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Independence in Japan
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Unlike the immediate post-war baby-boomer generation which has been predominantly absorbed into large studio production houses beginning in the late '50s, Kurosaka and Yamamura were able to make choices, a luxury which their predecessors could hardly afford. Both entered the animation industry not through the manga path, but through their various independent productions. Thus, their story-telling and artistic worlds are fresh and original, offering new perspectives and visions.

Keita Kurosaka: The Power to Explode
Kurosaka, 43, graduated from the Musashino Art University in 1979 where he majored in figure and still-life painting. He later spent two years in France at the Ecole Nationale Superier des Beaux-Arts á Paris under the tutorship of J. Yankel majoring in oil painting. According to Kurosaka, these two-years of study in Paris opened up his "sensibilities and feelings" to textures and surfaces, as previously he was painting motifs which his Parisian teacher criticized as "cold and lacking sensibility." What inspired him in the end were the urban walls of Paris, the face of a Parisian grandmother and the city's pop posters which awakened him to the richness of his birth city, Tokyo.

This face graces Kurosaka's work-in-progress
Midori-ko. © Keita Kurosaka.

On his return, he started learning film production at the Image Forum and discovered animation as his medium of expression. In the series called Henkei Sakuhin No. 1-5 (meaning "warping compositions"), using primarily photo collage and cut-out techniques, he animated metamorphosis processes to share his storytelling experiences. For example, in No.2 (8mm, 23 min, 1984) he experimented with photo images of concrete slabs, rocks, sand, walls, grounds in natural conditions, particle forms and sizes, tarnished with natural and plastic colors, etc. To further express earthy and primal states, he juxtaposed them in lightness and darkness, moments of quietness and rest, and explosion and speed.

No. 5 (8mm, 28 min, 1986) is a tribute to 17th century Dutch master painter, Rembrandt whereby the audience is brought into a journey of a painter's inner world as he begins from a fetus-like idea to a unified image. Again, the viewer is brought into his expressionistic world with glimpses of the artist's various viewpoints and anguished creative relationship with the canvas and painting oils, and the twirling merry-go round of creation.

A provocative image from Kurosaka's 1990 film Personal City. © Keita Kurosaka.

His later works produced on 16mm film, Sea Roar (30 min, 1988), The Worm Story (15 min, 1989), Personal City (25 min, 1990), Haruko Adventure (15 min, 1991) and Box Age (26 min, 1992), were sensible statements and portrayals of Japan's urban living which led him eventually to international awards and film exhibitions abroad. His recent works for MTV Japan and vibE have moved him into the manga genre. He is currently working on a 35mm feature-length film called Midori-ko. It is about 21st century Tokyo, which has turned into a city of weird creatures and ghoulish human beings. The main character is a 29 year-old female whose encounter with a strange creature transforms her life. Kurosaka's new direction was much encouraged by the Newcomer's Award he received from the manga industry notable, Weekly Morning Manga Magazine.

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