Anime is a visually delightful, if sometimes disconcerting genre of animation, an example of Japanese pop culture. And it’s more than just Pokemon. Animated feature films have won audiences on the international festival and art house circuits. One of anime’s most admired young directors gets a lavish treatment in new Coffee Table Book, The Man Who Leapt Through Film: The Art of Mamoru Hosodaby animation historian Charles Solomon.
In the late 90s, Hosoda was an early adopter of computer graphics at Toei Animation Studio. He briefly moved to famed Studio Ghibli to direct Howl’s Howl’s Moving Castle but was fired and replaced by Hayao Miyazaki. Back at Toei, he worked on commercial shorts and TV shows before landing the project that brought him to the eyes of filmmakers around the world, The girl who crossed time (2006). The film was based on a 1967 novel that had already been adapted several times in Japan for television and film.
Working with screenwriter Satoko Okudera, Hosoda kept the story’s focus on three high school friends, but, as Solomon writes, added a series of low-key baseball games “to provide visual interest, instead of just show the seated figures talking”. As Hosoda recalls, her version “wasn’t so much about nostalgia as it was about enjoying the experience to the fullest (of slipping back in time). I wanted to turn the idea of time travel into a comedic element…to make it a really, really fun movie. Hosoda went on to direct several more anime feature films, including Wolf children (2012), The boy and the beast (2015) and Oscar nominee Mirai (2018).
The man who leaps through the cinema is beautifully illustrated with color stills and preliminary black-and-white drawings and storyboards of various Hosoda projects. It is published by Abrams.