Sink (1999) – Satoshi Tomioka

Satoshi Tomioka was born in Nagoya in Japan in 1972. At graduate school, Tomioka studied hydrodynamics at Tokyo University. He became interested in computer graphics while working part-time for a graphics company. After graduating he worked for Dream Pictures Studios until the studio closed down in 1999. He now works at his own studio Kanaban Graphics which received success for the series Usavich, a series of animated short films for MTV’s Japanese mobile service ‘Flux’.

Sink (1999) was Tomioka’s first film which is based on his own experiences commuting on the Tokyo underground. In the film, Tomioka depicts his subjects (businessmen) in an underwater world. Poking fun at them as they ogle at pornographic imagery. Tomioka’s imagery of the Tokyo metropolis is an extremely vivid and colourful one. Toy-like trains glide through illuminated tunnels. There are some captivating angles taken from inside the train. For example, at 0.54 the scene features the intensity of a packed commuter train so packed, train seats are not evident. Another angle focuses on views of the surrounding cityscape, skyscrapers bearing down on the inhabitants and the ubiquitous advertising hoardings completely mapping vertical structures. Sink portrays aspects typical of Japanese social realism in the 90s. Tomioka’s interpretation of Tokyo commuters is played with tongue and cheek; a society dictated and ruled by businessmen with sexually repressive characteristics living a monotonous existence. Having researched on Tomioka, there are suggestions that the shy and reclusive filmmaker is depicting himself in this manner. There are aspects of the animation I can clearly identify with and I would imagine my project will feature similar viewpoints of Japanese society.

Sink (1999)  

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