“Chainsaw Maid” by Takena Nagao “Chainsaw Maid” by Takena Nagao
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“Chainsaw Maid” by Takena Nagao

Chainsaw Maid has gotten a fair share of play this year, but I thought it deserved a bigger shout out here on Cartoon Brew. The idea to match up colorful plasticine with the zombie genre was a revelation for me–a perfect match. Show me a better use, or at least one that’s more fun, for plasticine.

The film is very well edited and shows a lot of directorial promise. The director, Takena Nagao, takes the zombie genre and replicates its idiosyncrasies flawlessly. The music is delightfully creepy, and works like a charm.  The candy-colored world is almost edible and had me wondering what purple brain blood tastes like. From a storytelling perspective, Chainsaw Maid mixes reaction shots, wide angles and close-ups better than some of the feature films I’ve seen recently.

Perhaps most impressive of all is Takena’s use of the moving camera: the quick zooms, the subtle pans and tilts, the lens recalibrating during a shot to find the action (e.g. 2:53-3:02). It takes confidence to move a camera like this, and even more confidence when you’re doing it in-camera without the aid of rigs/motion control. Takena uses it to add tension, believability, and dynamism to the film at just the right points–in other words, not just for the sake of moving a camera, as so many directors (amateur and professional alike) tend to do.

All in all, I find it super-refreshing to see a talented young filmmaker having so much fun and I can’t wait to see his future work.

PS. This is a link to Takena Nagao’s YouTube channel. And if you like Chainsaw Maid, check out Takena’s latest film, Pussycat.

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  • I’m sick of Zombies, but not sick of Nagao’s work. Incredible stuff.

  • doug holverson

    Nekomimi rule!

  • Phil

    I actually haven’t seen these before.
    Thanks for sharing! Love it!

  • Watching Pussycat got me some odd stares at work, that’s for sure.

  • Saw Chainsaw maid a while ago. really really great stuff. Horror is totally underdone in animation. Props to any animation that tries to do something other than comedy.

  • I must confess I’m not as won over by this as you are Pes. I didn’t last the whole duration, so maybe there’s a fantastic ending that makes up for the flaws, but some neat zombie violence aside all I saw was some weak timing in the animation and a lack of sound design.

  • Directionally speaking, this was a great little film.

    Best (funny) part was the father taking a sip from the coffee after what he had seen.

    Overall and really well put together and emotional zombie short. Well done.

  • I enjoyed this more than Diary of the Dead.

  • TM

    Ok, seriously Pussycat is one messed up film… characters are memorable though in sick twisted relationship sort of way… Pig and Pussycat look like they will make a strange happy couple…

  • FP

    I hadn’t heard of this guy or girl. The work is beautiful! It feels pure, somehow. The low-fi sound effects and music, distracting at first, begin to feel just right in a few minutes. It’s hard not to love cartoon gore and sadism, no matter how primitively produced. CHAINSAW MAID reminded me of Frank Sudol’s self-produced animated gore movies:

  • Ryan

    Well aren’t they just the most amazing things ever? Especially that fight scene in Pussycat, so much movement!

  • Interestingly, Takena is a very quiet and polite guy who studies engineering and was planning for a career completely outside of animation when I met him in Annecy. Will be interesting to see what happens, but go watch his videos and convince him to keep making more!

  • Tony W.

    I love the Death Proof homage at the end of Pussycat.

  • Ridgecity

    Why goes everything that comes out of Japan has to be sooo cuute?!?!?! I specially like the stick in the eye thing… AAA+ stuff!!!

  • vzk

    That pussycat is way cuter (and sexier) than most anime girls I have seen.

  • This film was great. I felt like throwing up during most of the gore scenes which made it even better.