important about the teeth? Is there more?

19) I can Friday by day!

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…a rodent powered robot girl

There wasn’t a single moment that I didn’t feel charm and fun from this short. It took a well-worn trope, and repaved it, then put on new shoes and danced across the surface. Thou it remained wacky from start to finish, there wasn’t a part of it that wasn’t instantly recognized and understood. I was impressed that it was able to tell such a complete story in such a short period of time. I would love to see this continued. The world of these little gerbil explorers/head miners? just demands more screen time. What other robot girls are out there?

29) Bureau of Proto Society

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Save us Tom Cruise!

To paraphrase automotive plant pioneer Henry Ford, “History is more or less Moe”. I’m a huge fan of anime and a huge fan of history; not just the facts and people and dates, but how it’s assembled, argued, agreed upon, and fought over. They just took that and made it much more post-apocalyptic/desperate. Librarians and historians are the true secret warriors, and every A/V shelf is a new hill to take in battle. So this one was right up my alley. The build-up and punchline was so well delivered. My only complaint is that once you have that, it’s not that re-watchable; but helluva a good garden path gag.

32) Neon Genesis IMPACTS

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Are you depressed yet?

The other Neon Genesis shorts left me less than impressed, as none of them really advanced anything, or did much more than CGI my old school anime. IMPACTS lives up to it’s name, as it does just that. There’s been a trend developing in mixing moe with other tropes, such as zombies, or hard core space-battles, or dark magical girl plot twists, but this is one mix that just drains all the feelings right out of you. This one side-steps the mechs, the angels, baka-Shinji/”I feel sick”, and all that over-blown NERV secret scripture garbage and tells you a story that it’s as instantly recognizable as it is over-whelming. Tokyo-3 has never been this heart-breaking or dangerous…

34) Robot on the Road

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…an autonomous ecchi pick up artist…

Some shorts could tell a story, some would indulge ingiant robot clashes, while others captured a feeling from anime past. This one managed to wrangle a theme with it’s fake cowboy robot. It was ecchi as an automated, thoughtless, pre-programmed desire that just generates more of the same. That it managed to bring a great degree of sympathy to its victim, yet still managed to do so in a mildly fun way is a good sign that it’s creators understood the theme, and that brevity is the soul of wit. It even suggested that despite the antics being shut down, that shutdown was only temporary. The mindless ecchi lives on.

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A bit of everything.

10) Yamadaloid

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Samsura the wandering Samurai~

The Animator Expo is absolutely filled with music videos of all sorts.  Yamadaloid is my favorite of the bunch, based on its great music and the crazy plot that the short tells without words (well I’m sure the lyrics of the song tell the story to but me no speak Nihongo well).  So this is the story of a wondering samurai who returns home to his family.  Though the samurai has a robot hand.  And then his wife is kidnapped by a weird gang.  Then the samurai rescues his wife, then the wife gets shot, then the samurai transforms into a pure white CG robot and gets into a fight, and it then turns out the whole thing was a show?  I don’t pretend to understand this stuff, I just really like it.  As with all the music videos that are part of the Expo, the music here really sells the video.  This one mixes some great classical Shamisen tunes with plenty of J-pop, and the visuals at the beginning of the short are fantastic.  The fight at the end is impressive nonsense, in total the whole video just brings me a lot of joy.

33) Ragnarok

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FK YA GIANT ROBOTS!

I hope the world gets destroyed by a Giant Robot.  There is no plot to this short, there are no characters to be invested in.  Only the sweet sensual sound of a rocket punch.  Seeing America-bot (with Captain America’s shield), Russia-bot (it has a hat?), and Japan-bot (there is a sticker that says Japan on the back) just duke it out for eight solid minutes is a joy to behold.  Combine that with the both inappropriate and totally required brass band playing and this short is pure mecha fun.  In this short you get: dueling rocket punches, energy beams, and ethnically appropriate Giant Robots.  What is there not to love?  Plus, seeing people from all walks of life come together to bet on which mech is the coolest is exactly what I believe will be the future of humanity.  Looking forward to seeing you in action Megabot and Kuratas!

13) Kanon

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Moe god?

Hey guys, take it easy on God.  Sure the world is flawed and we don’t all get what we want, but is that really any reason to destroy the world and just start over.  Of course all the mistakes of creation are going to be created, so why bother?  This short is based on an early 20th century play called “Adam the Creator” that I won’t pretend to have heard of before watching this short.  But the play it is based on is written by Karl Capek, who is famous for first using the word robot.  So I guess all mecha shows oh this guy a bit?  Anyway, this short is the super condensed and sped up version of what I can only assume is a long and strange Czech play.  This short plays with the biblical creation myth with Adam despairing over the world, destroying it, and creating a new world that goes horribly wrong in the exact same way as the world he destroyed.  I love this short because when you disregard the mile a minute voice work or funky visuals, it is actually a modernized version of a 1920’s satire about humanity.  This is basically like what would happen if you turned  Swift’s A Modest Proposal into an anime.  Which I would totally watch!

18) Diary of Ochibi

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Now I want some food.

This short is without a doubt the most healing and feel good option of all the offerings of the Expo.  Based on the uplifting manga by Moyoco Anno (not to be confused with Memories of an Amorous Gentleman, which is a soul crushing short based on a manga by Moyoco Anno) Ochibi is pure joy put into motion.  See Ochibi as he goes from being inside a bento box to eating its contents in spring, then going to the beach inside a fan in the summer, spending spring as a pile of sentient leaves, and ending with winter warm and cozy.  When I watch Ochibi no amount of stress or negative emotions can keep a smile off my face.  This is the “turn that frown upside down” short of the entire Expo.

