June 29, 2008

Studying a 70's japanese masterpiece

Haha wo tazunete sanzenri, also known as 3000 Leagues in Search of Mother or just Marco is an amazing anime tv series aired around 1976, directed by Isao Takahata.
It is based on the chapter "From the Apennines to the Andes" of the novel Cuore, by the italian writer Edmondo De Amicis, and it's part of the project World Masterpiece Theatre, a number of TV series based on classics of literature from around the world, produced by Nippon Animation over the course of 30 years. It includes "Heidi", "Anne of Green Gables", "The adventures of Tom Sawyer" and many other jewels of japanese animation.

With a bit of surprise I figured out that really few people out of Europe know about it. Fortunately this show was very popular in Italy when I was young and for what I can remember it kept me entertained for many hours of my childhood.
Recently I had the chance of watching it all again after many years, and I was completely stunned.
I don't think I've ever seen a tv show with such an intensity of storytelling, richness of atmosphere, backgrounds, emotional intimacy of the characters and music. The soundtrack is performed by a quite impressive orchestra and includes more than 120 beautiful and all different tracks. Hayao Miyazaki also worked on this series, he was responsible of layouts and continuity and to me he had done a great work on that, as you really feel like you "know" the town, with its narrow streets, the squares, the harbour, and you would be able to actually walk from a place to another if you happened to be there.

The story initially takes place in Genoa, Italy. Marco is a young boy who lives with his father Pietro and a cute little monkey called Amedio, while his mother left for Argentina to find work. Letters from her arrive regularly until one day they suddenly stop. So, worried for what might have happened to her, Marco decides to embark upon a long journey to Argentina in the hope of finding his mother.
The animation is surprisingly good too, great posing, right emotional timing.. and it's "just" a tv show! What would I give to see on tv something like that these days.

So during the weekend I decided to take some time and rewatch a few sequences, observing and sketching. I really enjoyed that.
Here are some drawings I made on Flash.





p.s. The dvds were pretty hard to find, but for those interested I got a good edition with english subtitles here

June 24, 2008

A bit of relax

Today I got to enjoy a whole day free from work! The 24th of June here is San Giovanni's day, the patron saint of Turin and as per every year all the town celebrated with shows in the main squares, historical re-enactments, small markets selling delicious typical products, athletic events and of course, fireworks on the Po river. So nice to take it easy on a weekday.

June 09, 2008

Brendan at the Annecy festival

copyright Les Armatures/Vivifilm/Cartoon Saloon

another still from "Brendan and the secret of Kells"

So, one of the most popular animation festivals in the world has just started! I can't be there this year cause I am very busy with work, but I am so excited as there will be the first public behind-the-scenes presentation of "Brendan and the Secret of Kells". The art director Ross Stewart and the director Tomm Moore will lead a conference and present early character design and visual development, showing how they evolved to the present version in the final film. Some sections of the movie will also be screened and Tomm just let me know that they will be showing a whole sequence Alf and I animated, so if you happen to be there, you can see it on Thursday at 14.00 - Petite Salle, Bonlieu.
Enjoy the festival :)