Tomoyasu Murata began his work producing puppet animations after being inspired by traditional Japanese puppet theatre, called Bunraku.
Murata employs puppet animation in an expressive way, allowing viewers to experience it with their eyes, ears, sense of touch and even through the air. He has consistently strived to express the idea of mujo(impermanence), which is a very beautiful concept to the Japanese.
In one of his early series entitled “Road”, Murata described the aspect of “absence”. Through small gestures of the puppets' hands and eyes, he expressed things that are not words, and are indeed impossible to put into words.
“Family Deck” is a series of stories that describe the everyday life of a family running a barbershop that used to be located in Murata’s neighborhood but no longer exists. Recreating the old town using miniature sets, Murata undertakes the challenge of recording the rapidly changing town. Employing an old barbershop that actually existed and adding his original family stories, Murata attempts to create a series of works that act as a container for storing memories.
After the Great East Japan Earthquake in 2011, Murata started to create new series based on the theme of traversing memories regarding life and death. He has so far completed three of his five planned puppet animations: “Okinamai / Forest This Flower Bloom”, “AMETSUCHI”, and “A Branch of a Pine Is Tied up”. In these series, Murata tries to portray the view of mujo(impermanence) through the themes of prayer, chronicling and faith.
A graduate of the Department of Design at the Tokyo University of the Arts, and of its Graduate School of Fine Arts in 2002, Murata won the JMAF Excellence Award in 2001 for the puppet animation "Nostalgia." He has also made videos for Mr, Children and ap bank.
“Nostalgia” (2000) (16min.)
2001 5th JMAF Excellence Award (Animation Division)
“Distant Memory” is nostalgic, bittersweet, and pleasant. A fragment of memory revives by chance in an unchanging daily life. This fragment and others eventually assemble into a distant memory. This work is like a message from a precious person.
“Scarlet Road”(2002) (13min.)
A train is running through a long, dark tunnel. A sad man meets a girl who gives him a vermillion flower. He starts a short journey—not of words, not of anything to be put into words, just trivia. At the end of that journey, the man emerges from the long, dark tunnel.
“Family Deck Vol.1・Vol.2・Vol.3・Vol.5・Vol.6” (2007) (21min.)
2009 13th JMAF Jury Selection (Animation Division)
The Takadas run a barber shop in east Tokyo. This family of four includes the parents, a boy in elementary school, and a girl in junior high. As the Seven Lucky Gods (or kami, meaning both "hair" and "gods") living in the shop play tricks on them, strange things happen in their daily lives. Meanwhile, time flows slowly and their individual lives are depicted with attention.
“White Road” (2003) (14min.)
It's a story of the memory in the autumn when a boy and a girl spent toghether. The memory has had pain which never be heeled even after theire growing. A man walk again the road of the memory in his boyhood. It's as if he goes running in the snow.
“Okinamai / Forest This Flower Bloom” (2014-2015) (11min.)
1st episode in a series themed after The Great East Japan Earthquake - “Travel through Memories about Life & Death.” An amnesiac wolf traces his past and escapes from hunters who are after him. Okina appears as a narrator who speaks of the desire to resist change and the reality of continual change. He continues to dance quietly on the edge of amnesia.
“AMETSUCHI” (2016) (10min.)
2nd episode in a series themed after The Great East Japan Earthquake - “Travel through Memories about Life & Death.” The island has repeated eruption and earthquick, rising smoke on the ground, firing magma under the ground. After that, the island covered with white sand and water springing become a river. The water made the forest and it made life.
“A Branch of a Pine Is Tied up” (2017) (16min.)
3rd episode in a series themed after The Great East Japan Earthquake - “Travel through Memories about Life & Death.” Twins are separated by a tsunami. A snow globe connects the present and past. While traversing between these two periods, one of the twins retrieves her memories. The moon and sun overlap, enabling the Rabbit-man to connect the past with reality. He leads the girl who has remembered to the land of the dead.