In this ongoing series, we profile the most interesting independent animation filmmakers working today — the artists who, through short films and other projects, change our ideas of what the medium can do.
This week’s profile is Japanese filmmaker Yoko Yuki.
In a sentence: Yuki’s body of work is a beautifully unhinged, mind-drenching, kaleidoscopic explosion of colors, figures, memories, and voices.
Where to start: See ya Mr.Banno! (2014). A freewheeling, gonzo-fueled, rambling recollection of a school teacher who goes from fearful to mocked. Images and dialogue loosely jive yet also somehow exist as isolated works of art.
What to watch next: Zdravstvuite! (2015). In this stunning graduate student work, Yuri recalls an encounter with a strange Russian man on a beach in a Japanese seaside town. The flurry of colors and designs combined with the rapid-fire dialogue mirrors the haziness and craziness of not only a strange encounter but also the flailing urgency of reconstructing memory before it passes.
Other key works: Lost Summer Vacation (2017), A Snowflake into the Night (2018), ShalaBonBon (2020), Toyoichi (2020).
Influences: “The first is an old lady, a painter, who lived in my neighborhood when I was in elementary school. She is gone now, but I used to paint there when I was a kid. I think I was also influenced by the Japanese manga artist Moto Hagio, whom I read many times during my childhood.”
Says: “My work is inspired by the concept of magical things that can happen in daily life, such as objects coming to life. Imagine how amazing it would be if your pencil on the desk starts to breathe and talk to you and dance to make you smile. I believe describing those abstract imaginations can only be done through animation. During the process of visualization, I like working with realistic subject matter but making it exaggerated and stylized.”
Currently working on: “I am currently working on a new animation. I am putting my feelings about houses and cats into it. This year I plan to work on a manga as well. I would like to put more effort into drawing and writing.”
Pictured at top: See ya Mr.Banno!
Quotes have been edited for clarity.