30) The Ultraman

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Can’t go wrong with a classic hero.

There has never been a more awesome name than Zetton: Space Dinosaur!  Space Overlord?  Not bad, but not prehistoric enough.  Anyhow, this short will make no sense to basically all to anyone who isn’t an Ultraman fan, but that’s only if you care about proper nouns.  Just replace Ultraman with Green Lantern and Jackal with that yellow guy, it will all make sense.  There is a big bad evil guy, who goes around fighting in the forms of all your favorite Ultraman baddies.  Like that one that’s actually a guy in a suit! Since this is all animated instead of low budget special effects, this short looks amazing with its sense of scale.  Seeing countless Ultraman suit up, and fire their signature beams is a sight to behold.  Even if you have never seen a single episode of Ultraman, that won’t stop you from having a great time with this short from Nebula M78!

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End thoughts

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The Japan Animator Expo was really fun to follow weekly even though the true purpose isn’t to jump start any new anime series, but instead the true purpose of this expo is to show off fresh new talented animators. I mean if they don’t get full blown series maybe they can inspire more creative ideas for future anime? I know personally I feel with each passing season we tend to get those copy cat clone shows which always brings up comparison arguments like X series did it way better than B and boy I really hate how C stole ideas from X! Yeah that tends to get annoying super fast. So which five Japan Animator Expo shorts did you like and if you could have any of the 35 get full blown series which one would you love to see more of?

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Thanks for tuning in, and if you’ve not watched any or most of the shorts, than I hope these suggestions will get you motivated. This was a great opportunity, and it shouldn’t be missed.

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The Animator Expo is in a way a culmination of the best anime has to offer.  Vastly different animation techniques, vastly different stories, and an immense amount of talent are all present here.  There is so much cool stuff I didn’t get to talk about horny robots or one-armed bandits!  I highly recommend that everyone how has a favorite short should look at the creative staff’s credits and go, “This guy worked on that show!?!  I have to check this out!”  For me anthologies are treasure troves, filled with more potential than an entire season of TV anime offers sometimes.  With the Animator Expo there wasn’t a single short that I had a bad time with, and there are many gems that I watch regularly (or until they are taken down from the site).  There is at least one short here for every type of anime fan, so you might as well watch them all to find the one suited for you!

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We live, laugh, enjoy and strictly believe on "more the merrier". When together, we usually come up with very chatty, conversation-based episodics and interesting posts.
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14 Responses to “Japan Animator Expo 2015”

  1. Di Gi Kazune says:

    Ultra-BEAM! *does the Ultrabeam*

  2. akagami says:

    Thanks for those suggestions, I’ll have to check some of those out! I’ve only seen Obake-chan from your suggestions (which was cute and mischievous).

  3. JPNIgor says:

    Did you guys say to each other “no, we won’t pick repeated stuff” or were the choices organic? Because the most fascinating thing in this list and the expo is that all of your choices were different and really varied.

    I didn’t watch too many of those because I didn’t feel like checking back every now and then on the website, but I did see the first 8 ones I guess. I loved Obake-chan. It was one of the simplest and cutest things I ever saw and it felt so natural.

    I remember The Hill Climb Girl which was weird… Geez, I don’t quite remember, and it’s a shame most of the stuff can’t be watched anymore.

    And there was ME!ME!ME!, of course. It was weird, but it’s impossible to complain about the animation quality and it introduced me to daoko. I’m addicted to her voice, I don’t what to do anymore. And the follow up to it, GIRL, was just as great.

    • skylion says:

      We had to finesse our finals lists a bit. Some trading here and there, picking some alternates, that sort of thing.

      I was able to keep up with all of them, as I have several anime news websites bookmarked, and several friends on G+ that followed pretty much all the shorts as they came out. So I was kept abreast of them.

    • akagami says:

      Geez, I don’t quite remember, and it’s a shame most of the stuff can’t be watched anymore.

      Torrent is your friend!
      http://www.torrenters.net/bbs/board.php?bo_table=tr_ani&wr_id=626613

      Both japanese and english versions.

      Also can search nyaa for individual torrents.

      • JPNIgor says:

        THANK YOU VERY MUCH!

        Holy moly, that’s 8 GBs of awesome animation. It’s a shame I can’t watch it right now because I’ll be on a trip for a few days.

    • Foshizzel says:

      Hahah yeah we wanted that to be the case.

      I think everyone saw ME!ME!ME! because when it came out it was all over the internet and out of all the animator shorts it has the most fanart.

      • JPNIgor says:

        See, I watch anime on these random streaming websites, and one of them updated the whole first batch, but they just stopped midway and I assumed it had ended. I watched ME!ME!ME! first over there as well hahaha Never imagined it would become this huge, with weird explanation videos all over youtube.

  4. Samsura says:

    A few random thoughts I couldn’t fit in

    1. Everyone should watch the Daicon IV animation at some point, it is absolutely magical to anyone who has experienced pop culture

    2. Iconic Field and Ibuseki Yoruni felt like a super cut of a TV show more than any other shorts, they were really weird in that respect.

    3. Sex and Violence with Machspeed is the most Adult Swim esque of all the specials, which makes sense cause its by the people behind such amazing shows like Inferno Cop or Dead Leaves.

  5. Kyokai says:

    I loved this project. I hope this becomes an yearly thing with more creative shorts. We need more of this!

  6. […] This is from SEX & VIOLENCE at MACHSPEED which was part of the 2015 animator expo […]

  7. […] Why dentists and where do they all come from? Even more important, will there more to this story?  Metanorn’s Animator Expo post (edited for this […]

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