The San Diego Asian Film Festival brought over Toshihisa Yokoshima’s award-winning film “COCOLORS” for animation fans to enjoy.

Fuyu is a very frail child, but it doesn’t stop him from creating unique art pieces from metal scraps and hanging out with his group of friends. His friend Aki is very protective of him, especially since death is a frequent occurrence in their underground village. Everyone must wear their insulated suits and helmets in order to survive the toxic air from the constantly falling ash. While the residents focus on making it to the next day, both Aki and Fuyu dream of discovering the color of the sky. Years later, Aki and his friend Shu joins the revered Salvage team who to the surface above to collect items useful items for the village. Aki begins to bring Fuyu little pigmented stones for his art, but it seems that there is something the scavenger is hiding from his best friend. The cost of preservation and maintaining their lifestyle might be too great for them to handle.

Yokoshima’s 46-minute film was a complex piece packed in a small package. While it was a 3D CG film, the aesthetics were similar to Japanese woodblock prints with heavy black outlines. The color palette were of bleak earth and metallic tones with slivers of bright hues. The director spoke at the post film Q&A that he and the production team researched the art form and developed digital textures to emulate it. At times, the scenes representing Aki’s anxiety might confuse viewers as what actually happened, but crippling fear does have that effect on people. The story had a lot of drama and action inside and anyone that liked more matured animations can appreciate.

Before the screening, Director Yokoshima, along with his publicist Himi Tagawa and their translator took a bit of time to sit down with me for a small interview. While his 15 years working with Studio Kamikaze Douga, Yokoshima worked on some video games including the Megaman franchise. In 2010, he released a short called “Amanatsu” that featured a robotic character. I asked him about this trend and he said that he liked “robots that are infused with human emotions and feelings but catchy as anime art.” It was very interesting to notice the slow progression of the characters as they fell away from their village’s clockwork traditions and rules, revealing more and more of their human selves.

“COCOLORS” won the Satoshi Kon award at the Fantasia Film Festival in Montreal, Canada in July. In our interview, he said he greatly respected the work of the late filmmaker and said another work that influenced him was Gisaburo Sugii’s 1985 “Night on the Galactic Railroad”. For “COCOLORS” specifically, he looked at woodblock prints from the Ukiyo-E style of the Edo period like the iconic Hokusai works along with “new age” artists.

I asked him if he had any plans for either a multi-episode anime series or longer length film project. He said “yes, in the future if he has opportunity,” including a 90-minute film. For those that inspire to join the animation industry, “Don’t give up.” He said that he started from scratch and now has his own movie and wants others to pursue their dreams.

An audience member during the post-film Q&A asked if there were plans for an official English Bluray DVD release, but Yokoshima and Tagawa said there were no clear plans for one. Recently the trailer for Kamikaze Douga’s latest project “Batman Ninja” dropped and will be out in 2018.

To read more on the film and check out some behind-the-scenes pictures, visit the “COCOLORS” webpage. Check out some similar recommendations, visit the San Diego Asian Film Festival’s page. Also follow Pacific Arts Movement to find out what other events they will be hosting.