ANN Koji Morimoto page

My average Ranking: 7.14

Director Pantheon: Koji Morimoto Rating
Beyond (OAV) Very good

One of the highlights from the Animatrix anthology, this is a wonderful and whimsical story of a bunch of kids who discover a mistake in the matrix that allows them to defy the laws of physics. Sadly, all good things must come to an end and officials in fallout suits put an stop to their harmless activities. Even if it’s not as violent as Morimoto’s other films, there is still a strong undercurrent of terror. Like all his other films, it’s a visual delight but it also benefits from the discipline of being part of the Matrix narrative structure.
Connected (OAV) So-so

Short animation for a music video from the singer Ayumi Hamasaki. A young girl connects with a boy on a motorcycle in a terrifying industrial dystopia. The designs of the characters and the belligerent environment don’t have the same appeal as in the other Morimoto films, although the moment of high speed connection is euphoric.
Dimension Bomb (movie) Excellent

Morimoto is the master of juxtaposing opposites in an image. His surrealism is usually hit and miss but the lavish production and a barrage of amazing images works a treat here in this segment from the Genius Party Beyond anthology. Two examples illustrate well what he achieves. In one scene a body floats through a skyscraper landscape. The feeling is of overwhelming vastness while the body's defiance of gravity is unsettling. If that weren't enough, in this post 9/11 age, the image of the body viewed against a skyscraper makes the scene downright unnerving. Another scene brings together two moving images: one is a person struggling to move at all thanks to restraints while the other is a face moving at supersonic speed. The film brings them together and they are caught in suspended motion together. The effect is an astonishing sequence that shows how our brains can accomodate wildly contradicting images simultaneously. Dramatic music and a deliberate emotional build-up enhance the freakery on display.
Eternal Family (TV) Good

In this short TV film dysfunctional family / TV reality show stars / experimental guinea pigs inadvertently escape from their hellish domestic bonds and terrorise a city before being re-captured and returned to the TV studio / laboratory. Happily, Koji Morimoto’s surrealist tendencies are harnessed into a semblance of coherence by the framing structure, although the obvious satire means that there is less of a sense of wonder compared with his best works. The breakneck pace, constant jump cuts, and sheer lunacy of the cast prevent things from getting bogged down and, in the end, there’s some solace to be gained from a family whose members have nothing in common but somehow survive together.
Four Day Weekend (OAV) So-so

Video clip by Koji Morimoto (for the single by English band the Bluetones) that covers much the same themes as the later Dimension Bomb, though on a smaller scale - but that's not a bad thing. The animation and the song complement each other nicely.
Magnetic Rose (movie) Excellent

The power of this short sci-fi horror film (part of the Memories suite) becomes ever more apparent with repeat views. I've come to appreciate the deadly hubris of the mind behind the interstellar memorial to a diva and her disappointed love. Hard science fiction and psychological drama combine for breathtaking trip into the darker recesses of our dreams as the Madam Butterfly siren call lures victims to their doom.

In some ways it’s a shame that Satoshi Kon, who wrote the script, gets so much credit for this film. Koji Morimoto, as director, is almost entirely overlooked even though, when seen alongside his other works, this is clearly a product of his vision. I suppose Satoshi Kon’s fractured narrative techniques and Koji Morimoto’s surrealist worldview were well matched. Full credit to Katsuhiro Otomo for bringing them together.

Robot Carnival (OAV) Good

Franken's Gears segment: So-so

In a nod to Frankenstein, a madly grinning scientist uses the power of lightning to animate a robot. In the ensuing destruction and mayhem the scientist tries to communicate with the robot but the latter decides to put an end to the nonsense.

Koji Morimoto combines violent spectacle with lunacy, presenting the viewer with gob-smackingly complex animation as the robot smashes everthing around him. That sounds better than it actually is. Franken's Gears is visually confusing and aesthetically disappointing. The robot might be a monster but it's the scientist who is disturbing, with his mouth agape and tongue lolling about. Perhaps Morimoto's point is that humans are the real monsters, but the whole thing was so daft I didn't care much. Magnetic Rose explores the same territory in a far grander, more horrifying manner. For an admirer of Koji Morimoto this was a disappointment.

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