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Shizuka ni gamba!

Robot walking into clouds


It is 1987, six years after the animated cult classic Heavy Metal exited theatres. The up-and-comers of anime contribute to an anthology, Robot Carnival. In 2019 it is all but forgotten.

Heavy Metal isn’t forgotten in 2019. That’s the year NETFLIX reanimates it as ❤️☠️🤖 Love Death & Robots. And while there isn’t any movement on a Robot Carnival revival, it is back in spirit. More on that later.

Not familiar with Robot Carnival? It’s available again, for now anyway. Clear 90 minutes from your schedule. Stream it. Now.

Finished? You may recognize the music. You should recognize the music. You better recognize the music. Joe Hisaishi. Yeah. That Joe. He scores every entry. Almost. Every entry but one.

The artists? They are almost as storied. But one artist, one piece has always stuck out in my mind.

“More than a freelance animator, I would rather be called a wandering animator…”

Manabu Ōhashi
Poster to anime story Cloud by Mao Lamdo

Two thirds of the way through Robot Carnival finds you front row for Manabu Ōhashi‘s timeless creation, Cloud. Isaku Fujita provides the music. In deference to Hisaishi, it is perfect.

If you are a Toco Toco TV regular, you may have already stumbled across their profile of Manabu Ōhashi aka Mao Lambdo.

I thought about quitting many times. There are many talented people, both at Toei and in other studios as well. I would always try to be as good as them, but I couldn’t reach their level.”

He spent almost a year penning Cloud.

“But sometimes you get to work on a project that powers you up and give you back all your energy, these projects call to you, they convinced me to not give up. I’ve been doing that for fifty years now…”

20 Sep 2020

Thirty years later hero or heretic–I choose hero–Shingo Tamagawa put pencil to paper. His journey took not one but three years. The destination? Cloud cousin, hand drawn already a classic PUPARIA.

“Nobody had asked for it. But I thought I’d give it a try and start… the fact that I took on that idiotic process [hand drawing every frame with colored pencils and then transferring each over to digital media] was a way to show that it can be fun doing what you want to make…”

It is my spirit anime for the pandemic. It may replace Cloud as my anime for, well, life.

“I make animation to create new things and generate new emotions that I haven’t felt before.”

Shingo Tamagawa

Cloud in 1987 and ever since. Puparia in 2020. Ah, yes, 2020.

Ed Carlsen’s “Cage” is an audio journey much like Tamagawa’s visual trip PUPARIA. Cage vocalist Julie Krog Jensen’s final “For now I’m learning” is laced not with angst but with… promise. With hope.

So, too is the expression on the face of the final character in PUPARIA. “Still with me?” they seem to ask. “Good.”

“The best is yet to come.”


Shizuka ni gamba!

“Shizuka ni gamba” is a phrase coined by anime author and animator Manabu Ōhashi. A play on “Gamba no Bōken” and “Gambare / Do your best”, it roughly translates as “Good Luck but don’t exhaust yourself.” Sage advice for any aspiring artist.

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