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:

    *couldn’t
    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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  • Bam
    (Saturday, Jul 23. 2016 06:25 PM)
    Altogether there is no good explanation as to why Berserk has been on the fringes for the last 20 years. The silver lining is that it looks like things are picking up for the franchise- with a new series, two new games and frequent manga releases- so here’s hoping we get a much bigger budget for the next cour, and god willing maybe even a studio change. And I’m getting greedy, but gimme that From Software Berserk game! That would be an instant cash mine.
  • Bam
    (Saturday, Jul 23. 2016 06:18 PM)
    @Vyse: I was actually thinking of that, and the dark mature content is definitely a factor. Yet looking at what’s trending at the moment, with AoT and Kabaneri, it seems that the more violent stuff are bankable now. And it’s not like anime is stranger to adapting material that hasn’t finished yet. So I’m guessing that Miura is hard to work with probably, and maybe he’s tight about giving studios the license.
  • Rusty
    (Saturday, Jul 23. 2016 05:16 PM)
    I like it better when animes are different then the manga because normally i know how everything will end after reading the manga.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Saturday, Jul 23. 2016 05:07 PM)
    And I’m more than open for an anime to do things a bit differently from the source, I mean look at the new berserk they included an action scene that wasn’t in the manga, I liked that.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Saturday, Jul 23. 2016 04:59 PM)
    @Mike: Makoto Takahashi! Makoto Takahashi! I know who he is, I spent a while looking at his art, best example of good oldschool shoujo style. He also is credited with kickstarting the shoujo-ai genre I think…
    @Bam: flowers of evil both improved on and took away from its source material.
  • reaLjustified
    (Saturday, Jul 23. 2016 04:16 PM)
    Furthermore, it’s not as if Berserk is so special by itself that a decent adaptation is automatically impossible. You’re watching one right now. If you think otherwise than it boils down to personal preference.
  • reaLjustified
    (Saturday, Jul 23. 2016 04:13 PM)
    @Vyse It’s obviously not trying to cater to children, the studio knows its audience. I wouldn’t automatically assume that just because it’s an anime adaptation that it’s an attempt to please everyone.
  • VyseLegendaire
    (Saturday, Jul 23. 2016 03:45 PM)
    Because the story is so dark and so violent, its hard to cater to a middle ground audience that includes kids or maybe even adolescents.
  • VyseLegendaire
    (Saturday, Jul 23. 2016 03:45 PM)
    Hey Bam, the reason for Berserk’s neglect is how unadaptable it is to other media. As a manga it stands as a monolith. but the thematic and graphical content -as well as the long and rather convoluted presentation – don’t lend well to either anime or games.
  • Badesh
    (Saturday, Jul 23. 2016 01:58 PM)
    Yeah, you could even easily do a spin of series in the berserk universe, it’s that well thought out unique and huge. I dreamt myself continously into that world – mostly because of it’s bright, shimmering side, which aren’t mentioned that often because of it’s ultra dark counterpart.

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