The Balloon Catcher

****

Reviewed by: Andrew Robertson

The Balloon Catcher
"Kaneko writes/directs/animates, the brevity of this piece all the more effective for not a moment wasted."

He falls from the sky like a magician, tails and what might be a topcoat. He turns his head and he is something else. The axeman cometh.

That hat is log to split. Those tails a trenchcoat. He will break down a door but freedom will escape his grasp. The city is a place where every line leaks a little at the corners, every boundary barbed, every silhouette spiked. It could be any city with trouble sleeping. The masonry is dressed with crow-like antenna, the pots in the window of the antique store could allow an expert to date this as surely as the blunt prow of the trains or the density of the wires. The crowds part before him on those part-cobbled streets. The subway wears a garland of swords but that could be some edge of pareidolia.

Shear terror in that underworld, no sympathy from those switchblades. Thick black ink and darker motives. From the off, 'an Isaku Kaneko' film, those slicing serifs a cut calligraphy, flick-knife flicker from frame to frame. The skies are watercolour smears and the stones some similar sediment. The chimney dreams behind the stage-like circus, an elastic tide skyward through the broken door. Kaneko writes/directs/animates, the brevity of this piece all the more effective for not a moment wasted. The police put their heads together, watching a rooftop confrontation that is at once and not of a kin to Bladerunner, Edward Scissorhands, Up.

A distinct and delightful style of animation, all stroke and strength, the brush strokes and spots of condensing craft an inky indicator as sure as any fingerprint. However aided by the digital (as is often the case) this still bears the marks (however artificial) of something made by hand. With care, attention, and effort too. It does not head in the direction you may expect.

In the cold light of day the glint of something. Desperation? The city sounds and Tatsukiamano's music is enough to give this the wash of noir, the tones of isolation. Boots and peaked caps shine with different authorities. The nod of sleep is met with panic, some contagious hypnic jerk. Hear the shiver of steel from those that might steal.

Like the litany of some bad seed come to bad end, watch him in his purple bow tie come to do or die, past the ledge, past the edge, past the clock. The loom of fate was never so light, sharpen your eyes, whet your appetite.

Reviewed on: 13 Oct 2021
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Rejected and feared, will the axeman manage to use his peculiarity to find freedom?

Director: Isaku Kaneko

Year: 2020

Runtime: 6 minutes

Country: Japan

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