AOS and The Bathroom by Yoji Kuri

Whereas the age of a live-action film, no matter how classic, can always be discerned by the appearance of its actors, the cinematography, and the style of acting and direction, great animation has the capacity to be timeless. Take Yoji Kuri’s short AOS. It was made 46 years ago, yet the visuals feel as raw and disturbing today as when it first appeared.

A synopsis of the film can be found in Amos Vogel’s 1974 book Film as a Subversive Art:

This extraordinary animation–already a classic–projects a universe of bizarre and frustrated lusts, in which monsters, voyeurs, and misshapen objects engage in nightmarish and often sadomasochistic outrages amongst Freudian symbols of anxiety. Max Ernst and Bosch come to mind, but the rage against repression is entirely Japanese and ideological:sexual anti-puritanism as a liberating device.

When you’re ready to take it a step further, check out Kuri’s 1970 film The Bathroom:


  • Isaac

    AOS looks almost like a high-school project to me, I didn’t see any “rage against repression”.

  • fkosun

    On Aos, weird voice was played by Yoko Ono.

  • pizzaforeveryone

    wow. thanks for posting these.

  • sare

    amazing, what a talent! are there others? i can’t get enough!

    • GhaleonQ

      Unfortunately (Fortunately?), there are few “art” animators in Japan. They mostly do commercial work, even when they do get independence (see: Genius Party). There are quite a few greats, though, like Tadanari Okamoto. Check Anipages Daily http://www.pelleas.net/aniTOP/index.php?p=118&more=1&c=1&tb=1&pb=1 and Nishikata Film Review for older shorts in the sketchy style. Koji Yamamura’s my favorite working today. Also, find “Thinking And Drawing.”

    • http://palais.wikidot.com Jordan S.

      If you mean other Kuri films, there is one (region 2, NTSC) Japanese DVD gettable from YesAsia or CDJapan (no subtitles but it doesn’t need them) but even the 18 on there is but a fraction of them.

      And I get the impression, admittedly from festival and personal Web sites that I can only semi-comprehend the text of at extortinate time and effort, that there are plenty of independent animators in Japan, hidden behind the language barrier that AniPages Daily and Midnight Eye occasionally partake one to peek through, usually day-jobbing as illustrators as, like anywhere else, there’s generally no money in it outside of advertising. One exception, or at least an incremental step up from advertising, is their state broadcaster’s “Minna no Uta” interstitials – search for that or “みんなのうた” to see some – which have long served as a showcase for independents and small projects from studios and kept the variety of filmmaking in the public eye despite the size and vibrancy of the studio side of the industry there (having the classic short films of the world distributed nationally on the New Animation Animation DVDs can’t hurt either). The songs they need to go with and requirement to be family-friendly tend to result in schmaltziness but there are some gems among them, and quite a number from Kuri and at least one by Okamoto come to mention it.

      A click around the Web site of the Laputa Art Animation School, where Kuri is still alive and teaching, gives another slice of the kind of things going on behind that fusuma: http://www.laputa-jp.com/school/top.html

  • diego

    I love this kind of weird animation, thanks!

  • Demetre

    This is what animation is about

  • http://tetecarree.blogspot.com David Gale

    Thanks for posting, Amid. Those are exquisitely strange and rude!

    Have you seen this? Seems like a descendant.

  • Michael Wolff

    OK, I watched this and, immediately afterwards, my phone rang and a voice told me I had seven days left to live!