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META@BERNAMA

Animated Films & Series Aren't Just For Kids

09/07/2022 04:49 PM

By Puti Iylia Maisarah

KUALA LUMPUR, July 9 (Bernama) – Wheelchair bound Josee is highly ambitious but leads a sheltered life because her grandmother wants to protect her from worldly realities.

But the teen wants to live life to the fullest, and her character in the Japanese anime film Josee, the Tiger and the Fish allows the audience to follow her journey and shows that realism -- or slice of life -- can exist in animated works.

The slice of life genre in anime is becoming popular because it is more relatable and appeals to people of all ages.

The situation in Malaysia is different from other countries because most of the animated series or films are for children.    

MOVING WITH THE TIMES    

According to Brainy Bones Studio managing director, Muhammad Hilmi Ismail, anime has evolved and expanded from action cartoons to realism because those who started watching it at an early age have now grown up.

“The thing is, in Malaysia, there is a bit of conflict between animation studios, investors and clients.

“For instance, slice of life animation is popular but it's not shown on Malaysian TV. The focus here is on children’s stories like Pokemon, Beyblade and superhero stories.

“That is the cause of the conflict; many still think animation is just for children,” he said.    

BE THE CHANGE YOU WANT TO SEE    

A lot of people are involved in the production on an animated series, besides the animators.

“There’s the audience who want to watch more than children’s animation, people who still think that cartoons are for children, producers as well as the clients who will be showing the animated cartoon.

“Maybe this group we can’t control because they hold the purse strings. It’s one of the difficulties we face because we don’t sell directly to the end user (audience). It’s sold to a producer, TV station or partner unless we have funds to publish it on an open-source platform like YouTube,” said Muhammad Hilmi.

Many people do not know that an animation can be used to deliver meaningful messages, like Kring! a silent animated short film by Brainy Bones Studio.

“Some of our friends watched Kring! with their children and had tears rolling down their cheeks. It was very impactful but failed to reach a wide audience because of a norm that is difficult to change and requires initiative,” he said.

Kring! won the Best Short Animation Award at the 4th Festival International Du Film Sur Les Handicap 2020 in Lyon, France.

Muhammad Hilmi who has been involved in the industry for eight years now says producers play an important role – and must be brave – in creating animated works that are comprehensive and can be promoted on channels like Netflix.

“But I think to get 100% acceptance of a cartoon that isn’t just for children could be hard because there will be people who will not be able to accept it and the stigma – and remarks like ‘You're an adult and you're still watching cartoons’ – persist,” he said.    

REDUCE RIGIDITY    

Malaysian Animation Educators Society (PPAM) chairman, Assoc Prof Ahamad Tarmizi Haji Azizan, said many initiatives have been taken since the Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) was set up and by the National Film Development Corporation Malaysia (Finas) to nurture the industry.

“But many can't achieve sustainability because market acceptance has not grown like in the West because of a small population.

“Demand and awareness are also very low, while the cost to produce an animated work is very high,” he said.

Prof Ahamad added that PPAM’s motto is “Animation for all” which means all ages and fields, too.

“Malaysians can’t reform and change because they are too rigid and there’s too much bureaucracy. Things can’t grow and develop.

“I feel animation should be taught from primary school like science, technology, engineering, the arts and mathematics (STEAM) which PPAM is fighting for,” he said.    

PLOT IS ESSENTIAL    

Graphic designer, Nik Mohd Hasmazi Hassan, said that research is important in creating plots that do not get out of point.

“The legendary P. Ramlee said a director he looked up to and who he considered a mentor was Akira Kurosawa, Japan’s best black and white filmmaker.

“After studying Kurosawa’s works for a month I finally understood why P. Ramlee considered him a legend. It was through Seven Samurai that we were introduced to Japanese warriors,” he said in a webinar on animation.

Nik, or better known as Ihsan, said that simple storylines become extraordinary because everything is deeply researched.

He said that although violence can’t be shown, it can be depicted metaphorically to protect young viewers while delivering a clear message. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- SIDEBAR --------------  

USING ANIMATION TO SEND OUT A MESSAGE  

Animation isn’t just a form of escapism, it can expand your mind, too.

Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM) College of Creative Arts student affairs dean, Prof Dr Amer Shakir Zainol, said from ages three to six, children think using symbols and their imagination starts to develop.

“From a psychological standpoint, animation and child development are closely associated. 

“Presently, we notice that those who watch animation seem to be living in an imaginary world.

“It is a defence mechanism. Sometimes in order to cope with stress and problems, a person will create a fantasy world to escape to,” he said, while adding that psychology and animation are even more intertwined now with the evolution in technology.

However, it comes at a risk, Prof Amer warned.

“The positive effects of animation are that it develops creativity and imagination, and uses an informal way to instil virtues and make them brave enough to speak their mind.

The negative effects are that it can be addictive and cause immature thinking.

“Once there was a case of someone jumping from a tree to imitate Superman,” he said, while adding that the person had poor reasoning.

Animators have to find a way to create characters and plots that appeal to a wider audience and teach values, said Prof Amer.

Animation Society of Malaysia (ANIMAS) president, Amer Hamzah, said it is important to create a wide range of topics and not just stick to themes such as unity.

He said it would intrigue people of all ages and result in higher viewership.

He said the high comic reading culture in Japan started the animation revolution because people felt it added value.

“They enjoyed it when they were young and when they became adults they started watching anime series.

Similarly, "after the comic book ‘Ujang’ became popular in the 80s, it was turned into animated cartoon, ‘Usop Sontorian’, and started attracting comic book fans in their 30s - 50s," he said when met at the Kuala Lumpur International Book Fair 2022 (PBAKL).

According to animator, Ownsani Mohd Asrol Rauf, animation evolved from shadow puppetry.

He said the cost difference between 2D and 3D animation is not big, but they require different skills.

He added that 3D cost is pushed up by technology use, or research and development.

“The storyline for 2D and 3D animation is similar, only the medium for creation is different,” said Ownsani, while adding that both can create great products.

Perhaps 3D appears more popular because it looks nicer and more advanced, he said.

“The majority of anime in Japan is still 2D and it is their trademark. Maybe the trademark of Malaysia is 3D animation due to the increase in films and series,” said Ownsani, while hoping that Malaysians will support the industry by appreciating both kinds.

Amer echoed the sentiment, saying that society and TV stations should not be focused too much on technology, or in other words, 3D animation.

“2D animation has high artistic value because it uses a traditional method,” he said.

If all kinds of animation are celebrated, Malaysia will be able to produce various kinds of products, said Amer.

-- BERNAMA

 


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