“Junko’s Shamisen” by Sol Friedman

Though primarily live action, I had to post the phenomenal debut film by Toronto-based filmmaker Sol Friedman. Junko’s Shamisen, which played the festival circuit last year, was recently posted online. A visual tour-de-force, it combines live action with cel, stop motion (by Pete Levin) and computer animation.


  • http://www.youtube.com/user/VujadeEntertainment#p/u/0/3HaupcJwAdk Steve Schnier

    WOW – nice little film. Stylistically it reminds me of Sin City. Attention to 100 little details makes it a treat for the eyes. Great work.

  • http://www.animationinsider.net/ Aaron B.

    I remember seeing the trailer for this several months ago… I also remember losing interest because the trailer didn’t actually tell me anything about the film. I’m glad to see the piece in its entirety, for sure. Really nice work.

    Old school Japanese puppet theater techniques are a great way to play with the viewer’s grasp of so many visual elements.

  • http://www.spitandspite.com Epic!

    I agree, WOW. Awesome piece, congrats!

    Couple questions:

    1. Did anyone else find that fox animation super distracting? I almost feel like a drawing would be less disturbing. And why did it move in such a stilted manner? All those pops made it seem less than otherworldly. Was there an aesthetic choice for being a practical object in the film instead of something more ethereal? Some idea like the spirit is the most “alive/living” sort thing this world or something?

    2. Why was everyone such a jerk, even the old man was kind of an asshole. Laughing made him a bit unlikable, though human I suppose…

    3. And the bad guy was really just a douchebag right? I mean, instead of killing the guy after the insult, he strikes the head off a toy. Douchebag move but not hurting anyone even though the grandpa gets emotionally destroyed. Then, to muddle the point, it cuts away and it’s implied that the grandpa attacks first (shot of grabbing the sickle). After the melon cut, the antagonist would’ve been more clearly defined as “evil” if he would have attacked, but then we couldn’t use that device of focusing on the sickle right? Just a bit muddled.

    4. Carving the guys chest out is just sick. I mean, this kid goes from obnoxious child (ok) to remorseful (ok…) to vengeful (I’m still with you) to brave (the journey – still rooting for you little kid) then to psychotic (wtf?). Just saying, was that necessary?

    DISCLOSURE: Don’t understand Japaneses so maybe I missed something in the translation…

    Either way, awesome work. Similar to Sin City, yea, duh, but I it’s awesome none the less and that’s really just a technique. I’m more curious as to why certain story choices were made…

    Again, great work. :)

  • http://www.frankpanucci.com Frank Panucci

    Failing to take shamisen lessons can result in Grampa deadness and spooky wolf hallucinations.

  • http://kicreativestudio.blogspot.com/ Ki Innis

    Visually awesome. Awesome animation.
    Nice harmony of the mediums.

    Too many Asian/ Japanese visual cliches for my taste.

    Felt like sketches of Kill Bill Vol. 1. (another Westerner’s view of what they would like Japanese pop culture to be)