In 2005, the animator Shintarō Kishimoto (岸本真太郎, b. 1966) wowed the Japanese animation community with his innovative comic short Tough Guy! (2005). The 7-minute 3DCG animation stars a praying mantis who seems to think that he is the insect version of Jackie Chan – pratfalls and all.
The short consists of three vignettes. In the first vignette, the praying mantis practises his butt-kicking martial art skills on a tin can with great finesse. In the next vignette, “Green Bullet” the mantis has a tussle with a butterfly and chases it down the street curb, up a lamp post and into the sky like a rocket. On his descent he crashes into a man’s digital camera in a humorous sequence…. The butterfly, of course, flutters on its way unharmed by the ludicrous antics of the mantis. The third vignette, “The Predator” has some impressive – and amusing – rooftop sequences which see the praying mantis’s antics causing people in the house to lose their TV reception. He also has a tussle with a beetle that ends in another comic pratfall.
The most impressive sequences in the film are those in which the praying mantis interacts with real world objects (the digital camera) and people. Kishimoto achieves a unique look for his film because of his blending of 3DCG with still images and live action footage. It’s a film that doesn’t take itself too seriously as it tries to imagine a cityscape through the eyes of an insect.
Tom Sito, who was on the judging panel that awarded Kishimoto the Grand Prize at the Japan Digital Animation Festival (JDAF 2005), said that his fellow judge Mamoru Oshii “was impressed with how [Kishimoto] mixed digital animation with live action and photo stills to let us experience the world from the Mantis’ point of view.” Sito himself praised the film for its comic timing (Source: AWN). The film also won the Noburo Ofuji Award.
According to his website, Kishimoto – who is a native of Yokohama – has worked for a range of clients from Kodansha publishers to Production I.G. In addition to 3DCG, Kishimoto works as an illustrator (pen + ink, 3DCG, 2DCG), character designer, and manga artist. You can follow him on Facebook.
Catherine Munroe Hotes 2013
A low res version of the film is available on niconico. You can also support this independent animator by ordering the film on DVD:
This film is part of my Noburo Ofuji Award series: