Saturday, July 24, 2010

Mamoru Oshii and Magicians of Picture Creation

The big exhibit currently running at the Yumebi gallery in Hachioji is "Mamoru Oshii and Magicians of Picture Creation" (July 16 to Sept. 5). This is one that I really wish allowed photos, because mere words aren't enough to let you know what's there. It's definitely worth the 500 yen ($6 USD, for adults) entrance fee.

If you aren't directly familiar with the name Mamoru Oshii, even if you're just a casual anime watcher, you know at least one of the films he's directed: Angel's Egg, Urusai Yatsura: Beautiful Dreamer, Ghost in the Shell, Ghost in the Shell: Innocence, Patlabor 2 and Skycrawlers. The Yumebi exhibit contains a wide variety of multimedia items from many of his key films.

(Mamoru Oshii, from the "Remix" book, used for review purposes only.)

There's rendered CG frames from Innocence, accompanied by various pencil drawings showing each of the layers used to build up the scene, from the backgrounds to the different parts of the character, plus the dog and the weapons. Speaking of the dog, Mamoru has a basset hound named Gabriel, which seems to be the inspiration for supporting characters that show up in several of the films, including Innocence and Skycrawlers. There are lots of pencil drawings from Kerberos, Angel's Egg and Patlabor. This is accompanied by life-sized costumes from Assault Girls and Kerberos, and figure models for many of the different films, some of which were apparently used for animation reference and others that just came from the DVD box sets for Innocence. The only film that was noticeable in its absence was Beautiful Dreamer. There are also some props from Avalon, including weapons and some steam punk-level keyboards and ID card readers.

(Skycrawlers, from the "Remix" book, used for review purposes only.)

I arrived at 10 AM on a Thursday, a few minutes before they opened. This made me the only customer there and I had the gallery to myself, with the exception of one security guard and the woman at the ticket counter. After about 20 minutes, a group of 6 Japanese high school students arrived, apparently part of an on-the-job training program. The boys were positioned at seats in the gallery to make sure no one takes pictures, and the girls sat at the ticket counter (although they weren't allowed to handle sales yet).

("Remix" cover, used for review purposes only.)

Some of the previous Yumebi exhibits had fairly little available in the way of goods for sale in the book shop. That's not a problem this time - all of the DVDs are on sale plus close to 20 different book titles, including some of the manga that Mamoru wrote. I decided to get the "Complete Works of Mamoru Oshii (Remix)", for 2000 yen. ISBN 978-4-87376-687-4. This is a 300-page collection of interviews, overviews of everything that he's ever worked on, a full filmography, etc. There are comparatively few photos, making the book very text-heavy, and if you don't know Japanese you're not going to find too much in here to keep busy with. But the photos that are in the book are all gorgeous.

(Killers and .50 cal Woman, from the "Remix" book, used for review purposes only.)

One last comment on the exhibit - There was a small corner dedicated to the next film Mamoru's working on. It's a live action/CG mix revisiting the world of Tetsujin 28-go (Gigantor). The exhibit shows the full-scale models of the robot controllers, for both #28, and #28 1/2, plus a photo of the woman running #28 1/2. Looks promising.

In the front lobby was a large plasma screen running advertisements for a number of Oshii's DVDs. The one that really caught my eye, so I decided to check out Assault Girls when I have the chance.

(Twilight Q, from the "Remix" book, used for review purposes only.)

Summary - If you're in the Hachioji area, check out the Yumebi exhibit. It's worth the $6.

(Angel's Egg, from the "Remix" book, used for review purposes only.)

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