Food for thought‘[...] do not think that good design can make a poor product good, whether the product be a machine, a building, a promotional brochure or a business man. But [...] good design can materially help make a good product reach its full potential. In short, [...] good design is good business.’
Thomas J. Watson Jr., IBM CEO

Books are tools to stimulate your senses and adjust your thinking

May 3, 2014, 4:58 PM

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When a show references Blade Runner, Philip K. Dick, George Orwell, William Gibson and then goes on to analyze the benefits of reading and paper books versus ebooks, you know you’ve picked a great one. Here’s the transcript:

“This city is like a parody of the sort of novels I used to read when I was younger.”

“Oh yeah, what kind, like a William Gibson book?”

“More like Philip K. Dick. Not as controlling as the societies George Orwell depicted in his work and not quite as wild as the ones in Gibson’s either.”

“Philip K. Dick, hm? Never read him. So if I wanted to check him out, which one should I read first?”

‘Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep’, it’s a classic.”

“There’s an old movie based on that, isn’t there?”

“The content’s quite different. You should compare them when you have time some day.”

“Then I’ll go ahead and download it right now.”

“No. Find the paperback. Ebooks lack character.”

“Got all the same words, don’t they?”

“Physical books are more than the words they contain. They are also tools to stimulate your senses and adjust your thinking.”

“How do you mean?”

“When I don’t feel well, I’ll stare at a page for ever before realising I haven’t absorbed a word. When that happens, I try to understand why. What’s gotten in my way? On the other hand there are books I can take in effortlessly, no matter how awful I’m feeling. Why do those books draw me in? I think it may be a sort of mental tuning. It’s the feeling of the paper against my fingers, that familiar smell of pulp and glue, a momentary stimulation to my brain when I turn each page. These sensations regulate and focus my brain, they make it work better.”

“Wow, that’s discouraging.”

“Hm?”

“Why is it every time I talk to you, I leave feeling like there’s something I’ve been missing out on my whole life up to now?”

“That’s just silly.”

“I sure hope so.”

How great is that? How many shows have you seen, lately or not, that pose questions and ideas like these, making you stop to think for a while?

The dialogue is taken from the anime series Psycho Pass (episode 15). It goes on between Shōgo Makishima, the main antagonist, and his right hand man, Choe Gu-Sung. I’ve used the dub version for the quote, although I usually prefer anime in Japanese with English subs, as very few English dubs are good enough. The subs however have a better version for the penultimate line: “You’re reading too much into it” – a bit more serious, and I liked the reading pun (intentional or not).

The story has many cyberpunk elements, reminding often of Philip K. Dick’sMinority Report‘ (again, worth comparing the book with the film), and also of Ghost in the Shell (the series mostly, both produced by Production I.G., best in the game), Monster (similar ‘contrast’ between two of the main characters) and sometimes hints of Cowboy Bebop (due to the noir feel and two main characters reminding of Spike and Jet).

Definitely worth watching, plenty of food for thought (besides the thrilling action), the above quote being just one example of many. Be warned though, it’s not for the weak of heart, it often gets very violent, even if not gratuitously.

The top image is a screengrab from the opening of that episode. Needless to say, being a Production I.G. show, it’s a treat for the eyes, and not only.

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Radiohead — 15 Steps v2.0

November 23, 2008, 4:11 PM

Eye-popping video made by Kota+Totori for Radiohead’s song. They won the first prize in an aniBooM contest (along with 3 other videos — apparently Radiohead couldn’t make up their mind which one they like best).

This one reminded me a lot of FLCL‘s wacky world, but the one thing that made me grin with admiration was the inclusion of storyboard frames into the final animation.

Enjoy it on Youtube (embedding disabled, unfortunately).

(via CG Society)

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Totoro Pumpkin

November 1, 2007, 1:14 AM

I knew I’d get the chance someday to post this beautiful Totoro :) Happy Halloween, for those who celebrate it.

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(check this site for more pumpkins)

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Tekkon Kinkreet – the savage beauty of innocent life

October 13, 2007, 3:50 AM

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Listening to the beautiful soundtrack, made by Plaid, I would’ve liked to write about the sensations Tekkon Kinkreet gives you. But I can’t, and I really shouldn’t. Because Tekkon Kinkreet does what movies should do (at least in theory): it touches you. I really felt the movie gave me in the end a small part of what Shiro was talking about, “Anshin! Anshin!” – meaning peace of mind, happiness.

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I highly recommend it to anyone who likes to “feel” while watching a movie. And even if the story will fail to touch you, the visuals will surely blow you away with their insanely detailed city scapes, streets, buildings, and with its wonderful colors.

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There are also the wonderful main charachters, Shiro (meaning white), contrasting with his “aniki” (older brother, but not necessarily by blood), Kuro (meaning black), both full of life in thei own way, complex, completeing each other.

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Pingmag writes about the visuals, Catsuka posts some nice hi-q screens, SuperHeroType interviews the director (non-japanese, if you can believe) and highly talented Audrey Kawasaki shows us scans from Tekkon Kinkreet Art Book, just pure eyecandy, if you needed any more proof that Japan is ages in front of everybody else when it comes to animation.

later edit:
Some time ago I was reading about Paprika and Tekkon, and reviews said that Satoshi Kon’s Paprika is better, making Tekkon look like something incomplete, with only great visuals, but little substance. How wrong they were… While Kon’s Paprika is beautiful, raising many questions about human’s psyche and dreams, Tekkon is way ahead, dealing with human emotions, and not in a rational way, like Paprika, but in a personal, introspective, i-feel-it kind of way.

