Sonidos de Oto

I've just got back from a fairly long trip to Bangkok. There was a lot of training with my  aikido friends and teachers over there, as well as meeting old and special friends off the mat.

In particular I also caught up with René. René is the super-talented cartoonist who did the Fudebakudo animations. He's also the best storyteller I know and we share the same cartoon view on much of the world's strangeness. He's also unlucky in love — I mention this only so that this terrible afflication might be recorded in the internet's search engines and therefore become a universal truth. "You see?" girls will say, pointing at a hundred flickering screens, "it must be so . . . it says so on Google. I won't break my heart by hurling myself against his rugged and yet sensitive exterior because in the long run it will be pointless: he is unlucky in love." Then they will clasp their own bosoms and sigh, a hundred hearts breaking, disappointed. And he'll plod along seeing girls pointing and whispering behind their hands, and know it's because of the internet. Currently, you see, we don't know how they know. At least after this there will be an explanation.

By my calculations, we hadn't met for over four years, so we spent a lot of time hanging out. We even did a nostalgic trip back to the same Japanese restaurant where we regularly met while Fudebakudo was being finished. It's all changed now (well, actually it hasn't much, but they don't do the freebies they used to), and there's no plaque up commemorating the completion of the project. Way back in 2003 I had taken a folder with all the final artwork in it and — long story short — René accidentally constructed a syphon out of bent drinking straws which started pumping iced coffee over everything. Those were the days.

Sounds of Autumn

Sonidos de Otoño now available on YouTube

Anyway, from back around that time René and his brother Raúl did a little film that went on to feature in several animation festivals. It's called Sonidos de Otoño (that's "Sounds of Autumn") and is now on YouTube.

Incidentally, René and Raúl worked on the Fudebakudo samurai flick-man animation together. Raúl now works as an animator in Vancouver. If you play Company of Heroes and think the motion capture is well done, well, you're wrong: it's not motion capture, it's Raúl's team's skilfull animation.

René and I stood in an IT mall in Bangkok watching a tournament match of Company of Heroes. They probably thought we were in awe of their super-fragging gameplay. In fact we were marvelling at how the soldiers run out of step with each other and how the smoke works. Cartoonists, eh?

How to fold a hakama 2

From a dojo down in the south of Japan some time ago. I just saw this going on and filmed it.  I never learned how to do it — when I asked to be shown how to fold mine the same way, they said it was a special technique which they wouldn't teach "visitors".

Update: I've put the original movie on the site if you want to see it in all its glory. I needed to tidy it up a bit before letting YouTube's compression squash it (file is about 1.5Mb).