There is a scene early in the stand-alone anime film On-Gaku: Our sound that embodies his scratchy outsider stance. After criminal Kenji and his friends Ota and Asakura inherit a bass guitar from a stranger and get everything they need from their high school music room, they return to his seat to jam. After pounding their instruments for a while during an impressive 360 degree montage, the trio paused and was utterly amazed at what they had just done. “What just happened felt so good,” says Kenji with monotonous sincerity, the other two nod in agreement. On-Gaku: Our sound is a story of musicians who cannot play music, but still find satisfaction in creating. It’s a dead buddy comedy about amateur passion produced by the raw power of an animator’s amateur passion.
On-Gaku: Our sound, based on a manga by Hiroyuki Ôhashi, is the full-length debut from first-time director Kenji Iwaisawa, the made the film over the course of seven years
There are hijinks along the way that involve Aya, the trio’s classmate and only friend, and a gang of rival hooligans from a neighboring school who yearn for trouble. But really, most of On-Gaku: Our soundThe maturity just grazes against these elements before returning to delight in the experimentalism and absurdity that organically manifests itself through youthful inactivity. “When you think of a story about students starting a band, you are more likely to think of a teenage story that involves friendship, love, or struggle,” Iwaisawa said in one Interview with deadline. “But On-Gaku I didn’t have any of these obvious elements, which is why I particularly liked the s tory. “It’s an unapologetically vibe-oriented one
It’s a narrative humble but eccentric premise that oozes the same kind of quirky Gen Z humor and energy found in animated sitcoms such as Beavis and Butthead
The design of the characters in the film is essential for many of them On-Gaku‘s quirkiness and humor, with most of the film’s most memorable laughs preceded by long pauses on Kenji’s almost always blank face before he blurts out almost every withered punchline. The distinctive mix of rotoscope animation, hand-drawn figures and painted backgrounds in the film also plays a major role On-Gakudefines the bizarre.
The quirk of the film is also due to the use of hybrid animations in the form of rotoscopy alongside its traditionally animated elements, which give it an almost magnetic visual appeal. The characters’ relatively rigid designs are rendered with charming clumsiness and harmless fluidity. It’s as fun to watch these characters just sit around and shoot the shit as it is to see them fumble with their instruments or break into a wall chase.
Oddly, which is what stands out the most On-Gaku: Our soundThe sound design is that despite its narrative emphasis on rock ‘n’ music and the original songs composed by musicians like Tomohiko Banse, Grandfunk and Wataru Sawabe, it’s mostly a comfortably quiet movie. The scenes in which Kenji and his companion walk the streets of their hometown with a hum of human activity peering at the audible periphery of the on-screen action are arguably some of the best in the film. They draw the audience not only into a scene and a place, but into a strange, approximate sensory memory of the youth.
On-Gaku: Our sound is a hilarious adolescent rock comedy with a disrespectful sense of dry wit that would make people feel at home Daria or Home videos. If Iwaisawa managed to accomplish this on his own in seven years, the 40-year-old director has a bright future ahead of him, and the world of anime is fortunate to have him.
On-Gaku: Our sound is for rent from now on Amazon, Vuduand other digital rental services.