Monday, October 12, 2009

"Totoro" , Hayao Miyazaki (1988)

I've posted this scene from Totoro to demonstrate the Japanese design concept of "ma" as it applies to animation timing. "Ma" roughly translates into English as "gap", "space", "pause", or "the space between structural parts".

One of the most memorable qualities of this sequence is it's slow pace - long holds, lengthy pauses between actions, and shots in which nothing appears to happen. The pace can seem awkward or primitive to Western audiences accustomed to more continuous action and rapid editing. However, the timing is deliberate, building a mood of quiet eeriness which anticipates the entry of the mythical Totoro. The spaces between the actions artfully convey as much meaning as the actions themselves.

"Totoro" was written and directed by the prolific Japanese director Hayao Miyazaki, with art direction by Kazuo Oga, and produced at Studio Ghibli. It was made using traditional cel animation over lush watercolour backgrounds. The feature has understandably become an enduring favourite within Japan and without.


Wikipedia -
My Neighbour Totoro
(retrieved 14.10.09)

Wikipedia - Ma (negative space) (retrieved 14.10.09)

Things Asian - Aesthetics in Japanese Arts (retrieved 25.09.09)