The Art of Yasuji Mori


Today I discovered this wonderful internet shrine to one of the great pioneers of Japanese animation, Yasuji Mori. Mori was the godfather of the Toei Doga studio through its glory years of the 1950's to the 1970's. I've become something of a Toei fan, through my affection for all things Ghibli; no doubt Mori is greatly responsible for this.


Mori was the first to introduce the animation director system to Japan, where one person personally checks all the cel drawings, keeping a uniform style to characters. He was also greatly responsible for the classic Toei "look" - geometric shapes, round heads, stubbly arms and feet, fluid motion. There's something to that style that draws me in. Perhaps this is because it's somewhat unique, never parroting any Walt Disney style or any Western trend. It's very much a time capsule from its era, one that has been forgotten in the East and West. The modern anime "look" would move in a very different direction from Mori's pudgy cartoon characters.

Videogame fans may recognize this style from the recent Legend of Zelda games. Both the GameCube and Nintendo DS installments of Zelda pay tribute to Toei Doga - a move that has proven controversial to many fans, but it's such a unique cartoon style that it really does stand out from the pack of serious-looking, CGI-heavy games.

There's a wealth of artwork on the Mori shrine, and I'll try to post my favorites here on the Ghibli blog. I'm currently writing from the Apple Store at the Mall of America, so downloading photos isn't possible right now. I'll be sure to add some photos later when I can.

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