In a season full of popular new shows and mega hit sequels, it's easy to forget that it's often kid's shows that end up making the most impact. In the case of this season, one of the most popular shows is a stop-motion series about guinea pig cars named Pui Pui Molcar.
Stop-motion has an odd place in Japan with most creations being by only a few studios. It's an extremely time-consuming process that doesn't seem to reach the popularity of 2D- or 3D-animated shows. The main stop-motion studio in Japan is Dwarf Studios, who often work with the national broadcaster, the NHK, often using their Dōmo-kun mascot. But Dwarf have since gotten involved in anime production themselves, sometimes creating openings, like for BEASTARS, and now also creating Rilakkuma and Kaoru for Netflix.
定格動畫在日本有一個奇怪的定位，大多數的創作都只來自少數的工作室。這是一個非常耗時的過程，但似乎沒有因此達到像 2D 或 3D 動畫節目的普及程度。日本最主要的定格動畫工作室是 Dwarf Studios，它們經常與國家廣播公司 NHK 合作，也常常用它們的吉祥物多摩君。但是自此之後，Dwarf 就親自參與了動畫製作，有時候會幫節目製作片頭，像是《BEASTARS》，現在還為 Netflix 製作《拉拉熊與小薰》。
But Molcar isn't produced by Dwarf but, instead, is created by independent artists with supports from Shin-Ei Animation, the studio famous for Doraemon. Both created and directed by Tomoki Misato at 29 years old; he's considered young for a director. Many of the other stop-motion artists don't belong to a single studio but, instead, are passionate animators in their own rights who helped Misato create the show. Interestingly, one of these is storyboard artist Hana Ono—part of the two-person group, UchuPeople, a married couple that created the stop-motion for Pop Team Epic.
但是《天竺鼠車車》不是由 Dwarf 製作的，而是由獨立藝術家在新銳動畫的支持下所創作，也就是因《哆啦 A 夢》而聞名的工作室。這兩部都是由 Tomoki Misato 在 29 歲時所製作和導演的；他被認為是非常年輕的導演。許多其他定格動畫師不屬於任何一個工作室，而是充滿熱忱的獨立工作者，他們一起幫助 Misato 創造了這個節目。有趣的是，其中一位就是動畫分鏡師 Hana Ono－－她是兩人團體 UchuPeople 的其中一位，也就是一對幫《Pop Team Epic》製作了定格動畫的夫婦。
Molcar is on TV TOKYO at 7:30 on Tuesday mornings as a part of a prime time slot for kids right before school, and each episode is only two and a half minutes long. In it, there's a standalone scenario involving each of the five guinea-pig-turned cars. And unlike Aardman's world-famous claymation, the Molcars are created with felt dolls, where they are moved and formed through careful needlework. However, that's not the only form of stop-motion here. There are also characters animated from little figures, and when they need them to move, they switch to images of real-life people, or in one case, a cat. Much like with stop-motion, instead of filming the real people, they take pictures of them in different positions so that they fit the visual pace of the Molcars.
《天竺鼠車車》每週二早上七點半會在東京電視台播出，這是孩子們在上學前的一段黃金時段，而且每集只有兩分半。影片中，五隻天竺鼠車車都會有自己獨立的故事線。而且與 Aardman 世界知名的黏土動畫不同的是，天竺鼠車車是由羊毛氈製作的，透過運用仔細的針線功夫來形成。然而，這不是動畫中唯一的定格動畫形式。裡面還有一些角色是由小公仔做成動畫的，而當他們需要這些人物移動時，他們就會切換成真實人物的圖像，或像在一個情境中，就是一隻貓。這跟定格動畫很像，他們會拍攝這些人在不同姿勢的照片，而不是直接錄製真人，這樣才能讓它們符合《天竺鼠車車》的視覺步調。
This is Misato's first time making a show, previously having won awards for his short film work. And while he was nervous about creating 12 episodes, it's great that the producers allowed him the creative vision to make something that doesn't conform to what you'd expect from either a kid's show or an anime. On the Bandai Namco YouTube channel, while the episodes are only available for one week at a time, they reach millions of views while the Molcar Twitter account has 270,000 followers. Since most of the audio is just squeaking, the stories are immediately accessible to anyone, regardless of what language they speak.
這是 Misato 第一次製作節目，先前他已經因為自己的短片作品獲獎。雖然要製作 12 集的份量讓他很緊張，但幸好製作人允許他發揮創意，製作出一部與觀眾心目中的兒童節目或動畫片完全不同的作品。在 Bandai Namco 的 YouTube 頻道上，雖然這些劇集一個禮拜只有一次，觀看次數卻達到數百萬，而《天竺鼠車車》的推特帳戶也有二十七萬人追蹤。由於大多數影片的聲音都只是吱吱聲，這些故事馬上就可以讓任何人理解，不管他們說什麼語言。
Misato came up with the idea of Molcars based on the idea of a happier society. People often get frustrated during traffic jams, but he figured it would be a lot nicer and more environmentally friendly if all those cars happen to be guinea pigs instead. It's an odd yet nice thought that led to the creation of an odd yet adorable show.
Thanks for watching OTAQUEST in Japan. Feel free to subscribe to find out more about the art and creation of Japanese pop culture.
感謝收看 OTAQUEST in Japan。歡迎隨時訂閱以了解更多有關日本流行文化的藝術和創作。