In this special Cartoon Brew series, we asked the five nominees of the 2013 Best Animated Short Academy Award to discuss the artwork of their films. Today we continue this exclusive look at the short contenders with Possessions, a Japanese film directed by Shuhei Morita. The film initially appeared in Katsuhiro Otomo’s Short Peace film omnibus.
Shuhei Morita: Stories that are written in old Japanese folk stories usually don’t have big actions or surprising tricks. They are very simple, but attract people somehow. I thought this is one style of entertainment. I really like it. I believed that the challenge of creating Japanese folk stories as a style of entertainment could only be done in by short film.
We made Possessions very simple, nothing extra is added. I’m attracted to flashy styles such as “Hyakki-yagyo” or “Utagawa-Kuniyoshi,” because I really like Japanese ghosts. But the time format is too short for that, and it meant I can’t create the Japanese ghosts that I imagined. It was very hard to make it short, but I think I was able show the entertainment that is expressed through Japanese folk stories.
This is a unique idea that things have souls. For example, when you lose an important thing on your desk, without becoming frustrated you should think of it this way. “It is trying to come back to me!” Then you won’t get so frustrated or you’ll be happy when you see them again.
Shuhei Morita: In the past few years, we have been creating a “Theatrical Plan” for a film themed on ‘Things.’ At the time, I met Mr. Keisuke Kishi and his sculpture art attracted me a lot. Ever since, I’ve wanted to work with him somehow.
Finally this time, I got a chance to work with him, and I asked him to create ‘plot design’ and ‘the original plan.’ The reason the design has been changed is he had worked on it before the title Possessions was decided. I received his idea, and made up the script and design.
Shuhei Morita: “Stuff” such as characters and items in the anime cannot be ignored, so I used the sounds such as “Ding,” “Bang,” and “Crack,” and expressed its presence. I came up with the idea that they look three-dimensional.
Shuhei Morita: As you see in the design, I was particular about the details. Interesting thing is I used a Sumo wrestler from Ukiyoe-art in Edo period as reference on how to draw the muscles.