Ninjin Art’s newest animation ‘The Night Turns (Mandelgrün)’ has picked all the right numbers for its premiere at The Flying Teapot, a key Tokyo locus for the Japanese avant-garde art scene. With a runtime of 3 minutes 52 seconds, ‘The Night Turns (Mandelgrün)’ combines the kimo-kawaii animation of Cornwall’s Ignatius Rake with the haunting synthesizer sounds of London’s Louis S Hill to tell the story of Reg Cleet, a man abducted by telepathic aliens that look like teeth and who want him to marry their queen and seed the next generation of alien/human hybrids.
Rather than using traditional narrative forms, the animation employs Japanese pager codes to drive the tale on. Dating back to the 1990s, pager codes consist of short number sequences that equate to the sounds, shapes and syllables of common Japanese words, characters and phrases. In eschewing words for numbers, the animation replaces analogue dialogue with digits, something that cannot be similarly achieved with English.
“Mathematics is said to be the language of the Universe and so it seemed only right to use Japanese pager codes for this slightly Surrealistic interstellar saga of love, teeth and extra-terrestrials,” explains Rake. “After all, if telepathic aliens that look like teeth were trying to communicate with us, isn’t it more likely that they would use numbers instead of words?”
“Either way, it was great to work with Louis as his abstract soundscapes were quite a departure from the more beat-driven music I usually use when animating my art,” he continues. This, though, was no conscious decision on either party’s part. Instead, the entire project sprang forth from a random chat in a pub when Rake was in London to film Japanese artist SaiakuNana’s then soon-to-open gallery.
“Louis said he would send me some music he’d made and I said I’d make a video for it and that was that,” Rake says. “We’d neither seen nor heard each other’s work before and there was absolutely no planning or anything. It was all just luck, chance and spontaneity and hopefully more collabs will stem from it soon.”
Meanwhile, Rake reports that it was a “true honour” to premiere ‘The Night Turns (Mandelgrün)’ at The Flying Teapot in Tokyo. “It’s an ace place and the people there really know their onions when it comes to music and animation, so I am delighted that it went down a treat,” he says. “I can’t wait to show more of my work there again and, what’s more, take in more of the highly innovative Japanese art it’s a focus for.”
While ‘The Night Turns (Mandelgrün)’ might not be everyone’s cup of tea, the response Rake received was no storm in a teacup, with the screening followed by an audience-demanded showing of Rake’s ‘Unco Daisuki’. An animated pop-video parody, this particular work landed the Cornish artist a Special Award at last year’s Unco Film Festival in Tokyo and has since become something of a hit with many of The Flying Teapot’s regular frequenters.
Screened this past May 7 as part of The Flying Teapot’s monthly film festival, ‘The Night Turns (Mandelgrün)’ rubbed shoulders with a host of short films and animations from such talented Japanese artists as, among others, Pineapple Midori, Chuzaki Chutaro and event organiser and longstanding Unco Film Festival veteran Uzumaki Makio. Each screening was then followed by an artist presentation and a question-and-answer session conducted solely in Japanese. “I seemed to talk for ages but whether or not the audience understood me is anyone’s guess,” says Rake. “Perhaps I should have used numbers instead.”
‘The Night Turns (Mandelgrün)’ can be watched online at
Cornwall, UK-based Ignatius Rake specialises in making kimo-kawaii animations as well as music videos that often combine animation with live-action footage. To date, he has worked with artists, bands and musicians in and from the UK, Poland and Japan, including SaiakuNana, Hinano Niimi and members of Madness and Dexys Midnight Runners. In 2022, he won a Special Award at the 12th Unco Film Festival in Tokyo and currently has three music videos in the running for the 2023 Japan Indies Music Awards to be held at Tokyo’s Shibuya Milky Way.
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