January 12th, 2005


Candy horrors, silly armies and a moving castle

To Scai the Bathhouse in Yanaka to see an exhibition of Yurie Nagashima's photos with the lovely title 'Candy Horror'. Then to Trees Are So Special in Daikanyama to see a little show of Boredom Eye Yamantaka's scrawly-cool artwork. Next down to the Mizuma Gallery to see the neo-Japanist, absurdist, incredibly detailed drawings of Akira Yamaguchi. A samurai chops a biker in half with a single sweep of his sword, a 'postmodern silly army' sallies forth under the banner of a yellow smiley face... there's so much to look at! Finally it's up to the Mori Art Museum at Roppongi Hills to see the utopian architecture show Archilab.

On view here are sundry inflatable pneumacosms, instant cities, giant skynooks, dirigible instant cities, desert clouds, living pods, mobile cabin hotels, films of billowing polythene accompanied by baroque bloopy monophonic synths, plug-in cities, sloping cities, spatial cities, megastructures, guest hut containers, paper log cities, cities on legs...

What better preparation could there be for a screening of the new Miyazaki film Howl's Moving Castle down at the foot of the tower? For here too wild architectural fantasia prevails. It's a cross between Heidi and War of the Worlds, set in a flower-box Frankfurt and populated by big-eyed manga wizards and blobby monsters. 19th century German cities are bombed by gigantic metal flying fish and castles are great big clanky machines on legs, clambering over Alps. For my money this is a better film than 'Spirited Away', more Japanese although it's set in some Swiss-Martian Europe of the Japanese imagination, more moving, more visual, painted on a bigger, stranger canvas... Terrific stuff, even - especially - if you're jet-lagged to hell and have no idea what's going on.