Ghibli Short Short - The Capsule Videos

Alright, kids. Last one for the night. Between this and Jarinko Chie (w/subs), you're plenty served for videos. I give you Momose's three Capsule videos, created in 2004 and 2005 at Ghibli's stepchild Studio Kajino. Each video follows an overarching storyline about a young fashionable woman of the future. She visits futuristic places, flies around in her own Jetson car, crashes a fashion show, engages in a car chase, becomes ensnared by a gaggle of robots (I've been itching to use that word all day), and finds true love. Not a bad way to spend a couple afternoons. Thank goodness the music's so good.

Portable Airport, Space Station No.9, and L.D.K. (Lounge Designers Killer) is the next generation of Japanese animation. Its visual style holds more closely to Yuasa's Mind Game than the old masters at Ghibli. Miyazaki, Takahata, even the newer filmmakers like Otomo and Oshii (Satoshi Kon may fit in with the new generation, but his roots are still clearly in Takahata's domain) represent the old guard, the postwar generation. They were the pioneers, the trailblazers, and now it falls into the hands of the next group of kids to take anime to the next level.

Or maybe I'm getting ahead of myself. Momose was born in 1953. You wouldn't think that by watching his anime films. His is the energy of a 25-year-old, the energy of those young punks who created Horus, Prince of the Sun.

Here's one thing that strikes me about Momose's Capsule videos - it demonstrates how fully animation is embedded in Japanese culture. The videos are young, hip, trendy, feminine - qualities you could never even think to find in the West. We're still stuck in some Eisenhower-era time warp. It's kind of like the way I felt when rave culture finally trickled its way down to Minnesota - a decade after the whole thing peaked everywhere else in the globe. There's nothing worse than being the last to show up at the party, only to see everyone's already left.

I don't know if the gender equality that's glamorized in modern anime like the Capsule videos, Dore Dore, Mind Game, Paprika and their peers testify to the youth culture as it really exists, or the ideal dream of the future. It's probably a mix of the two. But it still seems so much more grown up, so much more cool and exciting than what we have here. American culture is dominated by a hyper-macho aggression, at times veering dangerously into proto-fascism. We seem gripped by fear, dread, and the only outlets are torture and violence. Small wonder we're in the mess we find ourselves in.

Japan just seems to have its act together. They're your cooler older sister, the one who's moved on to makeup and cars and new music - the future. Theirs is the futuristic world we once dreamed of, before dreaming became outlawed and terror reigned. That's the vibe I get from Portable Airport, Space Station No. 9, and L.D.K. I'm curious to discover how Momose and Japan found their groove, and what I can do to get ours back. It's the 21st Century. When the hell do we get our Jetson cars?


Benjamin De Schrijver said...

These are pretty interesting for sure! Thanks for these (and all the others)

Anonymous said...

Hi Daniel, I really like your blog and have it bookmarked. Finally, a little mental stimulation!!

You make some very interesting points about the youth, hipness, and femininity of those films and the general vibe from Japan as a whole. It sort of reminds me of all the great stuff that was promised to us (where's my jetpack and Jeston car?!) in the 60's (the home of the FUTURE!) that never materialized. On the other hand, I don't know if it's fair to compare Japan to the U.S. The two are just so different. Also...there are some ugly realities the U.S. has to deal with that Japan doesn't or at least can afford to ignore i.e. a major foreign terrorist attack on U.S. soil, racism, the vast canyon between rich and poor, an enourmus military, a (valid or invalid) belief that it must police the world, ultraconservative Christian right, etc. You know, that besides the fact most Americans are virtually art illiterate. As a fellow midwesterner, I can relate to what you said about cool trends being *way* over by the time they finally arrive the heartland. (sigh)


Daniel Thomas MacInnes said...

Well, I'm glad my humble blogs can keep you happy. My line about the Jetson cars is a common refrain. It's an old gag, seeing as we're supposedly living in the future and all.

And I wouldn't worry too much about America's problems. There are similar problems facing all people around the world. In fact, most of your concerns are universal ones. But it's the domain of the arts to show us a better way to live. Besides, wouldn't you rather earn your smiles by seeing some groovy Ghibli cartoons, anyway?

daria said...

I happened to stumble upon your blog when searching for some anime-related materials. It is really well written. Great stuff. Thanks. By the way, have you seen "Tekkon Kinkreet"? It is done by Studio 4C, but directed by Michael Arias. I was blown away by the detail background art.

Again, thanks. Keep writing.

Doug said...

Just discovered this post when a pal pointed me here. These are incredibly hip and fresh, and the music is just fantastic. Wow, how did I miss this post - wait I wasn't following you then!

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