WebFind: Junk Head by Takahide Hori

Japanese director Takahide Hori‘s stunning, award-winning debut animated film, Junk Head 1, above, which took four years to make, and was created as a largely solo effort in his spare time, with no budget and released in 2013.

I’ve only just come across this (largely) stop animation quite by chance, but it’s a great SF project set in a disturbing future where much of what is now humankind lives in a world of subterranean, monster-filled tunnels…

From above ground, a lone explorer is sent on a discovery and retrieval mission – and ends up in a new robotic body, thanks to a crazy Doctor and his team.

(There’s more background on the film’s story and concepts here on the Takahide’s official site).

A scene from Junk Head 1 by Takahide Hori
A scene from Junk Head 1 by Takahide Hori
Junk Head ponders his new body. © Takahide Hori
Junk Head ponders his new body. © Takahide Hori

Alongside the adventure, there’s plenty of humour to this short film, and I’m delighted to see Junk Head 2 is currently in production, despite not gaining deserved crowdfunding (although it is worth checking out the page, if only for the video, which makes a lot more sense if you’ve Junk Head 1!).

While the second film is being made, the team have also released the film with subtitles in six more languages – Arabic, French, German, Italian Korean and Portuguese.

Hori graduated from Midorigaoka High School (attached to the Oita Prefectural College of Arts and Culture) with a major in oil painting. He then moved to Tokyo where he did various part-time jobs while pursuing the dream of becoming an artist. Working on commercial art (on projects such as store design, model-making and mural painting), he also designed and executed a dining bar that he managed for a year and a half.

Hori has won a number of small awards for painting, and has experience making marionettes, dolls, netsuke, accessories, and more. He began his
independent stop-motion animation project Junk Head 1 aged 38.

Other alongside Hori on the Junk Head production team are English translator Emily Balistrieri, who majored in Japanese at the University of the Pacific and following graduation wrote freelance in San Francisco for a few years (mainly videogame and anime news, event reports, and reviews). After studying abroad for a year at Waseda University, she remains based in Tokyo translating in a variety of media including anime subtitles, picture books, manga, and games. She hopes to break into literature.

Also on the team is CG artist Norikatu Seo, who entered the world of special effects make-up and modeling after college, but gradually became attracted to digital video production. He has built up experience in film, tv, commercials, games at video and CG production companies. He’ss currently employed by a CG production company, and also does video production on his own as “claritycube.”

Characters from Junk Head in the Doctor's lair
Characters from Junk Head in the Doctor’s lair
Junk Head director and creator Yamen (Takahide) Hori
Junk Head director and creator Yamen (Takahide) Hori

I’m not alone in my enthusiasm for this project – in 2014, Junk Head 1 was the winner of the prestigious ‘Best Animation’ award at the 2014 Clermont-Ferrand International Short Film Festival, and it’s gained something of a cult following across the globe.

As website Short of the Week notes, not only did Hori manage to create his film without any assistance, except for a few cuts where had somewhere do some CG work, Junk Head 1 was his first experience of stop-motion (although he does have a background in doll and marionette making), with all of the filmmaking techniques used throughout his film self-taught.

I hope you enjoy the film as much as I did – and I’m looking forward to watching Junk Head 2.

Check out the Junk Head project on YouTube

• Yamen (Takahide) Hori site: http://yamiken.jp | Junk Head on Facebook | Follow in English on Twitter @yamiken_en and in Japanese @yamiken123

All images copyright Takahide Hori

John Freeman

The founder of downthetubes, John describes himself as is a "freelance comics operative", currently working as a freelance editor for TITAN COMICS, as Creative Consultant on the new DAN DARE audio adventures for B7 Media, and on promotional work for the LAKES INTERNATIONAL COMIC ART FESTIVAL and LANCASTER COMICS DAY. John has worked in British comics publishing for over 30 years, starting out at Marvel UK, where he edited a number of the Genesis 1992 books with Paul Neary. His numerous credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine at Marvel and Star Trek Magazine and Babylon 5 Magazine at Titan Magazines, where he was Managing Editor. He also edited STRIP Magazine and worked as an editor on several audio comics for ROK Comics, including TEAM M.O.B.I.L.E. and THE BEATLES STORY. Most recently he is writing CRUCIBLE as a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz, published on Tapastic; and DEATH DUTY and SKOW DOGS with Dave Hailwood for the digital comic 100% Biodegradable.

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