The anime industry is undoubtedly massive, having garnered an extensive global audience over the years. While big-budget productions like Attack on Titan have continued to dominate the conversation surrounding the art form, independent animators such as Shingo Tamagawa are fighting to create a new space for alternative methods of artistic expression.
As a student, Tamagawa was drawn to art and animation but he only realised that he wanted to become a creator himself during his high school years. It was during that period he discovered the works of geniuses such as Hayao Miyazaki and Hideaki Anno, creators of seminal masterpieces like Spirited Away and Neon Genesis Evangelion.
Tamagawa specialised in fine arts as part of his undergraduate studies and he eventually ended up getting into graduate school but he later decided that he would drop out to enter the industry. However, his work experience made him realise that he would hate his own work if he continued in the same vein. “After five years of working in animation, I started to feel as if I were losing myself,” Tamagawa revealed.
In 2020, after a long hiatus, Tamagawa released a mesmerising short film whose runtime was only three minutes. Titled Puparia, it’s an extremely powerful visual journey into the domains of the surreal. “I wanted to make a story and a world that would wrap people from another angle,” Tamagawa said, while explaining his intent.
Although the short film was just three minutes long, it took Tamagawa three years to make it. Displaying undeniable talent and a flair for visual magic, Puparia takes the viewer into a space that is populated by mysterious characters. The influence of Tamagawa’s favourite animators are also visible here, especially the final segment which is reminiscent of Evangelion.
For Tamagawa, the entire process of animating this short might have been arduous but he believes it is the right way to go even though most big studios focus on profit margins, efficiency and output speed. He mused: “I think the whole industry could be happier if we could pivot in that direction, just a little more.”
Watch Puparia by Shingo Tamagawa below.