73 year-old Gisaburo Sugii is a true veteran of Japanese animation. At 18 he was already working on the first-ever Asian animation in colour, The Tale of the White Serpent. After a decade of working as an assistant on classics such as Astro Boy and Lupin III, Sugii was at the forefront of a new wave of adult animation films in the late sixties. With Belladonna of Sadness, Sugii adapted Jules Michelet’s study on witchcraft (La sorcière¸ or Satanism and Witchcraft) into a vibrant, hallucinogenic feature where unvarnished tragedy and sexuality mesh in a unique kaleidoscopic tableau. The film was shown at the Berlin Festival and is widely considered an artistic milestone of the period. In the 70s, Sugii began directing his own films, which in 1985 found him at the helm of Night on the Galactic Railroad, a masterpiece regarded as one of the great Japanese animation classics yet largely unknown outside of Japan. Sugii followed up with his most ambitious project to date, 1987’s The Tale of Genji, an adaptation of an ancient Japanese novel – perhaps the first one ever written – which illustrates the intimacies of a young aristocrat within the confines of the imperial palace.
Gisaburo Sugii’s career covers the entire span of modern Japanese animation. In this fascinating portrait of the animation veteran, Masato Ishioka demonstrates how the Japanese animation industry developed in Disney's shadow, to finally grow into its own as an international cultural phenomenon.
As the village celebrates its annual star festival, young Giovanni turns to a lonely hilltop for solace. Once there, he comes across a magical train. Along with his friend Campanella, Giovanni embarks on a fantastic voyage into the recesses of the Milky Way. A masterpiece of Japanese animation.
An elegant adaption of a classic Japanese novel, narrating the experiences of a young aristocrat in the imperial palace. Raised motherless, Genji’s need for maternal tenderness forces him to seek out in tragic romantic encounters an unattainable ideal of love.