Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Experimental Animation Of Osamu Tezuka (1962-65)

Osamu Tezuka (手塚治虫) — internationally renowned animator, director and pioneer of both page and screen — is probably best remembered for his starry-eyed wunderkind Astro Boy (known in Japan as 鉄腕アトム, Testsuwan Atomu). Although to limit Tezuka's artistic contributions as such would be to overlook a remarkably prolific career in which he is said to have created over 150,000 pages of manga, not to mention the countless cells of animation he saw produced in his lifetime.

Similar to the work of famed director Hayao Miyazaki (宮崎駿), though in a much different style, Tezuka addressed important issues of modern society (i.e. nuclear armament, human rights, etc.) while still managing to produce an end result that was as visually impressive as it was accessible. Ever the innovator, he pushed the boundaries of what could be communicated to a large-scale audience through the art of manga and anime.

In 1967 Tezuka created the monthly magazine COM — his foray into the world of "mature" manga (mentioned in our recent post on the journal's predecessor Garo). Through COM he was able to showcase the work of up and coming artists, as well as his own — some of which might not have seen acceptance amongst more mainstream audiences.

The clips below were created by Tezuka's production company Mushi Pro (虫プロダクション) in the years preceding COM's first publication. They clearly indicate the director's desire to explore new avenues of animation, both in style and content, particularly when considering the overtly sexual tone of the first two films.

Last year these animated shorts were finally made available to North American audiences as part of the DVD collection The Astonishing Work of Tezuka Osamu.

Male (1962)

Memory (1964)

Mermaid (1964)

The Drop (1965)

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