Whether it’s Kubo in his firelit cave, Belle bursting from the cosy cottage or Woody meeting Buzz, most journeys in animation begin at home. The hero is yet to set out on an adventure, whether they want one or not. It is also where Marimo begins its story, silhouetted by a roaring pink fire bursting from a television screen. Quite an entrance.
Animation receives very little pomp and ceremony for the effort it takes to make films this way. It is all too often seen as solely for children, regarded by adults as irrelevant to informing their own journey through life. After all, an adult is a grown-up and has no need for childish cartoons. Marimo is a new magazine about ‘the people who make magic’ that knocks this notion on its head. Published between Bristol and Paris by Adeline Marteil and Ingrid Mengdehl, they glean insights from artists, game designers and animators on religion, love, acceptance and more. Those themes are a consistent part of our lives, whether we are six or sixty. Age often does not affect our competency.
What animation does need is our suspension of disbelief. As David Perlmutter reveals, animation will never portray our home, but we must immerse ourselves in its environment. It’s a kind of enforced escapism to dive into a completely created world, with all its intricacies and personalities. Perlmutter touches on its similarity with the pride of American small town communities, which define themselves by both their own characteristics and the history of their home. Think of The Flintstones without Bedrock or The Simpsons without Springfield.
Like the way the animator draws the picture to tell the story, the magazine itself, too, is fluid, slipping seamlessly from article to interview without a hitch, with flurries of original artwork and pops of colour along the way. The theme of home steers the intelligent prose in intriguing ways, as if this is their tenth issue, not their first. Happily skipping through traditional drawn animation, it keeps its surefootedness as it considers the future, including virtual reality and games. It is cute and playful, with integrity and depth, and an attention to detail that does not go unnoticed. Marimo’s creators and contributors really know their stuff, and they have the intellectual weight behind them to show it.
Take the film Garden of Words, for example. The story is woven with the Japanese instinct for amae, meaning to depend on another’s kindness, and urban isolation between two adults. The article on Don Bluth uncovers the life of a man who weaves his career with religious ideals, as his characters search for a promised land. The exploration of Lilo and Stitch is especially poignant, discussing family, belonging and alienation.
On the illustrative side, the design is delightful. They focus on the distinctive style of Mitsuru Adachi and the Polish-born Mateusz Urbanowicz, whose painted backgrounds are brought to the fore with delicate skill. He blends colour and a sense of place with ease to capture a segment of Japanese culture.
Marimo comes across as global whilst keeping itself rooted. It gives a justified nod to Aardman and the animation masters course at the University of West England for its local creativity, and then flies the nest to places further afield. From its writers to its content (printed bilingually in French and English), Marimo spreads out to Japan, France, Britain and the US, not forgetting Ireland, Syria and Lebanon.
Marimo has given animation the attention it deserves although it feels like it has held back, and rightly so. It still has stop motion to cover, and I will be interested to see how they treat CGI animation too, knowing the magnitude and influence Pixar has had over the last decade. In so many words, there is a lot to look forward to in their coming issues.
More, Marimo, more!