An animated film made with carved wooden cat figures is helping children to explore the difficult issues surrounding electric power plant construction.
“Nekomacitta Monogatari” tells the story of a peaceful country town inhabited by cats facing a dilemma over the convenience and risks of an electric power plant near their homes.
Kanagawa-based craft artist Shin Kojima had been preparing a film using his wooden figures before the Great East Japan Earthquake, but rewrote his half-written screenplay, which had been a fairy tale, in the aftermath of the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant accident.
The film was directed by Kaori Suzukawa, a member of Sai Kobo, a group that makes animated film dolls and props.
He appealed to fellow professionals to cooperate, and a number of animators, artists and voice actors responded to the appeal. A project committee was formed last summer.
The members started making dolls, backgrounds and other props, while looking for funds and were eventually able to embark on the laborious animation process. It took six months to finish filming the 20-minute film.
Kojima says he is pleasantly surprised at the quality of the end product.
“The wooden cats can’t change their facial expressions,” Kojima said. “But I couldn’t help saying, ‘(You cats) performed great.’”
The story focuses on a new power plant promoted by the feline town’s mayor that suddenly breaks down and threatens the residents with a dangerous spill. The cats have to choose between convenience and an inconvenient but safe future.
There were tears in the audience at the film’s debut in May in Hadano, Kanagawa Prefecture, where Kojima lives.
DVDs of the anime are available and screenings are scheduled at various venues in Kanagawa and Tokyo prefectures. Kojima says he eventually wants to show it to children.
For more information, visit (http://www.nekomacitta.com/)
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