Hiroyasu Ishida: Fumiko’s Confession And Rain Town

Very diverse body of work as you can see.

A while ago, while searching for obscure anime shorts I could use to bolster my hipster credit broaden my horizons I stumbled upon a little-known indie animator and manga artist by the name of Hiroyasu Ishida. His body of work thus far is fairly small, consisting only of two shorts. One is the wildly energetic Fumiko’s Confession, which cemented in my mind his great talent as a visual artist.


Now when I say that the short is wildly energetic, I mean it. It’s absolutely filled with kinetic energy, which actually made me just a bit dizzy. (I’m somewhat prone to motion sickness. ^^;;) This is in no small part due to the animation, which is absolutely full of motion lines and exaggerated movements, each of which flow together wonderfully along with the bright coloration to make Fumiko’s Confession the closest anime personification to a sugar high that I’ve ever encountered.

That said, there’s really not a lot to talk about with Fumiko’s Confession. Ishida doesn’t really get a chance to exercise his storytelling chops because the short is pretty much pure energy with very little more to offer. I ultimately must say that I prefer his next short, Rain Town, far more than Fumiko’s Confession.

 

Rain Town, in stark contrast to Fumiko’s Confession, is a slow, atmospheric work. Now that’s not to say that it’s somehow less engaging than Fumiko’s Confession, but its tactics for drawing the reader in a considerably different. There are often long, quiet shots of slick, empty streets or rain rippling across puddles. Roger Ebert, in his Grave Of The Fireflies review, described something called the “Pillow Shot,” a term taken from a concept in Japanese poetry called the “Pillow Word”. He describes it as a short word or phrase between two lines which exists as a sort of beat, establishing a unique pace for the poem. Similarly, in many Japanese films and anime there are many pillow shots which serve to establish a unique pace or atmosphere. In Ebert’s words, they in many ways serve as visual punctuation to a scene which they occupy.

The attention to detail in Rain Town is wonderful.

Rain Town makes very effective use of the pillow shot, using it to paint for the viewer a cool, somewhat earthy atmosphere. It also does an effective job at worldbuilding. In some ways I am reminded of the Pixar film Wall-E in that so much is said about the characters and the world they occupy, but not a single word ever needs to be spoken. To me, that’s the height of storytelling skill. Many anime get bogged down in pretentious monologues about humanity or reality or whatever topic the author chooses to rail on about, which is fine and all, but it’s nice and refreshing to see a work that can communicate its story so subtly.

The story itself is very cute as well, if a bit depressing. It’s a tale of a robot who makes friends with a young girl, but believes in the eventuality of their separation due to an experience with another young girl, and so instead of allowing this girl to break his heart again, he breaks himself. One thing that really impressed me was how they managed to communicate emotion with the robot. Its entire facial repertoire consists of just two blinking dots but somehow through a combination of atmospheric visuals and the stellar soundtrack we come to empathize with the robot’s plight despite its lack of… Well… Emoting. I thought that was kinda cool.

Poor guy. =[

So while I haven’t really been able to pin down a distinct style with Ishida outside of a few visual similarities, Fumiko’s Confsssion and Rain Town have both intrigued me enough to want to see more from him. If you haven’t seen any of his work I’d definitely recommend it at the very least for its visual beauty and atmosphere.

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