Posted by psgels on 30 December 2013 with categories: Anime Reviews

Okay, so I didn’t want to exit 2013 without having seen Masaaki Yuasa’s Kick Heart. It’s only twelve minutes anyway, and I consider him to be one of the best anime directors out there.

The story here is pretty silly and mostly serves as a backdrop, so I mostly want to talk about the nature of this little short: how it was crowd-funded and they actually got Masaaki Yuasa to direct it, Mamoru Oshii served as the consultant to make it happen, and They got a lot of talented animators involved. Because of this I love it. The creative team here attempted something really ambitious, and they actually succeeded in it.

Because of that, it’s also not surprising that Masaaki Yuasa got full creative control over the animation, and this probably is his most personal work since Mind Game. Especially with Yojou-han Shinwa Taikei you could see that it wasn’t just his work, albeit it still was really well executed, Kaiba was probably also forced into at least a normal storyline (for very good reasons by the way, because it turned out amazing), and even Kemonozume looked like some compromises had to be made. Here, the only compromise was the short length of only 12 minutes. He could really goof off as much as he wanted here, and the result is incredibly trippy. The animation is utterly gorgeous because of it.

This short made me learn a lot about Yuasa’s style, and I’m even more amazed at how well he works together with other people. This guy, when he is on his own, he can create completely unique stuff like Mind Game, but when he’s more under control he actually manages to get the best out of everyone, leading to the masterpieces that were Kaiba and Yojou-han Shinwa Taikei. He really is one of the most talented directors out there.

Kick Heart was incredibly silly, so don’t expect the same emotional intensity of is other works, but still his talents really show here and it was a great watch, and it serves as an example of how to do anime right.

23 Responses

  1. AidanAK47 says:

    Say what you will, but the art is still pretty damn ugly.

    • Whitebread says:

      Just because you don’t like the style of art does not make it ugly, this is faaaar from ugly.

      • AidanAK47 says:

        Don’t try to sugercoat it. It’s undeniably ugly. This isn’t a matter of opinion, it’s cold hard fact. I mean look at it. It’s rough, proportions are all over the place, hell it’s looks more like a unfinished storyboard than a final product. I am not saying the animation isn’t good. There’s plenty of movement. But the art itself is unpleasant.

        • psgels psgels says:

          Then we simply have a different definition of “ugly”. I also liked the art style a lot, and wouldn’t consider it ugly.

        • Whitebread says:

          When you try so hard to present an opinion as a “cold hard fact”, all that does is show your ignorance. Good day to you.

          • AidanAK47 says:

            And Ad Hominem is a tactic used by those on the losing side of the argument. Make your excuses but I am just calling a spade a spade.

        • Hogart says:

          Aidan, please stop conflating opinions (ie, what is “ugliness”) with facts and then treating it as an argument. It’s not. It’s an attempt to redefine reality.

          It’s alright to say “it’s a fact that it’s ugly to a lot of people”, and it’s socially acceptable to shorten that to “it’s ugly”, but you can’t go back from that to “it’s factually ugly”. That would mean EVERYONE finds it ugly, which they clearly don’t, which means it’s not a fact to begin with, but an opinion.

          And now that you’ve snuffed the argument out of existence by claiming your opinions are the facts, it’s no longer valid to play the “ad hominem” card. You’ve already snuffed the topic out of existence so there’s nothing to win or lose or “ad hominem attack” anymore. This is a new topic, which you’re conveniently attempting to tie back to the old one for moral high ground.

          But then I guess it wouldn’t be as fun as you just saying “I suspect I’m not the only one who finds the artstyle wretched, and I feel compelled to point out that painfully obvious fact in order to satisfy my need for balance.”

          • AidanAK47 says:

            Yawn. You done?
            First look above you. Are those people saying it looks good? Answer, no. Actually notice how they skip around it. They could have just said, no Aidan this artstyle looks great. It’s beautiful. But instead they state that there is uglier and well we have different definitions of ugly. The only person to state it looks good is the fellow below us who says you need pot to appreciate it. So in other word they know exactly why I call it ugly. Argue semantics all you want but the got the point I was making.

            As for the rest, listen mate I know you hate me. I know you are just waiting for that prime moment where I slip up and you can shove it in my face with glee. And quite frankly, I don’t care. But this isn’t that moment Hogart and I am not a man who makes a move that leaves me open. You will just have to continue waiting.

        • Hogart says:

          Aw, I don’t hate you. I enjoy BSing with you. In fact I even share your opinion that the art’s ugly. It’s just quite refreshing to talk to someone who antagonizes others, then gets upset when someone pushes back. Usually people just realize they went overboard and that’s that. Thank goodness for the Internet, where we can have these pointless little disputes :)

          • AidanAK47 says:

            Upset? Meh, I don’t hold that level of emotion with the internet.

            “Usually people just realize they went overboard and that’s that.”

            Never happens. One thing that people on the internet avoid at all cost is admitting they are wrong. They will defend to their dying breath. Until the moment no one gives a damn enough to continue.

        • Machi says:

          Uh… if your only basis for beauty with images is about proportions you may be limiting yourself too much. There are movements like impressionism, expressionism, pointilism, abstract etc. That isn’t exactly an “objective” assessment. He’s clearly more in the expressionist camp, which is what I recall from an old interview made with him.

          In which case you may want to actually understand the proper elements to said style to be evaluated rather than coming across as someone trying to compare apples and oranges, which is where it ends up being short sighted.

          • Machi says:

            That aside my actual view of this short is I rather liked it. Course not a masterpiece, but not like you’re only out to watch those. Definitely worth watching, especially given the short running time and subs are more or less irrelevant — since you can follow it purely from visuals.

