The film is set in the distant future in a city called Cahmpon. A scientist creates a synthetic life-form called Noiseman, which erases music from the airwaves by turning it into crystals. A group of Biker street kids rebels against this tyranny.
Noiseman`s progressive, or weird if you will, concept is accessible because of its short length and simple, self contained story. Normally,something with a visual audio idiosyncracy like this is difficult to approach, and is therefore confined to its own niche following. Sadly, Noiseman doesn`t have much more than a small niche, but given the chance, most viewers will probably find that there is some mass-market appeal.
I believe a majority of people who watch Noiseman will enjoy it, but I doubt it will make too many avid fans. The plot is a little too complex for the alloted time. It doesn`t flow quite as effortlessly
as Comedy. Following the rushed developments of the first third of the movie is a bit of a chore.
Noiseman remains accessible despite the early hiccup because its story is completely unpretentious. It never tries to drill an emotion or a philosophical perspective. It`s just a pure, albeit very strange story. The appeal is the novelty in the premise, audio, and visuals.
The animation in Noiseman is very solid, somewhere between the quality one would expect from a TV series and a feature film. 4C as usual, delivers on the atmospheric and creative aspect of the visuals. The setting is a vibrantly colored slum that looks like a cross between Tekkon Kinkreet and Tweeny Witches. Noiseman's himself, as well as his gadgets have cute, but out-of-this-world designs and some of the later scenes step into drug-induced delusion territory. Spinning textures and white backgrounds show a whimsy that stretches beyond Willie Wonka, or even other Studio 4C productions.
A name like Noiseman brings up a certain expectation for the sound. This aspect is perhaps the most impressive of the short. Noiseman contains some pieces that are no more than vaguely musical sounding noise, some that resemble tribal beats, and some fast paced techno stuff. What`s amazing is how perfectly the music is timed with this film. There is some sort of music playing for the whole duration, and considering how radically different the musical pieces are from each other, it`s amazing how smooth the transitions are. The quick techno beats always come in just as a scene gets exciting. Musical pauses are used to dramatic effect. The music on a scene to scene basis is perfectly matched with the animation, and as a whole, the general messiness in all of the tracks is a great match for the setting.
There`s usually something wrong when novelty is one of the greatest assets of a film. Because Noiseman is but 15 minutes, its novel charm has no problem lasting the entire duration. Beyond that simple strangeness that is so amusing, Noiseman has a solid story that is elevated by the visual and audio experience it provides.
I remember making note of this one after seeing it on some recommendation image. You know, those ones that have a bunch of anime posters on a black background with the names written under each one and then the title is on the top or bottom and says something like "So You Think All Anime Are the Same? Check These Out:". I don't, but I like avoiding the same things in general. Well that aside, the badass poster with its hot pink contrast to the flat grey over an edgy dystopian punk with small patterned dots and a fuzzy logo representing static feedback on top
of the thing just being fucking called "Noiseman Sound Insect" was enough to sell me alone. If it didn't have that, then if I somehow took a look at the list of talent before watching that would've caught my attention instead. Several high profile names are involved, with the art and animation being handled by Masaki Yuasa and the sound design being handled by Yoko Kanno. Shigeru Watanabe and Kouji Morimoto are less prolific but have been involved with Akira, Memories, and The Animatrix. Goddamn.
Oh, but it's 15 minutes long. Put that much talent in such a restrained space and the result seems almost inevitable. Noiseman is a frantic action piece that literally does not stop for a breath, bursting to the seams with meticulously detailed stills of the tie-dye junk city and Yuasa's free-flowing animation style that breaks proportions and scale in the name of keeping kinetic energy. It's a technical marvel and the eye-candy becomes literal candy when paired with the general color scheme of bright reds, blues, and yellows. Oh right, the story or whatever. Some old scientist creates a monster that looks like a 5 year-old's drawing of Oogie Boogie that separates people into a ghost form and a crystal, and people are brainwashed into rounding up the ghosts for him or something and a few guys break free after eating magical fruit. I don't know, it's crazy and is just a nonsense excuse for nonsense visuals. If I had a complaint its that the aesthetic implied above by my description of the poster just isn't here. Music plays almost no narrative role which is disappointing considering Yoko Kanno's at the helm (and I'd never guess it was her by virtue of me not remembering any music from this after it finished). The Noiseman is the Oogie Boogie monster and the "music" is peoples' souls or whatever. The background score is a lot of nondescript fast percussion, drum patterns that are a very basic assault compared to the visuals. I was hoping for a bunch of screeching noise feedback and comparatively abrasive visuals that'd melt my brain like an egg on asphalt, but it's just a wacky fantasy ride that's still fairly distinct because it's Yuasa and how it's so technically accomplished, but nothing really shocking. Only the very beginning utilizes video static as a visual gimmick, so I don't know what kind of style it was going for.
For such a short running time its easily worth it to those going in for a visual trip. File under "definitive stoner anime" along with Trava. I'll probably never think of it again unless I'm asked to recommend anime with cool animation. Even then, it's been paired with heftier or more cohesive narratives. Fine stuff.
If you are an avid anime fan, you are sure to be familiar with the likes of Osamu Tezuka, Hayao Miyazaki and Satoshi Kon. But there's another extremely talented animator and director who isn't as well known, but deserves to be - Masaaki Yuasa! Discover his wild, ultra-stylized animation!