This is an excellent short-film directed by Alain Escalle, based on his experience with the Japanese world and culture. It is animated, but in a spectacular way, it has a strong visual impact on the viewer due to scenes full of powerful colors such as red and green alternating with black and white scenes. There are many symbols present, both of war, famine, disaster and fragility of humankind, love, peace, universal symbols, but also Japanese symbols ( e.g. the dragon). The great soundtrack featuring a Japanese song adds sensibility to the whole view and makes the images even stronger. There is an attention for the details specific to the Asian culture, every element in every scene has its significance and it is carefully picked up and put it there. This film is intended as a manifest against the horrors of the war in general, by presenting the tragedy of Hiroshima. In the same time, there is a journey through Japan history.
Now what happens when an artist forgets that and takes these Japanese target stories as if they were real, and mines them as if they directly mattered? What if the artist is non-Japanese and so automatically outside but has no sense of that fact? What if that artist is tuned to a subconscious guilt associated with otherness. If that otherness is the to some repellent notion of whaling, you get “Drawing Restraint.” If those notions are associated with immoral war, then the topic is Hiroshima, and you’ll get this. But in this case, matters get thoroughly confused, because what we see is the destruction of a culture, creating images that no longer live. And yet it is conveyed through those very same images as if they do live. The idea of this, and the ideas of how we might watch it, are more engaging than the thing itself. Japan is a collection of notions about what it was, perhaps more-so than any other culture with visibility. Both Japanese and the west look on that collection of cultural relics, sometimes to mine for expressive power.