Floating Around. Floating Around.

While the anime industry booms, recognition is also growing for Japanese animation that doesn’t quite fit that label. A motor of that growth is New Deer, a production and distribution company founded by Nobuaki Doi in 2015, with a view to promoting independent animation at home and abroad (it also runs New Chitose, the only animation festival to take place in an airport). The company has announced a slate of eight productions, which serves as a who’s who of renowned Japanese indie animators.

The slate is headed by New Deer’s first animated feature, Mirai Mizue’s Journey to the West. As the title suggests, the film is an adaptation of the classical Chinese novel Journey to the West — already the source of many animated works — by Mirai Mizue, whose abstract shorts have won prizes at Annecy and many other festivals. According to Japanese entertainment website Natalie, the film will have a sci-fi style, and will also touch on how the coronavirus may change society.

New Deer is also teaming up with France’s Miyu to produce six shorts by directors who, between them, have caught our eye over the years and won prizes at festivals like Annecy and Berlin. Natalie reports that the plan is to sell all these films online in some form this year.

The final project is a video game by Atsushi Wada called My Exercise, in which the player performs sit-ups while lying beneath a dog. As you do. The game will be released on platforms such as Steam and Ios by the summer.

Read on for official synopses of and visuals from each project:

Mirai Mizue’s Journey to the West (dir. Mirai Mizue)

A brand-new adventure based on the famous novel Journey to the West.

"Mirai Mizue's Journey to the West"
My Exercise (dir. Atsushi Wada)

Let’s do sit-ups.

I’m Late (dir. Sawako Kabuki)

If your girlfriend would tell you “my period hasn’t come yet,” or if your period hasn’t come after the affairs with your boyfriend, how would you feel and how would you behave? A handful of people, of different ages, boys and girls, react to those questions and by doing so, let us discover their relationship to sex, parenthood, life, and the society in general.

"I'm Late"
Emergences (dir. Ryo Orikasa)

An animated adaptation from Misérable Miracle by Henri Michaux (1956), on his experiences with mescaline.

Bird in the Peninsula (dir. Atsushi Wada)

Children dance to music under the supervision of their teacher. A young girl attends the scene and comes to disturb their ritual.

"Bird in the Peninsula"
Floating Around (dir. Masanobu Hiraoka)

A woman travels among her memories and gets lost in them. Places and objects emerge. The situations repeat, change, succeeding each other. They are pretexts to the transformation of the past, to the transformation of oneself.

"Floating Around"
Anxious Body (dir. Yoriko Mizushiri)

Living things, artificial things, geometry shapes, and lines. When these different things encounter, a new direction is born. Desiring it as the sense of touch, things keep chasing it forever. Animation of tactility you only can let yourself go with the streaming of the images. Commissioned work for the exhibition “Inter+Play (Season 3: Jan 23–May 30, 2021)” at Towada Art Center.

"Anxious Body"
Ghost and Witch (dir. Yoko Kuno)

A story about people who are trapped.

"Ghost and Witch"

(Image at top: “Floating Around” by Masanobu Hiraoka.)