Hidari showcases the beauty of Japanese stop-motion animation

The beauty of savagery, this time with wooden puppets and sawdust.

by Justin Choo

If you loved Pinnochio and the beauty of stop-motion animation, then Hidari will surely pique your interest. 

Hidari is a feature-length stop-motion samurai film and the brainchild of Masashi Kawamura, a creative director and filmmaker who, as a child, dreamed of making a long stop-motion animated film. 

Hidari takes its inspiration from the legend of Jingoro Hidari, a legendary sculptor in the Edo period of Japan who could bring his wooden creations to life–but as an all-action badass (but of course). 

Kawamura’s Jingoro Hidari is a young and talented carpenter who partakes in a massive project to rebuild an Edo Castle. He is betrayed by his colleagues and masters, and loses his arm, and his father, in a trap. 

Revenge is next on the menu and he sets off on an adventure with a mechanical prosthetic arm of doom and a cat in tow, because. And during his travels, he uncovers a conspiracy within the shogunate.

The five-minute pilot film says more than what I can verbally vomit here on this page–it is that nuts. Beautifully handcrafted by Takeshi Yashiro (TECARAT studio), these puppets fly across the screen with expressive faces and dynamic movements as sawdust is ‘spilt’ with every killing blow. The trailer has everything: fast-paced action, dramatic movements, impressive cinematography and richly atmospheric lighting. The animation team behind Hidari are from one of the largest stop-motion animation studios in Japan–dwarf studios–whose works you might have seen in Domo-kun and Rilakkuma and Kaoru

This pilot film apparently took two years to make, and their Kickstarter campaign aims to raise enough support to help make Hidari into a full-length, 90-minute feature film. If successful, they will take another three years to complete the movie. They have until April 25th to reach their goal of USD200,000.

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