05 Yuki-Chan, or the Instant a Boy Faces Death for the First Time

Kei Oyama

Hello, everyone. The rainy season has set in, bringing wet weather for days in a row. How are you holding up? In this season, earthworms often crawl out on the road, and I cannot find a minute of peace. The thing is I really hate earthworms.

In this installment, I would like to present Yuki-Chan, an animation that I created in 2006 for TOKYO LOOP, an omnibus work commemorating the 100th anniversary of animated film in Japan.


TOKYO LOOP is composed of fragments by animation masters such as Yoji Kuri, Taku Furukawa, Keiichi Tanaami, and Koji Yamamura, as well as artists from other genres, such as Kotobuki Shiriagari, Maho Shimao, and Tabaimo. Back then, I was still a student, so the chance to participate in this project, together with such renowned artists, was like a dream come true.

Yuki-Chan is a film with a very simple story. Unfortunately, I cannot show you the full version, but here you can watch a one-minute digest.

When I create an animation work, first I come up with a single scene which, for no specific reason, I wish to make. This single scene triggers an entire creative process that goes through the following stages: coming up with the events that lead up to this scene, imagining what will happen after it, coming up with the theme of the film, and considering what other scenes will be necessary in line with this theme. Very often, I create this first, single scene before I even come up with the story that happens before and after it. In the case of Yuki-Chan, too, the scene of a boy poking an earthworm was almost completed when I received the invitation to participate in the TOKYO LOOP project.


There were several rules I had to follow. The fragment had to be five minutes long, on the theme of Tokyo, and since the music was to be composed by Seiichi Yamamoto based on the animation storyboard, I could not freely use sound effects. In keeping with these rules, I began work with the intention to create a five-minute long silent film that starts with a scene of a boy poking an earthworm. Then, as I was thinking about the way the story would unfold, the memory of a little girl among relatives, who passed away very young, crossed my mind.

As a result, this film became a story about a boy's first encounter with death that juxtaposes an earthworm that fights for its life with grotesque vitality, and a little girl and mosquito that die all too easily. Furthermore, by inserting the final image with the mark of the mosquito bite tingling, I think I managed to create something that exceeds a simple tragedy.


The video that you just watched was edited very carefully, but the movie itself is a one-shot work, created without interruption or switching between different scenes. The camera films the images from the boy's perspective, as if we are gazing into his memory of the events.

Incidentally, as material for the earthworm images, I used photos of the texture of my own finger, while for the face of the little girl I used photos of the texture of my then-girlfriend's skin. Like in Hand Soap, the materials that I used are infused with hidden meaning.



This is all for now. Watch out for earthworms during the rainy season.

keioyama00.jpg 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 partners, 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/

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