When most people think of anime, they think of traditional 2D animated series or 3DCG animated series or movies. However, the medium of animation (let alone Japanese animation) is virtually limitless in the breadth of materials and techniques one can use to produce dazzling artistic and expressive works. Case in point: this ridiculously dope stop-motion short about a pissed-off woodcarver-turn samurai who goes full-on for “Lone Wolf and Cub” on a small army of ninjas before knocking out an Ash-style arm-mounted chainsaw from Evil death and cut them into a pulp.
The 5-minute short film, titled “Hidari”, was published on YouTube on Wednesday. Written and directed by Masashi Kawamura, the creative director of the Japan-based advertising agency Which Co., the short film was created as a proof-of-concept film for Kawamura’s true purpose: to produce a full-length stop-motion fantasy action film inspired by the life of Jingoro Hidari, a famous 17th-century sculptor whose life is otherwise shrouded in mystery. is. Inspired by his sculptures, the short film reimagines Hidari as a carpenter who, after being betrayed by his colleagues and losing his right arm, becomes an absurdly skilled swordsman who embarks on a decades-long quest for retribution.
“We wanted to explore the potential of stop-motion using wooden puppets,” says Kawamura in a behind-the-scenes video posted alongside Hidari. “We’ve tried to push the boundaries of what’s possible by taking inspiration from the thrilling action of (cel-animated Japanese animation).”
Though a music video and commercial director by trade, Kawamura has always dreamed of making a full-length stop-motion film from a young age, citing animators like Ray Harryhausen (1981’s Clash of the Titans), Kihachiro Kawamoto (1982 Romance of the Three Kingdoms) and Phil Tippett (Star Wars, Crazy God) as early inspiration for his career as an animator.
All of the puppets and most of the props in Hidari are made of wood carved by a Japanese stop-motion studio Tecarate (Gon the little fox) and animated by dwarf studiosknown for their work on anime such as Rilakkuma and Kaoru, BeastsAnd Oni: The story of thunder god. Additionally, the short film’s set designer, Yoshihiro Nose, revealed that the set itself was made of wood from an actual Edo period lumber warehouse.
Kawamura and co. have launched one Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign alongside the short film to raise funds to produce a feature film version of Hidari, with an expected release date of 2028. Interest appears to be substantial, with more than $4,000 of the campaign’s $14,510 goal already generated within hours of the short pilot’s release. Well, at least we’ve got these sick stop-motion samurai shorts to gawk at.