The Art of AKIRA Returns
February 5th-April 28th
One of the ToonSeum’s most popular exhibitions returns with new additions to allow for a closer look at one of the most influential animated works of the 20th century.
There is no other film like Katsuhiro Otomo’s AKIRA, and there probably never will be again. An obsessively detailed dystopian vision of a post-apocalyptic Japan, AKIRA single-handedly saved the Japanese film industry and changed the way the world viewed animation art forever. Guests of the ToonSeum will have a one of a kind opportunity to view the largest collection of AKIRA production art ever displayed to the public. Culled from over 10,000 pieces of original production art from the private collection of guest curator Joe Peacock, The Art Of AKIRA promises to be an amazing experience for fanboys and first-timers alike.
The historic and artistic significance of AKIRA cannot be denied; it was the pinnacle of cel animation. Complete with a definitive orchestral score and professional voice actors, AKIRA was the most expensive animated film ever made when it was released in 1988. The film is a document of many animation firsts but is especially noteworthy for being one of the last completely hand-drawn cel-animated features produced before the rise of digital technology. A collaboration of thousands of artists and thirteen Japanese production companies, this staggering adaptation has become one of the most universally praised films of all time and has inspired a revolution in animation still apparent over 20 years after its release. The Art Of AKIRA celebrates these incredible achievements by giving viewers a fascinating tour of the making of this landmark film.
“Many animated films still incorporate hand-rendered art, but the cost of producing a feature using only cel animation and painted backgrounds has guaranteed that something as complex as AKIRA may never be made by a major studio again,” said ToonSeum executive director Joe Wos. “Digital technology is still trying to catch up to AKIRA. In the end nothing can replace the artistry of that human touch and the focus to detail of the human eye. This is a labor of almost fanatical love.”
Comprised of over 350,000 pieces of original artwork, the stunning details of Otomo’s world can be seen throughout the exhibit in rare production sketches, notes, cels, and incomparably elaborate backgrounds, several rendered by Otomo himself. Visitors will see minute details of key scenes by exploring the building blocks and complex layering techniques, from storyboard to dramatic cels with details so fine you might want to bring a magnifying glass.
“Otomo and his staff obsessed over this artwork,” said Peacock. “Scenes that flash by in half a second are comprised of details so fine they could only have been produced with single-hair brushes. Even if you have no interest in anime, this artwork will still leave you speechless.”
For serious fans and aficionados, the ToonSeum will also be hosting a ticketed VIP opening event on February 5th that will feature an exclusive first look at the exhibit and presentation by curator/collector Joe Peacock. The event begins at 7pm on January 5th. Space is limited.
The exhibit is presented in conjunction with the University of Pittsburgh’s Anime Film Festival.
The Art of Bill Plympton
All his life, Bill Plympton has been fascinated by animation. In 1983, The Android Sister Valeria Wasilewski asked Plympton to direct and animate a film she was producing of Jules Feiffer's song, "Boomtown." Connie D'Antuono, another of the film's producers, "sort of held my hand through the whole process," Plympton says. "It was a great way to learn to make a film."
Immediately following the completion of "Boomtown," he began his own animated film, "Drawing Lesson # 2." Production of the live action scenes was slow due to inclement weather, so Plympton decided to start on another film. For this one, he contacted Maureen McElheron, an old friend with whom he had performed in a Country Western Band (he played pedal steel guitar), and she agreed to score "Your Face." Due to budgetary considerations, she also sang. Her voice, eerily decelerated to sound more masculine, combined with a fantastically contorting visage helped garner the film a 1988 Oscar nomination for best animated short.
"Suddenly people began returning my phone calls," remembers Plympton. He became very hot in the commercial business doing spots for such clients as Trivial Pursuit, Nutrasweet, Taco Bell, AT&T, Nike, Geico, United Airlines and Mercedes-Benz. His work also started appearing with more and more frequency on MTV and in the increasingly popular touring animation festivals. After a string of highly successful short films ("One of Those Days," "How to Kiss," "25 Ways to Quit Smoking," and "Plymptoons"), he began thinking about making a feature film. His shorts were winning prizes like crazy and he wanted a new challenge - and, as he puts it, "I'd wanted to make a full-length movie ever since I was a kid."
Plympton's first full-length animated film was J. Lyle, Guns on the Clackamas, followed by I Married a Strange Person in 1998. As his success grew, so did the popularity of his animations. His feature film Mutant Aliens won the Grand Prix in Annecy at the 2001 Sundance Film Festival which was followed by his short film Guard Dog which garnered Plympton's second Oscar Nomination. In 2008 Plympton released another full-length feature film Idiots and Angels.
Plympton is currently working on a feature film called Cheatin', which you can follow in it's production at http://vimeo.com/plymptoons.
Drawn to Peace:
The Art of Atila Ozer