Synonyms: Feathers Gazing into the Darkness, Feathers Staring into the Darkness, Thinking and Drawing: Nihon no Shinseiki Art Animation, Thinking and Drawing: Japanese Art Animation of the New Millennium
A story set in a world before ours. A world in chaos where forces of good and evil fight and mingle. By doing so, it creates the chance to give birth to the new world.
A couple of winged beings make love and fly away. They bear a child in an egg, and when the child opens its eyes they are immediately destroyed, one consumed by fire and the other by water.
Mythical, elemental and mysterious, the world created by Tsuji is dangerous, menacing and suffuse with signs of apocalypse, but somehow simultaneously tender and compassionate. A Feather Stare at the Dark captures simple gestures and primal feelings and amplifies them, realising the non-verbal and non-literal with remarkable grace.
By gesture of a wing, the world is created. It is a multitude of love and peace. And man is just a seed in a bigger world who can create using his imagination. And all is good. The earth is rich. But the man is rich in wishes. And soon man finds desire and the peace is threatened. His inner peace. To desire is to conquer. To love is to give freedom. To desire is to be a slave. Of one’s imagination. Of one’s mind. But desire brings death. And nightmares. And the Light-Bringer is burning in the sky. And destruction comes to bring the
end. And the beginning.
The world imagined by Naoyuki Tsuji consists in creating a new mythology over the existing one but using the same known archetypes. The most important aspect of this piece of art is that it has a sense of inner peace, a humility in the face of a changing nature, but also a dignity in front of it. The surreal imagery almost does not matter. Because on a first watch, this might be getting your attention, but afterward, it feels natural, like pieces from a puzzle. Even the mature content who symbolizes the male conquering of earth can be strange but needed.
The thing that feels less creative is the choosing of these symbols and the overall meaning of the story, Tsuji’s vision being noteworthy, but too common these days. The surrealism, in the end, feels sentimental and for this reason lacks the power to "be alive", to transcend the paper. It reminded me of a comic by Chester Brown, "Ed the Happy Clown", a piece of random surreal narrative for the ones with a stronger taste.
"Tsuji’s method involves drawing with charcoal on paper, photographing the result, erasing the plate and redrawing the next frame. The aftermath is that the each frame carries a trace of the previous and, consequently, the film chronicles its own history, its own making. The outcome is closer to sand animation than traditional drawing."