Day 5 of Axon Punk CyberJamz
The Weeknd – Snowchild (2020)
Brand new one for you all today. This music video was released last week and – in addition to being SUPER badass – it was made by Japan’s first Black-owned animation studio called D’ART Shtajio. The cyberpunk influences are awesome in both the animation and the lyrics of the song (that P.K. Dick line totally killed me). This is another awesome example of how naturally well cyberpunk and hip hop align thematically, aesthetically, and culturally.
I’m also really impressed with the animation by D’ART Shtajio in this music video. They do a fantastic job of covering an enormous range of colors and environments in this, while maintaining really nice consistency throughout the video. In addition to adding their own very cool style to the animation, you can really see how they are learning and drawing from outstanding classic animes. The whole video has a great Madhouse feel to it, with powerful lines, bold colors/contrasts, and high-impact movements. Madhouse was one of the first studios who’s style recognizably stood out to me as a kid and many of their works had a huge influence on us while designing Axon Punk. I still have my ancient VHS copy of Ninja Scroll that I acquired entirely too early as a child.
The animation also shows influences of Shinichirō Watanabe, who is responsible for Cowboy Bebop and Samurai Champloo. In addition to making groundbreaking anime, Watanabe was one of the first Japanese directors to gorgeously incorporate hip hop into anime with Samurai Champloo, which featured the music of Fat Jon. The animation in Snowchild reminds me somewhat of the other big historic anime and hip hop mashup Afro Samurai (awesomely featuring the RZA), but has a much tighter style to it that almost reminds more of Clamp‘s epic X. Whatever it is, the combination shares similar DNA to Axon Punk and adds up to something awesomely unique by D’ART Shtajio that the world clearly needs.
D’ART Shtajio’s style is unique enough that you might also recognize them from their recent work on a different end of the music specturum – where they did animation for a psychedelic, futuristic, rockabilly/country influenced “anime visual album” called SOUND & FURY which hit Netflix recently. SOUND & FURY is absolutely ludicrous and totally worth checking out.
We really wish D’ART Shtajio the best and will definitely be keeping an eye on them. Really looking forward to seeing more!
choice frames from the music video: