Oscar-Nominated Director Koji Yamamura Makes VR Anime Short

Kodansha VR Lab announced on Thursday that Oscar-nominated direcetor Koji Yamamura has completed the virtual reality anime short “My Inner Ear Quartet” (“Mimi ni Sumu Mono”). The anime runs about 35 minutes long, and it will be in Japanese and English. The short is currently is in the process of submission to film festival competitions inside and outside Japan. Akutagawa Award-winning Yōko Ogawa wrote the original story.

Kodansha VR Lab describes the short:

What lives in a lonely boy’s ear? And why a boy’s ear…?
A lonely boy dug in the dirt every day and collected what he found in a cookie tin.
In the boy’s notebook, he recorded the lonely voices of the objects he collected. Inside the boy’s ears live four musicians and two Venus’ Flower Basket Shrimps, who play and dance in response to his tears.
He shook a cookie tin filled with found objects in return. In this way, the boy grew up.
The boy grew up and became a salesman selling hearing aids and no longer picked up lonely voices or shed tears. One day, fascinated by a handmade bird brooch saw on the TV news that was found in a Japanese American internment camp, he set out on a journey to collect lonely voices again. What would he find there eventually?

Kenji Ishimaru (Godzilla: Planet of the Monsters) is the producer, and Yoshinobu Noma is the executive producer. Gee Yeung is the CG director, Masataka Ota is the sound director, Koji Ueno is the composer, and Yumiko Kano is the line producer. Jorge Pedrero Reyna is serving as the lead Unity engineer. Yui Tamanaba is the production manager.

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The short stars Masaki Okada. Daman Mills voices a man in English, and Nicholas Young plays a boy.

Yamamura is a professor at Tokyo University of the Arts‘ Graduate School of Film and New Media, and an independent animator best known for his short films. He received an Academy Award nod in 2003 for his short “Mt. Head,” although he did not win.

Yamamura’s Dozens of Norths (Ikuta no Kita) anime film won the Contrechamp award at last year’s Annecy International Animation Film Festival. The film also won the Grand Prize for Feature Animation at last year’s The Ottawa International Film Festival (OIAF) and the Jury Prize in the International Competition for Feature Films at last year’s the Buncheon International Animation Festival .

The Japanese government’s Agency for Cultural Affairs awarded Yamamura the Cabinet Minister Award in the media fine arts category of the “Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Fine Arts Recommendation Awards” in 2017. The 16th Biennial of Animation Bratislava event in Slovakia awarded animator Yamamura the Prix Klingsor, a lifetime achievement award presented to “a significant personality whose works perfectly connect artistic and film qualities and reach children’s viewers, in 2022.

Yamamura’s other award-winning and nominated shorts include “Muybridge’s Strings,” “A Country Doctor,” “Satie’s Parade,” and “Notes on Monstropedia.” Yamamura himself received the Kawakita Award in 2012.

Kodansha and 3DCG anime studio Polygon Pictures established Kodansha VR Lab in October 2017.

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