There’s much to love about anime, especially the gravity-bending action scenes. When Saitama smashes a villain’s face apart in One-Punch Man, or Hange takes on colossal titans in Attack on Titan, we’re treated to action Hollywood only dreams of. Now Masashi Kawamura is bringing that level of Japanimation action to stop-motion. And he and the Hidari production team are doing it with wood.
Pour yourself some green tea (or sake) and enjoy this five-and-a-half-minute pilot:
Masashi Kawamura, the lead director, describes the film as a “stop-motion samurai film” about fabled Edo-era sculptor Jingoro Hidari (also styled Hidari Jingorō). The stop-motion puppets used in the production are beautifully hand-made in wood by real-world Japanese sculptor Takeshi Yashiro and TECARAT, a stop-motion studio whose credits include Gon, the Little Fox, and Norman the Snowman. The animation is done by stop-motion experts at Dwarf Studios, one of the largest studios working in the medium in Japan. Their credits include Domo-kun, Komaneko, and Rilakkuma and Kaoru.
Hidari: A Tale of Revenge
Like many samurai movie protagonists before him, Jingoro finds himself on a path of bloody revenge. Swap sawdust for blood this time, but the stakes are no less important. Losing his father and right arm in an “accident”— hidari is Japanese for left, so his nickname, effectively, is “Lefty” — he must discover the truth and avenge his loss. Joining him is his pet cat, who’s no doubt also peeved at his master’s loss of ability to tie shoelaces.
Hidari is currently on Kickstarter, with nearly four times their goals already pledged. Of course, if you’ve been burned by Kickstarter before, then you might be wary. I’ll be optimistic and say it looks like this one’s happening, but there’s still a long road to go until we can enjoy more wood-slashing action. You can follow their progress on Twitter.
There are many samurai anime I’d love to rewatch, such as Samurai Champloo and Afro Samurai. If you also long to relive those hip-hop-and-katana days but have things like a day job, bills to pay, and dogs to walk, then at least you can grab this Mugen Nendoroid Figure. Put him by your desk and remember your giri with pride. He’s available on pre-order and due out in September of this year.