            Kick heart is a short animation by Masaki Yuuasa more or less gives itself away from the opening sequences, of a male wrestler falling inlove with a female wrestler. Attracted basically to her ability to “dominate”, S&M basically.

            Visually, it is a burst of vibrant colors, with red being most prominent, and the drawings look rather sparse with a rough sketch like quality or a child-like hand – more or less the same vein as his other works. That lends itself well to the transformations. A bit surreal and bizarre as always.

            That said the real pleasure of watching this 13 minute short is the flair at which Yuuasa manages to bring such energy restlessness to the animation. Key word being animated, in the deep sense of the word, as from the opening scenes and through out there is such a burst of excitement and restlessness. Which brings a liveliness and whimsy to the figures. I think this is more or less what really sets him apart, not because of the visual style he chooses, but because his style is so contained in the movements that honestly a still frame doesn’t do justice to the actual appeal of his work.

    • Eric says:

      Sure, they aren’t attractive. So what? Is your taste for a show that shallow?

      Fuck, man, ALL shows have almost the same character designs and art nowadays. Hardly anyone is ugly in anime. Props to Yuasa for trying to do something out of the box. He’s a far more creative and innovative director than most.

  2. Litho says:

    I think it looks great, especially once you’ve had a few joints. Not as edgy as Kemonozume or as timeless as Kaiba, but still fresher than 90% of anime featuring the same trad embryo-faced art.

  3. Emma says:

    I caught a bit of this and just could get into it, wasn’t able to get past the directing, visual style, seemed too short as well to get anything out of. I would follow more of this directors work had they been more accessible.

  4. Emma says:

    I had the very same issues with Kaiba and Kemenozume, however I do acknowledge that Kaiba is pretty unique ad why people would like it, just not my thing.

  5. Yessenia says:

    Hi guys, do any of you draw anime in hand rather than on the computer?

  6. Yessenia says:

    Do any of you watch Black butler? The anime sucks

    • Autumn Season 2013 Preview says:

      Hello Yessenia,
      I have watched half of one episode of Black Butler so I’m not sure it sucks but I will take your word for it.

  7. Yessenia says:

    DO any of you listen to Radiohead, I love that band it has the best music ever, Do any of you know a contact for them or a concert that they will have in America?

    • Autumn Season 2013 Preview says:

      Hi Yessenia,
      I don’t listen to Radiohead. After a quick google search, I have found out that there are rumours that they will release a new album in 2014 and then go on tour, but the band remains tight-lipped. I don’t think you can contact them without asking for an autograph, but I’m not sure.

      P.S. Why did you ask this question on a review of revered anime director Masaaki Yuasa’s latest crowd-funded hate it or love it anime short Kick Heart?

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  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Wednesday, Oct 7. 2015 04:45 PM)
    If sakurako-san disappoints I am ignoring everything modern that is based on a light novel from now on. I’ve been hit by these adaptations far too often.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Wednesday, Oct 7. 2015 02:43 PM)
    ….Dear God…I have no words in which to describe hidan no aria AA, no words. The original I could take the piss out of. But this is a new low standard set for the light novel medium.
  • Bam
    (Tuesday, Oct 6. 2015 09:02 PM)
    One-Punch Man’s pilot was almost adapted flawlessly. It straight up uses the manga panels as it’s main storyboard, but added just enough new touches to improve the action instead of ruining it. Now let’s see how they animate the mosquitos and all the lasers for the next episode.
  • Bam
    (Tuesday, Oct 6. 2015 08:57 PM)
    And that’s why Madhouse is one of the few respectable studios left. I thought that they will be seriously diminished after Masao Maruyama took some of its key members and funded MAPPA, but One-Punch Man showed that they are still one of the best in the business.
  • k-off
    (Tuesday, Oct 6. 2015 08:51 PM)
    @Kaiser The anime industry isn’t advanced enough in CG to make it look good, is all it is.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Tuesday, Oct 6. 2015 05:51 PM)
    @K-off: Your not wrong, it certainly looks poor but some of the old gonzo animated stuff was far more woeful looking. Stellvia, which was done by xebec was another example of old anime cgi which was quite ugly to look at. Just as I prefer traditional effects in film I also prefer traditional animation techniques to cg.
  • k-off
    (Tuesday, Oct 6. 2015 05:42 PM)
    Lately, the use of badly integrated cgi have been making my eyes sore,from the obviously cgi background characters in Asterisk to the overly fluid mech movements in Aldnoah. I still remember the shitty cgi piano hands in Kimi no Uso.
  • Bam
    (Tuesday, Oct 6. 2015 12:04 AM)
    On the note of good balance between humor and drama- I think BoJack Horseman is an example of a show that executed that almost perfectly in both seasons. You are laughing one minute and amused by the hijinks and silliness and the next minute you are actually moved and shocked by the honest introspection. Too be honest BoJack is more a tragic character then a goofy one, and his struggles are deeper and more existential than they have any business being in a show with anthropomorphic animals.
  • Bam
    (Monday, Oct 5. 2015 11:56 PM)
    The changes in the setting actually made me more excited for season 3 then what I felt the past few weeks, since now the plot needs to move forward from the cliffhanger and hopefully this translates to more cohesion and refocusing on what mad the show great in the first place. I’m pretty sure S3 will also be a blend of episodic and arch story elements tho. Overall a few ups and downs but still a great show.
  • Bam
    (Monday, Oct 5. 2015 11:52 PM)
    The finale also had some of the most overall arch story elements featured in the season. Earth joining the Galactic Federation is a big deal story-wise from now on. Also the use of a cover of Johnny Cash’s “Hurt” (not the Nine Inch Nails one clearly) was a nice fitting yet surprising touch. The throwback to Mr. PB after the credits was a good idea, but felt flat in it’s actual execution.

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