Why You Should Watch The Filmography of Takeshi Koike
by Tito W. James
Takeshi Koike is an animator and director known for his work on the ‘World Record’ episode of The Animatrix, Dead Leaves, Ninja Scroll, Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust, Lupin the IIIrd: Goemon’s Blood Spray and Redline.
Koike’s filmography is high-contrast, sexually subversive, brutally violent, and vividly colorful. No matter the film or the subject matter, Takeshi Koike always taps into the collective unconscious of cool.
Koike was the lead animator on Ninja Scroll. While the film is infamous for pushing the envelope of graphic material in anime, the subtler aspects are too often overlooked. The bisexual love triangle between the lead antagonist and his male and female minions adds an extra layer of drama and intrigue. The film also inspired the Afro Samurai anime and Koike was a key animator on one episode.
Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust
Koike was also a key animator on Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust. The post-apocalyptic vampire western was the principle inspiration for Castlevania. The film is a macabre feast for the senses. Whether it’s a quiet meditative scene of D riding his horse through the wasteland or a vicious vampire battle, the animation delivers on all points.
Animatrix: World Record
World Record is an animated short directed by Koike in the Animatrix anthology. Koike’s use of heavy blacks are influenced by his favorite comic artists, Frank Miller and Mike Mignola. This high-contrast look would become a staple of Koike’s work.
Koike served as a key animator on Dead Leaves, a subversive anime movie that’s become a cult classic in animation circles. Dead Leaves is a visual cocaine-binge of snappy animation. The esthetics and techniques influenced the animation industry so that you can see Dead Leaves’ fingerprint on everything from the anime of Studio Trigger to Rise of The TMNT.
Koike animated the iconic opening to Samurai Champloo. The heavy shadows and dynamic character animation is a signature of Koike’s style.
The Boy and The Beast
The Boy and the Beast is my favorite film by Mamoru Hosoda. Takeshi Koike served as a key animator on the movie. The story is about a lost boy who gets raised in a world of beast-people. Emotional and action-packed, The Boy and the Beast can’t be missed.
Lupin the IIIrd
Koike has directed more Lupin the IIIrd theatrical movies than any other director. So it was only natural that he would return Lupin the IIIrd to its more mature manga origins in a series of OVA’s. There are three Lupin the IIIrd OVA’s released so far: Daisuke Jigen’s Gravestone, Goemon Ishikawa’s Blood Spray, and The Lie Of Fujiko Mine. These short films are best described as neo-grindhouse where the adventures take place in a hyper- reality full of exaggerated characters. The stylized sex and violence are balanced with rich atmosphere and emotion.
Directed by Koike, Redline is an epic anime movie that took seven years to animate. To me, it’s right up there with Akira as an animated achievement. The film has achieved God-level status on college campuses and in psychedelic circles. Redline’s insane world design and kickin’ soundtrack prove that sometimes style is the substance.