ANN Osamu Tezuka page

My average ranking: 4.79

Director Pantheon: Osamu Tezuka Rating
Astro Boy (TV 1/1963) Not really good

I watched Astro Boy as a child in the 60s. (Yes. I'm that old.) The show never appealed to me the way Kimba the White Lion did yet I was always intrigued by how the perspective seemed to be from the feet looking up. Along with the huge eyes it was quite an innovation. I guess we have Mighty Atom to thank for so much that followed.
Broken Down Film (movie) Weak

Mildy amusing short about a cowboy that has more problems with the malfunctioning film than he has rescuing a damsel in distress.
Cleopatra (movie) Good

Drop (movie) Weak

4 minute Osamu Tezuka film about a thirsty man on a raft at sea desperately trying to get at three drops of water. Not bad for one week's work at home.
(The) Genesis (movie) Weak

In this re-interpretation of the first book of the bible, god apparently concludes that all the ills of the world are because woman was made before man. If only it were that simple. One short sequence brings to mind the creation segment from the later Italian masterpiece, Allegro Non Troppo. (The careers of the two masters, Osamu Tezuka and Bruno Bozzetto, overlapped and their works suggest strong cross-fertilisation.) This four minute work is simply animated and mildly amusing.
Jumping (movie) Excellent

Jumping is an extraordinary pre-CGI six-minute 1984 film from Osamu Tezuka: a first person point of view animation of a girl jumping. Each jump is larger than the last, culminating in ocean sized leaps. The amazing thing, for its time, is that the camera moves through the landscape with the jumping girl, thus not pemitting short cuts in the animation. Each frame must be fully painted. It’s made even more complicated by the girl shifting her gaze: sometimes she’s looking down, sometimes up, sometimes straight ahead.

In one of the three commentaries accompanying the film, Anthony Lucas (the director of The Mysterious Geographic Explorations of Jasper Morello) explains that animating the camera is about the most expensive thing you can attempt to do. But as another of the commentators (Philip Brophy, author of 100 Anime) points out, this sort of thing is impossible with live action cinema. The six-minute film took 29 months to produce and involved almost 4,000 fully painted cels. You can see that they have tried to make it as simple as they could but it’s still breathtaking to watch.

Now, you may think that this is just an esoteric, technical exercise. Believe me, it could be the most entertaining six minutes you can spend watching anime. The girl starts of by jumping up and down in a country laneway. Her first exaggerated leap is to avoid being run down by a car – immediately there’s a sense of danger, along with a sense of fun, setting the tone for the next six minutes. With each leap she lands amidst some vignette of life that we glimpse for a second or two before she continues – kids playing on a demolition site, a motorist being booked by a policeman, a would be suicide on a railway line, a naked woman sunbaking. At one stage the girl leaps a skyscraper in a single bound and, if you move the anime frame by frame, you can see events unfolding on each floor, including a cameo from R2D2 and C3PO.

This is a wonderful example of the technical merits, the structure and the narrative each reflecting each other: Osamu Tezuka’s ambitions, the jumping format and the escalating events. All aspects of the production enhance the others, adding to the overall effect. As Tezuka himself puts it in his own commentary to the film,

“You can’t keep jumping forever. But this one does and it can’t stop till it jumps into a nuclear explosion. It’s like mankind and its technology. They don’t know when to stop.”

Legend of the Forest (movie) Good

This 29 minute short film is a history lesson in animation techniques, a homage to Walt Disney and other western animators of the twentieth century, a summary of Osamu Tezuka’s career, and a reflection on the conflict between nature and civilisation 11 years before Princess Mononoke. Unsurprisingly, the quality is somewhat uneven but, for the most part, Legend of the Forest is a graceful and witty film made two years before Tezuka’s death.

The Australian release (part of the Tezuka: The Experimental Films collection) has an informative and entertaining commentary by Philip Brody that significantly enhanced my appreciation of what Tezuka was doing in the film.

Male (movie) Not really good

A short film from Osamu Tezuka that shows a murderer awaiting the police, as seen through the eyes of two cats. It's eccentric, the animation is basic, and it's mildly entertaining.
Memory (movie) Bad

Dull, and thankfully short, satire from Osamu Tezuka on one of our most unreliable faculties.
Mermaid (movie) Not really good

Osamu Tezuka short that tells the tale of a young man who imagines that a fish he has saved is a mermaid and thereby finds himself at odds with a society that expects “normal” behaviour. Unfortunately, it draws comparison with the Faun segment from Bruno Bozzetto’s Allegro non Troppo. Both are set to Debussey’s Prelude to an Afternoon with a Faun, lack dialogue and satirise sexual yearning. Although Tezuka’s treatment extends the satire further, his film lacks the impact (and resources) of the Italian masterpiece.
MURAMASA (movie) Decent

Short Osamu Tezuka film that tells the story of a demonic sword that possesses its wielder, causing him to see people as straw figures upon which to test the sharpness of the sword. The artwork and animation are basic but striking while the metaphorical tale of dehumanising effects of violence is forever relevant. But, like most short Tezuka films I find myself thinking, "that's interesting", then moving on. This has more re-watch value compared with some of his others.
Pictures at an Exhibition (movie) Good

Modest Mussorgsky wrote the original piano suite inspired by an exhibition of paintings by Viktor Harmann who had recently died. Osamu Tezuka turns this on its head by providing images and animation inspired by the music, here orchestrated by Isao Tomita. The result is a thoroughly entertaining romp that combines goofy humour, social commentary and clever, if mostly basic, artwork and animation. Highlights are the importunate and grasping journalist who, amazingly (the film was made in 1966), looks like Rupert Murdoch; and an immovable zen monk (see image left) - immovable, that is, until no one is watching. Part of the Australian collection, Tezuka: The Experimental Films, that contains a diabolically conceited commentary from Philip Brody (author of 100 Anime) whose dismissive interpretations not only fail to illuminate the film but serve to spoil it.
Push (movie) So-so

In a devastated landscape ("someone pressed the wrong button") a young man seeks to gratify his needs and finds that the earth cannot be easily replaced. Osamu Tezuka seems to be arguing that we can try to erase our past and seek to commodify all things, including religion, but in the end it will be to no avail. The sentiments are unexeptional and the images basic but at just over four minutes long this film is brief and to the point.
Self-portrait (movie - Osamu Tezuka) Weak

It's only 14 seconds long so it's hard to accord it any significance. Tezuka presents his own face as a pokie machine. (Took me longer to copy and paste this from my "seen all" list than watching the short.)