In 1963, Japan's first ever animated TV series began broadcasting, Osamu Tezuka's Astro Boy. The series itself has entered the realms of legend, with its main character a cultural icon across much of the world. But outside of the adventures of its little boy robot star, the series is also remembered for its futuristic sound effects, the creation of the pioneering sound designer Matsuo Ohno.
"Once you grasp a sound, it becomes part of this world. I'm not interested in sounds that already exist," this trailblazer of electrical experimental music is quoted as saying, and indeed, Ohno can be attributed as creating whole new sonic worlds. His aural alchemy found itself deployed in the works of such ground-breaking filmmakers as Hiroshi Teshigahara and Toshio Matsumoto, and the spatial sound systems for the pavilions at the Expo '85 in Tsukuba.
And then, in the 1980s, Ohno suddenly disappeared from the public eye. This riveting documentary follows his career through the eyes of those who worked with him and the experimental musicians whom he inspired, through a combination of hypnotic sounds and extraordinary images as those left by the Astro Boy’s footsteps leads us to a revelation that is as moving as it is unexpected.
With narration provided by the world-renowned Pizzicato Five vocalist Maki Nomiya, and the film's own sound design by the electronic musician Pardon Kimura, Mochinaga's film features rare scenes and sounds from animated films such as Lupin the 3rd, Space Battleship Yamato and Mobile Suit Gundam.
Born 1975 in Ehime prefecture, Masanori Tominaga is a director of a number of idiosyncratic and highly-original features, documentaries and music videos. His debut short film, Dolmen (1999), received a prize at the 2000 Oberhausen International Short Film Festival. His feature debut, The Pavillion Salamandre (Pavillion sanshouo, 2006), was a comedy starring Jo Odagiri. He followed it up with another comedy, Konna otona no onnanoko (2007), while Pandora's Box (Pandora no hako, 2009), based on a novel by Osamu Dazai, was a more serious work set in a sanatorium for tuberculosis sufferers following Japan's defeat in the war. His recent work includes Vengeance Can Wait (Ranbō to taiki, 2010), and another music-themed documentary, Begging from the Garden (Niwa ni onegai, 2011) about the folk singer Kumio Kurachi.