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Obluda (Monster)

August 21, 2007, 4:15 PM

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Talking about “Where the wild things are”, here is another gem, “Obluda”, a story contained in the 37th episode of Monster (the anime). Monster is one of the best written mangas, one of the best anime there are nowadays, truly a great watch. This little story is yet another thing that sends shivers up my spine (especially the melodic, feminine voice, saying slowly “bari bari, cusha cusha, baki baki, gokun!”). It is a lot more mature than “Where the wild things are” and it could be compared to the way Mamoru Oshii reinterprets “Little Red Riding Hood” (Perrault’s version, not Grimms’) in his Jin-Roh movie (another classic anime).

I don’t know if the “Obluda” book actually exists or if it was made up by Naoki Urasawa (Monster’s creator), but it seems they were selling it along with one of the Monster dvds in France. I searched a lot, I’d really like to buy it, so if you find anything at all about it, please tell me :)

Later update (24 May 2014)

The book can be found & bought by searching for the ISBN 9784091790279 or 4091790275 (Amazon UK have it, maybe others too). Be advised, it’s in Japanese and the details are for the lenticular, hardcover version (there’s a paperback version too, it seems). You can find the translations for the stories on the Obluda Monster Wiki page.

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Where the wild things are…

, 3:52 PM

Today I received my package from Amazon with four books, 3 design books and a story one: Where the wild things are (wiki).

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I wasn’t very sure about it when I ordered, but after reading it I must say that I’m glad I did. It’s wonderfuly illustrated, it’s a great story and it manages to make you feel “the magic” of a child’s world. It’s actually a classic, and it seems Hollywood are making a movie inspired by it. Hope it turns out allright (Burton’s Big Fish is a great movie that has a similar feel to “Where the wild..”)

I also posted some weeks ago this Hulk comic cover, which as you can see is a tribute to “Where the wild things are”:
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Makoto Shinkai

August 19, 2007, 2:43 AM

I remember being in my second year of art university. I was browsing through some now-long-dead forum and saw a trailer that enchanted me. I simply could not believe how beautiful the images could be, I craved for more, watched it over and over again, not wanting to return to the dull colors and light of the real world.
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It was a trailer for “Beyond the clouds“. I had to wait 2 years for it to be released. But they were worth it. Meanwhile, I found out that the man behind it, Makoto Shinkai, was a new rising anime director (even nicknamed “the new Miyazaki” by some) whose previous work was done all by himself, from start to end. I watched “Hoshi no Koe (Voices Of A Distant Star)”, “Other Worlds” (the music, Satie’s Gymnopedie, has the same effect on me as Ave Maria from “Comedy” – you can watch it on youtube) and “She And Her Cat”. They were all beautiful, and it wasn’t just about the artwork (which has a trademark-style you’ll easily recognise after seeing Makoto’s Shinkai work). The light in these animations is fascinating, you feel it as it engulfs you, making you feel like you are part of the beautifully detailed sceneries. You feel as if you could just lay down and watch the sky forever, listening to the wind blowing softly through the grass.

This year Makoto Shinkai released Byousoku (5 Centimeter – a chain of short stories about their distance). I can’t wait to be left speechless again. I have no doubt about it. Hope Amazon UK will sell the DVD soon.

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First image from here, in wallpaper size, along with other beautiful ones. Second one from here, a review. Another detailed review as well as many shots here.

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Comedy – by Studio 4°C

August 18, 2007, 5:15 PM

One of my all-time-favourite shorts, gives me goosebumps every time. Guess it’s because of the angelic “Ave Maria“. Can’t find which version is in this short, Bach/Gounod’s, Beethoven’s, Mozart’s and Schubert’s got me confused, guess I’ll have to ask mum :P — she’s a music teacher :).

later edit:
ANN says it’s Schubert’s…
I’ve also listened to Gounod’s and it’s quite different.

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Paprika

May 7, 2007, 12:38 AM

Satoshi Kon's Paprika

A few weeks ago I was saying that Satoshi Kon’s latest movie seems to be very promising. Well, thanks to the advantages of the free, vast internet :D, I’ve managed to watch it.

First things first: visually stunning. Quite similar to Ghost in the Shell: Innocence, but better, since it’s CG isn’t as obvious. The sheer abundance of colours, characters, sets is overwhelming, just as you’d expect from a depiction of the human limitless imagination. The story, however, is not among Satoshi’s best. It’s quite unimaginative (resembling Jenniffer Lopez’s The Cell), sometimes incoherent, ilogic. But then again, what is logic when talking about the human mind ?

It is not quite an A+ movie, but it’s definitely a great watch, especially for us, visual-dependent ones. If you want a better story check out Millenium Actress and Perfect Blue.

You can see some of the storyboards here.

page from Paprika storyboard
A few screenshots for the apetizer :)

Great feeling..

Butterfly effect ?

Invasion

Some other hi-res images here.

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Another gem from Satoshi Kon

March 6, 2007, 3:09 PM

It’s called Paprika, already released in Asia last year. The trailer is a must see. It seems Satoshi is again exploring psychological themes, taking it this time to the extreme (this time it’s all about dreams). Visually, I dare say it’s better than anything the US studios can come up. Can’t wait to see it. Animenewsnetwork gave it an A+ rating :) Satoshi Kon has also directed Millennium Actress, Tokyo Godfathers, Perfect Blue and Paranoia Agent. He is one of the top five anime directors from Japan.

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