Mirrorball Made In Japan

Mirrorball Made In Japan


Reviewed by: George Williamson

Last year's Mirrorball - Made in Japan almost put me off music promos; there wasn't much to recommend. However, this year they've delivered a bountiful crop of bizarre and brilliant creations from the Far East.

For those who crave all things anime, there is a good selection. The best is for Bloodthirsty Butchers - a punk band, would you believe - in which a businessman comes across a gun in a locker and accidentally robs a bank. The police pursue him into a venue and, after he jams on stage with the band for a bit, leaps off a rooftop to escape to the tranquility of the beach. It's a furious track called Jack Nicholson that perfectly matches the breakneck pace of the film and the images are superb. Other animations of note are Hifana's corruption of Hokusai's Great Wave - in which two DJs/fishermen get swallowed by a gigantic fish and party in the belly - and Sleeper's Rag - a short film where the various musicians playing on a classic ragtime record appear sitting on the turntable playing their instruments.

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Anime influences also suffuse the video for Kishidan's Zoku. An heroic baseball team - using enough hairspray to affect climate change and clad in skintight rubber suits - are pitted against a sadistic team of ninja robots, with a cannon instead of a pitcher. The evil overlord watches from high above with the love interest in his clutches and it's up to the band to save the day. There's blood, explosions and ridiculous action everywhere, and this isn't even the strangest of the promos on show - Kaoru Haga's film for Yamio Okuda's Umi No Naka He wins that award. It features people dressed as body parts, consumer electronics, vital organs and the graphic equaliser from a stereo. And then they all dance; it's quite brilliantly surreal - like Michel Gondry at his best. Almost as bizarre, but with a darkly political slant, is RIZE's SPIT&YELL, in which a fornicating couple are interrupted by a large monster that looks suspiciously like the offspring of Chewbacca and the Donnie Darko bunny. It attacks them, but the young man strikes back, now dressed as a US soldier, and manages to subdue the creature, which then has an animated dream of WW2. It's an odd way of displaying anti-American feeling, but it's certainly fantastic to watch.

A large portion of the programme is taken up by short films, most memorably the promotional video for the Sakura Wonderful Jet, detailing the differences between First Class - where you get teryaki steak in America sauce, a reclining bed, and a supermodel flight attendant - Business Class - with sustinence in pill form, full stock information and a bicycle courier - and Economy - with five different temperatures of water as refreshment, no emergency exits and deckchairs to sit in. The airline cabin video may be a fairly done-to-death concept in short film, but this is one of the funniest examples of the genre. Kosai Sekine's Right Place is another excellent short - exploring the life of a obsessive compulsive supermarket clerk who can't stop straightening things out - as is Flowery - a sequence of swirling blossoms exploding like fireworks, or drops of ink in water.

Towa Tei finishes off the collection with a wonderfully cute video where a busload of tourists with spheres rather than heads tour a traditional temple amd spell out messages of peace, life and love using letters that appear on their noggins. With bouncy electronica and bright, colourful visuals it is - if it's possible - a feelgood music video.

Mirrorball have delivered another selection of excellent Japanese promos. Here's hoping that next year's will be this good.

Reviewed on: 25 Aug 2005
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