Saturday, 18 July 2009

Jonathan Harris "Hikikomori" (2008)

I do not subscribe to Twitter, Facebook, or indeed any of the social networking sites save for a token presence on YouTube to which I always intend to add movies but very rarely do. The Animation Blog takes up all my spare energies and when I seem to become preoccupied by it I have a family that tears me away from the computer. Hikikomori, to quote from the very talented Jonathan Harris, the director of the film of that name, "is a social condition prevalent in Japan, where young people, unable to cope with social and academic pressures, shut themselves in their rooms for months, even years on end." His movie concerns Yasuo Yamamoto's self imprisonment and the possibility that someone out there cares. Inhabiting a room at the top of an apartment block, Yasuo spends his time listlessly on a bed or at one of a number of computers spread around his room like a plague. He waits for the email that never comes. Jonathan reinforces this growing sense of isolation by tracing the gradual exclusion of natural light from the room by the simple expedient of sticky tape and black paper. When all light is banished Yasua receives something in his inbox and has to make a decision. Plaintive music by Jeon Migyun adds to a palpable sense of isolation. Jonathan obtained a first class degree from Kingston University and let me say his movie reveals not one jot of grade inflation - it has the highest production values and is a remarkably thoughtful piece of work, boldly drawn and smoothly animated throughout. It will make you think. As will Jonathan's blog or again here. Somewhere he describes himself as geek. He knows best. He does write extraordinarily well and has taken the time to visit the festivals and presents sometimes forceful but always astute and vividly written observations on other work or animators, including Richard Williams and Raggedy Ann & Andy: A Musical Adventure which I personally like but Jonathan found himself "unable to stomach more than 20 minutes." There's more .... steady............! I expect to hear and see much more of Jonathan's work.

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