Mirrorball|Made In Japan


Reviewed by: George Williamson

Of Mirrorball's music promo and nano-film collections the most exciting, fun and fresh is almost always the Made In Japan programme. However, in a year that's seen the rise of internet video through YouTube and its myriad pretenders, will they still be able to show the innovation to which we're accustomed? The short answer is yes.

This year's offering kicks off at a furious pace with a double bill of videos for Polysics, the Devo of J-Pop. Yuichi Kodama's visuals for I My Me Mine and Electronic Surfin' Go Go are a blend of robot dancing schoolgirls, cartoon explosions and completely mental sunglasses; the concept may sound a little stale, but the execution has such energy that it's impossible not to like this pair of promos, especially as the tunes are horrifically catchy.

Another fantastic couple of pieces here are Groovision's videos for Halfby. The first - Rodeo Machine - is entirely rendered in isometric, flat shaded glory and features horses, parades and enough background detail to put Richard Scarry off his tea. It's somewhat reminiscent of a videogame version of H5's excellent video for Royksopp's Remind Me; it's worlds away from the pixel-art constructions of Shynola for Junior Senior, but laden with exacting rotoscoped detail which make it even more delicious.

For fans of more traditional J-pop there are also promos for some fairly regular boy bands - only significantly more funky than their western alter-egos - which are beyond cheery, through cute, and way, way into surreal. Rip Slyme's video by Junji Kojima is a blaze of pastel neon shirts fed through a graphic liquidizer - very nice - and the video by Kei Uehara and Takumi Shiga for Asia Engineers is a wonderful collage of sixties and seventies animation styles, blazing in full colour acid-o-vision.

Most of the videos are less obviously CGI than in previous years and are leaning much more towards traditional animation mixed with video effects and retro styles - all of which are doubtlessly done with computers, but they are now the means rather than the end. There also appears to be a trend towards intricacy and maximalism - complete detail overload - which can be seen in the visuals for several of the pieces - apparently veering away from the analytical, clean crispness of Chris Cunningham et al that seemed so prevalent until recently.

The consitent quality of this selection of short movies is a clear sign that Mirrorball are still able to discover the best that the Japanese industry has to offer and are, in a time where we are saturated with ADHD defying movies, possibly more important than ever to show us where the real cutting edge is.

Reviewed on: 07 Sep 2006
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The coolest and craziest videos that the Japanese promo industry has to offer.

Director: various

Writer: various

Starring: various

Year: 2006

Runtime: 70 minutes

Country: Japan


EIFF 2006

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