Masaaki Yuasa / JP, 2021 / 98 min.
"This is a story that took place here some 600 years ago. Taken from us and forgotten - this is our story."
Masaaki Yuasa is arguably one of Earth's most uncompromising anime auteurs. If there's one "Maverick" in the art of film, it's not Tom Cruise's Top Gun pilot, but rather the überinspired Japanese filmmaker. His offbeat directorial voice has given us subversive and wildly entertaining features such as Mind Game and - more recently - The Night Is Short, Walk On Girl. Yuasa is such an iconoclast, that it might come as a surprise that he is now celebrating the rigid world of Noh, a traditional Japanese theater form in which masked dancers interpret supernatural tales of old. But - of course - on his own terms, by telling an almost revisionist story in a technically and visually dazzling medieval glam rock opera with show-stopping musical performances.
A radical and rebellious anime, Inu-oh is set in 14th-century Japan, when the blind biwa player Tomona and the mysterious, disfigured outcast Inu-oh - characterised by his giant arm with which he can outdance everyone - team up to proof their worth to the people and the establishment. Voiced by Ayu-chan (the gender-fluid lead singer of rock band Queen Bee), Inu-oh is a revolutionist in disguise, challenging all societal codes and conventions by just embracing who he is. Yuasa's imagination - with the help of a novel by Hideo Furukawa - comes up with more plot elements, yet they are all shamed by the electrifying, anachronistic and jaw-dropping operatic (glam) rock performances by Tomona and Inu-oh. Channeling his inner rock god, Tomona plays the biwa behind his head at one point - how much cooler can a medieval artist get?
Mark your calendar, set the alarm… March 30th through April 2nd. Let yourself be immersed in the animation world during Kaboom Animation Festival. The festival can also be followed online until 2 April.
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