02 HAND SOAP (1) Grotesque and Sensitive "Adolescence"

Kei Oyama

Today, I would like to write about my latest animation work, HAND SOAP.

This 16-minute animation was created as an original visual work for the Aichi Arts Center. It won numerous awards at international and domestic film festivals: the Grand Prix at the Holland Animation Film Festival and the Animated Dreams, the awards for best animation at the Ann Arbor Film Festival and the Imaginaria Film Festival, the Special Prize at the International Animation Festival Hiroshima, and the Film Festival Award at the International Short Film Festival Oberhausen.
Incidentally, the work is dated as of 2008, but in fact I completed it in 2009.


HAND SOAP depicts in a subdued and matter-of-fact manner the life of an adolescent boy and his family, using a slightly unusual approach of collaging close-up photos. My intention in adopting this excessively textured imagery was to convey the essence of the grotesque and sensitive period that is adolescence. In other words, it deals with the same theme as the animation I am currently working on, Hokago (After School), although the two films differ in imagery and mood.


The main character of the animation was completely different from me, his creator, in terms of looks, environment, family composition, and personality. I wanted to create an animation work, through which I could identify my adolescent self with the main character, despite the fact that he and his story are not even remotely close to me and my life. I believe that I managed to achieve this. I only hope that the viewers also felt the same as they watched my work.]


I used real people as models for the character design, although I slightly embellished their features. The main character is based on the image of a patient I found in a medical book, the father I modeled after a teacher arrested for sexual molestation, and for the mother and sister I used the images of female office workers guilty of murder.


There is almost no dialogue in the animation. The only audible sounds are the distant "Hello" that comes from the other side of the phone line and the sound of a music program on TV. In other words, all sounds in HAND SOAP are produced by machines. There are relatively many short animation works without spoken dialogue. Often, gestures replace words as a means of expression, or the characters speak in an imaginary language. In HAND SOAP, on the other hand, the lack of dialogue is not enforced. Rather, my idea was to convey that the animation frames only moments in time, during which the characters remain silent.


Unfortunately, I cannot make the animation public on the Internet, so for now you can only watch the trailer here. In the next installment, I plan to publish the behind-the-scenes video to answer the question "How I made HAND SOAP," which people who have seen the animation often ask.

I hope you will enjoy it.


Kei Oyama
Animation artist. Born in Tokyo in 1978.
In 2005, Shinsatsushitsu (Consultation Room), his graduation project at Tokyo Zokei University, won the Gold Prize for the Campus Genius Award, as well as Best Picture for BACA-JA. Oyama has been formally invited to international film festivals such as the Directors' Fortnight of the Cannes International Film Festival. In 2008, he made HAND SOAP for Aichi Arts Center which won him many awards including the Grand Prix for the Holland Animation Film Festival and the Special Prize for the International Animation Festival Hiroshima. In the live motion movies Watashi wa neko sutoka (I'm a cat stalker, 2008) and Gegege no nyobo (Gegege's wife, 2010) Oyama was in charge of making the animation clips. He is now a member of CALF, which he founded with his parents, making Hokago (After School) while producing, distributing, and selling animation works.

Official website: http://www.keioyama.com/
CALF : http://calf.jp/
CALF STUDIO : http://calf.jp/studio/

Page top▲