A crowdfunding campaign is underway over at Motion Gallery for a pilot film for a stop-motion action adventure called Hidari 左.
Set in the 17th Century, it tells the story of the legendary sculptor Hidari Jingoro, a man whose talents included sculpting, carpentry, painting, architecture, and even comedy, amongst other things. He was reputed to have carved many sculptures and artworks up and down the country, including the famous nemuri-neko (sleeping cat) carving at the Tosho-gu Shrine in Nikko. When it comes to this film, instead of art, think action as Hidari Jingoro looks set to fight with a prosthetic arm, kind of like Guts from Berserk.
Here’s a clip of it as a work-in-progress:
Synopsis: Jingoro lost his right arm, as well as his parents, teacher, and his friends, in an accident while working as a carpenter during the reconstruction of Edo Castle due to the betrayal of his friends. After this loss, he becomes known as “Hidari Jingoro” and seeks his revenge on a journey he has undertaken with his companion, Nemurai Neko. His weapons of choice are various carpentry tools and a “Karakuri prosthesis” on his right arm which allows him to pull people.
As he approaches the truth of the accident, while encountering various historical figures and fierce battles with strange villains, he finds himself unearthing a plot involving the Shogun, and uses the help of carpenters and others to save the city of Edo from Edo Castle, which has become a huge weapon.
As mentioned earlier, the funds from this campaign will go to a pilot film and the plan is that it will be presented to distribution and production companies around the world to secure the funds and staff to make one feature film or a series of about 10 episodes. It sounds ambitious, so what are the guarantees of quality?
The project has been initiated by Masashi Kawamura and his company Whatever Inc. with involvement from famous animation studios TECARAT (Gon, the Little Fox), and Dwarf Studio (Domu-kun, Rilakkuma and Kaoru, Komaneko, Mogu & Petol). So, Kawamura and his company are handling things like art design amd writing, animation is done by Dwarf while there are wood-carved puppets created by TECARAT’s Takeshi Yashiro (Gon, the Little Fox, Norman the Snowman) as the below image from the crowdfunding site shows:
As you can see, work is already underway and while this crowdfunding campaign will help, even if the target amount cannot be achieved, the team will cover the cost of the pilot film with pre-existing funds.
If you want to be a part of the project, you can pledge order to contribute, you can pledge anything between 3000 yen and 150,000 yen. The rewards at 3000 include a link to a preview screening, 4000 yen gets you that preview link and desktop wallpaper, 15,000 yen includes an online course done by Masashi Kawamura as well as the aforementioned rewards, while 50,000 yen can net you all of that plus a tour of TECARAT studio and your name in the credits while 120,000 yen will get you all of the above plus a 3D-printed Nemuri Neko.
Stop motion is a genre usually associated with “art films” like the output of the Brother Quay or entertainment aimed at families like Wallace and Gromit. What about projects that aim to do something different? Something more epic?
The 2021 sci-fi film Junk Head sprung to immediate attention as it broke that traditional paradigm by presenting an epic road movie that used its wonderfully detailed models and animation for mind-blowing body horror/transformations and action. Well Hidari could do something similar as the director wants to make something epic, something that is inspired Ray Harryhausen, Robert Rodriguez and Zack Snyder. I can honestly say I have never seen anything like that in stop-motion and I am eager to see what the results can be!
Find out more (including more images and videos of the project) from the Motion Gallery site.