Swancon 17 Souvenir Book: Anime Matsuri

Here is page 38 and part of 39 of the Festival of the Imagination 1992 souvenir book.

Swancon 17 Souvenir Book: Anime Matsuri

All of page 38 and the top and bottom of page 39 contain cute frames from Totoro. The text on page 39 is as follows…

Anime Matsuri is a programme of Japanese animation developed by Thomas Edge of JAFWA (Japanese Animation Fans of WA) to present Festival-goers with a cross-section of the brightest and most innovative animation being produced in Japan today.

You may ask, why animation, and why Japanese animation?

We believe that the image of the fantastic is a critical part of science fiction and fantasy, and that the manner in which artists present that image is of interest to the science fiction and fantasy audience.

Animation has been described as the only true artform of the Twentieth Century, based as it is upon the technical developments of the time. From the first, animators sought to present audiences with images which could not otherwise be created for the screen; images of the fantastic.

In the period between 1905 and 1915 New York newspaper cartoonist Winsor McCay created a partner for his part-time vaudeville act, a dinosaur named Gertie, one of the earliest fantasy characters to be created by an animator. Between 1915 and 1930 other New York cartoonists, inspired by McCay’s ground-breaking work, entered the animation field. These men laid the ground rules, and made most of the early technical breakthroughs that shaped animation as we know it. This period saw the first appearances of Betty Boop, Bosko the Clown, Popeye the Sailor, Felix the Cat, Superman and many other “fantasy” figures.

Perhaps though, it was with Walt Disney’s ambitious series of Silly Symphony short subjects that animation was first employed to bring fantasies to life. Singing cows, talking ducks and smiling trees filled the screen, and were plausible. When they were followed by Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Max Fleisher’s Hoppity Goes To Town, and of course the Golden Years of Disney – Pinocchio, Dumbo, Fantasia and Bambi – it became clear that our image of the fantastic would always be strongly influenced by animation.

That’s why animation.

But why Japanese animation? There are many reasons. In the last fifteen years Japanese animators have made the most innovative and interesting animated films, moving away from the perception, fostered by US television series, that animation is intended for children. Films like Robot Carnival, Akira, Appleseed, Nausicaa, Totoro and Laputa; all exemplify this trend.

This programme of animated feature films, short subjects and television episodes also gives some insight into the Weltanschauung of a culture that we deal with more and more.

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One Response to Swancon 17 Souvenir Book: Anime Matsuri

  1. Pingback: swancon seventeen – november report | history.sf.org.au

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