Onomatopoeic expressions (the formation of a word from a sound associated with what is named) are widespread in Japan; however, in some cultures, e.g. the US, the use of these expressions is often perceived as immature. My project will visualize Japanese onomatopoetic words in a 5-minute, 2D vector-based animation using kinetic typography as a narrative tool.
This animation is intended for non-Japanese speakers because one of the goals of my project is introducing different cultural perspectives on interpretation and language of sounds and feelings by using onomatopoeia. In addition to the animation, I will create a typography-based 48-page booklet with Japanese four-hole binding. The booklet will be a reference for viewers and will explain all of the onomatopoeia words in my animation. The collaterals will include a muralstyle illustration/typography black and white poster, which depicts the NYC cityscape, and five different designs of postcards consisting of illustrations and typography of onomatopoetic words.
I started planning my thesis in November 2019, when I had no idea what would be happening in the coming year. After New York was shut down because of the COVID-19 pandemic, I really struggled with working on my project since one of my main themes is depicting the lively people and vigorous power of NYC. I asked myself the meaning of illustrating dancing people on the subway and crazy energy in Times Square while news kept telling me the enormous numbers of deaths and showing photos of empty cities every day. Now, it’s been almost a month after the lockdown started, and nobody really knows yet how long this crisis will last and what will come after this. However, I could say, New York will not be the same as before and after this event. Although I have not found answers for anything so far, I am determined to move on and I would like to share with viewers an optimistic touch of New York City, which I always love, through my creations.
The protagonist in my animation is my mother, who is in her 70s and living in a small town in the countryside of Japan. Although my mother has never come to New York, I have often been imagining how she would react if she saw people and things in NYC that she has never encountered in her life. So, this is my imagination of my mother's adventure from JFK to Harlem, where I live. Since she doesn't speak English, she feels and expresses sounds and things using Japanese onomatopoeia, which I think could be a universal narrative communication tool.